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House Dust Mite and Atopic Eczema

September 26th, 2007 · No Comments

There are many triggers that can cause a flare-up of Atopic eczema. The House Dust Mite are one such trigger and unsurprisingly lives in the dust found in human and animal habitation. It is however not just the House Dust Mite that can trigger flare-ups in AD, but also the dead bodies and feces of the little mites. Luckily, not everybody with AD will be sensitive to the House Dust Mite, but more than 35% of AD patients are. The Atopy Patch test can be used to test for House Dust Mite Allergy.

House Dust Mites feed on pollen, fungi, bacteria and most importantly on the skin flakes shed from humans and animals. These skinflakes concentrate in the creases of bedding and furniture. The number of skin flakes and House Dust Mites found in an area is proportional to the time humans and animals spend in that area. Beds, where most of us spend many hours each night, are therefore one of the favorite haunts of House Dust Mites.

If you want to embark on a House Dust Mite elimination campaign the places to concentrate your efforts should therefore be those areas where the family spend most of their time.

Before describing the steps needed to contain the House Dust Mite population, allow me to refocus your attention on the most important preventative measure you can take to prevent eczema flare-ups: Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Never loose focus of that simply fact. House Dust Mite control is only a distant additional measure after moisturization.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases suggests the following measures.

PREPARATION

  • Completely empty the room, just as if you were moving.
  • Empty and clean all closets and, if possible, store contents elsewhere and seal closets.
  • Keep clothing in zippered plastic bags and shoes in boxes off the floor, if you cannot store them elsewhere.
  • Remove carpeting, if possible.
  • Clean and scrub the woodwork and floors thoroughly to remove all traces of dust.
  • Wipe wood, tile, or linoleum floors with water, wax, or oil.
  • Cement any linoleum to the floor.
  • Close the doors and windows until the dust-sensitive person is ready to use the room.

MAINTENANCE

  • Clean the room thoroughly and completely once a week.
  • Clean floors, furniture, tops of doors, window frames and sills, etc., with a damp cloth or oil mop.
  • Carefully vacuum carpet and upholstery regularly.
  • Use a special filter in the vacuum.
  • Wash curtains often at 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Air the room thoroughly.

CARPETING AND FLOORING

arpeting makes dust control impossible. Although shag carpets are the worst type to have if you are dust sensitive, all carpets trap dust. Therefore, health care experts recommend hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors. Treating carpets with tannic acid eliminates some dust mite allergen. Tannic acid, however, is not as effective as removing the carpet and is irritating to some people. Furthermore, it must be applied repeatedly.

BEDS AND BEDDING

Keep only one bed in the bedroom. Most importantly, encase box springs and mattress in a zippered dust-proof or allergen-proof cover. Scrub bed springs outside the room. If you must have a second bed in the room, prepare it in the same manner.

Use only washable materials on the bed. Sheets, blankets, and other bedclothes should be washed frequently in water that is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower temperatures will not kill dust mites. If you set your hot water temperature lower (commonly done to prevent children from scalding themselves), wash items at a laundromat which uses high wash temperatures.

Use a synthetic, such as Dacron, mattress pad and pillow. Avoid fuzzy wool blankets or feather- or wool-stuffed comforters and mattress pads.

FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS

  • Keep furniture and furnishings to a minimum.
  • Avoid upholstered furniture and blinds.
  • Use only a wooden or metal chair that you can scrub.
  • Use only plain, lightweight curtains on the windows.

AIR CONTROL

Air filters—either added to a furnace or a room unit—can reduce the levels of allergens. Electrostatic and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorption) filters can effectively remove many allergens from the air. If they don’t function right, however, electrostatic filters may give off ozone, which can be harmful to your lungs if you have asthma.

A dehumidifier may help because house mites need high humidity to live and grow. You should take special care to clean the unit frequently with a weak bleach solution (1 cup bleach in 1 gallon water) or a commercial product to prevent mold growth. Although low humidity may reduce dust mite levels, it might irritate your nose and lungs.

CHILDREN

  • Keep toys that will accumulate dust out of the child’s bedroom.
  • Avoid stuffed toys
  • Use only washable toys of wood, rubber, metal, or plastic
  • Store toys in a closed toy box or chest

PETS

Keep all animals with fur or feathers out of the bedroom. If you are allergic to dust mites, you could also be allergic or develop an allergy to cats, dogs, or other animals.

These steps might seem extreme, but it is only by elimanating >90% of house dust mites in an area, that you will reap any potential benefits. If these measures does not help to reduce the severity of your Atopic Eczema, you are most likely not sensitive to House Dust Mite allergens.

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