Dust Mite Bites: Symptoms and Treatments

Dust mites may not be a particularly well-known pest but make no mistake, they are just as irritating as any other form of household pest. 

Dust mite allergy is one of those problems that a lot of people have without even realizing it. For example, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) reports that about 20 million US citizens are affected by dust mite allergies today, yet a lot of them are unaware of this problem. The reason for this is that the dust mite allergy symptoms are often mistaken for other health issues or are just taken for granted as something “that happens”.

But what exactly is dust mite allergy, do they bite and what are its symptoms and treatments? Should you be worried about it?

First off, can and do dust mites bite humans?

Dust mites don’t bite. In fact, they aren’t physically capable of biting. Instead of mouths or pincers, they have openings that they use to scoop up their food. This means that, unlike bed bugs, dust mites do not feed on human blood. Their main source of sustenance is actually our dead skin flakes.

What are dust mites?

A common household pest; dust mites are tiny, microscopic insect-like arthropods that feed off dust, bacteria, pollen, and human skin tissue.

They pull moisture from the air and absorb it through their bodies. They can, therefore, be a very common presence in all areas of our homes. In fact, a mere few feet of space can sometimes hold up to several million of these critters. 

They are most heavily concentrated in places that contain discarded flakes of human skin tissue. They can go undetected for years and therefore are hard to get rid of.

What do dust mites look like? Picture of house dust mite 

House dust mite image

At up to only 0.2 – 0.5 millimeters in length, they are invisible to the naked eye and can only be observed by using a microscope. To make it even more difficult to spot them, some are translucent.

One of the few clear signs that dust mites leave is the effect their proximity has on some of us. Some individuals have an allergic reaction to these creatures, often taking the form of eczema flare-ups, while those who suffer from asthma can find their symptoms aggravated by these bugs. Any symptoms tend to get worse after vacuuming or sweeping as this stirs up the mites and their fecal matter, making them more likely to be inhaled in the air you breathe.

Dust mites prefer warm, humid environments to cold, dry ones, where they die easily. Though the males of the species have a short lifespan (a little over a month), the females can survive for up to three months and can lay up to 80 eggs during that time. Dust mites certainly are fast breeders!

What do dust mite bites look like? Signs and symptoms

Even though dust mites can have an effect on us, it is not true to say that this is a result of their bites.

It is here where their contact with our physical bodies begins and ends. Due to the fact that our skin constantly sheds dead cells as it renews itself, we provide these creatures a steady supply of food. Actually, the only reason this myth of dust mite bites perseveres is that dust mites are often blamed for bites that are actually the work of bed bugs.

This is probably because, like bed bugs, dust mites are an elusive, invisible enemy. It is also because most people do not want to believe that their home contains bed bugs due to the association with uncleanliness that those insects possess.

As mentioned, dust mites do have an effect on some people. This effect, however, is an allergic reaction.

The reaction is to bits and pieces of dead dust mites as well as their feces. It occurs when these particles are inhaled. They are allergy-like any other allergy and have been blamed for asthma development in children. Unlike seasonal allergies, symptoms of dust mite allergies persist throughout the year.

What are the main signs symptoms of dust mite allergies? The answer is that it differs from individual to individual. Some of the most common reactions are:

  • Cold or flu-like symptoms such as a runny nose, a stuffy nose, sneezing, cough, etc.
  • Eye irritation, including itchy, watery, or red eyes or swollen bags under the eyes.
  • In some people, the upper pallet of their mouth, their throat, or the inside of their nose becomes very itchy.
  • Asthma attacks.
  • Eczema (skin rash).
  • For children, a common tell-tale indicator of an allergic reaction to dust mites is frequent nose-rubbing.

As you can see, dust mite allergies can be difficult to distinguish from a cold, the flu, asthma, or allergies caused by a different source.

When it comes to bed bug bites, however, there is a clear difference: bed bug bites appear on your skin as raised red spots (often lined up in a row) and bear a slight resemblance to mosquito bites.

Additionally, bed bug bites take a while to appear and it usually takes them at least a couple of weeks to fully heal.

dust mite bites pictures


How to prevent dust mites?

Prevention is the best form of treatment!

That being said, here are some tips to prevent allergic reactions and control dust mite population in your household:

  •  Dust regularly – With the help of a damp cloth clean all of the dust accumulated surfaces around your household, starting from top to bottom. Pay attention to hard-to-reach and small areas. Give it some time for the dust to settle on the floor and vacuum (with a HEPA filter) your carpet or rugs. 

Remember: Dust is a food source for dust mites, so it’s only natural that cleaning the place lowers the chance of dust mite survival. 

  • Wash your sheets, blankets, pillows and covers – According to AAFA, you have to wash them in the water for at least 130ºF (~55ºC) in order to kill dust mites.
  • Control room humidity levels – Dust mites can’t survive at less than 50% humidity. 
  • Room temperature – You can also lower the room temperature below the point where dust mites can survive and thrive. This is around 70ºF (21ºC).
  • Clean air conditioner filters – Clean your filters to prevent the constant spreading of dust mites and their waste. 
  • Treating the home with benzyl benzoate or tannic acid – However, check with your allergist before using chemicals. They can exacerbate some allergies.
  • Get rid of old stuffed toys – Disposing of stuffed or feathered toys as they can also collect dust mites.

Another great but somewhat hard to implement tips are:

  • Using synthetic fiber pillows rather than feathers or foam.
  • Replacing carpeting with hardwood, tile, or vinyl flooring.

Dust mite allergies: How to treat dust mite bites?

