Cockroach Bites: Signs, Dangers, Prevention, and Treatment (With Pictures)

Last Updated on August 10, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford

It is one thing to know that roaches contaminate food, bring germs and bacteria inside the home. That enough already makes the skin crawl, so what if you find out for the first time that roaches bite?

In this post, we will cover everything that you need to know about roach bites: why they do it, what we could get from it and how to treat roach bites.

If you have problems regarding roach infestation in your homes, this information will surely come in handy so read on.

Do cockroaches bite?

Yes. Roaches bite. Their bite victims are composed of both pets, other animals and also humans. The worst documented cases of roach biting happens on ships.

The most common biters are the German and American cockroaches. Since they are nocturnal, they will most likely attack you while you are asleep. But don’t get ahead of yourself here. Roach bites are very rare.

They do not rely on human beings for their diet unlike mosquitoes and other insects. 

Do roaches bite humans or pets?

Both. Roaches bite humans or pets. For pets and other animals, it all starts with the fur but it could get extreme and claw in up to the skin. For the same reason as they bite humans, roaches bite on them because of decreasing food supply.

They are more threatening to pets though, since they could contract the dwarf tapeworm from them. Dogs and cats are the most vulnerable but so are pet mice, hamsters and gerbils. 

Why do cockroaches bite?

You should note however, that roach biting may be due to two reasons.

One, your presence threatened, disturbed or startled them and their nymphs and two, there is already an entire roach colony infesting your home and you have been targeted as probable food due to high food competition. And this is not just some fabricated myth.

Once they outgrow steady food sources, they become desperate to feed on anything.

When do cockroaches bite?

Cockroaches are scavengers. They basically feed on anything including garbage, rotting fruits and food and even fecal matter.

Cockroaches tend to bite when steady food supplies dwindle because of population rise or infestation. It means that they bite you not because they want to feed on your flesh but because they could spot food residues in you. In terms of time, cockroaches only bite at night. 

Can roaches bite you at night?

Actually, they only bite at night. Roaches are not very visible during the day because they are easily startled and they are afraid of humans. And since they are nocturnal, they would come crawling while you are asleep.

Roach bites are more uncontrolled this way, making bite lumps along the way. Hence, if you suspect an infestation, make the necessary amends early on. Or, you could also put on your minty humidifier while you sleep. 

Where do cockroaches bite?

Unlike other biting insects, cockroaches are very specific when it comes to the areas of the body where they bite. Specifically, roaches bite areas where food residues might be present.

Common targets of roaches would be feet, hands, fingernails, the mouth area and even eyelashes.

At this juncture, it is important why good hygiene is very important. Roaches know that somewhere out there, food residues are hanging around you from that day’s activities.

They are nocturnal, with heightened senses in the dark and the perfect night vision to really scour for crumbs in you. The overall sanitation of your kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms also affect why roaches are drawn to you. 

What does a cockroach bite look like? 

What does a cockroach bite look like?

A cockroach bite is often mistaken for red bug bites. The main difference is that cockroach bites are small to medium, red lumps in the skin while red bug bites tend to be arranged in small clusters.

Roach bites on the other hand are not clustered and can be found scattered in specific parts of the body. Roach bites are also bigger in size and lumpier than bug bites as well as mosquito and ant bites. A more comprehensive description of what they look like will be read in the next section. 

Signs of cockroach bites

There are three ways to spot signs of cockroach bites: red skin bumps, allergies and irritation or swelling in the skin. 

Red skin bumps

If you suddenly see or feel red skin bumps in scattered places in your body, chances are, you have been bitten by roaches. Unlike mosquito bites, roach bites are bigger and unlike bug bites, roach bites do not form a line in the skin. 

Allergic reaction

This is more common than you think when it comes to cockroach bite. Roaches have a specific protein in their saliva which causes allergies. Their feces and their bodies may also cause allergies to humans. Most times, the allergic reaction is not caused directly by the bite but in inhaling the allergens in the cockroach body. 

Irritation and swelling

It all starts with a simple itch and then the next day, your skin would have swelling lumps. No matter how itchy they could get, never scratch them or else you are making yourself vulnerable to infection. Apply first aid which you will read in the succeeding sections of this post. 

Which type of cockroaches bite?

Before generalizing that all cockroaches bite, you have to know that only five of the eight recognized peri domestics (or roach types with the tendency for home infestation) are the ones that bite.

To know more about these roach types, what they look like and why they bite, here is some basic information about them that might help you with roach identification. 

1. American roach

Another common roach type is the American roach. It has almost the same appearance and size like the German roach and so they are hard to differentiate sometimes.

American roaches feed on fermented foods and even dead animals (including human flesh). This roach type will surely scour around your bedroom if it gets too smelly or if you don’t wash up. 

