How to Get Rid of Dust Mites on Winter Clothing

Winter jackets, hats, sweaters and all the fuzzy accessories ... what a great season for clothing and fashion! Unfortunately, for folks with dust mite allergies, it is also a constant reminder of what we shouldn't put on our bodies for risk of a reaction. 

Dust Mites in Winter Clothes

Home furniture, flooring and decor is the big topic for dust mite allergy recommendations. No carpet, leather furniture, no curtains, dust often, etc. But nobody talks about clothing and accessories - the things that are actually worn on the body. And all the same type of rules apply: no furry stuff and nothing that gathers dust. The problem is that we can't (and shouldn't) walk around in all latex or leather. Our clothing can't be wiped down with a damp cloth. Dust mites live in our clothing, especially our winter gear like hats, jackets and sweaters that don't often get washed. We're told we should store our clothing in airtight plastic bags, but ... come on ... that's not practical. 

Eczema Reaction to Dust Mite Allergy


I just bought a new heavy coat a few days ago with the fur lining (not real fur, of course) and wore it a few times. It almost immediately hurt my neck - the skin that was touching the fur. It got itchy, painful and rashy. When I showered yesterday, my neck burned like I had little needles pricking my neck. My neck didn't visibly look horrible and didn't spur a big all-body eczema flare-up (thanks to my Dupixent and Protopic eczema treatment), but it was more than uncomfortable and a clear reaction to my new coat.

My Experiment: Steam and Vacuum Winter Coat


What a bummer! It was a brand new coat and hadn't even been in my closet gathering dust. The reality, though, is that it had been in a warehouse, transported in a box and hung in a store - all perfect situations for breeding dust mites. 

In my house, I have many winter gear pieces that I don't even try to use anymore. I didn't want to put this new coat in that pile. So, I decided to try steaming the fur. Steam cleans clothing, right - it seemed to make sense! But, what about the dead dust mite bodies and fecal matter? After all, it's the dust mite poop that causes the allergy reactions. So, I grabbed my hand vacuum and vacuumed the fur. 

And I think it worked! I wore the jacket all day today and my neck didn't hurt or worsen! I'm going to try this steam-and-vacuum technique on all my dusty winter gear. 

Side notes:
1. I've tried many steamers and most are terrible. Here's one I love that is highly rated and I use often: Joy Mangano My Little Steamer

2. As for the hand vacuum, my husband recently treated himself to a Dyson V6 Animal vacuum, so I used that, but I think any hand vacuum would be fine. 


Allergy Shots for Eczema Control


Looking fly, wearing my hip hugger bag so I can keep my inhaler and EpiPen, in case I have a reaction to my allergy injections. 


I'm sitting in the waiting room of The Allergy Clinic on Fannin Street in Houston, waiting to take my third set of cluster allergy injections. I saw my allergist again last week and gave him the low down: my eczema is still mild to moderate, but more on the moderate side lately. Since my doc visit, it's back to mild, thankfully. Dr. Engler recommended I try allergy shots again, but using high dosages and targeting very specific allergens this time.

Been There, Done That, So Why Again?

I've tried allergy shots for years, before switching allergy clinics and coming to Dr. Engler last year, and I've not been convinced that the shots help me in any way. But I trust my doctor and he has good reasons (with research to back it up) on why this makes sense for my eczema case:

  • Allergy shots are best done when eczema is under control; otherwise, the injections can cause eczema to worsen. While under Dr. Engler's care, my eczema shifted from being moderate to severe to being mild to moderate. It's not completely gone, but is definitely under control.
  • Immunotherapy (allergy injections) for dust mite allergies has proven to help eczema patients, according to research studies. And dust mites are academically proven to affect eczema. I am not confident about much regarding my eczema, but am absolutely confident that my dust mite allergy is severe and totally affects my eczema. 
  • Cluster shots are a good way to do an immunotherapy treatment in a speedy, efficient manner, compared to typical treatments that take much longer. They are also a more convenient alternative to "rush" immunotherapy treatments. Here's an article my doctor recommended I read to learn more about cluster shots:


I'm excited to start my immunotherapy treatment today for dust mites and grasses. Did I mention I also am pretty allergic to grasses and trees? Hopefully it helps me be able to cuddle with my doggie who rumbles around the grass and keeps those allergens on his fur.

Recap of My Current Eczema Treatment Plan

Immunotherapy (cluster shots) for dust mite and grasses allergies, biweekly Dupixent injections, daily Protopic ointment on eczema patches, Vitamin D supplements and probiotics. I don't think the probiotics have helped and am not sure yet about the immunotherapy, but the Dupixent, Protopic and Vitamin D supplements seem to be helping.