Dust Mites Beware: 5 Steps Parents Can Take To Reduce Children's Symptoms

Posted on

An allergy to dust mites can make a child feel downright miserable. Itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, and a stuffy or runny nose are common reactions to dust mites, and can make your child feel like they have a cold 24/7. While you can't cure your child's allergy to dust mites, there are things you can do to reduce the severity of symptoms your child exhibits.

Know Your Enemy: Dust mites are actually a close relative to the tick, but are too small to see without a microscope. They often live in household dust and feed on dead hair and skin cells, absorbing water from the air instead of drinking it. They thrive in temperatures of 65 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Dusting and Cleaning: It's common for parents to think cleaning will help reduce the dust mites in the home. This is true, depending on how you clean. Dust mites can live in temperatures up to 130 degrees. You cannot simply whisk them away with a feather duster. When you are cleaning your home for dust and dust mites, use a damp cloth that can be thrown away. Don't clean with anything that stirs dust up, such as a broom. Instead, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a damp mop. 

Carpet Flooring: If you have any carpeting in your home, consider replacing it with hardwood or tile floors that can be damp mopped. Carpeting is a wonderful place for dust mites to hide, even with regular vacuuming. Many homes that have hardwood or laminate flooring have throw rugs or room sized rugs. If this is the case in your home, either give these to charity or make sure they can be washed in hot water once per week. This is a commonly overlooked problem area in homes. Carpeting, just like any other fabric, is an ideal place for dust mites to thrive.

Your Child's Room: Your child's bedding is most likely a major source of dust mites. All bedding should be washed in hot water once per week to reduce allergy symptoms. Dry the bedding in a dryer on high heat as well. You should also place plastic covers on pillows and mattresses, making it easy to wipe the bedding down and remove any dust. Also, remove any furniture that has fabric, such as computer chairs with fabric seats, and replace it with furniture that can be easily wiped down. 

Humidity: Dust mites love an environment that is humid and warm. Many areas of the United States, such as the South, are especially humid and an ideal environment for dust mites. Keep the humidity level in your home below 50 percent. You may need to purchase a dehumidifier to accomplish this but it can greatly reduce the dust mites in your home, leading to a reduction in symptoms for your child.

Wash or Steam Clean: When you wash your child's bedding, accent rugs, or drapes, you must wash everything in hot water to get rid of dust mites. Seasonal clothing that has been stored should also be washed in hot water before being worn.  Look around your house at every piece of furniture that is upholstered and any pillows or throw blankets; fabric of any kind could be harboring dust mites. If an item cannot be washed in hot water, use a handheld steam cleaner and carefully go over the fabric. Ideally, all fabrics and surfaces should be cleaned twice per week to reduce allergy symptoms.

By following these tips, you'll create an environment that dust mites can't survive in. You should see an improvement in your child's allergies fairly quickly. If you don't, it's probably time to visit a clinic like Oak Brook Allergists to see what else is aggravating your child.