Bed bugs and dust mites belong to different groups of pests that infest our household and cause various health issues. Where bedbugs are typically the size of an apple seed and are easily discernible to the naked eye, dust mites are microscopic. Bed bugs are parasites that feed on blood of humans and pets (mammals) but dust mites do not actually feed on humans and pets. Bedbugs are insects and dust mites belong to the arachnids (spider) family. Diseases caused by dust mites are mainly due to the chemical composition of their shed skin and feces. Let us study the differences between bed bugs and dust mites.
Differences between bed bugs and dust mites
- Dust mites are microscopic (3 microns approximately) and cause severe allergies in susceptible people, especially children and the aged.
- Bed bug bites are visible and look like mosquito bites. They typically are grouped in 3 or more and look like clusters. Sometimes, your skin may not react as fast to the bed bug venom and you will see no blisters on skin. There may be no itching, but if you find bloodstains, however tiny on clothing or anywhere in the bedroom, you can be certain of having bed bugs.
- Although dust mites are equally or in some cases more dangerous than bed bugs, the difference between bed bug bites and dust mite bites is that, quite simply, dust mites don’t bite and there is no specific marking on the skin to spot them in your home.
- The shed skin of dust mites and their feces, which are both microscopic, contain allergens that affect people with allergies, asthma, other breathing disorders and those people whose immune system is compromised because of a recent illness, surgical procedure or their age.
Symptoms of dust mite bites
Apart from dust mites, there are several other species of mites prominent of which are scabies mites, rat mites, and fowl/bird mites. These mites do bite and you can see their visible marks on the skin. Scabies mite bites often look similar to bed bug bites and need to be treated carefully. Dust mite bites symptoms are same as symptoms for allergy and asthma.
- Sneezing, runny nose
- Itchy and red or watery eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Intermittent cough
- Swollen lips and tongue,
- Rash and irritation on skin, broken skin
- Pain in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, loose motions
- Confusion and loss of consciousness.
Dust mite vs. bed bug bites:
Where bed bug bites are real and cause discomfort that can be easily diagnosed, dust mites may not be easily diagnosed due to lack of awareness. Dust mites are potentially more dangerous than bed bugs because of the fact that they adversely affect people and children who are susceptible to allergies and further weaken their immune systems. Bed bugs on the other hand are quite predictable and with a little effort, it is easy to get rid of them.
Treatment for bites
- Bed bug bite treatment includes measures to relieve the symptoms like irritation, itching etc. If, of course you are convinced that the skin lesions you experience are not caused by bed bug bites, it is better to see a qualified doctor to both figure out the cause and treat the problem An over the counter antihistamine pill is effective as a bed bug bite treatment for itching and irritation. You can also use a hot washcloth to wipe down the area affected by bed bug bites.
- Although dust mites don’t literally bite, the discomfort caused can only be explained as a dust mite bite. Besides, allergic rash that looks like fleabites maybe caused by dust mites. Dust mite bites treatment involves treating for allergies and asthma. Dust mite bites rash is also caused by the allergies and can be cured with appropriate allergy medication.
- If you see dust mite bites symptoms, it is important to see a qualified doctor to get the allergies under control and also take measures to prevent asthma. It is also important to treat your home and get rid of invisible dust mites.
- If you suspect dust mites in your home or find rash that looks like dust mite bites on baby, immediately consult your pediatrician and take measures to prevent and treat any known and unknown allergies.
- It is impossible to get rid of all and every dust mite in your home and surroundings but some measures like regular vacuuming using HEPA filters, keeping pets out of the bedrooms, generally keeping clean, washing clothes and linen in hot water, mite proof pillow cases and mattress cases, and checking the humidity in your home can significantly reduce the incidence of dust mites and hence, “dust mite bites”.
- Preventing bedbugs is also easy if you follow some precautions during travel, walking your pets and generally keep your surroundings clean. The chemicals used in dry cleaning can kill bedbugs and dry cleaning is effective against bed bugs that cling to your clothes.
- Dust mites can also be prevented by using and regularly washing/cleaning bedding covers, using quality cleaning products, using hot or warm water to wash clothes, curtains, bed covers, pillow cases etc., using detergents that get rid of allergens on clothes along with dirt and stains, and vacuuming the floor and carpets etc. regularly. Carpets are the biggest source of dust mites and if possible, try to have fewer carpets in your home. Get rid of carpets in the toilets and kitchen and if you have a walk-in closet, there too.
- Another important point when it comes to preventing dust mites is to keep humidity to the minimum. Dust mites like all visible pests thrive in warm humid conditions and hence using a dehumidifier in appropriate seasons will help. You should also keep your windowpanes, vents and other mesh clean and maintain and service them regularly.
- Neither dust mites, nor their shed skin and feces are visible to the naked eye. So, if you do find some poo like critters, they might be bed bugs or other pests. Vacuuming will get rid of these pests as well as dust mites.
It is quite easy to discern whether bed bugs or dust mites infest your home. If you have been away on a long vacation, it is possible you might have both. Use measures to get rid of beg bugs and dust mites to prevent discomfort and allergies.
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