House dust mite

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House dust mites (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) aggregate

House dust mites (HDM, or simply dust mites) are a large number of mites found in association with dust in dwellings.[1]

The main species are identified as:

  • Dermatophagoides farinae (American house dust mite)
  • Dermatophagoides microceras
  • Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (European house dust mite)
  • Euroglyphus maynei (Mayne's house dust mite)



The dust mites are cosmopolitan members of the mite family Pyroglyphidae.


A scanning electron micrograph of a female dust mite

House dust mites, due to their very small size and translucent bodies, are barely visible to the unaided eye.[2] A typical house dust mite measures 0.2–0.3 mm (0.008–0.012 in) in length.[3] For accurate identification, one needs at least 10× magnification.[citation needed] The body of the house dust mite has a striated cuticle.


They feed on skin flakes from animals, including humans, and on some mold. Dermatophagoides farinae fungal food choices in 16 tested species commonly found in homes was observed in vitro to be Alternaria alternata, Cladosporium sphaerospermum, and Wallemia sebi, and they disliked Penicillium chrysogenum, Aspergillus versicolor, and Stachybotrys chartarum.[4]


The predators of dust mites are other allergenic mites (Cheyletiella), silverfish and pseudoscorpions.[5]


The average life cycle for a house dust mite is 65–100 days[6]. A mated female house dust mite can last up to 70 days, laying 60 to 100 eggs in the last 5 weeks of her life. In a 10-week life span, a house dust mite will produce approximately 2,000 fecal particles and an even larger number of partially digested enzyme-covered dust particles.

Health issues[edit]


House dust mite allergy[edit]

The mite's gut contains potent digestive enzymes (notably Peptidase 1) that persist in their feces and are major inducers of allergic reactions such as wheezing. The mite's exoskeleton can also contribute to allergic reactions. Unlike scabies mites or skin follicle mites, house dust mites do not burrow under the skin and are not parasitic.[7]

Severe dust mite infestation in the home has been linked to atopic dermatitis and epidermal barrier damage has been documented.[8]

House dust mites are associated with allergic rhinitis and asthma,[9] as well as allergic conjunctivitis.[10] Efforts to remove these mites from the environment have not been found to be effective.[9] Immunotherapy may be useful in those affected.[9] Subcutaneous injections have better evidence than under the tongue dosing.[11] Topical steroids as nasal spray or inhalation may be used.[12]

Oral mite anaphylaxis[edit]

Dermatophagoides spp. can cause oral mite anaphylaxis (AKA pancake syndrome) when found in flour.[13][14]

Dust mite control techniques[edit]

Bed linen[edit]

Dust mite-proof encasements to mattress, pillow, and duvet, prevents chronic contact with allergens.[12]

Weekly changing the bed linen reduces the risk of exposure to dust mites.[12]

Cotton covers not covered with complete mattress covers are very likely to become colonised by bacteria and molds; they must be cleaned periodically (at least every second to third month).[15]

Dust mite eggs are freeze tolerant (-70 °C for 30 minutes); hatching can normally be prevented by exposure of fabrics to:[16]

  • Direct sunlight for 3 h or
  • Dry/wet heat of 60 and 70 °C for a minimum of 30 min.
  • Dust mites drown in water.[17]

Dust mite-proof bedclothes may reduce the exposure to 20%.[18]

Good properties of anti-mite fabrics have been identified as being:[19]

  • Thread count greater than 246.
  • Pore size of between 2-10 micron.
  • Allergen impenetrability >99%.
  • Dust leakage of less than 4%.
  • Breathability between 2-6 cm3/second/cm2.

Indoor climate[edit]

A practical way to control dust mites and their allergens is to maintain a relative humidity of less than 45% with a dehumidifier during summer, and a room temperature of 22 °C / 71.6 °F.[17]


