Eczema is an extremely common skin condition that causes itchy red rashes. Eczema outbreaks are generally triggered by environmental irritants, such as dyes, pollen, or pollution. Dust mites can also trigger eczema outbreaks.
Taking steps to reduce dust mites in your home may help reduce outbreaks. And a dermatologist can help you determine the right treatments to manage eczema.
Dust mites are microscopic pests that live in large colonies and can be found in:
- other common household furnishings
They don’t bite but they can cause your skin to become itchy and red.
Dust mites eat debris, such as dead insects, pollen, and skin scales. As they digest their meals, they produce tiny droppings that contain digestive enzymes.
Since dust mites live in furniture, clothes, and blankets, these droppings can end up on your skin. The digestive enzyme can then damage and kill skin cells.
A few damaged and dead cells aren’t a concern for everyone. You can have dust mites in your home and never really be affected. Dust mites are so small that you’re unlikely to notice them in most circumstances.
However, the damage that dust mites cause in your nasal cavity, throat, and skin can lead to sneezing, coughing, and itchy skin if you’re already prone to allergies.
Symptoms can get worse if you’re at home, in an office, or at another setting that has a concentration of dust mites.
Dust mites don’t cause eczema. However, they can be an outbreak trigger for some people with eczema.
Not everyone with eczema is allergic to dust mites, but it is a common trigger. That means dust mites can be a concern for people with eczema.
Dust mites can trigger eczema in the same way they trigger sneezing and other respiratory symptoms.
In most people, damage to a few skin cells isn’t noticeable. In people with eczema, however, it can be enough to cause an immune system response. This response can lead to inflammation and an eczema outbreak.
Dust mites are so common that it can be hard to tell if they’re the cause of your eczema outbreak. In many cases, the telltale sign will be red itchy rashes and respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing.
Symptoms of an eczema outbreak include:
- raised skin
- a red and scaly rash
- dry skin
- skin that is prone to infection
- thickened skin patches
- bumps that resemble goosebumps
Eczema is generally first diagnosed in children. It often first appears behind the knees or elbows. Rashes can also be found on the arms, legs, feet, and wrists.
Eczema can also appear in infants as rashes on the scalp or face. In addition to rashes, infants with eczema will often show signs of distress, such as crying or yelling.
Eczema is diagnosed by a dermatologist. They’ll examine you or your child and ask you questions such as:
- What are your or your child’s symptoms?
- When did you first notice symptoms?
- Where on your skin or your child’s skin have you noticed rashes?
- Does anyone in your family have eczema?
The doctor might also do a skin biopsy. This is done by numbing your skin and removing a tiny sample. The sample will be sent to a lab and can help the dermatologist diagnose eczema.
Your dermatologist might ask you to pay close attention to symptoms to try and identify eczema triggers. This can help you figure out if dust mites are a trigger for you or your child.
Eczema is managed with a treatment plan. Your plan will depend on how severe your eczema is and how you respond to treatment. You might be advised to use an over-the-counter cream to soothe outbreaks.
Prescription creams, such as corticosteroids, can also help reduce inflammation and reduce itching during an outbreak. In some cases, antihistamine or anti-inflammatory medications might be added to your treatment plan.
Reducing outbreaks will be a big piece of your treatment plan. You can reduce outbreaks by:
- keeping your skin clean
- limiting baths and showers to 20 minutes
- keeping your skin well moisturized
- avoiding skincare products with scents and dyes
- avoiding laundry detergent with scents and dyes
- avoiding your eczema triggers
No matter what your triggers are, there’s no cure for eczema. You can manage and control your outbreaks with the help of a dermatologist.
Most eczema treatment plans are the same for people of all ages. Any prescription creams prescribed to infants or children will be milder than those prescribed to adults.
All eczema is an autoimmune condition. Researchers aren’t sure what causes eczema, but a few known risk factors include having:
There aren’t specific risk factors for individual eczema triggers.
Tips for preventing dust mites in your home
One of the best ways to control eczema is to reduce your exposure to any eczema triggers. You can reduce dust mites in your house by:
- cleaning your wallpaper with a damp cloth weekly
- using a vacuum with a HEPA filter at least once per week
- shampooing your carpet monthly
- washing all of your bed linens at least once a week
- washing stuffed animals and other soft children’s toys once a week
- purchasing dust mite–proof covers for your pillows and mattresses
- purchasing a quilted mattress cover you can remove and wash weekly
- sleeping in clothes made of cotton
Eczema is a chronic condition without a known cure. A treatment plan can help you manage your eczema and reduce your outbreaks. A dermatologist can help identify outbreak triggers and come up with a management plan.
Dust mites are a common household pest. They leave behind a digestive enzyme that can trigger eczema outbreaks in some people.
Keeping your home clean and taking steps to prevent dust mites can help reduce eczema outbreaks. It’s also a good idea to keep your skin clean and well moisturized and to use any creams prescribed by your dermatologist.
There isn’t a cure for eczema but a treatment plan can help manage your condition.