As many as 20 million Americans are allergic to dust, specifically, dust mites. These microscopic creatures are the most common trigger for year-round allergies and asthma symptoms. While you can’t completely get rid of dust mites, it’s possible to lessen their hold on your home, thereby reducing your symptoms.

Dust mite allergy symptoms are similar to that of a pollen allergy, including:

  • Itchy nose, mouth, and/or throat
  • Itchy, red, and/or watering eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Postnasal drip

Dust mites thrive in temperatures 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit and 70-80% humidity, conditions humans also enjoy in their homes. They eat the dead skin that naturally sheds and flakes from the human body. The average person sheds about 1.5 grams of skin each day, which gets down deep into furniture upholstery, carpets, mattresses, and soft toys.

Both the dust mites and their waste can cause allergic reactions. Having dust mites doesn’t mean your home is unclean. Depending on the area you live in (Florida, for example, having such a warm, humid climate), dust mites are inevitable and live all year round. There are steps you can take, though, to reduce their numbers and the effects they have.

  • Cover mattresses and pillows in zippered dust-proof covers
  • Wash your sheets and blankets weekly
  • If possible, avoid carpeting, drapes, and other fabrics in the home that can’t easily be washed
  • Wear a filtering mask when cleaning and vacuuming
  • Install a HEPA filter on your vacuum cleaner and AC unit
  • Use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in your home to at least 50%

If you’re still experiencing symptoms after taking these steps to reduce your exposure to dust mites, consider going to see a doctor. Over the counter and prescription medications may help if the allergy is severe.