• acaricides;
  • atopic dermatitis;
  • clinical trial;
  • house dust mite;
  • mattress encasing

Background Avoidance of allergens has been shown to be of benefit in patients with atopic asthma sensitized to indoor allergens. In atopic dermatitis, there is so far little information about the effect of house dust mite elimination strategies.

Objectives We therefore performed a randomized controlled study of house dust mite control in patients with this disease.

Methods Twenty adult patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis were included. Inclusion criteria were a positive RAST to house dust mite antigen (CAP class > 3) and a concentration of > 2 µg g−1 of the house dust mite antigen Der p1 in the patient's mattress dust. Patients were randomized to either the active treatment group (allergen-impermeable mattress encasing, acaricide spray containing tannic acid and benzylbenzoate) or a control group (allergen-permeable encasing, spray containing water and traces of ethanol). Severity of disease was estimated every 2 months by an established score (SCORAD), and eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) in the serum was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Furthermore, the use of topical steroids was quantified. Patients assessed daytime pruritus and pruritus-induced sleeplessness weekly on a visual analogue scale. The study lasted 1 year.

Results At the end of the study, the active treatment group showed a statistically significant reduction in Der p1 exposure as compared with the control group. However, when comparing the change from the start to the end of the study, there was no statistically significant difference between active treatment and control groups as measured by the SCORAD score and by ECP levels in the serum. Some patients in the active treatment group reported less pruritus-induced sleeplessness, but there was no statistically significant difference between the two treatment groups.

Conclusions For adult patients with atopic dermatitis it was shown that 1 year of house dust mite avoidance reduced the allergen exposure, but an improvement of overall disease activity was not demonstrated.