2. Oriental roach

oriental cockroach

This one is often confused with water bugs. These winged roaches cannot fly and are very small. They have a distinct shape and are brown and black in color. So do they bite? The answer is yes but very rare. 

Related: Water bug vs cockroach

3. German roach

german roach

They are the most common roaches present all over the world. It has the most prolific reproduction and really has one of the highest chances for home infestation.

The diet of German roaches consists of sugary and starchy foods. Bites from German roaches are very rare though. It only happens when food supply dwindles. 

4. Brown banded roach

brown banded cockroach

This one is smaller than German, American and Oriental roaches. They love humid yet moist locations, winged, can partially fly but are vigorous gliders. They are gold to dark brown in color and have reddish head casings. Like the first three, they are also rare biters. 

5. Smoky brown roach

Without moisture, it will not survive. They are quite long at 1.5inches, narrow and flat and are prolific fliers. Their dark brown casings are their most distinguishable trait. Like the other mentioned roaches, it is also a biter but on very rare occasions. 

See also: Australian cockroach

Are cockroach bites dangerous?

This is a valid question since roaches are truly living filthy lives. But as have been emphasized here, roach bites are not that dangerous, generally, since they do not transmit deadly diseases like malaria or ticks.

But after the bite has been done and the red lumps are there, it could get a little messy especially if you cannot help yourself from scratching the itch. When secondary infection happens, you will be more vulnerable to other diseases and the inflammation could stay there for quite some time.

To be straight, cockroach bites are as dangerous as their feces, urine and saliva as they could cause allergies and asthma attacks. 

Do cockroach bites spread disease?

The good thing about roach bites (if it is enough consolation) is that they do not cause disease transmission compared to ticks, mosquitoes and other disease causing insects.

Nonetheless, since they carry bacteria and germs with them, it is still best that they be eliminated. Remember, bacteria like salmonella could easily be transmitted through open wounds and infection and allergic reactions could easily be triggered by the feces, urine and saliva. 

What happens if a roach bites you?

Roach bites will cause skin swelling and irritation. It is also very itchy and scratching on it is not really advisable. When scratched, roach bites may cause secondary infection. Some people’s skins have allergic reactions to roaches’ saliva though. This adds to the irritation, swelling and itchiness of the skin. 

How to treat cockroaches bite

The first aid to roach bites is always cleaning it with lukewarm, soapy water. This would prevent the development of infection. After this, proceed to applying ice packs in the bitten area to reduce the onset of other symptoms.

If you are not comfortable with using ice packs, there are always alternatives like aloe gel or hydrocortisone creams.

If you intend to use hydrocortisone creams, you have to consult with experts first.

In very rare instances of anaphylactic shock due to allergic reaction, very low blood pressure and difficulty in breathing, seek immediate medical help. 

How to prevent cockroach bites

Actually, not allowing cockroaches to infest your home is the best way to prevent cockroach bites.

The fact that there is already roach infestation in your home already has the potential to make you sick (dysentery, listeriosis, gastroenteritis, asthma and allergy attacks), with bites or without.

Roaches carry with them almost 33 types of bacteria (salmonella, E.coli., every time they enter your home, walk along your bedrooms and kitchen, potentially contaminating pantry food and more.

Quick way to get rid of cockroaches

There are two ways to easily get rid of cockroaches. The first one includes natural methods. Under this would be basic sanitation and exclusion techniques such as sealing cracks in the home, crevices, adding screens in vents, planting minty or citrusy herbs in the garden and using essential oils inside for humidifying.

Regular cleaning and making sure that no crumbs, oil and leftover food are left in the kitchen, patio or decks and keeping a good cleaning and hygiene routine would shoo away cockroach infestation

If you really cannot control it using home remedies and natural methods, the chemical method always comes in handy.

There are three types of chemicals that you can apply in both exterior and interior parts of the home to get rid of roaches.

These chemicals need to be applied in all possible access points including storage rooms, sheds, the garage, windowsills, furniture, bedrooms, bathroom and the kitchen, among others. As such, you can use insecticides, baits, granular and pheromone traps. 

If you are not confident of doing it on your own or if you are not sure how much should be applied and for how long, check it out with the nearest pest control service near you. They will give you the best method and timetable for extinguishing the infestation and will provide useful tips for you to maintain a cockroach-free home vicinity. 


To conclude, there is actually a handful of important information surrounding roach bites. With everything that we have covered here, it is quite necessary to provide some takeaways.

One, roach bites are very rare but if they do happen, they are signs of a bigger problem and that is roach infestation.

Two, roaches only bite out of desperation. With overpopulation, competition for food, roaches don’t have enough choice but to look for unassuming humans for possible food residues.

Three, roach bites are easy to differentiate and easy to treat but it has to be noted that we are more prone to allergic reactions and itchy rash than being bitten by them.

At the end of the day, be it infestation or bites, the most effective solution is to keep them out. The good news is, we will never run out of methods to do just that.