baby is allergic to bed bugs

22 Jul. 20

How do common household pests cause allergies?

woman sneezing because of an allergic reaction to pests

According to Cindy Mannes of National Pest Management Organisation, while allergies are often attributed to pollen and grass sensitivity, common pests such as dust mites, german cockroaches, mosquitoes, bed bugs and fleas are also potential irritants that may exacerbate allergic symptoms. 97% of allergists agreed that keeping your house pest-free is a key step in protecting yourself and beloved ones. In this article, we will look into ways the uninvited insects can contribute to allergies.

How do you get allergic reactions from pests?

Pests are likely to leave dander, urine, droppings, hair or fur, and even body parts. These often contain foreign proteins that human immune systems cannot recognise. When you get exposed to these allergens, the body’s natural protective shield may not be able to put up a strong defence, which could result in allergic reactions. Allergic reactions include coughing, sneezing, wheezing, chest tightness, congestions, hives, and asthmatic symptoms. Pest-induced allergies are not only unpleasant, they may require further hospital care.

Allergies triggered by pests are more common than what we may think. Research suggests that approximately 85% of households have traces of dust mites in their beds and about 50% of homes have enough allergens that could trigger those with high sensitivity. 

Which pests can cause allergies?

German cockroaches

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A report by The National Pest Management Association found traces of cockroach allergens in 63% of homes in the United States. The allergens are mostly concentrated in living rooms and kitchens, and are high enough to trigger an allergic reaction. Typical cockroach allergy symptoms include coughing, nasal congestion, skin rash, wheezing, ear and sinus infection. Many cases reportedly could develop chronic symptoms that last beyond seasonal allergies.

Dust mites

Unlike other common household pests, dust mites are not visible to the naked eye. Small as they are, dust mites can put millions of people at risk of irritation with symptoms varying from watery eyes, a runny nose, to endless coughing. 

Bed bugs

baby having an allergic reaction to bed bugs and dust mites

Though bed bugs do not fly, they can quickly travel any surfaces such as floors, walls, and ceilings. Bed bugs can sneak into your house undetected via luggage, clothing, or used furniture. Most bed bug bites are painless at first, but they can turn into itchy welts later. The unpleasant feeling can last all day and, in some cases, cause allergic reactions.


There are people who may have a more serious allergic reaction to mosquito bites. It could cause blistering lesions or larger hives, fever and joint swelling. In a worst-case scenario, a mosquito bite can cause anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal condition characterised by throat swelling, generalised hives, faintness or wheezing. 


Flea bites on humans look like small red spots in groups of two to three or clusters surrounded with redness. The symptoms may include red spots with a halo, itching, hives, skin rashes with small clusters of bumps, and swelling around the bite. In addition, there are certain reactions to flea bites regarded as medical emergencies such as breathing difficulty (shortness of breath or wheezing), swelling of the lips or tongue, dizziness, nausea, and chest pain. 

How can pest allergies be prevented?

Just like us, pests need food, water and shelter to survive and usually opt for dark and damp areas. You are most likely to find them under sinks, ovens and refrigerators, in cardboard boxes, and inside the walls. Areas with limited human exposure such as attics and basements can become a home to common household pests.

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Call (02) 8007 4666 to consult our pest control team. We’re available for regular building and pest inspections and pest control services, keeping your home safe from unwanted pests!