Control of House Dust Mites
House dust is one of the most common allergens to cause asthma, allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis. House dust is not the gritty dust which blows in from the street, but is dust generated within the house itself. It exists in extremely minute particles which are very light and if disturbed, will rise and swirl around the room. A person walking through a room is followed by a cloud of this dust, and it is best seen when a shaft of sunlight is passing into a room through a window.
House dust contains disintegrating materials from clothing, carpet, bedding, etc as well as human dander and skin scales, and most important of all, living and dead particles of the house dust mite. This mite is smaller than a pin head and thrives on discarded human skin scales, thriving particularly well in the mattress and bedding. The mite has been found to flourish more at certain seasons of the year, usually autumn, but is killed by direct sunlight.
How to reduce house dust and the mite population
In the bedroom: Eliminate from the bedding, articles which tend to form house dust, e.g. feather-filled pillows and quilts, and wooden blankets. Replace with synthetic or cotton products. Mattresses and pillows may be encased in protective covers.
- Every alternate day wash pillow cases, sheets and mattress protector, and wipe down the plastic mattress cover with a damp cloth.
- If possible, expose the blankets, quilts and bedspreads to direct sunlight for several hours every week. Place fluffy toys into a plastic bag and leave in the freezer for four hours every fortnight.
- All beds in the patient’s room should be treated in the same way.
- If there is carpet on the bedroom floor, vacuum two or three times a week. Avoid carpets in the bedroom wherever possible, and if building a new house, chose lino, vinyl or waxed wooden floors. If you have this latter type of floor, clean twice weekly with a damp or oiled mop.
- Two or three times weekly, damp dust all chairs, cupboards, pelmets, window sills, etc. remembering books, lamps and tops of shelves and cupboards. Avoid unnecessary furniture in the bedroom.
- Avoid heavy curtains. Whenever possible choose light, washable curtains and wash frequently. Clean Venetian blinds regularly with a damp cloth.
The rest of the house
- The living room/television room is the other important area requiring attention. Vacuum or mop the floor as for the bedroom. Dust frequently, as for the bedroom.
- Vacuum any upholstered chairs or sofas twice weekly, especially the head rest, arms and edges of the seats. Ideal furniture cushions are made of foam rubber. Leather or vinyl is better than fabric.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with disposable bags.
- Do not empty the vacuum cleaner if you are allergic.
- Do not allow cats or dogs in the house. If they are allowed they should not sleep on the bed or upholstered furniture used by the allergic patient.
Bathing Instructions – Daily soak-and seal skin care
Moderate to severe atopic dermatitis
Use moisturising soaps (Soapex, Citaphil, Dove, Oil of Olay) – to keep the skin moist
After the shower do not wipe the skin with a towel. Wipe with bare hands
On the moist skin apply medicines as advised on the affected areas
Cover the remaining moist skin of the body with moisturisers in the morning and coconut oil at bed time
Take bath for at least 15 minutes, two times a day
Reducing skin irritation
Wash all new clothes before wearing them –removes formaldehyde and other chemicals
Use a liquid, fragrance-free, dye-free detergent and rinse the clothes twice to remove all perfumes, dye or chemicals
Wear loose garments to allow free flow of air to your skin
Finger nails should be cut short to avoid any damage to the skin due to scrathing