Dust Allergy - Definitive Guide

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What is a dust allergy?

A dust allergy is an allergy that is triggered by dust. Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a harmless substance it perceives as a threat, triggering the release of a chemical called histamine.  Dust allergy is commonly caused by house dust mites. It may make symptoms of asthma or eczema worse.

Can you develop a dust allergy?

Most dust allergies start in early childhood, but you can develop a dust allergy at any age. 

You are more likely to develop a dust allergy if: 

  • you have other allergies, hay fever, eczema or asthma
  • you have a family history of allergies

Dust allergy triggers

Substances in the environment that trigger allergy symptoms are known as allergens

Some allergens that can trigger an allergy include: 

  • House dust mites —these are tiny organisms that live in house dust as well as furnishings like carpets, curtains, mattresses, and upholstery. House dust mites thrive in warm, damp conditions and live off shed skin scales (which forms a large proportion of house dust). They produce fine faecal pellets (poo) that trigger allergy symptoms in some people.
  • Cockroaches —create particles in dust that may trigger allergy symptoms in some people
  • Animal dander —skin flakes from household pets as well as saliva and urine are a common cause of allergies especially when combined with household dust. Bird feathers and droppings can also trigger allergies in some people

What does a dust allergy feel like?

Symptoms of dust allergy include: 

  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • blocked, stuffy nose
  • red, itchy, watery eyes

How to treat a dust allergy

There is no cure for a dust allergy, but symptoms can usually be managed and treated with over-the-counter medications. 

The first,most simple, and often the most effective way to reduce your symptoms is to avoid contact with what is triggering your allergy as much as possible. You can do this by: 

  • removing places dust mites thrive such as carpets and curtains, especially in the bedroom
  • keeping pets out of the bedroom or out of the house
  • washing bed linen frequently on a hot wash cycle 
  • using mite-proof cases on pillows and mattresses
  • wearing a mask when cleaning, sweeping, or dusting
  • vacuuming your home regularly using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
  • using a HEPA air filter in your bedroom
  • keeping the humidity in your home less than 50%. If you live in a high-humidity area, you can do this by investing in a dehumidifier.
  • keeping all food covered and disposing of food waste in a sealed rubbish bin
  • if you have cockroaches in your home, use pest control measures

Medications for dust allergy

  • Antihistamines —work by blocking the action of histamine, the chemical released by your body in response to an allergen. They relieve allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and runny nose. You can buy antihistamines over the counter in the form of tablets, eye drops, and nasal sprays. 
  • Steroid nasal sprays  —work by reducing inflammation inside the nose and controlling nasal symptoms of allergies
  • Decongestants —shrink swollen tissue inside your nasal passages and make it easier to breathe. Decongestants are available as an over-the-counter tablet which may be combined with an antihistamine, or as a nasal spray.
  • Immunotherapy —is a specialist-led long-term treatment where you are exposed to an allergen in gradually increasing amounts over a long period of time. This makes you less sensitive to the allergen.

Get help from an online doctor

An online doctor can help with dust allergies by asking about your symptoms and providing you with a diagnosis and management plan. Symptoms of dust allergy can be similar to symptoms of other conditions like hay fever or the common cold which may require a different treatment. 

An online doctor can advise you on managing and reducing your symptoms at home as well as recommending medications if necessary. If your symptoms are severe, or not improving with treatment, they may advise you to see a specialist for further investigations and treatments. 

It’s easy to book an appointment with an NHS-trained GP at Medicspot. Simply click the link and select an appointment at a time and day that suits you. Appointments are often available the same day.

Get help from a pharmacist

A pharmacist can help with dust allergy by recommending over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, eye drops, and nasal sprays. They can also advise you on when to see a GP. 

Find a pharmacy near you


Dust allergies are one of the most common types of allergies in the UK. Though not usually serious, symptoms of dust allergy can be persistent, and bothersome and may affect your quality of life. 

If you have symptoms of dust allergy and would like to talk to a doctor, make an appointment today.


American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: Dust Allergies February 2nd 2018 (Accessed November 26th 2022)

NHS: House Dust Mite Avoidance  (Accessed November 26th 2022)

NHS: Allergies August 2nd 2022 (Accessed November 26th 2022)

Mayo Clinic: Dust mite allergy   July 31st 2021 (Accessed November 26th 2022)

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