As many parents of itchy little ones know, it is common for children who suffer with eczema to also be prone to allergies – both food and environment related.
Dust mites (the tiny mites that feed on dust particles) are one of the most common indoor allergens, causing reactions all year round. In addition to allergic rhinitis, dust mite allergy can also trigger asthma and cause eczema to flare.
How can you minimise the impact of house dust mites in your child’s bedroom?
House dust mites prefer warm, damp homes. This is a double whammy for eczema families as the same dampness can also lead to the growth of moulds which can may also trigger eczema! Check out our blog post on mould as an eczema trigger here.
In brief the best ways to avoid dampness and humidity in your child’s bedroom are:
- Open windows or vents in kitchens and bathrooms during and after cooking, washing and bathing
- Avoid drying clothes indoors where possible, especially in the bedroom
- Air bedding before remaking beds
- Open windows or vents in bedroom
- Run central heating a few degrees lower (especially in the bedroom)
House dust mites also need dust to eat. To limit dust build up:
- Keep books, ornaments and clothes in closed display cases, wardrobes and drawers
- Use a damp cloth to wipe down surfaces (dry cloths can often just stir dust particles back up into the air)
- Vacuum curtains and soft furnishings as well as carpets
- Vacuum mattress regularly
- Make sure the vacuum air filter and dust bag are emptied regularly
- Where possible opt for hard, solid floors without cracks and where carpet is essential opt for a low pile over thick pile
What sort of bedding should I use for my eczema child?
- Use bedding (and soft furnishings – rugs and curtains) that can be washed at 60 degrees or higher to kill dust mites
- Replace pillows with new ones every six months or invest in special micro-porous membrane dust covers
- Consider investing in a silk pillowcase if your child is rubbing their face against their pillow. Silk is soft and cool on itchy skin as well as being naturally antibacterial
- Replace blankets with synthetic duvets and use pure cotton covers
- Invest in a wipeable allergy-proof mattress cover – you can buy them specifically aimed at controlling allergies relatively cheaply at Argos (click for link) or Dunelm (click for link) It is also worth checking Boots, John Lewis and Debenhams.
- Natural fibres for sheets and covers are more breathable – pure cotton or bamboo are ideal
- Stuffed soft toys can also contain house dust mites so once a month, put favourite bedtime soft toys in the freezer for six hours to kill the house dust mites.
- Interestingly alpaca fleece maintains temperatures, making it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. You can buy alpaca duvets although these are something of an extravagance due to the high cost of preparing fleece!
ScratchSleeves are in the process of designing our very own eczema friendly bedding. Watch this space!
Are there any electrical devices which will help?
A vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air filter (commonly abbreviated to HEPA) is recommended. This Consumer Report article has some great information in it (click here to view).
Ionisers work by creating a static charge around airborne particles in a room. These particles are then attracted to any earthed surfaces (eg the floor or worktops) and can be easily wiped away. A quick search on Amazon gives a good range. Personally we use the Lloyds Pharmacy one (click here for link) to tackle eczema, dust allergy and hayfever! Ionisers often come as part of a larger Air Purifying system – our view at ScratchSleeves is that they are expensive and unnecessary if you are using a cheap ioniser and a decent vacuum cleaner. Speak to your consultant before making any expensive purchases!
Dehumidifiers draw dampness out of the air and help to reduce allergens. Like the ioniser, they do not need to be expensive, and we would only recommend them if you know you have a problem with damp. Again, check Amazon for a decent range at reasonable prices.
Do you have any other top tips that we have missed? Let us know!!