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Dermatology Practice Today

Dust Mites

Published October 21, 2013 12:44 PM by Raymond Shulstad
It is fall again. If the temperatures haven't started to drop yet where you live, they likely will soon. It is time to break out the sweaters, jackets, coats, sweatshirts and warmer sheets, blankets and comforters. It is also prime time for dust mites. 

Usually around this time of year I see an influx of patients presenting to the office complaining of new onset itching and redness primarily to the neck, intertriginous areas and waist/trunk. As a young practitioner, this perplexed me and I would biopsy these rashes and they would invariably come back as being consistent with an arthropod assault. Not to age myself, but this pre-dated the time when everyone became aware of the bed bugs and dust mites in hotels that caused such a stir a few years ago.

What was happening with my patients is that they would take the warmer clothes and blankets off the shelf in the closet and wear them without washing them first. The dust that had accumulated in the closets and on the clothes/sheets had dust mites in them. Not all people are as sensitive to the bites but for those who are, this was a recipe for disaster ... or at least a lot of short-term intense itching.

How do we solve this dilemma? When the patient presents to the office with these symptoms, part of the history I take will be to ask if they recently started wearing the warmer clothes mentioned above or were using blankets they have been in storage or on a rack the last six months. 

I also find out if they washed them prior to use. Most of the time, the answer is no, because the clothes were clean when they stored them there for the winter. A mid-potency topical steroid and non-sedating anti-histamine can be given to alleviate symptoms and patients should be encouraged to wash all remaining clothes and linens prior to use, as well as using any one of the commercially available sprays that can kill dust mites and bed bugs.

1 comments

My wife suffered from dust mites and we took all precautionary steps to no avail.  She was averse to allergy shots.  After several recommendations, we fogged our home with Greenbug which is a natural cedar oil product that was very effective in eliminating the dust mites.  We purchased our own fogger and do a thorough fogging twice a year and minimal fogging in the bedroom about once a month.  She is no longer symptomatic and I highly recommend the Greenbug.  Their website is www.greenbugallnatural.com and they have extensive information about mites.

Terry, GP - Dr., retired October 22, 2013 11:08 AM
Charlotte NC

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    Occupation: Physician assistant and nurse practitioners
    Setting: Various dermatology settings
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