House dust mites and your skin

Sep 25, 12 House dust mites and your skin

House dust mites are tiny monsters found in the environment that feeds on human skin flakes. They are so tiny and unnoticeable, yet able to mount a great allergy response in sensitive people. You may have heard of its relationship with asthma, nose allergy as well as skin allergy. Being a dermatologist, naturally I will be talking on its relationship with skin allergy.

What is house dust mite?

House dust mites are 8 legged arthropods which is often called as bed mites. They are small, measuring about 0.4 mm in length but its look are certainly not benign under the microscope. Look around you… Chances are they are around you. They love indoor environment, especially in bedrooms and kitchen. They love beddings, curtains, carpets, velvets, cushions and etc. For every gram of dust, there can be 50-100 of these evil looking mites living in it.

How does house dust mite causes allergy?

The main cause of allergy is from its feaces. House dust mites’ feaces contains certain protein breaking enzymes that is the main culprit to allergy. When this enzyme is in contact with the host, the host would mount an allergy response to the feaces causing elevation of immunoglobulin E which is responsible in most cases of allergy. It has been found that house dust mite not only aggravates or precipitate an allergy attack, it can also induce the onset of allergy.

How do we cut down the number of house dust mites?

Studies had found that by cutting down the density of house dust mites, one can gain better control for their allergy; asthma, nose allergy and skin allergy. Steps that may help in curbing the number of house dust mites are as follow:

1. Ensure good room ventilation with low humidity

2. Remove carpets, furry soft toys, velvety furnitures, heavy curtains and other furnitures or ornaments that is made from thick clothes.

3. Wash bedsheets with boiling water on a weekly basis

4. Frequent changing of curtains (2-4 weekly)

5. Ensure racks are covered to prevent accumulation of dust

6. Sun your mattress on a monthly basis and change the side of mattress used regularly

7. May use permethrin-impregnated mattress or pillow cover

8. Use of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter instead of normal vacuum cleaner

9. Keep environment clean and free of dust

My child can’t keep away from his/her furry friend!

I still need to stress that it is best to keep these furry soft toys away. However, if you can’t, you may opt to send his/her furry soft toys to the laundry for warm wash (above 60 degrees celcius) regularly. Alternatively, you can put the soft toy in a plastic bag and put it into the freezer overnight regularly.

Is there a way to cure this house dust mites allergy?

Currently, immunotherapy offers the way to desensitise one towards house dust mites. However, it had been showned to help in asthma and nose allergy, rather than skin allergy.


In the meantime, try these ways to curb the number of house dust mites in your environment if you have skin allergy until there are better solutions available.

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