Do Dust Mites Bite?

dust mites cause dust allergy
Dust Mite

People frequently ask if dust mites bite. They have skin problems associated with their allergies (such as allergic urticaria) and assume that these hives are bites.

The answer to the question, “Do dust mites bite” is “Not only do they not bite, they can’t bite.  They aren’t made that way.”

Dust mites are 1/100th of an inch in size. Their eating parts are not like ours. They don’t have a mouth with lips, teeth, and tongue. Instead, they have an opening that scoops up the shed bit of our skin and instead of chewing it (the way we chew our food) they secrete a digestive enzyme that begins to break it down and digest their food. So, dust mites don’t have a conventional mouth, they don’t have teeth, they don’t chew, and they don’t bite you!

However, their body parts and feces contain a protein that causes allergic reactions. People with allergies may react in different ways. Some people may have respiratory problems and others show no respiratory problems but they have hives or eczema. It might be easy to confuse hives with insect bites because they both cause bumps and can itch intensely.  So, what you think are bites can be hives from allergy due to inhaling the dust mite particles and feces.

That is not to say that there are not bugs that can get in your bed and bite at night, but the symptoms will be different.  If you have bed bugs, these creatures actually feed on your blood. They leave a small bump that can itch intensely.  However, hives from allergy will be spread over the body.  Bed bug bites tend to occur in rows of two or three.  Also, if a bug is biting you in bed, you will find small specks of blood on the sheets.  You will not find blood from dust mites.

You can visit for a skin or blood test to determine if you have dust mite allergy.  Be sure to let the doctor’s office know if you are taking any over the counter or prescribed medications that can interfere with the test.  For example, all antihistamines must be stopped well in advance of testing.

Testing a room for dust mites is a waste of time and energy. They are common and if people are sleeping in a room, it will have dust mites in it.  So, instead of focusing on identification it is important to focus on reducing allergen levels.

The most commonly recommended first step is to encase the mattress, boxspring,  and pillows in special zippered fabrics that are impervious to dust mites and dust mite allergens.  In addition dust catching knickknacks should be removed from the room and the sheets, pillows, and blankets should be washed weekly in 140°F water.  Cooler temperatures will not kill the mites. Here are a couple of additional resources on allergen elimination, A Guide to Allergy Elimination and How to Reduce Your Exposure to Allergens .

Dust mites can make you miserable, but they can’t bite you.

Wishing you the best of health

The Allergy Store

PS. Allergy elimination is about eliminating the allergy-causing substance in your home the best you can. Once you do this, you may be able to eliminate the need for all the medications and doctor visits. For additional information please click here to download your free copy of” You Can Do It! Allergy Free Living. 

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3 Replies to “Do Dust Mites Bite?”

  1. Are dust mites visible? A fumigator sprayed my apartment and told my landlord that I had an infestation of dust mites. I showed the fumigator three adult mites and small mites I found on my body He took a quick glance and stated they were dust mites. I am puzzled, since dust mites cannot be seen with the naked eye.

    1. Good morning

      Your are correct. Dust mites can not be seen with the naked eye. House dust mites are tiny adults are about 0.5 mm long and the immatures are even smaller. Consequently, they generally are visible only with the aid of a microscope.


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