All you need to know about the house dust mite
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For the Curious

If you are wanting to find out more about the dust mite, the articles below will delve a little deeper into the complex world of the dust mite.

Allergy, house dust mites (HDM) and children

Listed in this article are the common triggers of childhood allergy, and the symptoms of an allergy to HDM. Exposure to house dust mites (HDM) is recognised as a major cause of allergy, especially in children. Common allergic diseases in childhood are eczema, rhinitis (hayfever) and asthma. All three diseases can appear either separately or together.

Why house dust mites eat skin scales

A newly discarded skin scale is not considered food for a hungry house dust mite. To become mite food the skin scale has to go through a process of decomposing change. It must become swollen with water, carry bacteria, microorganisms, yeasts and fats broken down by fungi.

Clinical success in mite avoidance

It's a proven fact - patient education plus effective allergen avoidance can improve asthma. This fact was demonstrated in a large study on inner city families in the USA. Here's how the doctors did it. Inner city asthmatic children were individually tested for allergy triggers. Once identified they were then taught how to reduce exposure and given various interventions to help avoid contact with their triggers.

How to keep house dust mites (HDM) out of beds

These step-by-step instructions will tell you how to eliminate or reduce allergy causing house dust mites (HDM) from a bed. Read carefully because beds are a favourite hiding place for mites.

All doctors agree that the first step in managing allergy symptoms is the avoidance of triggers where possible. It is possible, and easy to keep mites from establishing a colony in a bed. Follow these simple instructions to protect the vulnerable from mite exposure. The most vulnerable are developing children who may think it's normal to always sneeze, wheeze or itch.

House dust mites (HDM), a risk to sleep

Three most important functions to human life are heartbeat, breath and sleep. An active allergy to house dust mites (HDM) can interfere with breath and sleep. Wheezing, sneezing or itching, caused by an allergic reaction, is a known risk to sleep. In children, poor sleep can result in poor concentration at school. If chronic it can even threaten a child's self-esteem.

Ozone, photocopiers, asthma & house dust mites (HDM)

Ozone is an unstable gas and health risk for patients with lung conditions because, like tobacco smoke, ozone can irritate sensitive or damaged lung tissue making symptoms worse. For house dust mite (HDM) allergic asthma patients avoidance of both mite and ozone exposure is recommended. Ozone can be a product of poorly maintained photocopiers or build up in offices with poor ventilation.

Dogs can suffer from house dust mite (HDM) allergy

Allergic dermatitis in dogs can be caused by allergens from house dust mites (HDM). The allergens are enzymes designed breakdown chitin, the hard material found in the outer shell of many animals and cell walls of fungi.

Mites, domestic, storage and house dust

What's the difference? Below is a short description of common mites that can be found indoors in many places around the world. They have different appetites and different needs. They all can cause allergy and environmental problems.

Parasite like functions of the house dust mite

The parasitic mange-like attributes of the scavenging house dust mite (HDM) were ‘unknowingly’ defined by scientists in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2013 that the link was made by doctors looking at the evolutionary profile of the HDM.[1,2]  They discovered that the mite made a shift from a mange or ectoparasite mite (living under the fur of animals) to a free-living, independent scavenger about 80 million years ago.

Glue Ear chronic otitis media and the house dust mite (HDM)

Chronic perennial allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and chronic otitis media with effusion (OME) can be caused by an allergy to the house dust mites (HDM). Doctors have recognized that the risk exists and that children, suffering from allergy, can be vulnerable to symptoms of temporary deafness cause by this condition. Now, new research describes a pathway from HDM exposure towards OME.

Dust mites and disease - quick review

In order to tackle dust mite infestation and related disease, doctors say it is essential to understand mite biology, where they live, and why they cause allergy. To help this understanding, listed below are ten bite-size facts in each of these three categories ending with advice on how to kill mites.

Allergy testing - skin or blood - which one is best?

Doctors say; 'A diagnosis of an allergic disease is not complete until the trigger or triggers of the reaction are identified'. There are two common clinical ways to test for allergy triggers. Skin prick testing or blood tests often called laboratory RAST or specific-IgE testing. Patients can be confused about the difference. In this article we note what The Royal College of Physicians said about these tests.

A scent that makes dust mites panic

The chemical that makes house dust mites gather together in defense has been identified as neryl formate, a common scent used in foods and perfumes.

Pancake Syndrome - Oral anaphylaxis from mite ingestion

As far back as 1993 clinical reports began to document cases of severe allergic reactions from baked food made with mite infested wheat flour. In 2009 the World Allergy Organisation recognised this phenomenon by publishing a paper on the subject, it is called 'Pancake Syndrome', or oral mite anaphylaxis (OMA). Now medical opinion leaders are calling for all physicians to be made aware of OMA, how to diagnose it and how to educate patients on dust mite reduction.

Six kinds of asthma, dust mites can affect them all

The six different types of asthma are: allergic (most common); occupational (work associated); steroid resistant (severe asthma); drug related; exercise induced and asthma related to obesity. Although they are separate they can work together to make asthma worse. Exposure to dust mites can impact on all of these.

Children at risk from dust mite allergy and poor sleep

Doctors and child psychiatrists looked at the harm from poor sleeping patterns in children and identified active allergies as a risk. They then coined the phrase, 'a need for good sleep hygiene'. Sleep hygiene includes, 'avoiding influences likely to make it difficult to get to sleep and sleep soundly'. Poor breathing, coughing or itching from dust mite exposure is a known risk to sound sleep - avoidance has been shown to be beneficial.

What doctors found in house dust mite droppings - a review

Thirty-three years ago scientists investigated the contents of house dust mite droppings. They found two species of fungus along with an active digestive enzyme acting as a major mite allergen. By 2011 fourteen separate mite allergens had been identified along with DNA from bacteria and mites, chitin and quanine. This is a review of some of the investigations.

