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10 Dust Mite Facts and Statistics

Updated
Dust mites live in every home, feeding on our skin cells. Let’s learn more about them.

Dust mites are pretty gross and ugly creatures. They look quite terrifying and, unfortunately, infest every home.

If you’re intrigued by these tiny insect-like creatures, we’ve got 10 dust mite facts and statistics to help. While they might freak you out, they’ll better educate you on these species.

We’ll cover whether they’re harmful, what you can do about them and how to determine if you’re allergic.

Dust Mite Facts and Statistics

Dust mites are everywhere, in every home. While harmless, around 10 percent of people are allergic to them, which can cause unpleasant cold-like symptoms. They can survive an entire year and cause allergies no matter the season. There is no cure for a dust mite allergy, but antihistamines can help.


10 Key Dust Mite Facts and Statistics

  1. Dust mites look like spiders — they’re tiny, have eight legs, and are white.
  2. Dust mites eat the dust from our skin cells.
  3. These creatures don’t bite people or drink blood.
  4. Dust mites thrive in moist and humid environments.
  5. Mostly, dust mites live in soft areas like the bed, carpet, sofa, and on clothes.
  6. Dust mites produce allergens from their body and feces droppings.
  7. Around 10 percent of people have a dust mite allergy.
  8. Dust mites can cause allergy-like symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and congestion.
  9. Dust mites aren’t seasonal. Some can survive summer, and some can survive winter, causing allergies throughout every season.
  10. There is no cure for a dust mite allergy, but antihistamines and decongestants can help alleviate symptoms.

Interesting Dust Mite Facts

If you want some fun facts about these little creatures, we have some interesting dust mite information to share. These five facts might teach you something new about these tiny mites.

  1. They look like tiny spiders: If you have arachnophobia, you might want to skip this fact (and don’t Google any photos). But dust mites look like tiny spiders. They have eight legs and are white in color, and honestly, just as creepy as a spider.
  2. Dust mites eat dust: They get their name because their favorite foods are human skin cells in the dust. Since we shed so much skin daily, we attract a lot of dust mites.
  3. Dust mites don’t bite: Despite their evil appearance, they won’t hurt you. They have claws near their mouth, but they aren’t parasites. They won’t eat your blood, and they won’t bite you.
  4. Dust mites love moisture: Another easy way to keep dust mites alive is with moisture. While they mostly eat dead skin, they can also absorb moisture. So if you live in a humid environment, you probably have a few extra dust mites hanging around.
  5. Where do they live?: Dust mites mostly live in soft items such as a mattress, sheets, carpets, sofas, and even your clothes.

Dust Mite Allergy

As mentioned, dust mites aren’t harmful in themselves. They don’t bite; they’re very small; they won’t drink your blood. But if you have a dust mite allergy, you could be suffering. Here are five dust mite allergy facts that are helpful to keep in mind.

  1. Dust mites produce allergens: If you react to dust mites, you’re reacting to the allergens produced by the dust mites. These allergens come from their body, feces, and dust particles (people are basically allergic to dust mite droppings — sorry, gross) (1).
  2. A dust mite allergy is common: Studies suggest that up to 10 percent of people have a dust mite allergy (2). Around 20 million Americans have a dust mite allergy. If you need answers, your doctor can diagnose the allergy by doing a Skin Prick Test or a specific IgE blood test.
  3. Dust mite allergy symptoms: Common symptoms include sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes, itchy skin, postnasal drip, itchy throat, and a cough. If you have asthma and a dust mite allergy, you could experience chest pain, difficulty breathing, and wheezing.
  4. Dust mites are present the whole year: Dust mites are the most common cause of year-round allergies. Unlike hay fever, which is typically constricted to summer, a dust mite allergy can last through every season.
  5. Dust mite allergy treatment: There is no cure for a dust mite allergy, but there are some treatment options. Antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, and decongestants may alleviate symptoms. A leukotriene receptor antagonist or cromolyn sodium spray can also help.

Wear A Mask

The best way to minimize dust mites in your home is by cleaning regularly and keeping humidity levels low. When vacuuming or dusting, wear a filtering mask to prevent dust mites from getting into your airway.

Does Everyone Have Dust Mites?

Everybody has dust mites in their home — while this may seem embarrassing, it’s totally normal (3). These microscopic creatures are around 0.4 millimeters long and feed on human skin. No matter how often you clean and how hard you scrub, your home will still have dust mites.

Are Dust Mites Harmful?

Dust mites aren’t dangerous, but some people are allergic. You don’t need to worry too much about dust mites if you’re not allergic.

If you are allergic, you might notice itchy eyes, cold-like symptoms, and congestion, especially in the morning. These creatures love hiding in a bed and pillows.

In this case, you should clean your bedding weekly in hot water before drying them on a hot setting. A dust mite-proof cover can also help.

Top Tip For Allergies

It would help if you replaced soft furnishings and flooring with hard floors. Dust mites can’t survive on harder surfaces.

FAQs

What is the Average Lifespan of a Dust Mite?

Between two and three months (4). But in the final five weeks of a female dust mite’s life, she can lay up to 100 eggs. So for every dust mite that dies, a few more dozen are born.

What Temperature Kills Dust Mites?

Hot water at 130 degrees Fahrenheit can kill dust mites (5). Even 15 minutes in the dryer at this temperature can kill dust mites.

You can also freeze items at five degrees Fahrenheit for 48 hours, which can kill dust mites and their eggs (6). However, it’s important to note that some dust mites survived this experiment. And you should always wash the item after killing the mites to remove the allergens.

Do Dust Mites Survive the Washing Machine?

Unfortunately, they can. A study found that washing clothing and bedding in warm and cold water with detergent (and sometimes bleach) only removed up to 83 percent of dust mites (7). That’s why it’s crucial to employ a hot wash from time to time.


Living With Dust Mites

Dust mites aren’t going anywhere — no matter how hard we try, we can’t remove dust mites entirely from our homes. While we can minimize dust mites and treat our symptoms, these creatures multiply like madness.

Through our 10 dust mite facts and statistics, you’ve probably realized that these creatures are mostly harmless. But if you have a dust mite allergy, they can be harmful. If you have annoying symptoms that you’d like some control over, check in with your doctor for advice.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!