Skip to main content
Last Updated: February 27, 2019


Asthma: Dust Mites 1

Images: Wikipedia; free clip art

Big Idea: Dust mites are in every home and are only really a problem if you have a dust mite allergy.

Talking Points:

  • Dust mites are one of the three environmental triggers known to cause asthma (in all ages).
  • Size: smaller than one grain of table salt (0.3 mm) – smaller than Lincoln on the penny, can’t really be seen without 10x magnification
  • Typical mattress contains tens of thousands
  • Feed on flakes of dead skin shed from your body
  • Our body heat and sweat combine with those skin cells to grow mold that serves as food for the mites.
  • Exoskeletons and feces contain enzymes that are inhaled in airborne dust and cause allergy symptoms

NCSU Extension Publications, “Mites that ‘Bug’ People,” last updated June 2015.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American, “Dust Mite Allergy,” Medical review 2015.
Comparison of dust mite to Lincoln penny
Portnoy et al., 2013, “Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures,” American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Categories: Asthma