Allergy & Asthma-Kent H. DeYarman, MD

Topics in Allergy

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Reducing Exposure to Housedust Mites:

Exposure to indoor allergens may add significantly to your allergic problems. Exposure to these allergens can both cause immediate symptoms and add to more subtle delayed and prolonged injury from inflammation. Reduction of exposure to these allergens is important and may reduce symptoms, reduce medication requirements, and prevent the development of future complications from your allergies. The major indoor allergens are dust mites, animals, and molds. Cockroach allergies are a problem in many areas but are minor in Oregon.




Dust Mite Allergens

Dust mites are microscopic insects that feed on human skin (after it has been shed). Dust mites like humid environments and do not like light. The highest number of dust mites is found in beds, bedding, and bedroom carpet.


Measures that have been shown to be effective for the bedroom include:

  • Encase pillows with dust mite proof covers (pore size less than 10 micrometer)
  • Encase mattresses in dust mite proof covers.
  • Encase box springs in vinyl or plastic.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot (130 degrees or higher) water.
  • Remove stuffed animals from the bed.


Measures that have been shown to be effective for the house include:

  • Vacuum weekly (wear dust mask, leave room for 20 minutes after vacuuming
  • Use double thickness vacuum bags or vacuum with HEPA filter on air outlet.


Changes that are difficult to do but are effective include:

  • Reducing indoor humidity.
  • Replacing carpets with wood, linoleum, or tile flooring.


Changes that have not been shown to be effective:

  • Replacing upholstered furniture with vinyl, leather, or wood.
  • Replacing draperies
  • Avoiding living in basements.
  • Use of chemical treatments on carpet (3% tannic acid-Allersearch ADS or Benzyl benzoate-Acarosan). These do have some effect but less than removing carpet.
  • Room or central air filters-these may help with other allergens but not dust mites.


Dust mite proof bedding covers may be obtained locally from WalMart, Fred Meyers, etc. They are also available from many sources on the internet ( (has vacuum bags also), (good cheap covers for boxsprings).

Dermatophagoides (dust mite)

Dermatophagoides (dust mite)