The Asthma Center

House dust mites

Dust mites are the most common indoor allergens causing allergy symptoms. A dust mite is an insect so small that it is invisible to the human eye. Dust mites eat human skin scales and are often found in areas with the greatest skin scale concentration. These locations include bedding, pillows, furniture and carpeting. Dust mites also need moisture to survive. Therefore the greater the food supply and the greater the humidity, the greater the number of dust mites. If you sleep in bed with a comforter or quilt and lie on a thick mattress pad, you will transfer lots of moisture into your bedding. The bedding then acts as a reservoir of heat, moisture and food for optimum dust mite growth. If you are sensitive to dust mites, you may experience symptoms of chronic nasal, sinus, eye and ear allergy and/or allergic asthma. Your symptoms may be worse at night. So what can you do? A simple solution is to encase your pillows with inexpensive dust mite-proof covers, sealing the dust mites and their feces in the pillow. This encasing should be changed once a week and washed in very hot water. Placing your pillow in the dryer for 15 minutes will also kill off dust mites. Fluffing the pillow after drying will help remove the dead mites.