As a someone who’s spent a lifetime battling dust mite allergy, let me tell you there’s a lot of nonsense out there on the internet. Isn’t that the same for every topic, I hear you cry? Well yes, but this is particularly annoying in the field of health where you’re genuinely on a journey searching for ways to improve your quality of life.
That’s why I’ve decided to compile my top five myths about dust mite allergy. The lies, exaggerations and the and the general drivel written about dust mites. This is all stuff I wish someone had told me along the way, but better late than never.
Dust Mites Will Bite You!
Put simply, they won’t. House dust mites (Dermatophagoides farinae) won’t do anything of the sort. Dust mites cause harm to people through the allergic reaction to their feces. Nobody is directly harmed or injured by the tiny mites.
They’re so small they’re not visible to the naked eye and will cause no damage to skin, won’t burrow into your big toe and won’t leave the fridge door open.
They will however leave behind a substance that is like kryptonite to some, but totally benign to other
Dust Mite Allergy Isn’t Real
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to explain to a friend, boss or coworker why I’m not myself today. “Microscopic creatures in my bed are slowly poisoning me” can be a hard sell at times, but that’s exactly what is happening.
Unlike commonly known allergies like hay fever, nuts, shellfish, penicillin etc. sympathy for dust mite allergy is often in short supply.
People often think you’re lazy, exaggerating or just a hypochondriac. I’ve even questioned myself at times! The sure fire way to confirm dust mite allergy is to perform a skin prick test.
When I took mine, after years of wondering and suffering, and a huge bump appeared on my arm like a nettle sting, and the allergist almost started hyperventilating, I was vindicated.
I was indeed allergic to the tiny mites, among other things, and needed to take steps to avoid them. The struggle is real.
Dust Mites Can Be Removed For Good
This is a common, and problematic misconception. Many people seem to believe dust mites are like any other infestation that can be dealt with in one fell swoop, and then the problem is solved for years. It’s not like this at all.
Dust mites are so small, and so common, that essentially every house will have a certain amount of dust mites living within it. They cannot be totally contained or killed, but rather reduced.
People will spend a small fortune having carpets and mattresses cleaned and treated with UV lights and all sorts of clever devices. And while this may remove most of the allergen in the short term the sad truth is, you’d better believe they’re coming back.
It’s important to understand this, then get to work making their life as difficult as possible by protecting your bed, removing all non essential clutter and dusting. There’s no silver bullet here. Just endless, boring, monotonous dusting!
Dust Mite Allergy Is The Same as Hay Fever
There’s certainly a big crossover between allergy to dust and allergy to pollen, but the symptoms are far from identical. For example hay fever is hugely seasonal.
Hay fever people tend to lock themselves in a darkened room for the high pollen count months, complaining to anyone who will listen before the cold weather returns and saves them.
They can they go about their lives until the hellish pollen season the following year.
Dust mite allergy isn’t like that. Dust allergy is perennial, rather than seasonal. That means it’s an all year round struggle for sufferers and is a much more chronic condition as opposed to the painful but brief suffering of hay fever.
Unless you’re rich you can’t exactly adopt the lie in a darkened room strategy all year round, so need a constant plan to keep yourself dust free, keep your skin under control and keep your sinuses healthy, and for some that can be a real challenge.
Dust Mites Can Be Simply Washed Away
Wrong. Whilst washing bedding plays a key part in your avoidance strategy, simply washing your bedding isn’t enough.
The washing part will wash away the allergen which has accumulated, but not the mites themselves who will cling to the fibres for dear life.
You need to wash it on a high enough temperature to kill the mites and avoid them returning for a while.
60 degrees is the highest setting on most washers, and is sufficient to kill of mites, and a long spell in a hot dryer afterwards is always a good idea also.
It will also make your bedding super fresh and clean when you climb back into bed for that all important sleep, which is never a bad thing.