Research suggests that 1% to 2% of the global population may be affected by dust mite allergies. Those individuals can suffer debilitating and dangerous symptoms. In the article, “Respiratory allergy caused by house dust mites: What do we really know?” published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2015, an array of studies were explored and discussed to get to the bottom of what clinicians can do to help.
Uncomfortable at best and crippling at worst, a dust mite allergy can lead to decreased quality of life for its sufferer. The allergy is linked to direct exposure to the mite itself. In short, the less patients are exposed to mites, the less chance allergies have to fully develop. As shown in the German Multicenter Allergy study, increased exposure in children, aged infant to three years old, correlated to an increase in allergy development. This is also a risk factor for developing asthma later in life. At age 8 years, dust mite allergies increased the risk of respiratory disease in 87% of the study’s participants.
As their name suggests, dust mites commonly live in a habitat of household dust. Once they find a suitable new dusty abode, a major concern is how quickly they reproduce and can infest a larger area. Adult mites live between 4 and 6 weeks. During that period, females lay between 40 and 80 eggs each, which can lead to the infestation of an entire home in about a year.
An ideal habitat supplies dust mites with three main nutrients:
- keratin (skin)
- cellulose (textile fibers)
- chitin (fungus)
While dust mites can be found throughout the home, they often can be found in greater numbers in beds and mattresses. When a bed is occupied regularly, the relative humidity rises exponentially, which dust mites love.
The easiest solution to control dust mites in mattresses is through regular cleanings. This is supported by early research, which found that 1.4 times more dust mite allergens were present in beds where the housekeeping was poor.
Using chlorine bleach, maintaining good ventilation, and washing textiles regularly at high temps are all moderately effective at ridding the home of dust mites. The use of mite-impermeable mattress covers has also been shown to reduce mites. For patients who are sensitive to odors, chlorine bleach is unfortunately not a good solution.
The Clean Sleep 5-step cleaning process starts with germicidal irradiation. This sterilization method uses ultraviolet (UV) light at sufficiently short wavelengths to break down micro-organisms. This method is used for many purposes including water purification, food processing, and pharmaceutical production.
The second step is a high-intensity vacuum that extracts debris, such as dead skin cells, a prime food source for dust mites. Next is a dry steam treatment. This combination of high heat with low moisture kills mold and any remaining micro-organisms, while removing dirt and stains without the need for chemicals. An added layer of sanitization is achieved through using Infrared heat, which removes any remaining moisture. The final step in the process is odor neutralization with Ozone. Once completed, the mattress is dry and ready to be put back into immediate use.
While there is really no way to banish dust mites completely from a patient’s home, the Clean Sleep process eliminates them in mattresses, which has proven to have a positive effect for people with dust mite allergies.
If you would like to read the entire report published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, you can obtain it HERE