You’re itchy. There’s bumps on your skin. And you have dust mites. Which leads you to wonder: Do dust mites bite?
Listen. No one likes a negative person. Sometimes, it’s essential to try and find something good to say, even about those with very few positive qualities.
No, I’m not talking about Karen in accounting. (But seriously, Karen in accounting is the worst, right?) I’m talking about dust mites.
These microscopic creatures invade our homes, and that population can reach huge numbers before we even know about it. And most likely, you won’t know about it – after all, you can’t see dust mites without a microscope.
But if you’re allergic, you can most definitely feel their presence. A runny nose, puffy eyes, sneezing, and shortness of breath are all signs of a dust mite allergy. These tiny bugs, and the proteins they produce in their droppings and shed skins, can even be a contributing factor towards asthma.
But there’s one good thing we can say about these creatures…
Do Dust Mites Bite?
So, do dust mites bites? No, they don’t. Not people, anyway. The structure of their mouths isn’t set up for biting people, and even if it were, these creatures are just too small to break human skin.
At around 1/64 of an inch in length, these bugs are too small even to really be aware of our existence. Or at least they would be if it wasn’t for the bounty of skin flakes that rains down upon them from above.
We all shed dead skin throughout the day. It’s how we maintain our fresh and youthful looks – some of us more than others. And it’s these shed skin flakes that feed the dust mites in your home.
They have no interest in skin as long as it stays on your body. Only once you shed it do the mites consider it a tasty treat.
But although they are quite different creatures, dust mites are often confused with another type of bug that lives in our homes. A bug that can and does bite. Often, when people talk about dust mites, what they are really thinking of is bed bugs.
What Do Dust Mite Bites Look Like?
Let’s say it again: dust mites don’t bite people. Some mites bite people, such as scabies and certain species of bird mites. But bites from bird mites are rare unless you have nesting birds in your home, and scabies is a medical condition that needs to be treated by a doctor.
If you are getting bitten by something you can’t see, it could be one of these creatures. But it isn’t dust mites.
In some people, the allergens created by dust mites can cause a rash on the skin. Sometimes, people assume that this itchy rash comes from bites.
However, a far more common reaction to the presence of dust mites is symptoms similar to a common cold, such as sneezing, runny nose, puffy eyes, and respiratory problems.
Bed bugs, on the other hand, most definitely do bite. In fact, their lives depend on it. Bed bugs feed on human blood, almost exclusively. They will pierce through your skin while you sleep to get it, and these bites usually raise itchy red welts where the skin has been punctured.
Dust Mite Bites vs. Bed Bug Bites
It’s very hard to tell what’s biting you from the bites alone. The way in which bed bugs pierce human skin is very similar to the way that other bloodsuckers, such as mosquitoes and fleas, do.
However, bed bugs are very indiscriminate about where they bite. While fleas mostly target ankles, wrists, and other areas of thin skin, a bed bug bite can happen just about anywhere.
Likewise, mosquito bites tend to happen outside. Bed bugs live indoors and hide in cracks and crevices in furniture around the home when not feeding on us. So if you’re getting multiple bites that seem to happen overnight while you sleep, there’s a good chance you may have bed bugs.
Dust mites live in beds too. A regular mattress can contain as many as 10 million of these tiny creatures. But they and their droppings are too small to be seen.
And herein lies a helpful tip to immediately distinguish dust mites vs bed bugs – unlike dust mites, which need a microscope to be seen, bed bugs are quite visible, especially once they reach adulthood.
A mature bed bug can be up to 3/8 of an inch in color and is generally a dark reddish-brown, colored by the blood it feeds on. So if you do have bed bugs, a thorough inspection of your bedroom and the rest of your house may be enough reveal them.
How to Get Rid of Dust Mite Bites
If you’re confident it’s dust mites and not bed bugs or some other pest that you’re dealing with, you’ll want to get rid of these microscopic creatures.
But how do you fight something you can’t even see? Well, it’s not easy. Dust mites are extremely common, found in virtually every house in the world.
And the awful truth is that you may never completely eradicate these bugs from your home. But you can reduce their numbers and deal with the allergens they produce to alleviate the symptoms they cause.
How? Here’s a quick guide to get rid of dust mites – and the allergy symptoms that can feel like dust mite bites – along with them!
All those times when you were a kid, and your mom told you to tidy your room, you may have wondered why. It turns out, Mom knew what she was talking about.
Regular vacuuming is one of the best ways to not only kill dust mites but also remove their droppings and shed skins, which are what cause the allergies in sensitive people.
Use a dust mite vacuum with a HEPA filter to make sure that the allergens get trapped inside the machine instead of being recirculated around the room.
Dust mite covers
Dust mites can live throughout the home. But your bed is one of their favorite places. It offers the high humidity they need and a great source of the shed skin that they crave.
So wrapping your mattress in a specially designed dust mite cover can really help to reduce the allergens being released into the air you breathe.
Look for a cover that is certified for use against dust mites, and has a tight enough weave to keep these tiny creatures and their droppings inside. It won’t solve the problem by itself, but by isolating a major part of the dust mite population, it will provide some immediate relief.
Also, if you happen to have bed bugs as well, these covers can help protect you from those pests too.
Sprays and powders
Since killing dust mites doesn’t really solve the problem of the allergens they create, regular bug spray isn’t what you need to deal with these creatures.
What you want instead is an anti-allergen spray. These specially designed dust mite sprays break down the proteins in the dust mite droppings, rendering them harmless, even to those who are allergic.
Wash and dry bedding
A hot wash above 130°F will kill dust mites and remove the allergens they produce from your bedding. Since the bed is such a hot spot for these creatures, try to wash your bedding once a week.
You should also wash drapes, pillows, and any other fabric in the bedroom. Dust mites are so small that they can easily hide between the threads of most materials.
A certified HEPA filter has a tight enough mesh to trap dust mites and the droppings they create. But you don’t want to be vacuuming all the time.
Luckily, there are air purifiers with HEPA filters that can do the work for you. You just plug it in and it’ll go to town removing the microscopic particles that form dust before it even has a chance to accumulate.
That’s good news on two fronts: you get rid of the dust mites’ primary food source and the proteins left by dust mites that cause those pesky allergies.
The Final Word on Dust Mite Bites
As we’ve learned, there’s a big difference between dust mites and bed bugs. And when it comes to dust mites, you don’t need to worry about being bitten.
These microscopic creatures have no interest in biting you. Instead, it’s your dead skin they’re after.
So equipped with this knowledge, go forth in your crusade against these eight-legged beasts, and breathe easy. Dust mites are bad, especially if you’re allergic. But hey, at least they’re a lot better to have than bed bugs.