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Dust Mites: Is Resistance Futile?

Decimating Dust Mites Doesn't Stop Asthma, but Doctors Not Deterred
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How to Fight the Mite continued...

"You don't want dust mites in your home, but there may not be techniques that are helpful," Harrison tells WebMD. "We typically don't target dust mites because they are so small and don't fit under Orkin's goals for eradication. But if people ask us to come in, we don't shy away from saying, 'Here are some things that might help.'"

Bernstein says acaricides -- pesticides that target mites -- aren't particularly helpful in reducing dust-mite allergens. Baumann suggests this is because poison simply turns live mites into dead mites, which continue to cause allergies while dust mite populations rebound.

But all of the pest and allergy experts who spoke with WebMD agree that expensive efforts aren't worth the cost.

"People don't need to go out and spend an exorbitant amount of money to do a good intervention," Bernstein says. "It is simply a matter of reasonably good hygiene and what you would do anyway. You would control humidity and vacuum and tidy up the room and not have a lot of dust-gathering collectibles and hang things up and put things in drawers."

"Just taking better care of yourself takes care of your allergy," Bielory says. "You keep yourself in a cleaner, healthier environment, and your allergy will improve."

Each of the experts disagrees over details. Bernstein says that mite-proof mattress and pillow covers are a good idea. Bielory says these products make the bed uncomfortable and that poorer sleep is a factor that makes allergy worse. But here's a list of what many experts say will -- by and large -- reduce your home exposure to dust-mite allergens:

  • Get white sheets and pillowcases for your bed and wash them every week in very hot water. Wash the mattress pads and blankets, too.
  • Vacuum regularly, but not within two hours of bedtime. A HEPA filter isn't necessary and may not help. If you're allergic to dust mites, wear a dust mask while vacuuming or get out of the house while someone else vacuums. Vacuums raise residual dust, and you should wait for it to settle.
  • Remove stuffed animals and dusty clutter from the bedroom.
  • Remove upholstered furniture from the bedroom and from other rooms in which you spend a lot of time.
  • Get a dehumidifier. Dust mites love humidity. Keeping humidity in the 30% to 50% range helps control dust mites.
  • Consider putting mite-blocking covers on your mattress and pillows.
  • Consider removing fabric window coverings and replacing them with plastic ones.
  • Get rid of tapestries or fabric wall hangings.
  • Consider replacing carpeting with tile or wooden floors.
  • Do not hire a duct-cleaning service. Dust mites do not live in working heating and air-conditioning ducts.
  • Clean the air filters on your furnace/air conditioner at least once a month.

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