Think You Have Dust Mite Bites?…Think Again

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Do you have dust mite bites? If so, you’ve come to the right place.  Many people aren’t sure why they get dust mite bites while in bed.

There are specific things to look for which will help identify the culprit.

The quick answer: Dust mites do not bite. If you have bites on your body it’s most likely from bed bugs, mosquitos, or a spider! Dust mites cause rashes. Depending on the cause of your “bite”, there are a few different actions to take.

I had this problem for years and couldn’t figure out what was irritating my skin. Finally, I determined what it was.

Below we’ll discuss the ins and outs of dust mites (as well as bed bugs) and clear up some common misconceptions.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with dust mite allergy after years of symptoms that I didn’t understand (15 years to be exact).  I walked around each day feeling fatigued and wondering where my rashes were coming from (or were they bites?).

Dust mite bites

After visiting an allergist, I learned I had typical dust mite allergy symptoms.  My symptoms included:

  • Stuffy nose (rhinitis)
  • Postnasal drip
  • Conjunctivitis and eczema around the eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Fatigue (because I didn’t sleep well at night)

At the time I was diagnosed I had never heard of dust mites. I was surprised to learn they lived in people’s beds (gross right?).

I remember thinking, “I’ve never seen a dust mite so I must not have them in my bed”.

As it turns out, I was wrong.  Dust mites can’t be seen unless under a microscope.  For most people they are harmless, but for those who are allergic, they can be the cause of major health problems, specifically allergies and asthma.

Luckily, there are some actions you can take to protect against both dust mites and bed bugs.  They are:

We’ll go into depth about these proactive solutions below.

What Are Dust Mites?

Dust mites live in virtually every home around the globe, however, there is often confusion regarding the microscopic creature.

Most of us aren’t quite sure what dust mites are, let alone what they do, and many of us get dust mites confused with another bedroom insect, the bed bug.

If you learn anything from this article please understand that dust mites and bed bugs are two very different creatures.

In the photos below you can see the difference between bed bugs and dust mites.

The photo on the left is a bed bug, seen with the naked eye.  The photo on the right is a dust mite, seen under a microscope.

Dust mites bites - Bed bugs bites

Bed bugs are not a welcome pest in the bedroom. They can be spotted on or in mattresses and can bite.  Dust mites, on the other hand, are much smaller and can’t be seen with the naked eye.

In fact, the average bed has 1000’s of dust mites living in the mattress, pillows, and blankets.  A 2-year old unwashed pillow is said to be made up of 10% dust mites and their feces but you’ll never notice their presence unless you’re allergic to them!

After learning about dust mites, they might give you nightmares but don’t worry, dust mites aren’t that bad. My simple advice: change your pillows every few years and cover with dust mite proof encasings (more information below).

Related: Best Organic Sprays to Kill Dust Mites

Do Dust Mites Bite?

Now that we know the difference between the 2 insects, let’s address the reason you’re here.

Here’s some good news: you don’t have dust mite bites!  Dust mites are so small they couldn’t bite you if they tried.

Plus, they aren’t interested in biting you.  They are more interested in the dust in your home and they like dark, warm, and moist areas.

Dust mites eat dust, and guess what the majority of indoor dust is?  It’s your shed skin.

Dust mites exist primarily by eating dead matter (our waste).  Each day we shed millions of tiny skin particles as our body produces fresh layers of skin (your pets also shed skin).

Even though it’s unpleasant to think about, dust mites like our shed skin and anything living is safe.

We spend a lot of time in our bed, so it makes sense that there is plenty of dead skin.  For this reason, beds make the perfect place for dust mites to live and hide.

Dust mites enjoy the food, warmth, and moisture (from sweat) that a bed provides.

Dust mite populations should be managed inside the home because of the potential problems they cause.  Due to the increase in allergies, their mere presence has become a problem for many Americans and others in the developed world.

Dust mites are the largest cause of indoor allergies in the world and people can experience a range of dust mite allergy symptoms such as:

  • Itchy Eyes and Skin (eczema),
  • Fatigue,
  • Congested Nose (allergic rhinitis),
  • Post-Nasal Drip
  • Persistent Cough
  • Asthma

If you have a skin reaction look at it closely, Ask Yourself:

  • Do you have bite marks or small welts from the bites?  If so then it’s probably not from dust mites.
  • Is the skin irritated similar to a rash?  If so then it could be dust mites.

Quick Facts about Dust Mites:

  • People don’t have dust mite bites – dust mites only eat dead skin and dander
  • Cannot be seen with the eye
  • There are generally large populations in our beds, pillows, and fabric couches
  • Cause diffuse rashes such as eczema (not welts from bites)
  • Cause allergic reactions such as congestion, itchy eyes, asthma

If you have dust mites there’s no need to worry.   They can be managed and are part of your household ecosystem.  If you’d like to reduce the dust mite population in your home you can help yourself from allergy symptoms by taking a few steps:

No. 1 Dust Mite Covers:

Allergen and dust mite proof covers can protect your mattresses, pillows, and blanket from infestation.  Not only do they protect you from dust mites, but they work for bed bugs and all other allergens too.

