Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Category: Lagniappe - a little extra

House dust mite is a microscopic "bug" that burrows deep into upholstered furniture, carpet, and bedding. It is the leading cause of asthma if the individual has tested positive to the house dust mite. It also causes major symptoms to the individual who has allergic rhinitis. If this patient has also tested positive to house dust mite. House dust mite has no season like pollens. It is present year round. It's peak season is winter. *Every household has house dust mite. Cleanliness of the home or its occupants has nothing to do with the house dust mite.

The first line of defense in ridding a home of the dust mite is creating a physical barrier, meaning avoidance measure work very well. Simple steps aide in forming a plan to create this "physical barrier". Focus on the bedroom since we spend most of your "at home time" there. Non-carpeted floors and bare windows are best. Washable cotton curtains are a choice if someone wishes to have curtains. Curtains, bed linens, blankets, bedspreads, etc. should be washed weekly in very hot water to kill the dust mite.

Damp dust all surfaces and damp mop floors (do not sweep). Encase pillows, mattresses, and box spring in a mite-proof covering. (Tape the zippers of all the encasing and was the encasing once a year). Remove all stuffed toys, don't use bedrooms as a store room. Closets should be cleaned thoroughly, then only frequently used clothing and shoes should be stored there. Remove books and magazines, they will collect dust mites. House dust mite is not airborne very long, but ceiling and oscillating fans should not be used. Fans stir up dust mites and throw them into the air. Air conditioners prevent the high heat and humidity that stimulate mite growth. Use an air filter (HEPA is best). If used in the bedroom, the filter should be large enough to clean the air in the room many times each hour. A filter system may also be installed in the central air conditioner unit.

An allergic person should never lie down on carpet. If at all possible, carpet should be removed. If it is impossible to remove carpet, there are chemicals that can treat carpet and upholstered furniture. X-Mite (tannic acid powder) along with Acrasan is used to treat the carpet and rid it of dust mites. Allersearch (liquid) may be used on upholstered furniture. This words very well if done properly. It will have to be done every 6 to 8 months.

Vacuuming is the key to controlling the problem. Double bag the vacuum bag or rent (at reasonable cost) a commercial vacuum make for this clean up purpose. HEPA (micro-filtered) bags are available for purchase. Vacuuming should be done weekly. Damp dusting and damp moping daily. Steam cleaning is not recommended unless done by a professional. If done improperly, carpet and pad will not be dried thoroughly and will cause mold and mildew to form and cause increased mite population.

It is not recommended that the person with the allergy problem do the cleaning.