Humidity and Dust Mites

HUMIDIFIERS, what you need to know!

We pharmacists frequently get questions about choosing a humidifier. Your Nickman’s Pharmacist can help you make that decision but here is some pertinent information.

· Every homeowner should own a hygrometer that measures temperature and relative humidity. The ideal relative humidity for health and comfort is about 40-50%. Most allergists recommend, “before you recommend a humidifier, recommend a hygrometer first!”

· In the winter months, it may have to be lower than 40% relative humidity to avoid condensation on the windows

· If a parent wants a cool mist humidifier for a child who is congested or has a runny nose, keep in mind that it may make their allergies worse, especially if they are allergic to dust mites and mold.

· Dust mites and mold like high humidity levels, so a humidifier will increase humidity and make allergies worse. Mites contain about 70% to 75% water by weight and must maintain this to reproduce. Their primary source of water for dust mites is ambient water vapor

· For dust mite control, you want to keep humidity levels low. An air conditioner or dehumidifier can help to keep humidity levels low -below 50% if possible. (30% is adequate)

FACTS about Dust Mites:

Adult Mite Lifespan: Up to 3 months

Reproduction: Female mites lay about 25 to 50 eggs

Where they live: Mites live in carpet, fabric upholstery, and mattresses.

What they eat: Human skin scale, animal dander and trace nutrients. Mites need to absorb humidity, since they cannot drink water.

What causes the allergies: the answer is simple-- dust mite fecal material. Dust mites do not bite, and they are microscopic.

Temperature Range: approx. 59°F to 95°F

Relative Humidity Range: approx. 55% to 85%

Reducing exposure to dust mites:

• Use bedding encasements that cover pillows and mattresses with zippered covers, which are impermeable to mites and mite allergens.

• Wash sheets, pillowcases, and blankets in hot or warm water with detergent or dry in an electric dryer on the hot setting weekly.

• Use washable, vinyl, or roll-type window covers.

• Remove clutter, soft toys, and upholstered furniture. Limit stuffed animals to those that can be washed.

• Remove or replace wall to wall carpets with area rugs that can be cleaned/washed.

• Wash bed linens weekly

• Avoid down fillings- encase comforters with fine mesh material

• Reduce humidity levels between 30 -50%

Excess humidity can also cause:

• Damage walls, paint, wallpaper, insulation, and ceilings

• Mold growth on household surfaces, which can cause health issues in sensitive individuals

• Condensation or fog forming on walls or glass surfaces, such as mirrors, pictures or windowpanes.

• Dampness around the humidifier.

Always consult your Nickman’s Pharmacist!

Next edition we will discuss selection and care of your humidifier.