It’s frightening enough to know that cockroaches are scurrying around your home, but the idea of them biting you is horrific. Imagine being asleep in bed, feeling the skittering of a roach climbing down your leg, and a suddenly, you feel a quick shot of pain. Did that roach just take a bite out of your foot?
If you have a roach problem, you’re probably wondering whether there’s a risk of being bitten by one. And if you are bit, do you have to worry about infection or disease? We’re going to answer all of your questions on roach bites and more.
Table of Contents
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- Do Cockroaches Bite Humans?
- Do All Roaches Bite?
- Do Cockroach Bites Hurt?
- What Are the Most Common Cockroach Bites Symptoms?
- Do Cockroach Bites Itch?
- What Happens When a Cockroach Bites?
- Do Cockroaches Bite You in Your Sleep?
- Do Cockroaches Carry Diseases?
- Are Cockroach Bites Harmful?
- Does A Cockroach Bite Cause Leprosy?
- Do Cockroaches Bite Dogs?
- How to Treat Roach Bites
- How Do You Prevent Roach Bites?
Do Cockroaches Bite Humans?
Do cockroaches bite? That’s the first question most people have when they find roaches in their home. It’s one thing to have these critters crawl about your home and keep their distance, but it’s another thing to have them invade your personal space and bite you.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but roaches do bite. Roaches have been known to bite the flesh of living and non-living humans. While they may bite anywhere on the body, they’re more inclined to nibble on your fingernails, eyelashes or hair.
If you’re quivering in fear at the thought of being devoured by roaches in your sleep, take a deep breath: roaches rarely bite. Humans are the last resort. If there’s food somewhere else, they’ll go for that first.
The only time roaches are really inclined to bite is when their population grows out of control and food is extremely limited.
Do All Roaches Bite?
All roaches are capable of biting, but some are more likely to do so than others. American cockroaches, Australian roaches and German roaches have all been known to bite humans.
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Whether it’s an American cockroach bite or you have multiple German cockroach bites, the sensation and effects will likely be the same.
Do Cockroach Bites Hurt?
You know that roaches bite, and even if it’s a rare occasion, you’re probably wondering if those bites hurt.
The answer really depends on your own level of pain tolerance.
Generally, most people find that cockroach bites don’t hurt – at least not for long. You may feel a pinch or twinge when it happens, but the discomfort lasts just a few seconds before tapering off.
What’s interesting is that roach bites are incredibly powerful, even if only on a small scale. One study, which was published in PLOS ONE journal, found that roaches are capable of generating a bite force that’s 50 times stronger than its own body weight.
That’s a force that’s five times stronger than what us humans can do with our own jaws.
That power comes in handy when biting on things like hardwood, but because roaches are so small, their bites are less noticeable on humans. And they tend to bite nails and eyelashes, which wouldn’t cause you pain anyway.
What Are the Most Common Cockroach Bites Symptoms?
You think you might have been bitten by a roach, but you’re not entirely sure. Here are the most common symptoms associated with roach bites:
- A red bump at the affected area. A roach bite will leave behind a red bump, similar to what you would get with a mosquito bite.
- Redness and rashes. At times, roach bites cause redness and skin rashes, particularly if you’re allergic to these insects.
- A cluster of bumps at the bite area (not as common).
What Do Cockroach Bites Look Like?
Roach bites look a lot like mosquito bites, but they tend to be larger in size and may scab over. Some people will get clusters of bumps in the bite area, but this isn’t as common.
People who are allergic to roaches may have a stronger reaction. The bite may be even larger in size or swell up. A rash may also accompany the bite, which would make the skin red and bumpy in appearance.
Swelling is common when roaches bite sensitive areas, like the eyes. Yes, roaches can bite the eyelid if they’re trying to munch on your eyelashes. But again, this is not a common scenario. And unfortunately, we usually see types of bites in children who may sleep on the floor or get into areas where roaches are hiding out.
If you’re curious and want really want see what a roach bite looks like, search for cockroach bite pictures online.
Do Cockroach Bites Itch?
Sometimes. Some people also describe roach bites as painful, although most will say they didn’t even notice the bite until it started itching.
