(I may earn a small commission on the products linked to in this post.)
Could dust mites be the invisible instigator of your eczema? Can dust mites cause eczema? These were simple questions I had after I was diagnosed with dust mite allergy.
Many people don’t know about dust mites and the potential harm they are doing to our skin. In fact, most people don’t even know what dust mites are and it’s understandable because we can’t see them.
For years I applied topical ointments and creams to my skin to get rid of my eczema. I didn’t know what was causing it, I just assumed I was born with it and something I had to deal with.
As I learned later in life, dust mites were causing my eczema. Sure I had dry skin, but there was something that bothered my skin and made it inflamed and red.
In this article we’ll take a look into my experience with allergy and how I discovered dust mites were causing my eczema. The information I share could help you reduce your eczema too.
How My Allergy and Eczema Started
Starting at age 6, I experienced eczema. The symptoms were mild at first, small spots on my arms and behind my knees. Gradually the symptoms grew to affect more of my skin, irritating my mouth, ears, eyes, and neck.
Like most children with eczema I was expected to outgrow the itch and settle into life as a young adult. Unfortunately I never outgrew the problem, and the symptoms remained.
It was puzzling to have eczema as a child. I hadn’t studied the physiology of the body and didn’t understand that skin reactions could be caused by something in my environment.
I treated the eczema with topical ointments like cortisone creams. While it did help to reduce irritation and make it more sightly, it didn’t address the underlying issue….why was I getting eczema in the first place?
Multiple trips to my family doctor didn’t do anything outside of another prescription for steroid cream. I was told by general practitioners and dermatologist alike that I simply needed to manage my eczema.
My Experience with Eczema Treatment
Years later, trips to other doctors and dermatologist had similar results. I vividly remember asking the dermatologist if my eczema could be caused or exacerbated by allergies. His response was “eczema and allergies are two different issues, they aren’t related”.
I remember thinking to myself “my body is an ecosystem, isn’t everything in my body connected in one way or another?”
When I was with the dermatologist I noticed that he wanted to treat me in ways he was most comfortable. Rather than refer me to other specialists for other opinions he told me the information he knew and was comfortable with.
When I asked about allergies he said he’d do a patch test on my back of 5 things (5 things!). I didn’t know any better and when the tests were negative he said “you don’t have allergies”. As an ignorant kid I accepted his conclusion and moved on.
As an adult, the eczema actually worsened. University came and went with eczema making its home on different parts of my body, then came my career as a teacher, and things became worse. Later, when I switched jobs and returned to school as a student, the eczema became so unbearable that I couldn’t function with work, studies, or socially.
I felt I was at my last resort and re-visited a doctor who put me on steroid pills (prednisone). I took 4 pills a day for two weeks and never felt better.
Everything, especially my skin healed quickly. I slept well and had energy for the first time in many years. The day I stopped the pills my eczema returned with a vengeance.
Can Dust Mites Cause Eczema
While on prednisone, I also visited an allergist and made an appointment to be tested. It took a few weeks for an available appointment but finally I’d be tested.
The allergist took one look at me when he walked in the medical room and said “looks like you have bad allergies”. I couldn’t believe what he said. Was it that obvious? Why wasn’t I told this by other doctors?
I told him the story of my experiences with a dermatologist and he said that dermatologists often look at skin issues through a different lens. I guess their perspective came at the cost of my quality of life.
I was tested for almost 100 allergens (Yes 100 things) including dust mites, pollen, pet dander, mold, and yeasts and many of them came back positive. The strongest response was to dust mites, found in homes, and especially in beds.
The allergist prepped me on the do’s and don’ts of dust mite allergy and suggested the following advice:
Beds and bedrooms are the most important area since we sleep there and spend 1/3 of our lives there.
Purchase quality dust mite covers for the mattress, pillow, and blankets
Use an air purifier in the bedroom
Clean and vacuum regularly especially if you have carpets. Hard flooring is best for people with dust mite allergy
Ventilate the house, open windows, and reduce indoor humidity
Use an allergy quality HVAC filter to remove dust mites and their feces from the air
Ceiling fans stir up dust and dust mites. Regular cleaning should make fans bearable.
Consider allergy shots to reduce sensitivity
If you’re not familiar with dust mites they are invisible arachnids that live in our homes. Don’t worry, they aren’t scary and don’t bite people. They are microscopic and literally invisible to the human eye.
They likely evolved with us because they feed on our dead skin (only skin that’s been shed). If you look around your home you’ll find dust and dust is made up primarily of dead human skin and pet dander. Dust mites have an important job, they recycle our waste.
While it’s disconcerting, dust mites prefer our mattresses, pillows, and carpets for 3 reasons. Ample food, warmth, and hiding place. Without these things, dust mites wouldn’t be comfortable. Below I’ll share a few tips on how to combat dust mite allergy and eczema.
Addressing Eczema Caused by Dust Mite Allergy
With my doctor’s advice in mind I went to task, cleaning and improving my household environment. I felt immediate benefits from the dust mite pillow covers, as well as from the mattress and blanket covers.
I changed my HVAC filter to a thick allergy filter from Filtrete, that not only trapped pollen and dust mites, but also smoke and odors. Using a high-quality HVAC filter drastically improved my breathing indoors.
With regular cleaning, I purchased a HEPA vacuum. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance, and these vacuums capture dust mites, their feces, and pollen from the floor.
Regular vacuums will only catch large debris and effectively blow around allergens. Luckily I already had hard flooring and no carpets which made cleaning easier.
If I was living in a high humidity environment, it would be important to dehumidify the home. For dust mites allergy sufferers in the American Mid-West, East, or South, we recommend this whole house Frigidaire dehumidifier below.
How I’m Coping with Dust Mite Allergy
Fast forward a few years, and my eczema is almost non-existent. Occasionally while traveling I’ll have a small flare up in an unfamiliar bed or pillow, but now my symptoms are manageable and eczema isn’t always the first thing on my mind.
In addition to the home improvements, I also started allergy shots and they have made the biggest impact on my allergy. I have little-to-no dust mite allergy now. I only wish I learned about the allergy-eczema connection earlier.
Can dust mites cause eczema? They most certainly can. Having dry skin is one thing, but if your eczema is red and inflamed then something is irritating it.
One of the most important things you can do is be allergy tested by a reputable allergist. As I’ve shared, I went to a family doctor and multiple dermatologists and they didn’t recognize my allergy. It wasn’t until I made an appointment myself did an allergist help diagnose and treat my allergies.
If you’re not sure if you’re allergic to dust mites it’s still a wise decision to get a mattress cover for your bed. Dust mite proof covers are available for pillows, mattresses, and blankets and will prevent dust mites from touching your skin (the protective fabric will keep them in or out).
Additional steps can be taken with a HEPA air purifier and HVAC allergy filter. Remember that dust mites can cause eczema through contact and through being inhaled. Breathing dust mites while sleeping is common and your body might react in the form of eczema.
I have improved through simple household changes and through allergy immunotherapy. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t catch my allergy when I was younger but I’m grateful for the efforts and advice of my current allergist.
Thanks for joining us for another Dust Mite Solutions article on how I discovered dust mites were causing my eczema. We hope this helps you in your search for dust mite-related answered. Dust mites can cause eczema! Visit our website for product reviews and suggestions