House dust mite allergy often appears in childhood and is as common among girls as among boys.
House dust mites feed on flakes of shed human skin, and prefer to be in bedrooms where the climate is beneficial and where food is found in sufficient amounts. Having dust mites in your bed is, however, not a sign of poor hygiene or uncleanliness, but only of poor ventilation or high air humidity. Dust mite allergy is treated with allergy medicines just like other types of allergies. If over-the-counter options are not sufficient your doctor will be able to prescribe a treatment that will help you.
It is the excrements of dust mites that cause allergic reactions among humans. In the common type of house dust mite, about ten different proteins causing allergies have been found. Mostly the problems peak during the night and in the morning, since it is when you are in bed that you will be in contact with the dust mites. The amount of mites may increase somewhat during late summer and autumn, but since the dust mites stick around your house all year around, dust mite allergy is not, as opposed to hay fever, seasonal. Common symptoms of dust mite allergy are:
A more severe reaction may also lead to asthma symptoms, like wheezing chest sounds, breathing difficulties and abnormal tiredness. Seeing that these problems are sometimes "masked" by other allergies, dust mite allergy may sometimes be hard to detect. To determine whether dust mites are causing your symptoms, the doctor may want to use some dust samples from your bed, run some blood tests, and perform an allergy skin prick test.
It is not possible to completely clear your bed, nor other places, from dust mites, but by using preventive measures it is possible to decrease the amount. First and foremost you should fix whatever damp areas there might be, and improve the ventilation of the house. Dampness is what contributes the most to the well-being and reproduction of the dust mites and a good ventilation helps lowering the air humidity. If the relative air humidity is under 45% the dust mites will find it hard to reproduce.
A dust mite prevention cover on your mattress, pillow and bed covers should also decrease the amount of dust mite allergen you inhale during the night, since the prevention cover will form a barrier for the allergen. Dust mite prevention covers are found in various materials and may, in some cases, be used without sheets or pillowcases. Use covers with a documented medical effect and that are recommended by health care authorities. An alternative to dust mite prevention covers is to wash pillows and bed covers carefully. Dust mites die when they are being washed in 60 degrees for an hour, but in order to get rid of the allergens it is also important that the bed covers are rinsed properly. Bed spread, pillows for decoration and stuffed toys kept in the bed should also be washed.
Should it be that you, despite the preventive measures, still experience dust mite allergy, there are medicines available. Dust mite allergy may, just as cat allergy and dog allergy, be treated with over-the-counter antihistamine tablets, eye drops and nasal sprays with corticosteroid if your problems are mild. However, you should not use ordinary nasal drops for a cold if you are allergic to dust mites. If over-the-counter products are not helping you, a doctor will be able to prescribe something more effective.
UK/GEN/15/0057b Date of preparation: December 2015