If you do get bit by a roach, it’s important to avoid scratching the area. Doing so may cause further inflammation and make it more difficult for the body to heal.
It can be challenging to prevent kids from scratching these bites, so you may try a soothing anti-itch cream or homemade remedy.
- Apply an ice pack to the bite for 15 to 20 minutes daily.
- Keep the area elevated to minimize swelling.
- Apply a little honey to the bite to soothe itching.
- Apply lavender essential oil to the bite with a carrier oil, such as apricot or coconut oil.
- Rub calamine lotion on the bite to soothe the itching and reduce swelling.
- Aloe and hydrocortisone can also be used to minimize inflammation and itching.
Lavender oil is especially effective at soothing the itch of a bug bite. Other oils that may work just as well include tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint and basil.
What Happens When a Cockroach Bites?
Humans and other vertebrates have jaws with teeth. Our teeth are used to grind food, and other vertebrates use their teeth to scare away predators.
Insects, like cockroaches, are entirely different. These critters use mandibles, which are blade-like jaws that can be used not only for shredding their food, but also for digging, defense, feeding their offspring and even transportation.
These mandibles are what the roach uses to bite you. And as you know, their bites can be pretty powerful.
Unlike mosquitos, roaches do not inject venom, so little happens when roaches bite. Over the course of a few days, the bite will (hopefully) heal on its own.
Do Cockroaches Bite You in Your Sleep?
Can cockroaches bite you while you’re dead asleep? They can.
Roaches are more likely to run away from humans, but we’re easy pickings when we’re asleep because our guard is down. But still, roaches will really only bite you in your sleep if they can’t find another source of food – or you choose to sleep close to where they frequent.
The most common accounts of roach bites were found on ships where roach populations easily grew out of control. When you’re out at sea, food supplies are extremely limited, so roaches would eventually resort to biting crew members. They especially liked to bite their fingers and toes, so sailors would wear gloves to keep the critters from nibbling on them.
This type of extreme situation is when roaches would be most likely to bite you in your sleep. Chances are, they’ll leave you alone unless you threaten them and they act in self-defense.
Do Cockroaches Carry Diseases?
Roaches can and do spread disease. The World Health Organization says these bugs are carriers of certain intestinal diseases, like dysentery, diarrhea, cholera and typhoid fever.
It’s important to remember that roaches are scavengers, and they’re not discerning about where they travel. They’ll scurry through sewers, drains, the garbage, gardens and everything in between. They’ll eat feces, and they’ll eat your food.
But it’s when they eat your food and then you eat that same food that it becomes a problem. If roaches get into a bag of cookies, and you wind up eating those cookies, you may get sick. The same thing can happen on a much larger scale if roaches invade food stores that feed large numbers of people. Food poisoning outbreaks can very well occur in this case.
Roaches are also known to carry the eggs of certain parasitic worms, which can also make you sick.
For people with allergies, roaches may cause swelling in the eyelids, dermatitis, itching and respiratory issues.
Are Cockroach Bites Harmful?
They may be. A roach bite is less likely to cause issues because roaches tend to spread diseases that affect the digestive system, which means you’d have to consume whatever bacteria they leave behind. But it is possible for a bite to become infected.
And if you’re allergic to roaches, the bite can cause a host of other issues as well.
Are these bites inherently dangerous? No.
If you keep the wound clean and keep an eye on it, it will likely clear up on its own in just a few days.
Does A Cockroach Bite Cause Leprosy?
No, not directly. Leprosy is actually an airborne disease brought on by the Mycobacterium leprae bacteria. Now, roaches can carry this bacteria, but it’s the bacteria that’s the cause of the disease – not the roach itself.
Leprosy cases severe skin sores that disfigure the body, and it also causes nerve damage in the legs and arms. This disease dates back to ancient times, and has invoked panic on just about every continent on the planet at some point in time.
Despite what you may have heard, leprosy is not highly contagious. It’s typically caught only after repeated close contact with the mouth and nose droplets of someone with the disease.
Do Cockroaches Bite Dogs?
If you have furry friends in your home, you may be wondering whether roaches are harmful to them or if they’ll bite your dog.
