Dust Mite Allergy
Dust mites are a common allergen, which can trigger allergic reactions such as allergic rhinitis, asthma and eczema. Dust mites like dark, warm and humid environment. Dust mites feed mainly on skin flakes from humans, so mattresses & pillows are the ideal home for them.
Estimated 330,000 Hong Kong people have asthma
Up to 85% of asthmatic patients are found to be allergic to house dust mite
80-90% patients with respiratory allergies are allergic to dust mites
Common Bedroom Allergen - Dust Mite
Dust mites are only about 0.3 mm in size. They are tiny creatures that are difficult to see with naked eye. They will not bite people, but their wastes and dead bodies contain a special protein that can trigger a chain of allergic reactions, including the release of excessive histamine, causing discomfort such as runny nose, sneezing and itchy skin.
Hong Kong has a warm and humid climate, which is suitable for dust mites to live. They like to hide in the upholstered furniture, such as sofas, carpets, as well as pillows and mattresses that we are exposed to for more than 6-8 hours a day. They feed mainly on the tiny flakes of human skin that people shed each day. An average adult person may shed up to 1.5 grams of skin in a day. This is enough to feed one million dust mites. A study has even discovered that a typical used mattress may have up to 10 million dust mites inside. If you often have allergic reactions before and after sleep, you are most likely allergic to dust mites.
Symptoms of Dust Mite Allergy
Dust Mite Allergy may trigger allergic rhinitis, asthma & eczema. Other common symptoms include:
Runny Nose /
Itchy Eyes /
Ways to Prevent
Dust Mite Allergy
Mite proof bedding covers generally use high-density fabrics to block dust mites and their wastes in mattresses and pillows, and to ensure that these allergens cannot come into contact with us. There are some waterproof mite proof bedding covers on the market, but you need to pay attention to their air permeability, because these kind of waterproof covers generally contain plastic components, which will be relatively hot, also rustling when rubbed, which will hinder sleep.
(B) Wash Bedding Regularly
Washing general daily bed sheets and pillowcases with warm water of about 60°C every week can help kill dust mites.
(C) Avoid Upholstered Furniture
As upholstered furniture cannot be cleaned by simple wiping methods, a large amount of skin flakes left on the surface and inside the upholstered furniture, which will attract a large number of dust mites to colonize. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid the use of upholstered furniture, such as carpets, cushions, sofas, etc. The curtains should be replaced with venetian blinds as well.
(D) Wear a Filtering Mask when Dusting
Dust will be raised during cleaning. It is recommended to wear N95 mask to avoid inhaling allergens that can trigger allergic reactions. In addition, you should use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a high-performance HEPA filter to prevent dust mites and their allergens from returning to the air through the air outlet of the vacuum cleaner.
(E) Control Indoor Humidity
Dust mites are more active in a humid environment. It is recommended to use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to keep the indoor relative humidity level below 50%.
(A) Use Zippered Pillow & Mattress Encasement
Does Dust Mite Vacuum Cleaner Work?
Using a mite removing vacuum cleaner can only remove dust mites on the surface of the mattresses and pillows, but it cannot completely solve the problem of dust mites hiding deep inside. Whenever our skin flakes fall on the surface of the mattresses and pillows, they will come out to search for food, then go back to the deep inside to grow and reproduce again. Based on the reproduction rate, each female dust mite can produce 2-3 eggs per day, it only takes one day for the dust mites to fill your mattresses and pillows again. Therefore, many doctors recommend that patients with dust mite allergy use mite proof bedding covers to completely block dust mites and their allergens, so as to reduce the chance of allergic rhinitis, asthma and eczema.
The mite proof bedding covers need to use high-density cloth, and the pores of the cloth should be below 10 microns, so as to effectively block dust mites and their wastes (generally not less than 100 microns and 10 microns). Therefore, every time you replace the mite proof bedding covers, you must use a vacuum cleaner to remove the dead bodies and wastes of dust mites on the surface of the mattresses and pillows. After long-term use of the mite proof bedding covers, the number of dust mites in the mattresses and pillows will be gradually reduced, which is an effective way to prevent dust mites.