The best way to treat mite allergies is to limit the amount of time you are exposed to them by taking measures to transform your house into a dust mite-free zone. 

Of course, if your home has already been infested by dust mites and you have started to exhibit signs of an allergic reaction to them, you will have to treat the symptoms.

If you want to get some relief, try these over-the-counter medications:

  • Antihistamines: An anti-itching medication that helps relieve the symptoms of itchy, irritable nose, mouth, eyes, etc.
  • Decongestants: This medication will help to clear up a clogged up nose, chest, and ears.

If you have severe symptoms, set up an appointment with an allergist so you can be tested and treated. They may prescribe stronger antihistamines or even corticosteroids. Immunotherapy is another option to treat allergies.

Is there a difference between dust mite allergy and dust allergy?

Even though dust mite allergy is often called just dust allergy and even though the two are definitely related, the simple explanation is that “dust allergies” can include more than just dust mite allergies. People with dust allergies can also react to the pet dander that’s often found in household dust, the mold particles in household dust, or even cockroach corpses, waste and saliva parts that can also be found in dust. Cockroach dust allergies are not as commonly known as dust mite allergies but can be a significant problem for a lot of people, especially in warmer, southern climates.


Jack vaccaro

I have two areas in my home that have I guess are dust mites, your article indicates that dust mites don’t bite I’m now confused. When I set at my computer desk witch sets on a carpet I get overcome with stinging bites and can’t see what is biting me there are no bite Mark’s. Just in that small area can move two feet from the desk and no more stings. The only other area that I get attacked with the biting sting is my bedroom chair moving a few feet away no more stings. I have tried many products that claim that their product will remove the dust mites plus many more. Can you give me any idea of what chemical or product I can try. Thank you so much


    It sounds like you’re not dealing with dust mites, since, as the article states, dust mites don’t bite us and cause itching, rather dust mites cause allergy or cold-like symptoms. Have you considered the itching to be caused by anything other than pests? Often things like detergents, soaps and even certain types of fabrics and fibers can cause skin irritation that feels like bug bites.

    A beaudoin

    I have seen fleas left in a home by previous owner or renter have this effect. Set up a heat lamp hanging over (2-3”above) a bowl of water in the area and fleas will jump to the heat and bounce back into the water – this may give you an answer


I have numerous bites from dust mites. I just came from my dermatologist (one of the best) and he assured me that they do bite.


    I think your dermatologist might have meant the rash that some people get from dust mite feces since dust mites don’t have a mouth with teeth and therefore they are unable to bite you. The allergy people get from dust mites, however, can sometimes look like bug bites but in reality it’s just skin irritation.


    Hi Nicci! Can u please share to me what did you take or do for ur skin irritation? Im also going through this condition.


I have never experienced the knowledge with dust mites. If they leave feces behind what would it look like and is it noticeable


    Dust mite feces are extremely small, about 0.01 to 0.04 millimeters in size, therefore they aren’t noticeable and you won’t be able to see them without a microscope.


    I have dust mites allergy and have been dealing with pimple looking bumps do to it. Is lowering my self-esteem how can I get rid of those bumps on my body? Allergist is already treating me but bumps just won’t go away.


    Unfortunately, this really does seem like something a doctor would be far more qualified to answer. However, if the bumps are caused by dust mite allergy, getting rid of the dust mites might help with the problem. As a matter of fact, we have written an article about this. You can check it out here.

    Jennifer Mikesell

    Try rubbing tea tree oil on them! That’s what I’ve been doing and it seems to help! I also have been putting neosporin on them as well before I got to bed. Hope this helps you too!

Dee Townsend

I have dust mites, they don’t bite but I feel them on my skin like something is crawling on my skin. It’s very irritating, I wash my bedding once a week . I don’t really know what to do , I even use mattress coverings. And your right can’t see them , I just feel like something crawling on me.

    Kristiana Kripena

    Check out our article on how to get rid of dust mites where we listed everything there is to know on getting rid of these irritating pests.


I have hairs in my mouth, I think this is from mites, it happens during the night,I can’t get rid of them. I am looking for a remedy.

Can you help me?


    I don’t think the hair in your mouth might be caused by dust mites. Could it be possible they might come from your pillow, etc?


    I had the feeling of hair in my mouth one night and I figured out it was too much salt intake. Try eliminating salt.


For 59 yearsI’ve run a clean house. Have very few carpets.My floors shine. DraPes are dry cLeaned every six months, and now MY husband I are being eaten alive by either bedbugs or dust mites The day afterI had the exterminator for bed bugs we had MORE bites than ever. Once I saw a bug but it didn’t look like pics of bedbugs. And that’s it!!! We have been fighting this for four months …and we are nowhere. We’ve never had so much as an ant or a roach. Our legs and arms are disgusting to look at. Help!!!!! Would appreciate some advice. Thanks.


    If it didn’t look like a bed bug, is it possible it was something else? Read this article, it might help you figuring out what exactly you’re dealing with.


I’ve been noticing lately when I sit on my carpet I instantly get a sting ..hours laters a huge itchy welts forms and then the following day I am so stuffy that I can’t breath .I was thinking dust mites ,but this article doesn’t support my theory So I’m confused …however someone’s comment up top is experiencing what I experience ..stinging but can’t locate any insect .So frustrating and now I don’t even want to go into my living room .


    Not sure what that could be. Though, it does sound like you’re allergic to whatever you’re dealing with. Perhaps you should think about giving your carpet deep cleaning. Using some products and trying steam-cleaning. You can also talk to professionals about your issue, they might come up with something that will kill most of the things that might potentially be in there.

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