Dust Mite

The dust mite is a tiny bug. It is a member or the spider and tick family. There are numerous types of mite, but the domestic dust mite which has been linked to allergy likes to live in beds and carpets. It won’t bite you, but it excretes very fine droppings which are HIGHLY ALLERGIC to about 30% of the population, and to about 90% of people with asthma, persistent hay fever, and eczema.

The major cause of asthma and of allergic nose/sinus problems in Australia is the dust mite. WHY? Firstly, coastal Australia has just the right temperature and humidity to support the lifestyle of the tiny mite. The dust mite is much rarer in central Australia because it’s too dry. Secondly, we have built houses in Australia which say “Welcome, Mr and Mrs Mite, why don’t you come and breed in my house”. How? By fitting wall-to-wall carpet. You can’t get rid of them from deep in the carpet (even with the so-called mite sprays available). And by installing ducted heating, which circulates the fine allergic dust throughout the house. Thirdly, our love of doonas (duvets) and woollen underlays has guaranteed the perfect breeding ground for those pesky little balls of allergy.

Can you do anything to fix the problem. The answer is YES, YES, YES. The first step is to decide whether you have to do anything at all. If you or someone you know has asthma or hay fever or sinus, a skin test or blood test can be done to determine if there is any mite allergy. It’s also worthwhile testing for all the other important airborne allergies. Speak to your doctor. Once dust mite allergy is proved, there are three effective ways to reduce the mite in the house. We know these are effective because they have been tested in scientific trials.

ONE – hot wash the sheets and pillow-cases (or alternatively add 5 ml of eucalyptus or ti-tree oil to a cold wash)

TWO – fully encase the pillows, mattress and doona in mite-proof encasings

THREE – remove wall-to-wall carpets and leave hard floors with thin rugs

How far you go depends on the severity of the allergy and your financial situation and whether you own or rent your accommodation. There is always the option of allergy injections (see the information sheet on allergy injections). Or an oral vaccine which our clinic uses almost exclusively. By the way, “special” vacuum cleaners for dust mite may not remove the mites. Just make sure the vacuum tubing is tight and the dust is not sprayed around the room. And as we noted before, so-called mite sprays have proved disappointing in clinical trials, and I do not recommend them.

PS Take a look at our YouTube Video of the dust mite. There is a link on every page.

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