The great thing about covers is they also keep your expensive bedding looking new, protecting you and the bed.  In one blog post, we shared the best dust mite proof mattress covers.

No. 2 Carpet Cleaner/Shampooer and a HEPA Vacuum:

Carpet cleaners/shampooers and vacuums seem like a fairly straightforward way to reduce dust mites right?  Well, it’s not that simple.

Some people get carpet cleaners and vacuums confused.  Carpet cleaners (or shampooers) used water and soap to rinse and disinfect carpets.

The soap kills bed bugs, dust mites (and larvae) as well as mold and bacteria living in the carpet.  For people with bed bug and dust mite problems, we recommend using a carpet cleaner 1x every other month.

Carpets are warm and comfortable, however, they attract dirt and dust, making life difficult for people with allergy.  Wash your carpets just like you would with clothes.

Related: Best Carpet Cleaner/Shampooer for Dust Mites and Pet Allergies

Vacuums focus on suction and brushing.  They use a dry cleaning method that works great for weekly cleanups around the house.

Unbeknownst to most people, basic vacuums have a weak filter which doesn’t catch allergens like dust mites, cat dander, and mold.  HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance and these filters are proven to catch the smallest allergens.

For people with allergies, the term HEPA is extremely important.

When searching for a new vacuum, pay close attention to the HEPA term.  HEPA will keep you breathing well!  We reviewed the

No. 3 HVAC Allergy Filters:

HVAC filters are an often overlooked option to reduce dust mites in your home.  Dust and dust mites are so lightweight, that just walking in your house can cause them to become airborne where they can stay in the air for hours.

If you regularly use the air conditioning and heater, buying an allergy filter can drastically improve your indoor air quality.  Think of it as a whole house air purifier.

Some filters even remove odors, smoke, and chemicals from the air.  Check out our review for the best HVAC allergy filters.

No. 4 Air Purifiers

Using air purifiers for dust mites and pet allergies is a good option too!  Old air purifiers (in the 1990s and early 2000s) weren’t very effective, but in recent years the best air purifiers are using multi-stage filters with a HEPA component.

The filters have the ability to purify the air in a single room within 2 hours and clean dust, allergens, and pollution.  If you’re interested in reading more you can check out my favorites on the best air purifiers for allergies.

If Not Dust Mite Bites, Then What

Bed bugs, on the other hand, are parasitic nocturnal insects that eat blood.  A visual inspection of your mattress and sheets could help you discover if bed bugs are present.

If found to be true, you’ll need to do some serious cleaning as bed bugs spread easily.  Their larvae can be transported with clothes and spread to other households.

Many people get bed bugs in hotels, then unknowingly bring transfer them to their homes.

Helpful tips include putting your mattress in the sun for an extended amount of time, wash all your bedding and clothes, and vacuum thoroughly!  After getting rid of the active pest, make sure you purchase a dust mite and bed bug cover to trap unhatched larvae.

Remember, dust mite covers are also effective for bed bugs.  The photos below show active bed bugs (left) and bed bug bites (right).

dust mite bites vs bed bug bites - rash

Facts About Beg Bugs

  • Cause welts (could resemble mosquito bites or flea bites)
  • Suck blood
  • Can be seen with the naked eye, usually hiding around the mattress corners

Final Thoughts About Dust Mites Bites

Unfortunately, once you learn about dust mites they’ll probably keep you up at night.  For most people, dust mites are harmless and your dust mites bites aren’t what you think they are.

Remember, pay attention to your symptoms because most people who are suffering are used to the symptoms and don’t realize how much they are being affected!

Bites usually equal bed bugs, spiders, or mosquitoes.  Rashes and other allergic symptoms such as asthma and congestion are often a sign of dust mite allergy.

If you are allergic you’ll want to do your best to get rid of dust mites.  While they will never be totally eliminated from your home, you can manage them and improve your household hygiene.

Bed covers for your mattress, pillows, and blankets are a good start.  Vacuuming regularly with a HEPA filter will help reduce the allergens in the home.

In addition, don’t underestimate the value of an allergy quality HVAC filter which can capture a lot of allergens when it is being used.

A common trick I use is to turn the HVAC fan on while I’m cleaning so the dust I stir up can be sucked in through the HVAC filter.  Small actions add up to better health!

Now that you know you don’t have dust mite bites you can focus on the other pests that may be bothering you.  Best of luck as you improve your bedroom environment.

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