Dander is an informal term for a material shed from the body of various animals, including humans, which have fur, hair, or feathers. The term is similar to dandruff, when an excess of flak becomes visible. Skin flakes that come off the main body of an animal are dander, while the flakes of skin called dandruff come from the scalp and are composed of epithelial skin cells. The surface layer of mammalian skin is called the stratum corneum, which is shed as part of normal skin replacement.
Dander is microscopic, and can be transported through the air in house dust, where it forms the diet of the house dust mite. Through the air, dander can enter the mucous membranes in the nose and lungs, causing allergies in susceptible individuals, largely through the mechanism of allergy to proteins in the bodies of the dust mites that live on dander. Dander builds up in carpets and in mattresses and pillows, so smooth surfaces predispose to an environment where levels of dander can be controlled more easily. More pet dander is sloughed off in older animals than in younger animals. Dander build up can be a cause of allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, in humans. Damp dusting and vacuum cleaners fitted with HEPA filters reduce re-distribution of the dander dust, with associated dust mites, into the air.
- Hasselbring, Bobbie. "Dander". Discovery Channel. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
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