Dust mites

In our Annual Asthma Survey 64% told us dust triggered their asthma symptoms. Find out what you can do to deal with this common asthma trigger

Allergic to dust?

People often say they’re ‘allergic to dust.’

In fact, it's dust mites that are the problem, as people can be allergic to a substance in the dust mite droppings. These tiny insects live in the dust that builds up around our homes in carpets, soft toys, bedding, cushions and furniture.

They’re too small to see. And very hard to get rid of altogether.

If you’re allergic to dust mites you’ll have symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing or a runny nose when there's dust around, and especially if dust is disturbed - like if you’re cleaning or moving furniture.

And if you have asthma too, a dust mite allergy can trigger your asthma symptoms.

There’s no miracle cure against dust mites

There’s no easy way to get rid of dust mites. Unfortunately, research suggests that whatever you do you’re unlikely to make a useful difference to the number of dust mites in your home. And you’d need to put in lot of effort just to get the numbers down a bit.

However, some people with asthma say they’ve noticed a difference by trying a few things.  

For example:

  • regular vacuuming
  • airing rooms
  • freezing, and then washing, soft toys
  • 60-degree washes
  • choosing hard floors rather than carpets
  • using dust mite covers on bedding
  • air filters and purifiers.

There’s nothing to stop you seeing if any of these things help you or your child. If you’re keen to do something, maybe concentrate on the rooms where you or your child spend the most time. 

But before you invest lots of time, money or energy on a battle against dust mites, remember that the best way to cut your risk from dust mites is to manage your asthma well every day

This means you’ll be less likely to react so badly to any of your asthma triggers, including dust mites.

Defend yourself against dust mites with a good asthma routine

Experts agree that the best way to cut your risk of asthma symptoms triggered by dust mites is to stick to a good routine of looking after your asthma well:

  • Take your preventer medicine every day as prescribed so you won’t react so badly to dust mites, or any of your other asthma triggers.
  • Use your written asthma action plan so you know what to do if dust triggers your asthma symptoms
  • See your GP or asthma nurse if you’re getting symptoms three or more times a week to talk about the best ways to manage all your asthma triggers

Top tip: “Talk to your GP or asthma nurse about any nose symptoms you’re getting too. They may suggest you add in a steroid nasal spray,” suggests Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK’s in-house GP. “This calms any inflammation in your nose, and along with your preventer inhaler will help with symptoms in your airways too.” 

Asthma UK does not recommend ionisers 

Ionisers give out electrostatic charges to clean the air but there's no evidence that they improve asthma symptoms.

Asthma UK doesn't recommend using an ioniser because some research shows that they increase night time cough in children.

Call our Helpline for more support

If you're worried about asthma symptoms speak to one of our asthma nurses by calling the Helpline on 0300 222 5800, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728.


Last updated January 2020

Next review due January 2023

Asthma action plans keep all your personal triggers and medicines tips in one place. Download one now to fill in with your doctor or nurse.