Dust mite allergies can flare anywhere, not just at home, in your bed. People who are genetically disposed to skin problems respond to dust mites allergies with skin irritations that can be painful and unattractive. A form of eczema called atopic dermatitis results from dust mite contact at home, school, work or anyplace out in the world. If you or your children are showing signs of dry skin or other symptoms of an allergic reaction, you may have to learn to manage this chronic skin problem.
Signs of atopic dermatitis may come and go, but the allergies that trigger them may be with you for life. Symptoms include dry, itchy skin patches, commonly on the face, neck, chest, legs, elbows, knees and hands. The patches may discolor and turn scaly or skin may thicken. Young children tend to get itchy rashes on the cheeks and forehead.
Unrestrained scratching worsens the skin problem, especially if exposure to dust mite allergens continues. Inflamed skin reddens, flakes, cracks, forms weepy sores and crusts over. Skin can be permanently damaged or become infected. Other warning signs of dust mite allergies include runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing.
Extreme sensitivity to dust mites or other allergens is widespread in babies. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 20 percent of children develop atopic dermatitis, but the skin problem may run its course by age two. Some children experience recurrent dry skin and rashes only during puberty, while the condition persists into adulthood for others. If you or your children have lifelong dust mite allergies, treating skin topically and managing your exposure may be your only options.
Because eczema is not an allergy, injection treatments are not significantly effective. Even if you identify dust mites as the trigger for your bouts of dry skin, they are difficult to avoid in everyday life. While bed and furniture covers designed to lock out dust mites are helpful, these creatures don't simply lodge in those areas. Every disturbance to indoor atmosphere, from footsteps to air conditioning, launches dust mites into the air.
A dermatologist or allergist can determine whether your dry skin condition is due to dust mites. Doctors at the AAD suggest regular skin cleansing and moisturizing to keep atopic dermatitis under control. If skin is further irritated by scratching or infection, a corticosteroid or antihistamine may be prescribed. Environmental control, such as limiting carpeting and upholstery, and washing linens weekly in hot water, can help to reduce the severity of dust mite allergies.