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Why house dust is dangerous, and why wet cleaning is not the best method of dealing with it

'30.09.2022'

Source: Women's Health

We understand what an allergy to dust is and is wet cleaning really useful? Project Recommendations Women’s Health gave an expert Olga Zhogoleva, an allergist-immunologist, PhD, a member of EAACI (European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology), founder of the Everyday Clinic medical center.

Photo: Shutterstock

Where does the dust come from

Dust is small solid particles of organic and mineral origin, which are constantly detached from approximately everything that surrounds us. About 20% of house dust is dead skin and hair flakes, the rest is street dust that has settled on clothes and shoes, textile and paper particles, skin and pet hair flakes, pollen, domestic insect waste products, and sometimes mold spores, which grows in the bathroom and in bookcases. Plus, the so-called cosmic dust - particles of meteorites burnt in the atmosphere.

Why is dust dangerous?

By and large, there is nothing to worry about in house dust - that is, in one that can be seen with the naked eye. But in the city, in addition to ordinary dust, we are surrounded by a myriad of fine particles - invisible dust particles less than 10 microns in size.

Too light to succumb to gravity and quietly settle on horizontal surfaces, the smallest particles of soot, dust, rubber, asphalt, mineral salts, compounds of heavy metals hang in the air and enter the respiratory tract with each breath. They are the most dangerous to health.

“Fine particles can damage the skin and mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, making them more vulnerable,” says Olga Zhogoleva, an allergist and immunologist.

Trying to get rid of harmful particles, the body produces mucus, which sticks them together and allows us to clear our throat. Such symptoms are sometimes mistaken for an allergy, but in most cases this is not an allergic, but a protective reaction of the body, natural and necessary.

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What is a dust allergy?

If you sneeze (cough, scratch or choke) from dust, the dust mite is the first to be suspected. Two species are widespread in our latitudes: Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae. These are microscopic arachnids that do not live on humans, do not bite and do not drink blood and eat exclusively dead epidermal scales. Therefore, by the way, most of all dust mites love to live in bed and on floor carpets, especially if you walk on them with bare feet.

Mites alone rarely cause an allergic reaction. The main allergens are their feces and skins of larvae. The horror is that both types of waste are approaching fine in size: their size is 10–20 microns. So, if you shake a sheet or a duvet cover - and thousands of allergenic dust particles will hang in the air for a long time.

How to understand what you're allergic to

Test the reaction on dust mites. Since dust mites are most often to blame for dust allergies, it makes sense to start with them. In this case, the analysis for each type of tick is done separately.

“This makes it possible to apply ASIT (allergen-specific immunotherapy) when an allergen is detected. The method is based on "teaching" the immune system the correct, non-allergic reaction to an irritant. To do this, the allergen is introduced into the body for a long time in the form of drops, lozenges or subcutaneous injections, ”explains Olga Zhogoleva.

Get tested for complex dust allergens. If you are not in the mood for a long and painstaking ASIT, then it is not necessary to identify "in the face" of each potential enemy in the composition of house dust.

“You can do skin tests (prick tests, intradermal tests) or a blood test for specific IgE with complex dust allergens, which, in addition to mites, includes, for example, mold and cockroach allergens,” says Zhogoleva. The result will not help determine the specific culprit of the allergy, but will show whether, in principle, your allergy is due to dust.

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What to do if you are allergic to dust mites

  • Carry out dry cleaning. The main means of combating dust is wet cleaning, but dust mites multiply most actively when humidity is above 60%. “Therefore, dry cleaning is better,” says Olga Zhogoleva.
  • To control the microclimate. For allergies to dust mites, it is recommended to maintain air humidity in the range of 40-60%. There are special devices for this: analyzers and dehumidifiers.
  • But air purifiers, which, incidentally, do a good job with fine dust, have not been shown to be effective in combating ticks: after all, most allergens of this type do not hang, but settle on surfaces.
  • Use machine dryer. As various studies show, not all mites die during washing. Survivors actively multiply while wet laundry dries on a rope - and their population returns to pre-post-mortem indicators. Therefore, if you are allergic to dust (for Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae, and also for mold too), bedding, as well as blankets and pillows, are best machine-dried.
  • From time to time, clean small dust collectors in the freezer. Theoretically, in winter, ticks, like cockroaches, can be chilled: at temperatures below 0 ° C, they die in a few days - which is why allergies are less common in country houses that are frozen over during the winter than in a warm city apartment. But if chilling out an apartment is, to put it mildly, a thankless task, then putting it in the freezer (for at least 12 hours at a temperature of -18 ° C), for example, soft toys, is quite real.

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