The house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus is about half the size of a period on a newspaper. It has no sight, no respiratory system and is unable to drink, but lives by absorbing moisture and oxygen from the atmosphere. Mite droppings, which contain digestive enzymes, are a major cause of allergy worldwide.

The house dust mite is an ancient creature that has developed a clever method of recycling its food. It uses its droppings as "food parcels". Powerful enzymes in the tiny droppings break down hard-to-digest food for later nourishment. These enzymes cause and trigger allergies in humans by breaking down delicate living tissue.

The mite can produce up to twenty droppings a day, which means approximately 2000 during its active lifetime of up to 3 to 4 months.  From eggs to  breeding adults, mites pass through six stages of life. The adult female can lay from 60-100 eggs depending upon living conditions, which ideally for breeding mites are warm dark and damp. Most modern conventional mattresses provide perfect breeding conditions. An important fact to note; the house dust mite's biological make-up is 75% water. It must maintain this moisture content to breed. Reducing moisture is a threat to its existence.

The house dust mite will not bite. It is a scavenger with a preference for discarded skin scales, but will eat pollen grains, insect scales, bacteria and plant fibres. The mite is a necessary scavenger in nature which man must learn to understand and respect. This simple creature has been on earth for about 23 million years. It came to live with humans only 10,000 years ago.

When people with a family history of allergy are repeatedly exposed to house dust mite droppings, they can develop a specific allergy to mites. Once allergy is diagnosed and allergic reactions become frequent, then allergic disease can develop. Continued exposure to the mite allergens can then become a trigger for chronic symptoms.

Rhinitis (hay fever) is a good example of how mites can cause and trigger chronic allergic disease. Initial contact with mite droppings may have resulted in annoying symptoms of repeated sneezing or a constant runny nose. Further exposure can lead to a permanently stuffy or 'bunged-up' nose and losing the sense of smell. Once chronic symptoms such as these become established, it is difficult to tell when further allergen exposure takes place because the  allergic reactions are joined in one long symptom. Chronic rhinitis is clinically recognized as a risk factor for the development of allergic asthma.

The major mite allergen Der p 1 can downgrade a natural lung defence against common and harmful bacteria. Mites need warm, dark, damp conditions, with plenty of food available in order to breed. If these indoor conditions exist mites will feel “at home” and multiply. It is important to control mite infestations to reduce the risk of over-exposure to this creature. Protect-A-Bed Mattress Protectors will block the dust mites access to your mattress, keeping it dry and clean, preventing bacteria, mold and other allergens from infiltrating your sleep surface creating a less then ideal place for these noxious dust mites to thrive.