Dust Mites vs. Bed Bugs – How To Tell Them Apart?

Bed bugs and dust mites belong to different groups of pests that infest our household and cause various health issues. Where bed bugs are typically the size of an apple seed and are easily discernible to the naked eye, dust mites are microscopic.  Bed bugs are small, oval insects that do not fly and can live anywhere in the home. These pesky pests take up residence in various areas of the home, including cracks in furniture, in any type of textile and most commonly, in beds, where they thrive in the mattress, box springs and bed frames.

Bed bugs are parasites that feed on blood of humans and pets (mammals) but dust mites do not actually feed on humans and pets. Bed bugs 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’s look at the differences between bed bugs and dust mites.

Dust MitesBed Bugs
Microscopic – cannot be seen.Visible – brown and 5 mm in length.
Doesn’t bite – feeds on dead skin.Bites – feeds on human blood.
Found mainly in mattresses, bedding, and upholstery.Found in furniture, under mattresses, cushions, and other dark places.
Cause allergic reactions.Cause bites and itching.
Remove with vacuuming, hot water, sunlight, and certain chemicals.Remove with vacuuming and specific chemicals.
Can be partially prevented with hypoallergenic mattresses and bedding – plus regular cleaning.Can be prevented with regular cleaning and checking for infestations.

Symptoms of Dust Mites

Dust mite allergy symptoms caused by inflammation of nasal passages include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Postnasal drip
  • Cough
  • Facial pressure and pain
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
  • In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose

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 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.

Where Do They Live?

You may have got the hint that both dust mites and bed bugs are sharing the same bedroom with you. While both have different feeding habits, humans are the primary source of food.

Hundreds of thousands of dust mites can live in the bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets, or curtains in your home. They feed on the dead human skin cells found in dust. Dust mites are not parasites; they don’t bite, sting or burrow into our bodies.  Also, dust mites thrive in dark and humid environment and that’s basically most households on the planet.

As for bed bugs, they are hiding not too far from dust mites. Bed bugs prefer cracks and crevices that are hidden from plain sight. Also, you may find bed bugs hiding beneath cupboards or upholsteries. Occasionally, you may spot their feces, and skins that gave away their hiding spot.

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 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.

Controlling Dust Mites & Bed Bugs

Keep the house aired out and dry. Dust mites do well where humidity is greater than 50% but do not do well in dry conditions. Try to keep the moisture level (humidity) below 50%. This may be difficult in some seasons and some climates. Plants and fish tanks add to humidity, so keep these out of the bedroom.

Lysol can kill 99% of dust mites; however, the dead carcasses and droppings of dust mites are what causes allergens. Killing them will not be enough; you must also vacuum the area or shake out the bedding to remove them after you have killed them.  Also consider steam cleaning carpets when possible. In addition to cleaning the carpet, the heat of the steam kills dust mites.

Wash bedding, including pillowcases and mattress covers, in hot water [ 130°F (54.5°C)] every 1 to 2 weeks. You can also dry bedding at high temperatures.

You can limit your contact with dust mites by using allergen-proof covers on your mattress, box spring, and pillows, and washing them regularly. This works well as part of an overall plan to reduce allergens in your home. It is not enough to use mattress and pillow covers without some of the other methods mentioned above.

As for bed bugs, it’s also important to keep your home and bedroom clean and uncluttered. You will also need to caulk and seal cracks around HVAC vents, walls, plumbing, or other locations.  Cover electrical outlets and install bed bug proof encasements on the mattress and box spring.

Ultimately, you may have completely got rid of bed bugs, but dust mites are a stubborn enemy. If you reduced dust mites to a minimum, the allergies will subside.

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