2）How do I know if I have dust mite allergy?
If you find yourself experiencing frequent allergy symptoms at home, especially when sweeping or sleeping, you may need to consult an immunization and allergy specialist to see if dust mites are the allergens that trigger your allergic rhinitis, asthma, eczema or other allergic reactions.
To diagnose whether you are allergic to dust mites, the most common test is the "skin prick test", the medical professional will prick an area of your skin with a small extract of the allergen, and wait for about 15 minutes to see if your skin has any negative reactions. If your skin become red, swollen, itchy, or have any other reactions, you may be allergic to that allergen. If your skin prick test results show that dust mites are the allergens that trigger your allergies, you should try to avoid contact with dust mites to improve your allergies such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, eczema, etc.
3）Are dust mites a common trigger for allergic rhinitis?
Dust mites are a common trigger for allergic rhinitis. According to a study published in 2020, the prevalence of dust mite allergy in allergic rhinitis patients is 95%. Therefore, if you have allergic rhinitis, and your allergic reactions are more serious when sweeping or sleeping, dust mites are likely to be the allergens that trigger your allergic rhinitis. The most important thing in the treatment of allergic rhinitis is to avoid contact with the related allergens. If dust mites are the allergens that trigger your allergic rhinitis, medical professionals would generally recommend you to cover your mattress and pillow in zippered dust mite proof covers. It not only keeps the dust mites and its allergens trapped, but also prevents their survival by cut off their food supply (dust mites feed on shed human skin and bodily fluids), to ensure they will not be able to grow and reproduce continuously. When the number of dust mites in your bedroom gradually decreases, your allergic rhinitis will be improved.
4）Can dust mites trigger eczema?
Dust mites are not the cause of eczema, but they are definitely a trigger for eczema. Dust mite allergy is common in people with eczema. In people without eczema, the damage to skin cells by the dust mite allergens is not apparent; however, in people with eczema, he dust mite allergen is enough to trigger an immune system response, leading to a flare-up of skin inflammation like eczema! Eczema outbreaks are often triggered by environmental irritants, such as dyes, pollen, or dust. When eczema sufferers come into contact with allergens such as dust mites, the skin will become itchy, and may even experience redness and swelling. At present, eczema is still a skin problem that cannot be completely cured, and the best treatment is to avoid contact with allergens to ensure that the condition is under control. Therefore, it is generally recommended that patients with eczema not only keep their skin clean and use the doctor prescribed lotion to keep the skin fully moisturized, but also need to keep their home clean, using dust mite proof beddings and dust mite vacuum cleaner, to help reduce eczema problems caused by dust mite. Dust mites are closely related to eczema, so don't take it lightly, and plan a treatment plan as soon as possible with your healthcare professional to prevent dust mite allergens, and to manage the annoying eczema problem.
Learn more about the symptoms & treatment of dust mite allergy
The information above is for reference only, you should consult your doctor if you have any health concern.
References: ﾠThe Hong Kong Asthma Society. Asthma in Hong Kong. http://hkasthma.org.hk/en/about-asthma/asthma-hong-kong. Published 2015. Accessed February 19, 2021.  American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. House dust mites damage DNA in lung cells and worsen asthma. https://www.aaaai.org/global/latest-research-summaries/Current-JACI-Research/house-dust-mite. Published May 1, 2016. Accessed February 19, 2021.  Pawankar RS, Sanchez-Borges M, Bonini S, Kaliner MA. WAO White Book on Allergy. World Allergy Organization (WAO); 2013.  Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Dust Mite Allergy. https://www.aafa.org/dust-mite-allergy/. Published 2015. Accessed February 19, 2021.  Acevedo N, Zakzuk J, Caraballo L. House Dust Mite Allergy Under Changing Environments. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2019;11(4):450-469.