Killing Dust Mites – Warfare Part 1

If you are reading this blog, chances are you or someone you love was recently diagnosed with allergy to dust mites.  When I talk to people that have received a recent diagnosis they have a variety of feelings. Some are in denial, (how can a bug make you sick? I keep a clean house!) some are overwhelmed, and the vast majority are mad at the dust mites and ready to declare war.

The first rule of warfare is to know your enemy.

Just to cover the basics: dust mites are microscopic creatures that feed on shed human skin cells. They do not bite. You cannot see them and you cannot feel them. They like it dark, moist, and with a ready supply of food. Their bodies are covered by a hard shell (like a carapace) and this shell and their feces contain a protein (Der f1 and Der p1) that is the most common household allergen.  Fiber surfaces are their favorites. The bedroom is the most popular room in the house.  The mattress, pillow, and blanket are an environment that meets all of their needs.  We make them warm with our body heat, we exhale moisture and also sweat, and we shed our skin as we sleep. The same environment also traps their shed carapaces and feces, making it a hot bed of allergy activity (pun intended).

Knowing this about your enemy, what good is achieved by killing the dust mites?  Aside from making you feel like you accomplished something and controlling the population you really haven’t done much.  Remember the problem is the protein in the feces and carapace.  Dead mites don’t poop, but killing mites doesn’t get rid of the existing feces.  Killing mites causes the mite body to break down and thus the carapace releases its protein.  So, killing dust mites doesn’t control dust mite allergy and could make it worse.  That is probably a good thing, because no pesticide is approved in the United States as a dust mite acaracide.

I get it.  You want to kill the mite, so do it in a manner that will provide allergen relief.  Starve them to death! Yep. That’s right…..kill dust mites slowly by starvation.  The bonus to this approach to killing dust mites is that by starving dust mites you get immediate allergy relief.

So, how do you starve them?  Cut off their supply of food.

Encase your mattress, boxspring, and pillows in special zippered dust mite proof covers.  This puts an allergen proof barrier between you and the mites.  Their food supply will be limited to what is already in the bed or pillow with them. Slowly, over the years, they will die of starvation.  From the first night you sleep on dust mite proof covers you will get relief.  You will not be exposed to the dust mites, their shed body parts or their feces!  And, you will also get the satisfaction of knowing that you are killing them softly and slowly…by starvation. Revenge can be sweet indeed!

Til next time

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