Bed Bugs and dust mites are often thought of as the same type of ‘bug’ or ‘mite’. Both are very different animals, but both have been proven to cause allergy symptoms. The smaller of the two, dust mites, have actually been found to be the cause of as much as 60% of all allergy and asthma cases worldwide. So if you have household allergies, lots of sneezing / coughing while at home or the office, you really could have an infestation. But bed bugs are no fun either, and they do bite. Let’s take a closer look at both of these pesky invaders, their characteristics and some things you can do to get rid of them.
A bed bug is literally a ‘bug’, being more from the family of arthropods or insects. Bed bugs definitely do bite by piercing the skin with a ‘beak’ of sorts, and feed on human blood. Bed bugs are much larger than dust mites, with the adult bed bug growing to 3-5 mm in length. Symptoms of bed bugs include red blotchy, itchy skin, and some psychological effects such as a feeling of something crawling on the skin steel bite pro when nothing is there. Bed bugs and their eggs, like dust mites, are often tracked indoors by humans and pets.
Dust mites are much smaller than bed bugs, with adults growing to only 0.25 mm in length, which is barely visible. They feed on pretty much any kind of organic matter, such as dead skin flakes, food particles, other animal parts such as decaying bed bugs, etc. Dust mites are more related to spiders, have 8 legs, but can’t really bite as their mouths or mandibles are designed for chewing, not piercing. They do, however, cause intense skin irritation and itching from the powerful digestive enzymes and body parts of dead dust mites. In fact, the enzymes and body parts are two of the strongest known allergens in the world.but cause far more allergies and asthma than even the pollen count.
Dust mites are most often found wherever there is dust-carpets, furniture, your bed, mattress covers, dust bunnies, etc. If you see dust, you can bet there are about 200 dust mites per gram of dust. Many beds have been found to contain up to 2500 dust mites per gram of dust! Symptoms of dust mite infestation include wheezing, coughing, skin irritation, watery, red eyes, repeated sneezing, to more frequent asthma attacks with no ‘apparent’ cause. To be sure, you can use air quality test kits that test for the presence of dust mites, allergens, etc. (see author box below).
There’s usually no need to test for bed bugs, as they are much larger and you can often see them with the naked eye–in the ‘bed’, couches, or other sleeping areas. Treatment for bed bug bites usually involves hydrocortisone creams, Benadryl, and other antihistamines / allergy skin creams, etc. Getting rid of bed bugs, like most insects, often require pesticides. Switching to white sheets can sometimes make them easier to see, however, so you can determine if bed bugs are present or not.
Treatment for dust mites mostly involves getting rid of them through regular / vigorous vacuuming, using polyethylene mattress covers, and installing one or more HEPA air purifiers. HEPA air purifiers are much more effective than simple ionic air purifiers because they will trap 99.97% or higher of these offending particles / animals, whereas ionic air purifiers simply attract particles to an electrode with decreasing performance as the electrode becomes dirty and re-releasing particles back into the air as a result. Air purifiers may even be a legitimate medical expense and covered by insurance–check with your doctor.