What is Cockroach allergy?
Cockroach allergy is very common. Cockroach allergen is believed to come from feces, saliva, and the bodies of these insects. These components can cause a person’s immune system to become sensitive to cockroaches and respond by developing an allergy. People with severe bronchial asthma are most likely to have cockroach allergy. Others at risk include people with chronic stuffy nose, skin rash, constant sinus infection, repeat ear infection, or asthma. Cockroaches live all over the world, from tropical areas to the coldest areas on earth.
How do cockroaches cause allergy symptoms?
Cockroach allergens (substances that cause allergy symptoms) come from different parts of the cockroach. These allergens also can cause asthma. An allergy occurs when you react to things like cockroaches and dust mites that don’t affect most people. If you are allergic to cockroaches and you come in contact with them, you may have symptoms. This is called an allergic reaction.
Where do cockroaches usually live?
Cockroaches usually live where there is something they like to eat, in moist areas, and in warm hiding places. The bugs thrive in moist, humid climates, and abide in cracks, crevices and spaces between walls. You can find them under newspaper and books, and grocery bags.
They are found in moist areas including standing water and leaky pipes.
They like to eat; Food and paints, wallpaper pastes, newspapers, and book binding material.
Studies show that 78 percent to 98 percent of urban homes have cockroaches. Private homes have them too. If you see one cockroach in your home, there are probably at least 800 hiding nearby. Highest levels are detected in kitchens.
Symptoms of a cockroach allergy
The symptoms include itchy, stuffy nose, itchy throat, and itchy eyes. Symptoms can be mild or severe and occur throughout the year. Cockroach allergy can cause a skin rash, and year-around asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing (a whistling sound when a person breathes), a feeling of tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath.
Diagnosis of cockroach allergy.
We will review your medical history; ask questions about your symptoms and possible allergens. Will we likely perform skin testing and/or test your blood. With skin testing, a small amount of the allergen of concern is pricked or scratched into the skin. If you’re sensitive to an allergen, a small red and at time itchy lump can appear on the skin.
Cockroach allergy treatment:
- Take steps to prevent or get rid of cockroaches.
- Take prescription allergy medicine to control your symptoms. We may prescribe medicines such as antihistamines, decongestants, nose (nasal) sprays, or eye drops for allergy symptoms and asthma medicine for asthma symptoms.
- We might discuss starting allergy shots. Some people need them when they can’t avoid the cockroach allergen and medications aren’t adequately controlling your symptoms or if you want to avoid long term medication use. The shots contain a tiny but increasing amount of the allergen you’re sensitive to. Over time, your body becomes used to the allergen and no longer reacts to it. It can reduce symptoms over time.
Avoidance and control cockroaches in my home:
- Reduce exposure to cockroaches.
- Seal all food and garbage in containers with tight lids. Never leave food out in the kitchen or anywhere else.
- Clean up all food crumbs and spilled drinks right away.
- Store food in tight containers or storage jars.
- Wash dirty dishes right away.
- Don’t leave out pet food, except when your pet is eating.
- Keep counters, sinks, stove, tables, and floors clean and clear of clutter.
- Vacuum or sweep after meals. Mop the kitchen floor at least once a week.
- Fix leaky faucets, drain pipes, and other moisture problems.
- Reduce clutter, like cardboard boxes and newspapers, where cockroaches may hide.
- Plug access points around the house, such as cracks between the wall and floor, where cockroaches can enter.
- Use poison baits, boric acid, or traps. Poison baits with hydramethylnon or boric acid (avoid organophosphates), with second application in 1–2 weeks
- Takes 6 months for 80–90% reduction
Pesticide sprays to get rid of cockroaches:
Try using poison baits, boric acid, or traps before you use pesticide sprays. If you must use sprays:
- Spray only where you’ve seen cockroaches.
- Don’t spray in areas where you prepare or store food or where children play, crawl, or sleep.
- Open windows and doors to get fresh air during and after spraying.
- Keep yourself and everyone else away from the areas being sprayed. The spray can make asthma and allergies worse.
- Be aware that cockroaches move from place to place to avoid treated areas. When the pesticide spray wears off, they’ll probably come back. So it’s important to follow the avoidance steps
Does health insurance cover treatment for cockroach allergy?
Most health insurance plans cover allergy treatment.
Ask your insurance carrier:
- Do I need a referral from my doctor to see an allergy expert?
- Does my insurance cover patient education or special services for my allergies?
- Does my insurance cover a pre-existing problem? This usually means any health problem that you had before you joined your current health plan.
What allergy testing and medicines does my plan cover?
Reviewed and edited by Neha Reshamwala MD.