You never sleep alone

As you lay awake at night, have you ever felt like you weren’t alone? Well, you’re right. While it’s unlikely that someone is lurking outside your window, or in corner of your room, you have had company every night of your life. The truth is, everyone shares their bed with thousands of little dust mites. And although these animals are almost invisible, and may never be detected, they aren’t as harmless as you may think.

mite
Our little roommate. Image credit: Wellcome Images via Flickr

What are dust mites?

Dust mites are microscopic eight legged organisms, closely related to spiders. They are found all throughout residential homes, but are especially well suited to a life between our sheets, thriving in the warm, dark and humid conditions.

Finding food is no issue at all for the humble dust mite, a bed provides them with an abundance of their favourite food: human skin cells. Every day we will shed billions of skin cells, many of which end up in our bed. This mean that dust mites have a never ending food supply, allowing a single bed to support millions of these critters. But as you can imagine, with such high numbers in our bed, they can sometimes cause problems.

Harmful little bugs

Unlike bedbugs, dust mites are not parasites, they don’t bite. It’s actually their faeces and body fragments that cause issues to humans. Many people are allergic to a protein found in the mites waste resulting a range of symptoms including rashes, itchy eyes, itchy throat and a blocked nose.

Because they are so small, their faeces or body fragments will often become airborne where they can be inhaled. Asthma can therefore be triggered when these allergic reactions occurring in an individual’s airway. It’s for this reason that asthma sufferers need to be extra careful about how many dust mites they’re share their bed with.

When it comes to dust mites being harmful, it’s just a numbers game. The more of them, the greater the chance they’ll cause issues. Because of this the best way to avoid falling victim to the dust mite is to reduce the amount you’re living with. It’s impossible to completely remove them from our lives, but there are a few simple things we can do that makes a big difference.

Reducing their numbers

Unsurprisingly, the best way to keep dust mites out of your bed is to keep it clean. By regularly washing your sheets and blankets you not only remove the dust mites themselves but also their food source. Vacuuming weekly is also very important. The less dead skin cells in and around your bed the better. If you’re losing billions of cells every day then you can imagine that our beds become covered in ‘food’ pretty quickly.

Lowering humidity by keeping your room well ventilated is also recommended. Anything that makes your bed less suitable to dust mites is a step in the right direction. Because in your fight to reclaim your bed everything little thing counts. While you may never be truly alone at night, you can significantly reduce the amount of company you have.

 

Learn more:

Meet the Dust Mites, Tiny Roommates That Feast On Your Skin | Deep Look

Dust Mites