Dust mite allergy treatment

Allergist with a white coat, stethoscope and clipboard, explaining to her patient all about dust mite allergy treatment

Living with dust mite allergy may feel like you’ve got persistent hay fever. Or a cold you can’t shake off. At best mild allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose and nasal congestion are annoying. But chronic sinus inflammation and wheezing could impact on your well-being.

Either way, if you think you’re allergic to dust mites, speak with your healthcare provider. They may suggest you take short-term allergy relieving medications such as antihistamines or corticosteroids.

There are other dust mite allergy treatment options if your symptoms are more severe. For example, allergy immunotherapy aims to retrain your immune system to tolerate dust mite allergens better. We'll explore all these options later. But first, it’s helpful to learn what dust mite allergy symptoms are. That way, you’ll have a better understanding of why a combination of medication and avoidance strategies is most effective.

How do I know if I have dust mite allergy?

A telling sign of dust mite allergy is perennial allergic rhinitis. Perennial means all year round. Perennial rhinitis develops when the immune system mistakes dust mite waste, skin or any inhaled allergen for something harmful. When this happens, the lining of your nose can become inflamed, due to the body launching an immune response.

While some dust mite allergies may start with a blocked stuffy nose, you could notice other signs and symptoms including:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose
  • Post-nasal drip (the feeling of mucus moving down the back of your throat)
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Cough
  • Tight chest or wheezing
  • Sinus inflammation or pain
  • Skin reactions, rashes, eczema

Skin allergies: bumps
and itchy rashes

Man gently rubbing moisturizing cream into the backs of his hands to soothe his skin allergies

Dust mites are microscopic insect-like pests that live in soft fabrics, including pillows and duvets. So you may notice your symptoms are worse in the morning or during the night as you try to get to sleep.

Dust mite allergy treatment – the different types

The number of dust mite allergy treatment options can be overwhelming. But we’ll do our best to outline them and some of the more common possible side effects. For a comprehensive list ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist and always read the information leaflet for your medication.

Depending on strength, some of these treatments are available as over-the-counter or with a prescription.

Drug-free options

Drug-free dust mite allergy treatments include:

  • Allergy blockers: These nasal sprays coat the inside of your nose with a substance that forms a gel barrier. This barrier helps trap dust mite allergens.
  • Nasal irrigation: During nasal irrigation, you flush saline through your nose and sinuses. This helps clear out allergens.


Antihistamines are a type of drug that help block the effect of histamine. The body releases histamine during an immune response. As we mentioned earlier, the body may go into this defensive state when it mistakenly identifies dust mite allergens for something harmful. Histamine causes inflammation and swelling. So, blocking it helps reduce allergy symptoms, such as sneezing and watery eyes. Antihistamines are over-the-counter medications and are available as tablets and nasal sprays.

Potential side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness (first-generation more than second-generation antihistamines)
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Bitter taste in mouth (nasal spray only)
Close-up of a dust mite under the microscope. This cousin of the spider has eight legs and jaws to grab your shed skin

Dust mites don't


Corticosteroids also reduce inflammation, but they can also suppress the immune system. Nasal corticosteroids in sprays are usually effective at reducing a runny or stuffy nose. You can use nasal sprays for longer than other forms of corticosteroids, as very little is absorbed systemically into the blood. Other forms of corticosteroid medication include inhalers, creams and injections. Depending on dosage strength, corticosteroids are available over-the-counter and with a prescription.

Potential side effects may include:

  • Burning, dryness or irritation inside the nose (mild, lasting only a short time)
  • Headaches
  • Altered taste
  • Throat irritation

Leukotriene receptor antagonists

Leukotrienes are another type of chemical that is released by the immune system. Like histamine, leukotrienes also cause inflammation, but more so in the airways. Leukotriene receptor antagonists aim to reduce inflammation by blocking leukotriene. They are prescription-only medications.

Potential side effects may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Stomachache
  • Flu-like symptoms

Mast cell stabilizers

Mast cells are a type of immune cell, their role is to release histamine. Mast cell stabilizers aim to stop mast cells from releasing histamine. This type of medication is used as a nasal spray. It’s best to think of mast cell stabilizers as a preventive dust mite allergy treatment. But they can reduce symptoms as well. Mast cell stabilizers are prescription-only medications.

