10 Simple Steps Help You Bag Allergy-Causing Dust Mites
Michael Ruff, MD, spokesman for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and
Immunology, agrees with the Australian findings. "This study proves that
even allergy and asthma sufferers living in areas with high humidity can
benefit from these steps." Ruff says washing bedding in extremely hot water
once a week and encasing pillows and mattresses in allergen-resistant covers
are the easiest and most effective ways to reduce allergen levels in the
Vanlaar says the next step is to test whether this method of allergen
control in bedding is enough to reduce allergy symptoms in individuals with
current symptoms of asthma, and to help prevent allergies and subsequent asthma
in high-risk infants.
"We are already investigating the second item by conducting a large ...
trial -- the Childhood Asthma Prevention Study -- in which we are treating the
cots of approximately 300 babies who are in a high-risk group for asthma, based
on a family history of asthma," by washing and encasing the bedding like
they did in the current study.
To start your own grassroots campaign against the little critters, the
American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that you follow these 10 steps
for defeating dust mites in the home:
Start in the bedroom:
- Since most dust mites live in mattresses, put an airtight plastic or
polyurethane cover on every mattress.
- Wash sheets and blankets in very hot water every week.
- Wash bed pillows every week or put a plastic cover on them. (The pillowcase
goes over the plastic cover.)
- If possible, bedrooms should have a hardwood, tile, or linoleum floor.
These surfaces are easier to keep clean than carpet.
- If you have to have carpet, try not to place the carpet on concrete. The
warm space between a rug and concrete is a good place for mites to live.
- For carpeting, spray the rug with a solution of 3% tannic acid every two
months to kill the dust mites. Ask your doctor how to use this solution, and
whether it is right for your family.
In the rest of the house:
- Vacuum all carpets and upholstery every week. Vacuums with high-efficiency
filters pick up more dust mites, but even standard vacuums work well.
- Furniture that has a polyurethane cover over its padding helps. Plastic or
wooden furniture that doesn't have much padding can also help keep down the
number of dust mites in the home.
- Because dust mites love warm, humid places, running your air conditioner
and keeping the humidity low make a difference.
- Don't bother with special air filters -- they won't help children with
asthma or allergies.