How to get rid of dust mites and why you want to!

Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
November 15, 2012 | 13 Comments

DO YOU HAVE DUST MITES?

picture of Dermatophagoides farinae - common dust mite

Well, yes, you probably do unless you live in a glass bubble. Dust mites can trigger hay fever and other serious allergic symptoms, as well as atopic dermatitis. But the good news is we think we’ve found some ways to alleviate those nasty little creepies. Read on - but first read the unpleasant stuff you should know so you'll be sufficiently motivated to do something about them.

GROSS STUFF:

Apparently, dust mites have been around longer than dinosaurs. Not only that, there are probably up to 100 million different species of mites in existence, from the depths of the ocean to the most remote desert.  The common house dust mite, commonly referred to by allergy specialists as HDM (they are so clever don't you think) is also a close relative of scabies living mainly on fungi and rotting skin scales. It is a scavenger and will eat what it can find. For those who care, a common American species is known specifically as Dermatophagoides farinae.

THE REALLY GROSS STUFF:

An average mite will deposit up to 20 poo (dung) pellets a day and these “pellets” contain scraps of food, debris and enzymes that are very potentially harmful to humans. In fact, mites can and will eat their own droppings up to three times. These tiny little dung pellets in an unventilated room can remain suspended in still air for 20 minutes. The food of choice for a dust mite is skin scales, but it will also survive on pollen, insect scales, bacteria and plant fibers. It is, after all, a scavenger.

NOT A PRETTY PICTURE:

Although microscopic in size, the dust mite is absolutely not small in its potential for harm. The house dust mite has eight legs, each with a sucker and hooks. It can easily exist and travel back and forth on clothing, blankets, dog beds, mattresses, books in bookshelves, stuffed toys and furniture. Popular nesting sites for the mite include carpets, padded sofas and chairs, and especially bedding. Modern homes with high temperature, high humidity and lack of ventilation have been shown to be ideal breeding grounds. Dust mites survive best in temperatures in the range of about 77 degrees Fahrenheit and they like a high humidity around 75%.  A dehumidifier that brings the humidity down to 54% consistently can prevent a mite colony from thriving. A female house dust mite can lay up to 1 to 3 eggs daily and the maturity from egg to adult may take up to 30 days.

WHY THEY CAUSE DISEASE:

Identified allergens of the dust mite have been estimated at about 20. The enzymes from the mite are known to cause an allergic-like reaction. The major allergen from the house dust mite is so invasive that it has been found in fetal amniotic fluid at 16 to 17 week gestation and in the cord blood of some babies at birth.

People with a family history of allergies can be especially vulnerable to the mite and its droppings. Allergy specialists consider the common house dust mite (Dermatophagoides spp) to be a high risk determinant for allergic disease such as asthma, eczema, hay fever and atopic dermatitis. According to these experts, excessive exposure to the dust mite in people with these allergy issues is “unacceptable”.

KILL THOSE BUGGERS!

I became particularly concerned and interested in dust mites after some atopic dermatitis issues for my husband and a wheezy-type respiratory problem in me that just wouldn’t go away. I had been literally scratching my head over why our usual course of action wasn’t working. It occurred to me that our symptoms started about the same time the weather turned cool and we closed our usually opened windows. We also have a house full of books on various bookshelves throughout the entire house. And we also have dogs in the house, carpet only in one room (which was where we were sleeping at the time) and I admit it, I’m not the fervent dusting type. And, if I would dust, it was only three days later and sometimes less when it needed dusted again! How frustrating.

Regardless, I realized I had to do something as I began to visualize and obsess about these tiny little monsters everywhere. My research showed that a study, Williamson et all (2007) proved conclusively that some essential oils quite effectively could and would kill dust mite colonies. They found that the most effective essential oil against both lice and mites was tea tree oil. Lavender was the second most effective, and lemon oil the least, but still effective.

STUDY RESULTS:

Lemon Oil –  61% of the dust mites were immobile after 30 minutes and 80% were dead after 2 hours.

Lavender Oil – 86% were immobilized after 30 minutes and 87% were dead after 2 hours.

Tea Tree Oil – 100% of the dust mites were immobilized after 30 minutes and were dead after 2 hours.

I did further study and came up with a blend that I mixed with our All Purpose Cleaner (totally eco-friendly of course) and sprayed down EVERYTHING. I dusted and sprayed the tops of our books, the floors, every piece of furniture in the house, the blinds, the mattresses (and let them air dry), under the beds, washed windows and mirrors, the dogs beds…you get the picture. I even sprayed our bed spread. I am dedicated to keeping this house dusted and it doesn’t seem like a lesson in futility now that I know I’m actually getting rid of dust mites and not just dust that will return quickly. Of course, one of the beautiful things about using essential oils in cleaning products is that you breathe in these health-giving benefits at the same time you are killing the dust mites.

RECOMMENDED BLEND:

This blend is now on the website for purchase and you can find it under the category of Essential Oil Blends. If you want to make it yourself you could mix the essential oils with just distilled water, with any unscented cleaner, or a mix 50:50 of denatured alcohol and distilled water. You will need to shake the bottle each time before using. I blended the essential oils of benzoin, palmarosa, geranium, tea tree, lemon and lavender. When I get the blend on the website, I will also give reasons and further studies showing why I decided to use these particular essential oils – other than the obvious lavender, lemon and tea tree.

Thanks for listening!

