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Eczema health centre

Reducing levels of house dust mites

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Introduction

This information is for people who have eczema. It tells you about reducing levels of house dust mites, a self-care treatment used for eczema. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

We don't know. Some doctors think that getting rid of house dust mites can help your or your child's eczema. But there's no good evidence to show that it works. Also, it can be hard work to keep the level of mites down.

What is it?

There are lots of things you can do to control the amount of house dust mites in your home: [50] [20] [24]

  • Replace feather pillows and duvets with synthetic ones.

  • Use cotton sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers where possible. Wash them weekly at 50 degrees Celsius.

  • Vacuum carpets daily if possible. Better still, have vinyl flooring or floorboards.

  • Wipe any surfaces that collect dust with a damp cloth.

  • Wash your child's soft toys regularly.

  • Air out the bed and bedroom during the day.

  • Vacuum the mattress every week (with an ordinary cleaner).

  • Use special covers on the bed to keep house dust mites in the mattress from getting to the skin.

Some people think it helps to use insecticide sprays to kill mites. But experts can't agree about whether killing mites with sprays works because the dead mites and their droppings are left, and they can cause an allergic reaction. [50]

Because so many people are allergic to house dust mites, many doctors believe that controlling mites could help keep eczema from flaring up. [20]

Doctors usually only advise parents to try controlling house dust mites if their child's eczema is very bad. But if you think it might help your child, talk with your doctor about what you can do. [24]

How can it help?

We don't know if reducing the level of house dust mites in your home can help. It may do, and some doctors think that it does work. But there isn't any good evidence to show that it helps the symptoms of eczema.

How does it work?

House dust mites live in most homes in the UK, so everyone comes into contact with them. Tests show that 3 in 10 people are allergic to at least one species of house dust mite. These allergies are linked to several diseases, including eczema. This is why doctors think that keeping house dust mites away from the skin of people who have eczema may help. [50] [96]

Can it be harmful?

We found no information about side effects from controlling house dust mites.

How good is the research on reducing the levels of house dust mites?

There isn't any good evidence that reducing the amount of house dust mites in your home will help relieve your or your child's eczema symptoms.

We found only one good-quality study (called a randomised controlled trial) of 700 newborn babies. The babies were split into three groups. Babies in the first group slept on a special mattress cover. Parents of the babies in the second and third groups were either given instructions on how to avoid allergens or given general information about allergies. But the study found that the mattress cover made no difference to the number of babies who went on to get eczema. [97]

Last Updated: September 04, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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