As disturbing as this may sound, cockroaches aren’t just unsightly pests, crawling across your kitchen floor in the middle of the night. They can be an allergy trigger as well.
The saliva, feces and shedding body parts of cockroaches can trigger both asthma and allergies. These allergens act like dust mites, aggravating symptoms when they are kicked up in the air.
The National Pest Management Association reports that 63% of homes in the United States contain cockroach allergens. In urban areas, that number rises to between 78% and 98% of homes. An allergist can evaluate whether you’re allergic to cockroaches.
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Typical cockroach allergy symptoms include:
- Nasal congestion
- Skin rash
- Ear infection
- Sinus infection
In many cases with cockroach allergens, these symptoms become chronic, lasting beyond typical seasonal allergies.
Management and Treatment
If you suspect that you have a cockroach allergy, see an allergist, who can conduct a skin test. This test involves applying a diluted allergen to the surface of your skin, waiting about 15 minutes, then observing to see if there’s a reaction, such as a raised, red and itchy bump.
If a reaction develops, your allergist may recommend medications, either prescription or over-the-counter, or allergy shots, which help your body become less sensitive to specific allergens.
Of course, one of the best ways to treat and prevent cockroach allergies is to eliminate these insects from your home. Key tips include:
- Keep your house clean, including kitchen floors, sinks, counters and stoves.
- Keep food containers and garbage cans sealed.
- Fix any leaks that could unknowingly give cockroaches access to water.
- Avoid piles — of newspapers, laundry, magazines or dirty dishes.
- Consult a pest control company or exterminator.
This page was reviewed for accuracy 2/1/2018.