Dust mite questions and answers
Below are some frequently asked questions. As you can imagine we receive hundreds of questions about the house dust mite (HDM) and while we are happy to help where possible, you should find most answers in this site for both home and academic purposes.
Can mites live on top of covers?
Yes, if left undisturbed with moisture and plenty of food mites will multiply on the top of a micro porous cover. It is important to dust the covers regularly to prevent this from happening.
Do mites bite?
No, house dust mites (HDM) do not bite, but enzymes in HDM dropping can harm or kill delicate cells causing a breach in cell defences.
How old is an old mattress?
Unless you have protected your mattress with a micro-porous cover, then a mattress is at risk of becoming a home for mites, old is a matter of hygiene. If the mattress has not been in humid conditions it may not be a home for dust mites (HDM). A simple dust mite test will give you an answer.
What diseases can dust mites cause?
House dust mites (HDM) can cause allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, eczema and affect other associated diseases. They have also been linked with conjunctivitis, urticaria, dermatitis, anaphylaxis, hypersensitive pneumonia, angioedema, extrinsic allergic alveolitis, allergic and migraine headache, and certain gut disorders in which IgE is involved. Allergy testing is always recommended to confirm a clinical diagnosis of health problems caused by mite exposure.
What is skin prick testing?
A skin prick test is a safe method of introducing a small amount of allergen into the body in order to measure the strength of any allergic reaction. Timing for reactions can start 5 minutes after the test and peak about 30 minutes later. Any red mark or ‘wheal’ is then measured and recorded as an allergy trigger if the patient has accompanying allergy symptoms. It is important to have this diagnostic tool administered by a doctor or allergy nurse.
By taking steps to cover the mattress, pillow and duvet how soon will I notice a difference in my child’s health?
This will depend upon your child’s health and confirmed allergies. What you will be doing is practicing ‘sleep hygiene’, or creating a safer sleep environment recommended by doctors .
How old is an old mattress?
Mattress makers say ‘over 2 years old’, but if the mattress is clean, mite free, and gives good support, it’s up to you. A simple dust mite inspection will give you an answer.
How do house dust mites (HDM) get into my bed in the first place?
Mites are able to travel about by clinging to material, fur, feathers or anything that will give them a place to hide and a ride to a new home. Socks, soft toys or night clothes can transport mites to a bed.
Do I have to cover all the bed and bedding? It’s very expensive!
Are dust mite covers effective? Yes! If cost is an issue or more than one bed in a home needs anti-mite treatment consider replacing old bedding by shopping around on line looking for a quality mattress at reasonable prices. Clinically proven anti-mite sprays are available to help keep mattresses mite free.