  1. ^ "house dust mites - Dermatophagoides spp".
  2. ^ "Why Study the Mite". Retrieved September 29, 2013.
  3. ^ "The House Dust Mite". Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  4. ^ Naegele, Alexandre; Reboux, Gabriel; Scherer, Emeline; Roussel, Sandrine; Millon, Laurence (1 April 2013). "Fungal food choices of Dermatophagoides farinae affect indoor fungi selection and dispersal". International Journal of Environmental Health Research. 23 (2): 91–95. doi:10.1080/09603123.2012.699029. ISSN 0960-3123. PMID 22774849.
  5. ^ "".
  6. ^ Miller, J.D. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol (2018).
  7. ^ Barb Ogg. "Managing House Dust Mites". University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  8. ^ Cork, Michael J; Robinson, Darren A; Vasilopoulos, Yiannis; Ferguson, Adam; Moustafa, Manar; MacGowan, Alice; Duff, Gordon W; Ward, Simon J; Tazi-Ahnini, Rachid (2006). "New perspectives on epidermal barrier dysfunction in atopic dermatitis: Gene–environment interactions". Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 118 (1): 3–21, quiz 22–3. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2006.04.042. PMID 16815133.
  9. ^ a b c Biagtan, M; Viswanathan, R; Bush, RK (December 2014). "Immunotherapy for house dust mite sensitivity: where are the knowledge gaps?". Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. 14 (12): 482. doi:10.1007/s11882-014-0482-0. PMC 5034865. PMID 25354663.
  10. ^ Lee, Young Ji; Han, Soo Jung; Lee, Hun; Kim, Jin Sun; Seo, Kyoung Yul (2016). "Development of Allergic Conjunctivitis Induced by House Dust Mite Extract FromDermatophagoides pteronyssinus". Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 57 (4): 1773–81. doi:10.1167/iovs.15-17340. ISSN 1552-5783. PMID 27074380.
  11. ^ Eifan, AO; Calderon, MA; Durham, SR (November 2013). "Allergen immunotherapy for house dust mite: clinical efficacy and immunological mechanisms in allergic rhinitis and asthma". Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy. 13 (11): 1543–56. doi:10.1517/14712598.2013.844226. PMID 24099116.
  12. ^ a b c Carrard, A; Pichler, C (April 2012). "[House dust mite allergy]". Therapeutische Umschau. 69 (4): 249–52. doi:10.1024/0040-5930/a000281. PMID 22477664.
  13. ^ Barrera, OM; Murgas, IL; Bermúdez, S; Miranda, RJ (June 2015). "[Oral anaphylaxis by ingestion of mite contaminated food in Panama City, 2011-2014]". Revista Alergia Mexico. 62 (2): 112–7. PMID 25958374.
  14. ^ Sánchez-Borges, Mario; Suárez-Chacon, Raúl; Capriles-Hulett, Arnaldo; Caballero-Fonseca, Fernan; Iraola, Victor; Fernández-Caldas, Enrique (1 January 2009). "Pancake Syndrome (Oral Mite Anaphylaxis)". World Allergy Organization Journal. 2 (5): 158. doi:10.1186/1939-4551-2-5-91. ISSN 1939-4551.
  15. ^ Pitten FA, Kalveram CM, Krüger U, Müller G, Kramer A (September 2000). "Reduktion der Besiedlung neuwertiger Matratzen mit Bakterien, Schimmelpilzen und Hausstaubmilben durch Matratzenganzbezüge" [Reduction of colonization of new mattresses with bacteria, moulds and house dust mites by complete mattress covers]. Der Hautarzt. 51 (9): 655–60. doi:10.1007/s001050051. PMID 11057391.
  16. ^ Mahakittikun, V; Boitano, JJ; Ninsanit, P; Wangapai, T; Ralukruedej, K (December 2011). "Effects of high and low temperatures on development time and mortality of house dust mite eggs". Experimental & Applied Acarology. 55 (4): 339–47. doi:10.uk1007/s10493-011-9480-2 (inactive 2018-12-19). PMID 21751035.
  17. ^ a b Portnoy, Jay; Miller, Jeffrey D.; Williams, P. Brock; Chew, Ginger L.; Miller, J. David; Zaitoun, Fares; Phipatanakul, Wanda; Kennedy, Kevin; Barnes, Charles; Grimes, Carl; Larenas-Linnemann, Désirée; Sublett, James; Bernstein, David; Blessing-Moore, Joann; Khan, David; Lang, David; Nicklas, Richard; Oppenheimer, John; Randolph, Christopher; Schuller, Diane; Spector, Sheldon; Tilles, Stephen A.; Wallace, Dana (9 May 2017). "Environmental assessment and exposure control of dust mites: a practice parameter". Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 111 (6): 465–507. doi:10.1016/j.anai.2013.09.018. ISSN 1081-1206. PMC 5156485. PMID 24267359.
  18. ^ "Expensive anti-dust mite bed covers 'are a waste of money'". Mail Online. 2014-03-03.
  19. ^ Mite, House Dust. "Best fabrics to exclude dust mites". House Dust Mite Allergy Site.

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