House Dust Mites can drown in a normal wash

House dust mites can drown in a normal family wash and their allergens washed away in the dirty water. The hotter the water, more mites are killed. 60°C will kill all mites and their eggs. Washing bedding or clothing weekly in warm water will remove most, or all, mites, but not guarantee re-establishment of a mite's colony.

Why house dust mites (HDM) cause allergy

The reason why so many people are allergic to house dust mites is now clear. One of the mite's major allergens (found it its droppings) is an aggressive digestive enzyme that can attack and melt the 'glue' that binds delicate cells together. These cells are in the nose, lungs, eyes or on vulnerable skin. The mite's enzyme is so powerful that it can actually kill cells causing a breach in the body's defences. In mite sensitive people the enzyme's attack results in an immune reaction that is so fierce it can damage adjacent healthy cells causing a chain reaction of harm known as an allergic reaction. This is how house dust mites can cause allergy.

Skin prick testing - examples of allergic reactions

Below are photographs of allergy testing for common indoor allergens, including dust mites. The photographs are examples from case studies carried out by the late Dr Harry Morrow Brown and demonstrate the results of skin prick testing in allergy, a common clinical procedure used by doctors to identify triggers to avoid. Allergy testing, such as this, is used in conjunction with a detailed medical history of the patient, including family background. The photographs demonstrate the quality of care needed in diagnosing and treating an allergic condition.

Diesel dust can carry house dust mite (HDM) allergens into lungs

Ultra-fine diesel particles from traffic can carry toxic metals, grass pollen and house dust mite allergens deep into lungs.

Seven different dust mite species found living in an old mattress

By cutting core sections from an old box-spring mattress a scientist found seven different species of mite infestations. Among the species identified were house dust mites, storage mites and one follicle mite, all of which are known to cause disease in humans. 95% of the mites found were within 1.5 cm of the top of the mattress.

Why ventilate your home against house dust mites?

House dust is a complex mixture containing many different foreign proteins, as well as a variety of arthropods [i.e. mites], nematodes [worms], bacteria, fungi and human skin scales. Ventilation, combined with controlled humidity is key to controlling the levels of dust exposure to vulnerable lungs.

Report on a historic house dust mite (HDM) avoidance study

In 1990 UK scientists designed a clinical study to identify 120 babies 'at risk from asthma' at birth. The infants came from parents with a history of asthma or allergic disease, or from families with a child already diagnosed with an allergic condition. To further identify the 'at risk' babies at birth, the scientists looked at the cord blood levels to measure total IgE antibodies.

House dust mites (HDM) as a cause of food allergy

If you think house dust mite (HDM) allergies and food allergies are separate, think again! An allergen from the mite has been found in poorly stored wheat flour and in the human gut. Doctors know that infested flour can cause a rare form of severe allergic reaction, but are unsure of what effects the allergen has on the gut. World Allergy Organisation advice is to keep opened flour in the fridge or freezer to prevent HDM infestation.

Why house dust mites thrive on discarded skin scales

Although house dust mites can survive without eating skin scales they are their favourite food. The reason is because a decomposing scale offers the mite a ready-made plateful of nourishing foods including yeasts, bacteria, fungi and microorganisms. The scale itself can be hard for the mite to digest, as is evident by traces of scales found in the mite's dropping.

Random Tweets about house dust mites

Presented here are random Tweets posted on @housedustmite. They are part of a collection of over 2,652 tweets about dust mites, how they live and die and the diseases they cause. This collection of Tweets will change periodically to promote public interest in the mite and provide information on how to control infestation indoors.

Interesting photos of adult house dust mites

Presented here are five different photographs of adult house dust mites accompanied with facts of interest. They are here to encourage the study of mites in schools. Although the five mites have been seen through a scanning electronic micrograph, it is worth remembering that each mite in reality is approximately the size of this dot . in other words barely visible.

House dust mites were once mange mites

Millions of years ago the house dust mite and the sheep scab mite lived together as parasites of warm-blooded animals. At some stage in time the house dust mite became a scavenger less dependent upon the health of its host for survival. By comparing the lives of the two mites living today echoes of past parasitic behaviour become apparent. The house dust mite is not as harmless as portrayed.

House dust mite droppings hold a secret

The net or membrane that holds a house dust mite dropping together is a semi-permeable network of fibres that contains proteins and a tough protective material called chitin. It is created in the hind gut of the mite by a valve that binds several clumps of various matter together into one 'poop'. Within this mass are enzymes that hold an ancient secret.

Importance of Allergy Patch Testing

Allergic reactions to house dust mites can happen immediately or be delayed by several hours causing confusion in identifying the cause of a reaction. Allergy testing can help.

Describing the best anti-mite fabric

To block house dust mites from entering a fabric researchers recommend that the customer looks for a product with a thread count greater than 246/in2 (threads per square inch) in a smooth fabric made from twisted cotton or synthetic fibres.

House dust mite (HDM) droppings recycle fungi

Living in an old mattress doctors found several allergy causing mite colonies plus twenty-six different species of fungus. The extraordinary amount of fungi may have been helped by the fact that a house dust mite's (HDM) gut is not toxic enough to kill all fungi, instead selected species pass through unharmed and grow again in damp, dark, still environments. This event has been photographed using a sophisticated scanning electron microscope as seen below.

House dust mite's life cycle

A female house dust mite may lay 1 to 3 eggs a day. After 6 to 12 days the egg will hatch producing a six-legged larva which will feed then pass through 2 nymphal stages before emerging as an adult to join the colony. Like many animals a growing mite will shed its temporary outer shell-like covering. While a new covering is being formed an immature mite is vulnerable to attack from other mites.