Understanding Dust Mite Allergy
The Basic Facts on Dust Mites:
Dust mites are eight-legged arachnids and are relatives to spiders and ticks. Dust mites are microscopic and, unlike bed bugs, cannot be seen by the naked eye. Adult dust mites live for 2-to-3 months. During this time a female dust mite can lay 25-to-50 eggs every 3 weeks. Large dust mite populations can result, with up to 1 million dust mites inhabiting a single bed!
Q. Where do dust mites live?
A. Dust mites are found in nearly all homes, even in the cleanest ones. Dust mites prefer warm and humid environments. If relative humidity is greater than 50% for some portion of the year where you live, you can expect to have dust mite populations in your home. Keeping humidity levels in your home below 40% will help control dust mites, thereby limiting your exposure. Dust mites thrive in dark, warm and humid environments and are typically found in pillows, mattresses, comforters, blankets, carpets and upholstered furniture. These areas also provide the dust mite’s greatest food source - the shed scales of human skin.
Q. What is the difference between dust and dust mites?
A. Dust is made up of many different particles, a variety of which can cause allergies. The dust mite is much smaller and can leave behind more than 100,000 waste particles in a gram of dust, making it a main cause of allergy symptoms.
Q. Am I allergic to the dust mite itself and what are dust mite allergens?
A. Allergies are not caused by the dust mite itself. Instead, people are sensitive to a combination of the dust mite's waste particles and their dead body fragments. These particles are called dust mite allergens. Tiny dust mite allergens become airborne and are inhaled when you sleep at night or walk or sit on the carpet or sit on upholstered furniture. Unfortunately, long after a dust mite dies, its allergen particles will continue causing allergy symptoms.
Q. What is the difference between dust mites and bed bugs?
A. Both dust mites and bed bugs can find an ideal living environment in your bed and, unfortunately, both also find humans to be an excellent food source. Dust mites feed off of our shed skin cells while bed bugs bite us directly in order to feed off of our blood. Dust mites cause inhalant allergy symptoms; bed bugs do not.
Q. What protection does an encasing provide?
A. An allergy encasing creates a protective layer between you and the dust mite allergens in your bed. Allergy encasings are made from either tightly woven specialized fabrics or they include a membrane layer, and each is designed to block allergy particles from escaping from the bed. So, encasings trap the dust mites and keep their allergens away from your body. Certain encasings are also certified for bed bug protection based on the quality of the encasing material and the way the encasing is made.
Q. How do I know which encasing is right for me?
A. For an easy, one-page overview of encasing types please refer to our Encasings Comparison Chart. This will explain the features, benefits and allergen protection provided by each of the allergy encasings made by Allergy Control Products. There is also a link at the top righthand side of this chart, which will show you how to measure the depth of your mattress and explain the difference mattress sizes. You can also call our helpful Customer Service Staff at 1.800.255.3749, M-F, 9am to 5:30pm, Eastern Time, and we would be happy to help guide you in understanding which encasing might be best for you.
Click here for a pdf version of this webpage. Click here if you would like to view our Dust Mite 101 educational video.