A dust mite allergy test can be a skin test, blood test or both. These detect the presence of specific antibodies. Results from a skin prick test can be ready the same day. Blood tests usually take longer. When you receive them, your healthcare provider will discuss the next steps.
If you think house dust mites are causing your allergy symptoms, you should book an appointment with your healthcare provider. If they diagnose dust mite allergy, they can suggest treatment options and avoidance strategies.
In this article we’ll focus on what a dust mite allergy test is and what to expect at an appointment with your healthcare provider.
If your healthcare provider suspects you have dust mite allergy they may initially suggest skin testing, such as a skin prick test. During a skin prick test a small drop of the allergen is placed on your skin, which is then gently scratched to see if there is a reaction.
Within 20 minutes you may notice the following symptoms:
If you develop a wheal, its size can indicate if you have an allergy. Usually, the larger the wheal the more likely you are to have dust mite allergy.
Allergy testing for kids
Before you leave, your healthcare provider will discuss your test results with you. Keep in mind a positive skin prick test result on its own doesn’t necessarily mean you have dust mite allergies. It’s just one factor that helps a doctor diagnose your allergy. Usually, they’ll also want to know how often your symptoms occur and when. This helps them rule out other potential allergens. For this reason, it's a good idea to log your symptoms in a diary and show it to your healthcare provider during your appointment.
Occasionally skin prick tests can trigger a severe and immediate allergic reaction. So it’s important you only have a skin prick test under medical supervision where there is access to allergy medication.
Your healthcare provider could suggest a blood test as another option if they suspect dust mite allergy. They may do this if you can’t undergo skin prick tests, for example.
Allergy blood tests aim to detect Immunoglobulin E (IgE) in your blood. IgE antibodies are produced by the immune system when it encounters something it thinks is harmful. With dust mite allergy, the immune system produces these antibodies when it detects a dust mite allergen, for example a protein in dust mite waste or shed shells.
During an allergy blood test your healthcare provider takes a blood sample and sends it to a laboratory to check the IgE antibody levels for a particular allergen. The process is known as specific IgE (sIgE) blood testing. In this case, the lab will only measure antibodies that respond to dust mite allergens. If a healthcare provider suspects other substances could be causing your symptoms they may request additional tests for those too.
After your blood has been analyzed, you’ll need to go back to your healthcare provider to discuss the results. Please bear in mind that a positive blood test result doesn’t necessarily mean you have an allergy. They will need to consider other contributing factors such as your family medical history and symptoms.
There are also home allergy testing kits that claim they can detect potential dust mite allergy or sensitivity. But it’s important to only use testing kits that screen for IgE antibodies against dust mites. Other types of allergy tests, for example those that use hair samples, haven’t been proven to be reliable.
Moreover, a positive result with one of these home allergy testing kits is not the same as a diagnosis. But it may give you the confidence to make an appointment with your healthcare provider or think about seeing an allergist who can interpret the allergy test results for you.
One of the main symptoms of dust mite allergy is allergic rhinitis. Nasal allergy symptoms can include:
Other symptoms may also be associated with dust mite allergy:
If you think you could be allergic but haven’t had a dust mite allergy test yet, again speak with your healthcare provider.
It’s highly unlikely any residential building or office space will ever be completely free of dust mites. They live in beds, carpets, curtains, mattresses and upholstery.
It’s highly unlikely any residential building, or public space like an office with soft furnishings and carpet, will ever be completely free of dust mites and their allergens. Dust mites live in floor coverings, curtains, upholstery, bedding and mattresses. But, unlike bed bugs, they’re too small to see without a microscope.
You can reduce dust mite numbers in your own home by keeping humidity levels between 35-50%. The bugs thrive in damp and warm places, so drier homes aren’t suitable environments for them. Tumble-drying your bedding and clothes can also help kill dust mites as they’re sensitive to hot temperatures. Just run your tumble dryer for one hour on a hot cycle to kill them.
No, but if dust mite allergy is diagnosed by your healthcare provider there are treatments that can help you control symptoms when they develop.
Medications such as antihistamines and corticosteroids can help reduce symptoms as and when they occur. A longer-term option is allergy immunotherapy. This aims gradually to desensitize your body to potential triggers such as dust mite allergens. In other words it targets the underlying allergy not just the symptoms. Allergy immunotherapy can reduce the need for symptom-relief medication, if it’s a suitable dust mite allergy treatment for you.
Dust mite allergy tests include skin prick tests and blood tests. They can help your healthcare provider or allergist, diagnose dust mite allergy. If you do have dust mite allergy, there are steps you can take to reduce the number of the tiny bugs and their allergens in your home. Antihistamines and corticosteroids can help reduce symptoms as and when they occur. Allergy immunotherapy aims to train your body to react differently.
Last medically reviewed on 08/11/2022