What is a dust mite?
Dust mites are microscopic organisms that live in homes and schools. They like warm,
humid areas filled with dust. Dust mites feed on the shed scales of human skin that
work their way into furniture, carpets, bedding, and stuffed toys. The bodies and
waste products of the dust mite are what causes allergic reactions and asthma. The
mites live in:
Cat and dog beds
Bedding and pillows
Dust mites are common allergens. That means they often cause allergic symptoms. They
can also make symptoms worse in many people with asthma. The best way to prevent dust
mites is to limit your child's exposure but it's often not possible to completely
rid your home of dust mites. If your child is allergic to dust mites, decrease their
exposure with the following:
Beds. Use a wooden or metal bed frame. Don't let your child sleep on a couch, sofa, or
Mattress and box spring. Place all mattresses and box springs in zippered, dust-proof covers. These should
have pores that are too small to let the dust mites get into your mattress and box
spring. Tape over the zippers with electrical or duct tape.
Pillows. Put pillows in zippered, dust-proof covers with pores too small to let the dust mites
get into pillows. Pillows should be made of synthetic fiber. Don't use foam, feather,
or down pillows.
Bedding. Wash all bedding (sheets, pillowcases, blankets) in hot water (130°F) to kill the
dust mites. Dry them on high heat.
Floor coverings. If possible, remove wall-to-wall carpeting. If not, vacuum the carpet often (at least
twice a week).
Vacuum when your child is out of the room and won't return for several hours. Try
vacuum bags or vacuums designed to reduce allergens, such as those with a HEPA filter.
Wood, tile, or vinyl flooring without a rug is best. Mop it at least once a week.
Small, washable cotton rugs may be used if washed often.
Online Medical Reviewers:
- Dan Brennan MD
- Deborah Pedersen MD
- Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH