Fact Sheets : Dust Mite Precautions

Dust mites are tiny microscopic insects which are important allergens or irritants in asthma and nasal allergies. Decreasing exposure to dust mites in a dust mite allergic child is an important step in achieving symptom control. Dust mites thrive in a warm, humid environment and depend on contact with human skin to survive. Therefore, your child's mattress, pillows, and stuffed animals are important sources of these mites and steps can be taken to decrease contact with them. Given that children spend from 10-12 hours of their day sleeping, paying attention to the bedroom is very important.

Here are some simple dust control measures that can be done in a child's bedroom:

  • Ideally, all carpets should be removed from the child's room. If this isn't possible, vacuum the room one or twice per week. The allergic child should not be in the room during vacuuming.
     
  • Clear drawers, closets and surfaces with a clean damp cloth and keep all clothing in the closet with the door shut.
     
  • Remove most stuffed animals from the child's room, or at least, from the child's bed. If there are one or two favorite stuffed toys, keep them clean and wash them in hot water every 2 weeks.
     
  • Wash the blankets and bedding twice monthly in hot water. Be sure to avoid down-filled comforters and feather pillows as these attract dust mites.
     
  • Avoid wall paintings and other hanging objects, as these can also collect dust. If there are curtains on the window wash them frequently. Simple blinds are least likely to attract dust.
     
  • Use air conditioners in the summer time, if you have one. Air conditioners will prevent the high heat and humidity which allows mites to grow.
     
  • Avoid over-humidification. If your house is very humid, a dehumidifier will help. Try to keep the humidity level at 40-45%.
     
  • Covering pillows and mattresses with special dust-proof covers is one of the most effective ways to decrease the amount of dust your child is in contact with. When you cover the mattress and pillows, the mites can no longer survive. It is important to use covers which completely seal the pillow of mattress. Usually, they zipper completely closed and are washable and comfortable. The only drawback to the covers are the price, as a set costs about $100.00. Some private insurances cover the cost when prescribed by a physician. However, if you do not have access to or cannot afford dust mite covers you can cover the pillows and mattress entirely with a plastic sheet sealing it with electrical tape. For comfort, place a large towel under the bed sheet or pillowcase.