Dust mites are the most common cause of allergy from house dust, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The microscopic creatures are found in carpets, pillows, upholstered furniture, and mattresses. They feed on dead flakes of skin. Dust mite allergy symptoms can include sneezing, congestion, irritated eyes, and coughing.(1)
The first step in dealing with dust mites is to minimize exposure. The following recommendations are offered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:
- Cover mattresses and pillows in zippered dust-proof covers. These covers are made of a material with pores too small to let dust mites and their waste product through.
- Wash sheets and blankets weekly in hot water, at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Get rid of all types of fabric that mites love and that you cannot easily wash regularly in hot water. Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting, curtains, blinds, upholstered furniture and down-filled covers and pillows in the bedroom. Put roll-type shades on your windows instead of curtains.
- Have someone without a dust mite allergy clean your bedroom. If this is not possible, wear a filtering mask when dusting or vacuuming. Many drug stores carry these items. Dusting and vacuuming stir up dust. Try to do these chores when you can stay out of the bedroom for a while afterward.
- Wash rugs in hot water whenever possible.(3)
“Dust can be a sneeze-inducing annoyance for anyone, but only certain people have the immune responses that actually constitute a dust mite allergy.”(4) The only way to determine a dust mite allergy is through testing. For skin testing, a tiny amount of the allergen is pricked onto the skin and a doctor or nurse checks the skin for a reaction.(2)
In addition to limiting exposure to dust mites, patients may be directed to try different medications, such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, or decongestants. When these treatments do no relieve symptoms, patients may consider immunotherapy.(2) Both subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) work by gradually increasing a patient’s tolerance to an allergen, such as dust mites.(1)
(1) American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Dust Allergy, https://acaai.org/allergies/
(2) Mayo Clinic, Dust Mite Allergy, https://www.mayoclinic.org/
(3) Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Dust Mite Allergy, https://www.aafa.org/
(4) Healthline, Dust Mite Allergy, https://www.healthline.com/