Do Dust Mites Bite? | What Is Biting Me at Night?


Man Itching His Back

There are many reasons that it’s good to know whether dust mites bite or not. You may wonder where that mysterious bug bite came from while you slept. Or perhaps you have allergies and are concerned that you might get sick from an insect bite. I was interested in learning for myself so I did some research on dust mites and this is what I found.

Dust mites do not bite. They only eat dead skin or pet dander from people and pets. However, dust mites do create allergens that can cause health issues for people with allergies or breathing disorders like asthma.

If you have bites and are wondering where they came from there could be a number of culprits. You also may be interested in learning to deal with a variety of pests, like dust mites, that may lurk in your home. Read on to learn more.

What Exactly Is a Dust Mite?

Dust mites are very small. In fact, they are microscopic, about 3 microns. That is about 1/4 or 1/3 of a millimeter and are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

What Do Dust Mites Look Like?

If you look at a dust mite under a microscope, they look are white, have eight legs, and are more like spiders than other types of bugs.

What Type of Environment Do Dust Mites Live?

Dust mites exist mainly in high humidity levels of at least 70% and in temperatures of between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 20 to 25 degrees Celsius.

What Do Dust Mites Eat?

Dust mites almost exclusively feed on small flakes of human skin but also will eat pet dander and any other organic material that might be lying around or tucked into the cracks and crevices of a bed or furniture.

Since Dust Mites Don’t Bite, What Bugs Could Be Biting Me?

Here are a few biting pests that are common in homes.

  • Bed Bugs are small, oval, often brown insects that live on blood from either humans or animals. Unlike the microscopic dust mite, they can grow as big as an apple seed and will bite any area of exposed skin. These bites can turn into itchy welts and can be found anywhere on the body. If you see dark specks along the mattress seams or rusty reddish stains, you might have a bed bug infestation.
  • Fleas Area probably the most common culprit of nighttime bug bites. They can especially be an issue if you own pets and don’t realize that one of them has become infested. Flea bites typically bite a person on the ankles and often appear red and sometimes blotchy with a red spot in the center.
  • Chiggers are microscopic outdoor only mites. If you have been outside in a swampy, grassy, weedy, or moist environment, you may have gotten the bites before going to bed. Sometimes the itching won’t start for several hours. Bites usually occur under socks or areas where clothing is tight.
  • Mosquitos are worth mentioning as they sometimes get inside a home and settle into bed with you. Mosquito bites appear as small raised welts, often colorless, and come with intense itching.

What Are the Best Treatments for Bug Bites?

Depending on which type of bug bites you, there are different treatment options available.

  • Treating Bed Bug or Flea Bites should be treated with a hydrocortisone skin cream such as Cortaid. If you are prone to allergies you may also want to take an oral antihistamine like Benadryl.
  • Treating Chiggers The itching is not caused by the initial bite, but from the parasitic larvae that the adjust lays under your skin when it bites you. However, the best treatment is exactly the same as it is for bed bugs or flea bites. Do not put clean nail polish on your skin! This is a home remedy that is an old wives’ tale and does not work.
  • Treating Mosquito Bites First off, do not scratch the area! Instead, lightly wash the area with cool water and soap. Put on some calamine type lotion or some Cortaid. Baking soda paste has also been known to work well.

If you are unsure what has bitten you, the safest course of action is to just wash the area and apply hydrocortisone skin cream. If you think you might be having an allergic reaction, call your doctor or visit an urgent care facility as soon as possible.

How Do I Know If I Have a Dust Mite Allergy?

Unfortunately, dust mites are a common allergy. A tell-tale sign is if your symptoms are occurring year-round. If you are allergic to dust mites you might have:

  • Persistent coughing through a postnasal drip
  • Itchy or reddened skin
  • General congestion
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Red watery eyes.

The first step is to get diagnosed for dust-mite allergies. Some people are mildly allergic while others have severe problems when encountering dust mites.

How Does a Doctor Diagnose You for a Dust Mite Allergy?

If your doctor believes that you might have a dust mite allergy he or she may run a skin test or blood test.

  • Skin Prick Test The technician will prick or lightly scratch your skin with a mite infected allergen. If redness or itching happens, you are likely allergic to dust mites.
  • Blood Test Sometimes people are not good candidates for the skin test due to medications that might conflict with the test. The best alternative is to take a small sample of your blood and then add allergens to it. The lab will check the amount of antibodies present which will give them an indication of whether you are allergic or not.

What Is the Treatment for Dust Mite Allergies?

If it is confirmed that you are allergic to dust mites, your doctor will first likely tell you to take preventative measures to control the level of dust mites in your living space.

Your doctor may also prescribe medications. For mild cases and over-the-counter antihistamine or decongestant may be all that you need. For more severe dust mite allergies, he or she may prescribe a nasal corticosteroid or even recommend allergy shots.

How Do I Prevent Dust Mites or Other Bedroom Pests?

There are several ways you can help prevent having allergic problems or getting bites from bugs or insects in your bed.

  1. Encase bedding, pillows, and your mattress in impermeable covering
  2. Wash and dry all of your clothes and bedding on the highest setting possible.
  3. Get rid of the carpet and switch to hardwood floors
  4. Frequently vacuum that contains a HEPA filter
  5. Purchase a good dehumidifier and set the humidity level to below 50%

Are There Any Types of Mites That Do Bite People?

The only type of mite that actually bites people is the scabies mite. Scabies mites are usually passed person to person and will burrow into human skin and lay their eggs. This can lead to a rash and persistent itchiness.

What Are the Symptoms of Scabies?

After being infested with scabies, it usually takes a month or even 6 weeks for the skin the react and symptoms to become obvious. The common symptoms are:

  • A rash that may look like pimples
  • Scaling or blisters
  • Relentless itching

A person may also develop sores on their skin that is caused by scratching the infected areas.

How Do I Get Rid of Scabies?

Unfortunately, scabies will not go away untreated so it’s important that you get to a doctor immediately if you think you might be infected. The only way it can be cured is by taking prescription medication that directly kills the scabies mites.

The treatment comes in the form of a lotion that is typically applied to the entirety of the body. It usually takes three days before the healing process begins.

Related Questions

How do I see a dust mite? You would need a microscope to see a dust mite since they are so small.


Where do dust mites come from? No one knows exactly where dust mites come from but, depending on the region, as much as 80% of homes have dust mites present.


Is leather better for keeping away dust mites? Leather and plastic-covered furniture are much easier to keep clean and free of dust which helps keep dust mites at bay.

Final Thoughts

While dust mites do not bite, there are still many health issues associated with having a dust mite infestation in your home. Many people have allergies which are only exacerbated by the extreme presence of dust mites.

Regular cleaning and washing is the best way to make sure that you minimize the problems associated with dust mites. Also, getting rid of or at least cleaning your carpets with a mild chemical such as Acarosan will help immensely. Talk to your local pest control professional if you need help deciding the best course of action.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Itch.jpg

Jim James

Jim James spent most of his childhood outdoors fishing on lakes in his area. Due to his scouting background, he has always been interested in survival, camping, and the outdoors in general. Jim is a best-selling author and has a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. He lives with his family in Charlotte, NC.

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