The good news is that cockroaches are generally harmless to dogs and cats. Just like humans, roaches try to avoid pets whenever possible. They are, after all, so much bigger than roaches and are seen as threats by these critters.
And just like with humans, roaches may bite if there’s a serious infestation and food supplies are running low.
To avoid the risk of starvation, roaches will take the chance by venturing out and trying to nibble on food remnants found on animal skin. This often leads to bites.
Roach bites can be itchy on dogs and cats, too, and they can also become infected quite easily if they aren’t cleaned properly.
Roaches are also known to eat pet food, which is usually kept on the floor where roaches roam. Just like with human food, there’s a risk that the roaches may contaminate your pet’s food if they’re eating it.
How to Treat Roach Bites
If you’ve had the unfortunate displeasure of being bit by a roach, you may be wondering how you should treat the wound.
Roach bites should be treated just as you would treat any other wound. And as always, the first step is cleaning the affected area.
1. Clean the Wound
The simplest and easiest way to clean the wound is to take a clean cotton ball, dip it in rubbing alcohol, and apply the alcohol to the wound.
Other antiseptics include:
- Tea tree oil (make sure that you dilute the oil with a carrier oil, like almond, apricot or coconut oil)
- Witch hazel
2. Apply Products to Stop Itching and Inflammation
Once the wound is clean, you can apply products that will help fight inflammation and stop itching.
While roach bites can be itchy, it’s important to resist the urge to scratch. Your nails can easily break the skin, which could lead to an infection or cause even more inflammation.
There are a few ways to bring the swelling down and soothe that itchy feeling.
- Apply an ice pack to the affected area. The cooling sensation will help bring down the swelling and numb the area to minimize that itchy feeling.
- Apply diluted lavender oil to the bite. Lavender soothes inflammation and itching while also helping to keep the wound clean.
- Use a baking soda paste to stop the itching. Mix baking soda with just enough water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the bite.
You can also apply aloe vera gel or diluted lavender oil to the wound to clean it and prevent itching.
3. Keep an Eye on the Bite
Keep a close eye on the bite to check for signs of infection. The most common signs of infection include:
- Swollen glands
- Pus around or inside the bite
- Pain, redness or inflammation in the bite area
If you see any signs of infection, see your doctor right away. Your physician will be able to prescribe or recommend an appropriate treatment.
Typically, roach bites will clear up on their own in a few days without any special treatment required. But it’s still important to be vigilant to make sure the bite doesn’t get infected, which is commonly an issue with younger children.
How to Cure a Cockroach Bite in The Eye
What happens if a roach bites your eye? Yes, it is possible, and it does happen. What can you do in this case?
First, it’s important to make an appointment to see your doctor. The eyes are a very sensitive area, and a bite here can easily become infected.
Your doctor will be able to recommend treatment if needed and tell you how to care for the wound.
How Do You Prevent Roach Bites?
The absolute best way to prevent roach bites is to get rid of the infestation and keep them out of your home in the first place.
If you’re being bit by roaches, you likely have a very serious infestation that needs to be taken care of sooner rather than later. Get in touch with a good exterminator in your area to treat the problem at the source.
While you can try DIY methods for killing roaches, an exterminator is probably your best option at this point because the infestation has become so severe.
In the meantime, you can make your home inhospitable to roaches by:
- Keeping your home clean. Sweep, vacuum and wipe down counters daily.
- Cleaning dirty dishes immediately.
- Taking out the garbage regularly.
- Sealing up all opened food bags, and storing food in airtight containers.
- Sealing up cracks, gaps and holes that may let roaches in.
- Fixing leaking pipes and removing any standing water.
Roaches need food, water and shelter. Depriving them of these things may help lower the population while the exterminator tries to kill the roaches at their source: the nest.
The Bottom Line About Roach Bites
Cockroach bites are nothing to panic about – even if they do give you the creeps. Bites are rare, but if they do happen, they usually heal on their own without causing any severe side effects.
But do be mindful that roaches still carry disease, and they’ll only bite when there’s a serious infestation.
If you’re being bit, it’s time to take aggressive action to get rid of the roaches as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ll continue dealing with bites and may become sick from contaminated food. Clean your home, call an exterminator, and if you can, try sleeping somewhere else until the infestation has cleared.