In the beams of late afternoon sun that shine aslant through a window, you may see tiny white specks floating through the air. Most of these are flakes of dander; the dust on top of your bookshelves is largely a film of dead human skin. Composed of protein, this dust in turn supports molds and other microscopic organisms that feed on the skin cells and each other. One of these organisms is the house dust mite, Dermatophagoides6 (der-MAT-oh-fah-GOY-deez) (fig. 6.4). (What wonders may be found in humble places!)
Dermatophagoides thrives abundantly in pillows, mattresses, and upholstery—warm, humid places that are liberally sprinkled with edible flakes of keratin. No home is without these mites, and it is impossible to entirely exterminate them. What was once regarded as "house dust allergy" has been identified as an allergy to the inhaled feces of these mites.
Figure 6.4 Dermatophagoides, the House Dust Mite.
Chapter 6 The Integumentary System 195
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.