How does a House Dust mite live?

House dust mites are microscopic arthropods and their estimated size is approximately 1/4 to 1/3 millimeters. House dust mites hence cannot be seen with our naked eyes and can be seen only with a microscope. House dust mites are the most important indoor aero-allergen worldwide which lead to year round allergies like asthma, allergic nose or allergic rhinitis, eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis and atopic eczema.

What is the average lifespan of a dust mite?
Dust mites live for an average period of 4-6 weeks. They produce 50-100 eggs and baby mites reach adulthood in 3-4 weeks.

What is the favorite food for dust mites?
House dust mites feed on dead skin cells which are shed from human skin. It is estimated that on an average day one adult human being sheds 1.5 grams of dead skin cells. Almost one million dust mites can feed upon them at a time.

What are the major allergens in House dust mites?
The most important allergen in house dust mites is their fecal waste pellets. This allergen comes into the air during activities like making a bed, moving one’s face on a pillow, walking on or vacuuming a carpet, hugging a stuffed toy, or putting on a sweater, etc. When the particles come into the air they get into the breathing system and can reach upto the lungs.

Where do dust mites live in our homes?
House dust mites are commonly found in households since they feed on dead human skin cells. House dust mites tend to make homes in places where the concentration of dead skin cells is the highest. These places are mattresses, bed sheets, pillows, furniture, carpets, woolen clothes, rugs and stuffed toys. Dust mites tend to burrow themselves deep into the cloth fibres. Old mattresses have highest mite allergen levels presumably result of many generations of dust mites having provided accumulated allergenic waste.

What are the most suitable conditions for growth of dust mites?
The most important factors which decide the growth of dust mites is the humidity and temperature of the environment. Dust mites proliferate maximally at a relative humidity of 75%. At constant <50%, dust mites are unable to maintain water balance and adult dust mites dehydrate and eventually die. Optimal temperature for growth of dust mites is 30-40 C. Higher and lower temperatures hamper their growth. While dust mites can be found all over the world, they tend to be seen highest in hot and humid climates.

If your child is suffering from regular symptoms of allergies like allergic nose/rhinitis, asthma, recurrent wheezing, eye allergy/allergic conjunctivitis you need to get in touch with a pediatric allergist for proper testing to diagnose the cause of the allergy and get appropriate treatment.

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