Alleviating Eczema

Alleviating eczema has been frustrating. A simple intervention can be used that is medication-free and works with the underlying logic of the disease.

Eczema is a chronic condition in which sensitive skin reacts to certain triggers, and a rash develops. The mainstays of eczema treatment are moisturizers and ever-increasing strengths of cortisone creams. These steroid creams are really only a stop-gap measure in alleviating eczema. They alleviate symptoms, but do not improve the health of the skin.

An exciting treatment has been suggested that is medication-free and works with the underlying logic of the disease instead of against it. The news came in a fascinating study published in the 1Lancet.

Alleviating Eczema: The Role of Mites

Tiny mites live in common house dust. Over the past decade, scientists have discovered that an allergy to the house dust mite plays a significant role in eczema. A team of dermatologists in 1996 decided to see what would happen if the amount of house-dust-mite antigen in the homes of people with eczema was reduced. They used several different methods to control the house dust, but the most important was encasing the mattress in a gortex cover. In the placebo group, plain cotton mattress covers were used. Dust was sampled monthly from the mattress covers over a six-month period.

The weight of the dust collected from the gortex-covered mattresses was decreased by 98%, and remained at this level throughout the study. More importantly, the severity of eczema significantly decreased in those using the gortex mattress covers.

Alleviating Eczema: A Simple Intervention

This is a relatively simple intervention and could have a dramatic effect on children (and adults) with eczema. If you use the mattress cover, it is a good idea to tape over the zipper in order to effectively contain the dust. It will take a couple of weeks before you notice the difference, but most people in the study did have significant reductions in their eczema. If it does seem to make a difference for you, I would recommend considering other house-dust control measures, such as removing carpeting in the bedroom.

Other allergic conditions such as hayfever and asthma are known to be triggered by house dust mites as well. Enclosing your mattress in a gortex cover can also help these problems.

I was able to inspect a mattress cover that controls allergens at an American Academy of Pediatrics Convention. I liked it very much. You can get information about it and other allergy reducing products at Allergy Control Products.

Scientists continue to study the effects of various environmental changes on children with eczema. More recently, a study looking at 60 children with eczema monitored over 9 months found that worsening eczema seemed to be associated with nylon clothing, unfamiliar pets, sweating, shampoos, as well as dust (British Journal of Dermatology, September 2009). Parents may want to minimize exposure to these things if their children suffer from significant eczema.

1Tan BB et al. Lancet, 347:15-18, Jan 6, 1996)
Last medical review on: June 30, 2014
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

Did you also cover your mattress with dust mite cover? That can be a huge help to people who have a problem with dust mites.

I was born with eczema and have suffered with chronic eczema most of my life. I am now 59 years old. I have been to dermatologists, allergist, countless doctors throughout my life. I ended up back to my regular doctor. He mentioned if you’ve done all these test for food allergens and medicines and nothing works, it’s got to be something in the air. He mentioned probable cause dust mites. So he suggested getting a really good air filter. This was in 2002. It took a awhile for me to believe that this would work but I finally purchased one. Now at that time I had eczema on my hands so bad that when I would bend my fingers they would bleed from the cracking cuts. Within four weeks my hands and any other spots of eczema I had cleared up. Once in awhile I will have a small patch come up and I know time is over do to change filters in my air purifier. This may not work for all eczema sufferers, but it sure helped me and it might help others if they have not tried this. I keep my air purifier beside my bed at all times and have another one in my living room. I am one of those people that have to have a flowing air noise to soothe my sleeping, so the purifier I have beside my bed is the perfect flow air sound. So it’s a double comfort for me.

Did you also cover your mattress with dust mite cover? That can be a huge help to people who have a problem with dust mites.

Begin to heal eczema from the inside out, and practice these six at-home remedies to reduce flare-ups and breakouts on your skin.

Hi my 2 year old had eczema and has just got a toddler bed and new mattress. He woke up with his face all flared up and red. I have purchaced mattress protectors do you think this will help? Also do cotton sheets help?


I have suffered from eczema for 3 years and finally was able to control my eczema by taking the herbs chickweed and dandelion. As long as I keep taking these, I have been free of eczema symptoms.