The allergy is caused by tiny, insect-like creatures called dust mites. Dust mites are found in mattresses, carpets, and upholstered furniture. They thrive in warm, humid conditions and feed on the shed scales of human skin. The best way to prevent allergy symptoms caused by dust mites is to limit your child's exposure. Be sure to pay special attention to the bedroom where your child spends the most amount of his or her time.
Every bed in your house should have a wooden or metal frame. Do not allow your child to sleep on a couch, sofa, or hide-a-bed. If your child has asthma and sleeps in a bunk bed, he or she should sleep on the top bunk.
Place all mattresses and box springs in a zippered, dust-proof cover and tape over the zippers with electrical or duct tape.
Encase pillows in zippered, dust-proof covers. Pillows should be made of Dacron or other synthetic fiber. Do not use foam, feather, or "Down" pillows.
Avoid wool or down blankets. Wash all bedding (sheets, pillowcases, blankets) in hot water. Cold water will not kill the dust mites. Dry all clothes and bedding in the dryer to avoid pollen sticking to them when on a clothesline.
If possible, remove wall-to-wall carpeting. If not, vacuum the carpet frequently (at least twice a week). If your child has asthma, vacuum only when your child is away and will not return to the room for several hours after you have finished. Substitute multi-layered vacuum bags for regular single layer bags. Small, washable cotton rugs may be used if washed often. Wood, tile, or vinyl flooring without a rug is best, and should be mopped at least weekly.
Remove all stored toys, boxes, and other articles from closets. The closet should contain only clothing and should be as dust-free as the room. Keep all clothes in closets, never lying around the room.
Electric or gas heat is recommended. Do not use wood stoves or kerosene heaters. Change the air filters on the furnace every month. Cover all furnace outlets in the room with special filters or cover the outlets with ten thicknesses of cheesecloth or muslin. This will catch dust in the furnace air. Change the cheesecloth when it gets dusty underneath (about every two weeks).
A HEPA filter unit of the proper size can effectively remove airborne allergens.
Window unit or central air-conditioning is ideal. Change or clean all filters every month. Windows should be kept closed, especially in the summer.
Keep bedroom closet doors and bedroom doors closed as much as possible.
Paint walls or use washable wallpaper. Avoid pennants, pictures, wreaths, flower arrangements or other dust catchers on the walls.
Avoid heavy curtains and Venetian or mini-blinds. Use window shades instead. If curtains are used, they should be washed monthly in hot water.
Avoid the use of humidifiers as dust mites grow best in high humidity. Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity in the home at less than 50 percent.
Remove all upholstered (stuffed) furniture and replace upholstered furniture with wooden or plastic furniture. Avoid open bookshelves, as they are great dust catchers.
Sleeping and napping
Your child should nap or sleep only in his or her own bed, which has been made dust free. When your child travels or visits, he or she should take a nonallergic pillow with him or her.
If your child has asthma, do not allow him or her to jump on furniture or beds or wrestle on carpeted floors. Avoid fabric toys or stuffed animals. If your child has stuffed animals, they should be machine washable and washed in hot water or placed in the freezer overnight at least weekly. Store toys in a closed toy chest.