House dust mite is a tiny insect that occurs in every home. You
cannot see it without a microscope. It mainly lives in bedrooms and
mattresses as part of the dust.
Many people with eczema are
allergic to house dust mite. However, in general, it is not usually
advised to do anything about house dust mite. This is because:
research studies that have looked into whether reducing house dust mite
is helpful have not been conclusive. There is some evidence that
reducing house dust mite may help but further research is really needed
to confirm this.
- It is impossible to clear house dust mite
completely from a home and it is hard work to greatly reduce their
number to a level which may be of benefit.
- Treatment with other
methods such as emollients and short courses of topical steroids usually
works well. Therefore, the effort of trying to eliminate house dust
mite is not usually warranted.
A recent guideline from the
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) -
referenced at the end of this leaflet - states: "There are conflicting
data on the effectiveness of using house dust mite avoidance strategies
in the management of childhood atopic eczema. Many of the currently
suggested techniques are time-consuming and expensive for parents/carers
and it is important to establish their value."
people with severe eczema which is difficult to control with the usual
treatments try to clear house dust mite from their home as much as
possible. Therefore, for the sake of completeness, the following gives
an idea of how to clear house dust mite. But it has to be stressed, it
is hard work, it is not usually recommended and the value of this is not
To greatly reduce the numbers of house dust mite:
- Remove carpets (where possible) from the bedroom. Avoid soft furnishing in the bedroom.
dust-tight ('mite-proof') covers for any mattress, duvet and pillow (a
good bed retailer will be able to advise). This can be left in place for
several months. The usual covers can be put on top of the special
covers but should be washed every 1-2 weeks at 60°C.
- Use feather rather than synthetic pillows (this is the opposite to what used to be thought).
- Wet-dust the bedroom furniture every 1-2 weeks. Some people advise dusting even more frequently - even daily dusting.
or clean the bedroom floor regularly. Use a vacuum cleaner with a good
filter (this removes the mite and prevents small particles coming out
through the vacuum exhaust).
- Vacuum the mattress once a week.
- Regularly ventilate the bedroom (open the door and a window for a while on most days).
soft toys to a minimum. Put them in the freezer in a plastic bag for 24
hours now and again. This kills any mites on them. If the toys are
washable, wash them at 60°C after they have been in the freezer.
to keep humidity low (for example, do not dry washing on the radiator).
An electric blanket decreases humidity in the bed which helps to keep
mite numbers down in a mattress.