Can Cockroaches Cause Allergies? Prevention, Identification and Elimination

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Cockroaches are among the most common types of pests found in American homes. In addition to carrying many different types of bacteria and several types of parasitic worms, cockroaches also trigger allergic reactions in people with asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Learn the symptoms associated with cockroach allergies, why cockroaches trigger an allergic reaction in some people, and how to prevent and eliminate an infestation.


Recognizing the Symptoms of Cockroach Allergies

Exposure to the saliva, feces, and body parts of cockroaches can cause an allergic reaction. Even dead cockroaches can trigger allergy symptoms. When a cockroach dies and decomposes, leaves behind saliva after eating, or defecates inside your home, the particles are mixed with dust and spread throughout the home.

Common symptoms of an allergic reaction to cockroaches include:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Cough

Atopic dermatitis, or a skin rash, occurs in some people when they are exposed to cockroach saliva and feces or when the cockroach scurries across their skin.

Some individuals experience severe reactions to cockroach allergens. Symptoms of this include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pains

If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your local emergency room or call 9-1-1 immediately.


Diagnosing a Cockroach Allergy

If you experience allergy symptoms throughout the year, including the winter, cockroaches could be the culprit. Your doctor will refer you to an immunologist who will ask you what your symptoms are and if you have cockroaches in your home. Allergy testing can help your immunologist understand if cockroaches are the reason why you’re experiencing these symptoms.


Recognizing the Sign of a Cockroach Infestation

Pinpointing a cockroach infestation by looking for these common invaders is difficult because the insects are nocturnal, only come out to feed, and can hide in small cracks and crevices throughout your home. Instead, look for other signs that cockroaches have made themselves at home, including:

  • Skin fragments. Cockroaches molt approximately 10 to 13 times before reaching adulthood. The skin sheath is white.
  • Feces. The droppings of small cockroaches look like pepper grounds. Larger cockroaches produce bigger, more cylindrical fecal matter.
  • Eggs. Cockroach egg sacs, or ootheca, are brown or reddish brown and are found in cracks, crevices, and other hidden areas.
  • Unpleasant smell. Several types of cockroaches create a musty odor that is noticeable throughout the home.

Although it rarely happens, cockroaches will bite if they can see or smell food particles on your body, if they are scared, or if they consider you a threat. Redness, itching, and a large red bump that looks like a mosquito bite are some of the signs of a cockroach bite.


Preventing a Cockroach Infestation

Once cockroaches have invaded your home, getting rid of them is tricky. Preventing these pests from getting inside is the best way to prevent your family from suffering an allergic reaction. Here are a few ways to keep cockroaches out of your home:

  • Eliminate food sources. Keep your food covered or in plastic containers, clean up any dirty dishes immediately, cover your indoor garbage can, cover your outdoor garbage cans and compost pile, and keep your pet’s food covered when they aren’t eating it. Cockroaches are less attracted to homes without a steady food source.
  • Eliminate water sources. Repair leaky pipes, wipe out the sink and bathtub when you’re done using them, fill any holes on your property to prevent water from pooling, and purchase a dehumidifier to control the moisture levels in your house.
  • Eliminate indoor hiding spots. Recycle cardboard boxes and get rid of other clutter that cockroaches can use for cover.
  • Eliminate outdoor hiding spots. Create a six-inch gap between mulch and your home’s foundation, rake and remove your leaves in fall, and stack firewood off the ground and away from your home.

Seal entry points, such as cracks in your home’s foundation or gaps between the window frame and your siding, with caulk. Cockroaches will hide inside these cracks and other protected areas and release a pheromone that attracts other cockroaches to your home.


Eliminating Cockroaches From Your Home  

Unfortunately, once cockroaches make their way into your home, eliminating the infestation is difficult. Cockroaches can survive for one month without food, which makes covering your food or cleaning up after yourself an ineffective strategy to eliminate this pest. The best strategy is to contact a professional to pinpoint how the cockroaches got into your home and how to get rid of them.

A pest control agency can visit your home several times a year to ensure that it has no points of entry and create a pest management plan to ensure that cockroaches cannot get back into your home.

In addition to carrying several types of bacteria and parasites, cockroaches can also trigger an allergic reaction in adults and children. If you have any more questions about getting rid of cockroaches or other pests, contact the professionals at Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management.