How common are allergies to dust mites and pets?

Allergies to dust mites and pet dander are very common. Other medical conditions known as atopic diseases (asthma, eczema and hay fever) are frequently seen in people with these allergies and tend to run in families. Fifty percent of adults with asthma, and eighty percent of children with asthma, have an allergic component to their disease.

How do I get tested for these allergies?

Both dust mite and pet allergy can be easily diagnosed with a skin prick test. This test takes ten minutes; there are no needles, and no pain.

What are the treatment options?

  • Avoiding the things you are allergic to, once identified.
  • Using antihistamine eye drops and nasal decongestant spray to relieve your allergy symptoms.
  • Immunotherapy (either in the form of weekly allergy shots, or drops you place under your tongue daily in the convenience of your own home) to desensitize you. See  http://allergytreatmentny.com/allergy-treatment-options/ 

Avoidance of dust mites

If dust mites are the cause of your allergy, the following may help to reduce the number of dust mites and their droppings (feces), which can decrease your symptoms. The main focus is on the bedroom:

  • Remove carpets and rugs; hard floors such as wood are preferable. Avoid soft furnishings in the bedroom.
  • Use dust tight (mite-proof) covers for mattresses, duvets and pillows.
  • Wet-dust the bedroom furniture every week.
  • Vacuum or clean the bedroom floor regularly. Use a vacuum cleaner with a good filter (this removes the mites and prevents small particles from coming out through the vacuum exhaust). Domestic steam carpet cleaners have no effect on house dust mite populations.  However, high temperature professional steam cleaning can kill the mites and stop the droppings from causing allergic problems.
  • Regularly ventilate the bedroom (open the door and a window for a while on most days).
  • Keep soft toys (stuffed animals) to a minimum. Put them in the freezer, in a plastic bag, for 24hrs now and again. This kills any mites on them. If the toys are washable, wash them at 60°C after putting them in the freezer.
  • Let bedding air after use (that is, fold back duvet or blankets to allow sheets to air and sweat to evaporate). 

Reducing the impact of pet allergy

With allergies to domestic pets, the main strategies for minimizing allergic problems and aero-allergens are to:

  • Avoid getting any new pets.
  • Confine existing pets to defined areas of the home.
  • Remove carpets and rugs, if possible, from the rooms where pets are kept.
  • Ensure pets are not allowed into the bedroom.
  • Wash dogs (and cats, if possible) regularly.
  • Groom animals regularly outside, to remove hairs.
  • Clean surfaces, including walls, regularly.
  • Vacuum regularly, with a vacuum cleaner that has a good filter.
  • Wash pet bedding frequently.
  • Do not allow pets to lick your hands or face.