Potential side effects may include:

  • Irritation in the nose or throat
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth

Allergic rhinitis: A bit like a cold

Man blowing his runny nose caused by allergy to dust mites. His symptoms are called allergic rhinitis


People feel congested when the blood vessels in their nose inflame and swell. Decongestants including nasal sprays, for example, aim to reduce swelling by constricting the blood vessels in your nose, so you find it easier to breathe.

After a few days, you may notice these treatments don’t work as effectively. Or, they have the opposite effect and cause swelling. When this happens, you could be experiencing a rebound effect. A rebound effect happens when the blood vessels in your nose become over-sensitized and expect to be constricted. Consequently, as the effect of the spray wears off, the blood vessels rebound and swell again. In some instances, rebound swelling can actually be more severe than swelling caused by your allergies. To avoid a rebound effect, you shouldn’t use these nasal sprays for more than 3 days in row.

You can use nasal decongestants alongside antihistamines but speak with your doctor first to check if you should do this. Decongestants are available over-the-counter.

Potential side effects may include:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Swelling (after long-term use)

Other dust mite allergy treatment options: Combination products

If you experience persistent side effects, there are other dust mite allergy treatment options. Combination nasal sprays contain both antihistamines and corticosteroids. Doctors may suggest this dust mite allergy treatment if you don’t notice any improvement after using one of these drugs on its own.

Allergy immunotherapy

During allergy immunotherapy you’re given repeated doses of dust mite allergens over several years. The aim is that you become more used to dust mite allergens and experience fewer dust mite allergy symptoms.

Allergy immunotherapy comes in two forms:

  • Immunotherapy tablets (SLIT): The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved allergy immunotherapy tablets for dust mite allergy. The tablets are taken daily in the convenience of your own home. The first dose must be given under medical supervision in the doctor's office. Treatment time is around 3 years.
Fact finder quiz
Is long-term treatment right for you? Our quick questionnaire can help you decide whether it’s time to find out more about allergy immunotherapy.
Man blowing his nose with one hand and shrugging with the other against a klarify green background
  • Immunotherapy shots (SCIT): This is always administered by medical staffin the doctor's office. Treatment requires two-phases: the build-up phase and the maintenance phase. The build-up phase involves visits for injections about once or twice a week. The amount of allergen gradually increases over time until it reaches the maintenance dose. During the maintenance phase, the intervals between injections are longer. Treatment time is up to 5 years.

A potential side effect of any allergy immunotherapy is anaphylaxis, a systemic allergic reaction (one that affects your whole body). Because you’re being exposed to your trigger, albeit in a very small amount, there is still a risk of you experiencing a serious allergic reaction. For this reason, allergy immunotherapy is only given under the guidance of a healthcare provider. Considering the risks and benefits of any treatment, including allergy immunotherapy is an important step in understanding if it’s the most suitable option for you.

Dust mite allergy avoidance – why is it important?

Healthcare providers suggest dust mite avoidance strategies because they usually reduce allergy symptoms.

Of course, you can’t completely eliminate dust mites but minimizing the amount in your home is important. When there are fewer dust mites, there is less dust mite waste and skin. Both of which are dust mite allergens.

Some of the most effective ways that help kill dust mites are:

  • Keeping relative humidity levels stable, between 35–50%
  • Washing your bedding at the hottest temperature on your machine
  • Tumble drying bedding or leaving it out to dry in the sun
  • Choosing hardwood flooring over carpets
  • Remove dust with a damp cloth


Dust mite treatment options include drug-free remedies, such as nasal rinses and cellulose nasal sprays. Over-the-counter medicines, such as antihistamines and corticosteroids are also available. If either of these treatments aren’t effective, there are prescription options.

Allergy immunotherapy could help reduce your dust mite allergy symptoms. The goal of this treatment is to retrain your immune system to tolerate the allergen better. Ask your healthcare provider to tell you more about it.

Killing dust mites is another way of reducing symptoms because you’re removing allergens from your home that can make you feel unwell.

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