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Those Darn Dust Mites!

Asthma image

It may be time for Teddy to take a “time-out.” Stuffed animals are a perfect breeding ground for dust mites; it’s best to keep them off the bed and out of the bedroom.

Dust mites are tiny insects that are invisible to the naked eye. Every home has them. They feed on human skin flakes, and they can be found in mattresses, pillows, carpets, upholstered furniture, bedcovers, clothes, stuffed toys, fabric, and fabric-covered items. Body parts and feces from dust mites can trigger asthma in people with allergic reactions to dust mites. And exposure to dust mites can cause asthma in children who have not previously exhibited asthma symptoms.

Dust mites can trigger asthma in people with allergic reactions to dust mites.

So what can you do about them?
Here are some steps you can take to help reduce your exposure to these allergy-and-asthma-inducing insects:

  • Cover mattresses and pillows with dust proof (allergen-impermeable) zippered covers.
  • Wash bedding (sheets, blankets, and bedcovers) once per week in hot water.
  • Choose washable stuffed toys, wash them often in hot water, and dry them thoroughly.
  • Keep stuffed toys off beds.
  • Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 30 percent and 50 percent relative humidity. Humidity levels can be measured by hygrometers, which are available at local hardware stores.
  • Remove dust often with a damp cloth.
  • Vacuum carpet and fabric-covered furniture to reduce dust build-up.
  • Using a vacuum with a high-efficiency filter or a central vacuum may be helpful.
  • People with asthma or allergies should leave the area being vacuumed.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, September/October 2010.