10 Simple Steps Help You Bag Allergy-Causing Dust Mites
WebMD News Archive
There have been several other studies looking at ways of controlling mites
and their allergens in the home. Some methods, such as the use of benzyl
benzoate powders, have been very limited in their effectiveness.
"Studies targeting allergens in beds -- such as our own study -- have
had variable levels of success depending on the [method] used, or the studies
took place in climates unfavorable for dust mite survival, such as in northern
Europe," says Vanlaar. He adds that in this test, they opted for washing
the upper bed coverings rather than encasing them because when the upper
covering is encased, the bed can become somewhat hot and uncomfortable.
Michael Ruff, MD, spokesman for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and
Immunology, agrees with the Australian findings. "This study proves that
even allergy and asthma sufferers living in areas with high humidity can
benefit from these steps." Ruff says washing bedding in extremely hot water
once a week and encasing pillows and mattresses in allergen-resistant covers
are the easiest and most effective ways to reduce allergen levels in the
Vanlaar says the next step is to test whether this method of allergen
control in bedding is enough to reduce allergy symptoms in individuals with
current symptoms of asthma, and to help prevent allergies and subsequent asthma
in high-risk infants.
"We are already investigating the second item by conducting a large ...
trial -- the Childhood Asthma Prevention Study -- in which we are treating the
cots of approximately 300 babies who are in a high-risk group for asthma, based
on a family history of asthma," by washing and encasing the bedding like
they did in the current study.
To start your own grassroots campaign against the little critters, the
American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that you follow these 10 steps
for defeating dust mites in the home:
Start in the bedroom:
- Since most dust mites live in mattresses, put an airtight plastic or
polyurethane cover on every mattress.
- Wash sheets and blankets in very hot water every week.
- Wash bed pillows every week or put a plastic cover on them. (The pillowcase
goes over the plastic cover.)
- If possible, bedrooms should have a hardwood, tile, or linoleum floor.
These surfaces are easier to keep clean than carpet.
- If you have to have carpet, try not to place the carpet on concrete. The
warm space between a rug and concrete is a good place for mites to live.
- For carpeting, spray the rug with a solution of 3% tannic acid every two
months to kill the dust mites. Ask your doctor how to use this solution, and
whether it is right for your family.