According to the Allergy and Asthma Network, about 20 million Americans have an allergy to dust mites.

dust mites

What It Is

Dust mites are very tiny insects that are related to spiders and ticks. They live in carpets, bedding, pillows, upholstered furniture, fabric window coverings and even stuffed animals, and they like to feed off dead skin cells.  

If you are allergic to dust mites, you are allergic to dust mite waste and the bodies of dead dust mites that are found in household dust.  

Dust mites like warm, humid places and are not usually found in dry climates.

Dust Mite Allergy Symptoms

Dust mite allergy symptoms are similar to pollen allergy symptoms. However, they are not seasonal like pollen allergies and tend to be present year-round, as long as the heat and humidity levels allow them to live.  

Symptoms of dust mite allergies include:  

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Wheezing, shortness of breath
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry, scaly skin
man outside feeling bad with sore throat

Dust Mite Allergy Can Trigger Asthma Symptoms Such As:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

risk factors

The following factors may increase your risk of developing a dust mite allergy:

Having a family history of allergies and/or asthma
Exposure to high levels of dust mites, especially when you are young

Dust Mite Allergy Treatment

Like all allergies, limiting your exposure to the allergen – in this case dust mites – is the first step to prevention. 

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to get rid of all dust mites.

However, our allergy specialists also offer more advanced treatments that include immunotherapy (allergy shots and sublingual immunotherapy) and prescription medications.

Over-the-counter allergy medicines that may help alleviate dust mite allergy symptoms include:

01

Oral Antihistamines

Can help with a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itching, and eye allergy symptoms

02

Nasal Steroid Sprays

Can help reduce inflammation in the nose and upper airway passages and sometimes alleviate eye symptoms 

03

Oral Decongestants

Can help relieve a stuffy nose

Dust Mite Allergy Prevention

Dust mites live in practically every home. You can’t eliminate them, but you can lessen their effect.
Below are some steps we recommend to decrease the dust mite population and minimize your exposure:

  • Keep the humidity level in your home between 35% and 50%. You can measure it with a hygrometer, which is sold at most hardware or DIY stores.  
  • To lower humidity, run the air conditioner in the summer and heater in the winter, or use a dehumidifier.
  • For your mattresses, box springs and pillows, use zippered plastic dust mite covers (encasements) that trap dust mites inside and prevent new dust mites from getting in.
  • On a weekly basis, wash your bed linens and use a hot dryer to dry them.
  • If your bedroom is in the basement and the floor is concrete, if you can, move it upstairs. Concrete stays wet and makes a place that is damp and humid, which dust mites love.
  • In your heating and cooling unit, put a HEPA filter with a MERV rating of 11 to 13. On the packaging, you can find the rating. Change the filter every three months.
  • Clean regularly: when dusting, use a damp cloth that picks up the dust vs simply moving it around. Use a damp mop or cloth to clean bare floors.
  • If cleaning aggravates your allergy symptoms, consider wearing a mask or reassign dusting to someone who does not have dust mite allergies. 
  • Rugs should be vacuumed once or twice a week. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which stands for “high-efficiency particulate air”.
  • Remove wall-to-wall carpeting and put in wood or vinyl floors instead.
  • Minimize upholstered furniture and throw pillows.  If they are present, ensure regular vacuuming.
  • Instead of drapes/curtains, use hard material shades that can be wiped down for cleaning. If you have fabric window coverings, wash or steam clean them regularly.
  • Remove dust collectors and clutter.  Soft toys and stuffed animals often harbor dust mites, but if your child won’t give up the toy, you can kill dust mites by washing the toy or putting it in the freezer for 48 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

Would my medication for pollen allergies differ from medication for dust mite allergies?

What climates are better for dust mite allergies?

Does vacuuming remove dust mites?