Q: My mother always used a humidifier in my room in the winter. My child has allergies. Is it good to use a cool-mist humidifier in her room at night?
A: Please do not use a humidifier if your child is allergic to house dust mites because increased humidity is the main source of moisture for mites. House dust mites live on dead skin cells and need humidity of 50 percent or more to survive. The bed is the perfect habitat for dust mites, and this habitat is only improved if humidity is increased. Mites thrive at temperatures of 70 degrees or higher. To reduce dust mites, lower humidity to 45 to 50 percent, maintain the temperature at less than 70 degrees and use dust mite-proof mattress and pillow covers. Bed linens should be washed in hot water (greater than 130 degrees) weekly. Frequent dusting with a damp cloth will help. If your child is extremely allergic to dust mites, replace carpeting with a surfaced that can be damp-mopped frequently. Saline nasal rinses/washes are a natural method for moisturizing nasal mucosa and thinning secretions.
— Dr. Susan Raschal, Covenant Allergy and Asthma Care; member, Chattanooga-
Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org. See this space each week for answers.