Dust mites have been linked to allergies and asthma for decades, but we are just now beginning to understand the full extent of that link. According a new study to be published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, an enzyme in dust mite feces destroys the protective function of the skin, leaving it vulnerable to other allergens and irritants.
Toshiro Takai of the Atopy (Allergy) Research Center in Tokyo explains, "In a healthy person, the barrier is complete and irritants can't get into the skin. But partial disruption of the barrier facilitates passage of allergens and other irritants."
While this study brings a new perspective to the link between dust mites and allergies, the news is not completely surprising. Consider the main source of food for house dust mites:dead human skin. As a matter of fact, human skin flakes account for about 80% of house dust. Since dust mites survive by eating dead human skin, it is no surprise that they excrete a protein which damages the skin. Think about it: People with damaged, irritated skin will scratch and shed more often, thereby providing more food for dust mites.
Thanks to this new study, we now know that dust mite allergen not only affects those who are sensitive to it, but it also affects all allergy sufferers. Dust mite feces contain the allergen DerP1, which is a digestive protease enzyme. This enzyme works so well that, even after the dust mite is dead, excreted DerP1 continues to destroy the protective function of human skin, making it easier for all allergens and irritants to enter the body and confuse the immune system.
Now more than ever, it is apparent that all allergy sufferers must be aware of the pervasive problem of dust mites and how to eliminate their harmful enzymes.
How to Kill Dust Mites
Dust mites are everywhere! While it seems to be impossible to entirely eradicate dust mites, the following methods will drastically reduce the dust mite population and their allergenic proteins.
Start with your bed. Dust mites thrive in the warm, moist environment of your bed. Dust mite encasings act as a barrier between dust mites and their source of food: your skin. Our exclusive Allergy Armor allergy relief bedding represents the next generation of dust mite covers for mattresses and pillows. Allergy Armor is made from a microfiber fabric woven so tightly that neither dust mites nor their allergenic proteins can penetrate the barrier. After the dust mites are cut off from their food source, they will die. Other components of allergy relief bedding include hypoallergenic mattresses, pillows, blankets, comforters, and mattress pads, as well as box spring covers.
Clean your carpet with a HEPA vacuum. Carpet provides another ideal environment for dust mites. If possible, opt for area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpet. Area rugs can be periodically placed outside, where sunlight will kill all the dust mites. However, most people have carpet in at least part of their home. Use antiallergenic powders and sprays to denature dust mite allergen in carpet and upholstery, and use HEPA vacuum cleaners to clean the carpet. Microscopic dust mite allergen is so small that standard vacuum cleaners simply spew it back into the air, never capturing it. HEPA filtered vacuums, on the other hand, will trap the dust mite allergen for proper disposal. For small spills and tight spaces, use a HEPA filtered hand vac.
Clean your air with an air purifier. Air purifiers filter the air and eliminate various allergens and impurities, including dust mite allergen, mold spores, pollen, pet dander, odors, chemical fumes, and more. Window filters and furnace filters will also help clean the air.
Monitor and control your relative humidity. Dust mites cannot survive when humidity drops below a certain point. Monitor your relative humidity with a humidity gauge, and use a dehumidifier to keep your relative humidity between 40% and 50%. During the winter, sometimes the humidity will drop too low, causing sinus problems. If this happens, you can increase humidity with a humidifier.
Use effective laundry methods. Standard laundry methods do not kill all dust mites because the water does not get hot enough. Use Allersearch Allergen Wash or de-mite Laundry Additive to ensure the removal of dust mite allergen.
Clean hidden sources of dust. Dust tends to collect in hidden spots. Be sure to vacuum behind furniture and dust objects in high places. Use special vacuum cleaner attachments to clean the dust from blinds, ceiling fans, crevices, and other hard-to-reach spots. The Sanitaire Expert Cleaning Wand is perfect for dusting in those hard-to-reach places, and it outperforms standard dusters because of its dust-attracting electrostatic charge. High Tech Dust Cloths also utilize an electrostatic charge to make dusting easy and effective.