How to Know if You Have Dust Mites
Have you recently experienced a flare-up of a runny nose, coughing, sore eyes, sneezing, or other health issues? While they are nauseating, house dust mites don’t pose a threat to most people’s well-being. Nonetheless, the medical problems related to those tiny arachnids emerge because of their waste, consisting of little cast skins and faeces. Those usually gather in your home dust deposits and provoke allergies in certain people.
Fret not, though, as we'll give you some tips and advice on how to know if you have dust mites. We'll also explain how to find them and prevent future infestations.
Can you see dust mites?
Dust mites are hard to see because of their microscopic size. In contrast to their cousins, ticks and spiders, mites are not noticeable to the naked eye. A few assessments record them in the scopes of 0.2 to 0.3 mm long at most. So, you probably won’t be able to see dust mites with only a human eye. Their translucence helps hide that creepy crawlies even more.
Since dust mites are so minuscule, you need a magnifying instrument to see them, such as a microscope. When you put them under the glass, though, you'll see that these critters look very similar to little multi-legged arachnids, like spiders. Let’s not forget that dust mites are descendants of the arachnoid species.
Dust Mites Size
As we’ve already mentioned, dust mites can reach anywhere from 0,2 to 0,3 mm in size when fully grown. To make it easier to understand, a single one of those tiny bugs is as big as the thick part of a standard tin foil sheet, or a single grain of table salt, if you will. A bed mattress may house anywhere from 100,000 to 2 million mites.
What do Dust Mites Look Like?
Because of their translucent colouring, dust mites can be difficult to notice even through a microscope. However, if you successfully spot a bunch, take deep breaths and try not to panic, as they can be quite hideous. Do you have arachnophobia? Then don’t look at all!
Dust mites have bodies resembling ticks, with eight bristly legs, no visible eyes, and a mouth that's straight out of your worst nightmare. Their sturdy glassy shells make them look even more sickening, disturbing even the boldest.
Dust Mites vs Bed Bugs
People often think that bed bugs and dust mites are the same; however, it’s quite the opposite. The only similarity is that the two of them like the clammy, dull spaces in your home and often creep in without being noticed.
The most significant difference between dust mites and bed bugs is the size of their bodies. Unlike mites, we can see bed bugs with the naked human eye, so we’ve got a minor advantage when dealing with them. In fact, an adult bed bug is about 5–7 mm in size, similar to an apple seed.
Bed bugs' colour ranges anywhere from yellow to reddish and brown, depending on how much blood they’ve sucked throughout their lifetime. Their oval bodies that usually swell when they’re fed have a couple of antennas and three sets of legs.
Scientifically speaking, dust mites and bed bugs come from different species. The former is categorized under the arachnoids branch, and the latter is an insect.
Read about the difference between dust mites and bed bugs bites.
Signs of Dust Mites
The most common signs of dust mites are allergic reactions that some people get when they encounter their waste. When inhaled or touched, the proteins in their faeces force our system to produce antibodies, as our organism believes that we are in danger. Here are some symptoms of a dust mites allergy that certain people may expect to have:
- Watery and itchy eyes;
- Runny nose;
- Continual sneezing;
- Asthma episodes;
- Red and itchy skin;
- Nasal blockage;
- Irritated mouth or throat;
- Babies often get reddish skin around the cheeks;
A few signs and indications of dust mites hypersensitivity, for example, a runny nose or fever, are like those of the common flu, so it’s hard to self-diagnose whether you’re allergic. Monitor your health for a couple of weeks if you have mild symptoms, but if they are extreme, call your doctor.
Where Do Dust Mites Come From?
Mother nature creates dust mites naturally in dusty environments, and that’s why you can find them nearly everywhere. Moisture is their water source, so you may encounter more of those tiny intruders in damp places. Put them in the Sahara desert, though, and they won’t last a day.
Here are the perfect living conditions for dust mites:
- A pleasant, warm temperature of around 21 - 25°C;
- Dark places, where direct sunlight rarely comes in;
- 50% to 70% air humidity;
- Nearby a human or animal to use as a breakfast - bed, couch, etc.;
Luckily for us, dust mites aren’t bloodsuckers like ticks and bedbugs, as they feed only on dead skin, shedding from you or your pet. However, an average human sheds around 40 000 dead skin cells per minute, so we unwillingly take care of our dust mite population.
It’s quite impossible to get rid of all dust mites in your home, but you can at least try to reduce their numbers and lower the risk of allergic reactions. Read on to learn more about the preventive measures against the little prowlers.
Are Dust Mites Everywhere?
Don’t panic when we say that dust mites are everywhere around your home. You can find them on your bed, couch and carpets, as well as under your appliances and books where dust usually builds up. Just like you, they like to be inside, enjoying the comfort of your home, where warm temperatures and food are abundant.
Dust mites love building their large colonies in mattresses, table cloths, curtains, clothes, and upholstered furniture. Sleeping pads, cushions, and delicate sheet material are their most beloved home bases.
How to Find Dust Mites
There are two main ways to find dust mites around your home. Well, technically three, but waiting for your allergic reactions to occur to see a doctor for a dust mite allergy test is not a good idea.
Use a Microscope
As we said earlier, the best way to see dust mites is through a microscope. We all know that it’s quite expensive to buy a good scope, that’s why you can use any model that has 10x magnifying power. You can find one in a hobby or toy store.
Once you have the microscope, gather a couple of dust samples around your home using a bit of clear tape and inspect it under the magnifying instrument. The best places for you to look in are dull spaces in your bedroom and living room. Don’t forget to examine your bed and sofa where most of your dead skin falls off.
When you’ve gathered enough material, it’s time to wake your inner scientist. Place the samples under the magnifying lens and search for the little 8-legged creatures that we described earlier. If you can’t find any, look for their faeces that resemble brownish rectangular droplets. That way you’ll know whether you have a large concentration of dust mites or not.
Get a Dust Mites Test Kit
You can purchase a testing kit in some hardware stores, pharmacies, or even online. Some of those kits require a professional to have a look, so you may need to send it back for examination, while others you can check yourself. Those tests usually give you an idea of the total number of allergens throughout your home.
Follow the directions that accompany your bundle to test for dust mites effectively.
How to Prevent Dust Mites
Follow our simple advice on how to prevent the increasing number of dust mites in your mattress, sheets, and comfy furniture. The way to controlling their population relies on keeping up and cleaning the surfaces and areas where dust builds up in excess.
- Get an air dehumidifier to keep the moisture in your home under 50-60%;
- Ventilate your rooms daily for 10 to 20 minutes;
- Wash your bedding as often as you can;
- Vacuum your carpets and rugs every week;
- Clean your sofa and other furniture;
- Buy new pillows, mattresses, and bed sheets every few years;
- Store clothes in closed cabinets, or even plastic bags if you have to;
Read more: How to Get Rid of Dust Mites?
Dust mites can be bad roommates. Many people discover that they have allergies caused by the tiny arachnoids’ faeces and dead cells, wondering how to deal with the problem. While it’s quite impossible to get rid of all dust mites in your home, by following our advice, you can decrease their numbers. Lowering the mites’ population can prevent the allergic reactions that some individuals experience.