 

Ann's mission statement is to provide health and wellness information to you and your family that you may not find in your every-day newspapers or Prevention magazines. Her college studies, certifications and passionate self-study have provided her with a huge spectrum of understanding of the intricate issues and debates concerning health and nutrition. Ann is a Critical Care Registered Nurse, a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Professional, and has been studying nutrition, aromatherapy, skin care health and medicinal herbalism for at least 13 years. Not so surprisingly, all of these interact for health and wellness at a level we all want to achieve. She is an ardent pursuer of verified research and information and spends huge amounts of time searching for information that is relevant and evidence based. We sincerely hope you benefit from her efforts.

References

Williamson, E. M., Priestley, C. M., & Burgess, I. F. (2007). An investigation and comparison of the bioactivity of selected essential oils on human lice and house dust mites. Fitoterapia, 78(7-8), 521-525. 

http://www.housedustmite.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/HDM.com-Leaflet-2011.pdf

 

 

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Comments

The Cure. People will tell you to kill dust mites on the body by the use of topical ointments. You kill dust mites by what you take internally. Take large doses of oil of oregano supplements throughout your day. This oil permeates through your pores and kills your dust mites. Use coconut oil over your skin to get a good nights. The oregano is the cure however.

Posted by Keshia on April 17, 2016

The Cure. People will tell you to kill dust mites on the body by the use of topical ointments. You kill dust mites by what you take internally. Take large doses of oil of oregano supplements throughout your day. This oil permeates through your pores and kills your dust mites. Use coconut oil over your skin to get a good nights. The oregano is the cure however.

Posted by Keshia on April 17, 2016

We have had a problem in our home with mites
for the past 2years.

Yes they do bite. We feel them biting.
o have tried 4 exterminating companies
none have worked.

We will now try the essential oils.

Thanks for the comment

Posted by Cheryl Gill on February 16, 2016

Does anyone experience actual BITES from dust mites, or do I have another kind of mites like a mouse mites. I ruled out bird mites. Sometimes I think a variety of mites all got together and created a new kind of super mite. My clothes have them and I get little red pin prick bites that then present a rash which doesn’t last. I am bathing in epsom salt, skin so soft mixed with some oils like lavender and eucalyptus. I do not feel that they are IN my bed, but I do keep the cats off the actual bedsheets and blankets,they sleep on during the day but on sheet which I remove. I also use a lint brush to brush down the entire bed and my clothing before I put it on when I remember. Washing clothes at laundry [do not have that at home] with drops of eucalyptus and also tea tree, or cedar oil mixed into detergent that is natural with no fragrance or colors, expensive but it has been better on my skin. Also using dryer sheets with no fragrance. This has been an ongoing nightmare for me since 2009 when my late cat killed a mouse that we did not find right away, 6 months later we had fleas but also these little mite like things and I has a nervous breakdown and had to start taking medication for anxiety and depression which I tapered off to just one depression med. My apartment is old, has floors that are not finished or sealed, so I think they come up thru the cracks. I want to move but it is rent stabilized here and we cannot afford to lose this place and risk going somewhere else. Anyway..long story, just wondering again about ‘bites,’ and if anyone gets that too with dust mites.

Posted by Rose on November 10, 2015

Hi Sandy – let me know if you were able to get rid of them! Sorry you are having this problem and thanks for posting!

Posted by Ann @ Wingsets on August 25, 2015

Thank you for doing the research, Ann. Have been miserable, finally had testing, and yep, it’s the only allergen that cropped up. Just finished spraying bed and pillows.

Posted by Sandy on August 24, 2015

A little late, but I sleep on a homemade mattress and use cedar balls soaked in cedar wood and lavender essential oils scattered in the bedding of the mattress. A homemade mattress is nice because I can change out the stuffing every 6 months and air it out weekly in the sun.

Posted by Whitney on August 13, 2015

To Sonya Ho and others… My dog is highly allergic to dust mites, but its their allergen that makes her itch. I sprayed tea tree oil mixed with water to kill the mite, but I sprayed Mite-NIX Allergy Relief Spray to rid the allergen (which may work for Sonya). My dog hasn’t scratched herself since. I found this article while double checking that diluted tea tree oil sprayed on carpets is safe for dogs. I am nervous about it and not letting her in the area I sprayed until many hours are past. We don’t have the best luck. Thx for the article.

Posted by DD on September 05, 2014

MY life is miserable I’m highly allergic to dust mites to the point im on 5 different prescription an its barely working Im looking for anyone or anything that can help me I want to live a normal life

Posted by sonya ho on April 07, 2014

Hi Deb! I will certainly let you know. If you follow Wingsets on Facebook, I will post it there plus in the newsletter. Thanks for asking!! Have a great Thanksgiving.

Posted by Ann @ Wingsets on November 20, 2012

Hi Mary – there is some controversy within the aromatherapy industry about using essential oils cats. There was an indepth discussion on one of my LinkedIn groups – Aromatherapy – where this was discussed. I think personally, I would not use them directly on a cat, but I have friends and family who diffuse essential oils into the same rooms where the cats are and have been for quite a few years. The problem is you won’t see damage done to internal organs. If you’d like I can send you some of the highlights of that discussion. At some point, I would like to do a blog about it. Very good question! I will post it on Facebook and the newsletter when I get the dust mite spray ready. Thanks for commenting!!

Posted by Ann @ Wingsets on November 20, 2012

Hi Ann,
I have two cats and have heard that essential oils can be very dangerous to felines. Other than that I would like to get some of your elixir when you get it ready for sale? What say you about the cats?
Thanks,
Mary B.

Posted by Mary on November 18, 2012

Let me know when this is available!

Posted by deb storz on November 17, 2012

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