Dust mite allergy

The house mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) belongs to the family of arachnids. These creatures are microscopically small (about one-third of a millimetre) and invisible to the naked eye. The term for the most important dust mites in our latitudes is “Dermatophagoides”, which means “skin eater”. In fact, the mites feed mainly on human and animal dander, but also on natural fibres, feathers, wool, and food scraps. Associated allergies aside, dust mites are harmless creatures. The substances responsible for triggering the allergy are mainly contained in the excretions of the mite. In a gram of house dust from upholstery or mattress are, depending on the mite count, about 10,000 such faeces. These disintegrate, get picked up along with the house dust, are inhaled, and lead to allergy symptoms of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract in people with a dust allergy. In addition, intensive contact (for example, in bed) can lead to allergic rashes (urticaria, hives). The diagnosis of dust mite allergy relies on a corresponding medical history and further investigative steps, such as a skin test and laboratory examination. Studies have shown that the allergen concentration, which causes the complaints of allergy sufferers, takes place mainly during sleep. High humidity and room temperatures of over 22 degrees create optimal living conditions for mites. During sleep, the temperature in bed increases to 25-30 degrees and our body releases moisture – the ideal conditions for the dust mite to feed and to multiply. Therefore, all efforts to reduce allergen exposure should focus on the bed. The highest mite concentrations are found in bedrooms: specifically in comforters, pillows, and mattresses. Upholstered furniture is also a preferred habitat for mites. Carpets and rugs are also populated, but they are only of secondary interest. The highest levels of mites are to be expected in autumn (beginning of the heating season) and in spring. Despite the greatest cleanliness, mites from textile furnishings cannot be completely eliminated with normal methods once they have colonized them.