Dust mites disrupt skin's protective function, causing severe skin diseases
Posted Oct , 2006 (Return to the original web page from this print version)
A research in Japan found that dust mites and their droppings contain an enzyme, which damages the skin's protective function, making it vulnerable to attack by other allergens or pathogens. Many patients only go to the hospital for treatment after they have developed severe skin diseases, without knowing why.
In the research, the scientists dabbed hairless mice with solution containing the dust mite enzyme. They observed that the rodents soon suffered water loss on their skins, which is an indication of disruption of the skin barrier.
The scientists then dabbed the mice with riboflavin - or vitamin B2 - which is a substitute for allergens and irritants in the environment. The penetration of riboflavin into the skin was observed. This indicated that allergens and other irritants can penetrate the skin after the dust mites disrupt the skin barrier function. In a healthy person, the skin barrier is effective in fending off irritants.
This study was conducted by the Atopy (Allergy) Research Center at the Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo. The results would be published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. (News Report)
Implications of the Research
Dust mites are ubiquitous. They infest even the cleanest homes and thrive in beddings and carpets. It has long been known that the fecal pellets of dust mites can directly trigger allergic reactions and asthma for many people.
The research findings imply that effective removal of dust mites from the home environment is essential in the prevention of skin irritation and skin diseases.
From the statistics of the World Health Organization, asthma affected 300 million people worldwide in 2005, killing 255,000 of them. The fatality rate is expected to increase by 20 percent in 10 years unless urgent actions are taken in its prevention.
How to Avoid Allergens from Dust Mites in Bedding Products
1. Dust mites can be killed by washing bedding products in hot water above 55°C.
2. The bedding products should be washed frequently, e.g. once a week for pillow cover, bed sheet and duvet cover; and once a month for mattress cover.
3. Zipped protective covers that are dust-mite proof should be used for the pillow, mattress and duvet for total protection. (However, bedding products that have soaked in anti-mite chemicals should be avoided, as those chemicals may trigger allergic reactions and are pollutants to the environment.)
More info on the Characteristics of Dust Mites.
Related Link: Criteria of Choosing Ideal Bedding Products
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