Cockroach Bite Disease: Atopic Dermatitis

Cockroaches bite humans while they sleep, so you’re unlikely to be able to catch a cockroach biting you. Cockroaches do not transmit disease when biting unlike other insects, but they carry germs on their bodies and even transmit disease through their feces. So, if these germs or diseases manage to enter your body through an open wound or if inhaled, then you can become infected. Here, the disease caused by cockroach bites is atopic dermatitis.

Dermatitis is generally a rash on the skin. The general characteristics of a rash caused by a cockroach bite, more or less similar to a rash caused by bed bugs but larger in size. The protein found in cockroaches is able to spread through the air. This protein is able to penetrate the human epidermis and trigger dermatitis in 3 mechanisms, including:

  • Entry of proteolytic enzymes
  • PAR-2 ​​. receptor activation
  • IgE binding

How Does Dermatitis Occur?

According to this journal, Atopic Dermatitis Related to Cockroach, cockroaches have proteolytic enzymes, namely enzymes that are able to break down PAR-2 ​​(Protease-activated Receptor). PAR-2 ​​is found in the epidermis. If PAR-2 ​​is activated (with proteolytic enzymes that cockroaches have), then there is the release of inflammatory mediators.

The release of inflammatory mediators can increase sensory nerve responses, thereby delaying skin barrier repair. The release of this inflammation can trigger a rash on the skin. Followed by an increase in sensory nerve responses in the form of itching or pain due to irritation. After that the skin barrier is not repaired, causing dermatitis or eczema on the skin.

This dermatitis or rash if scratched and left untreated will cause the skin barrier to erode so that the skin becomes thin, and infection occurs because bacteria penetrate the exposed skin layer. When the skin is infected and continues to be scratched, neurodermatitis will occur. Neurodermatitis is a change in skin color that becomes darker due to an infection that continues to be scratched. This change is permanent.

Other Diseases Caused by Cockroaches

Cockroaches are household pests that live in crevices and drains. Cockroaches like damp, dirty, and dark places. So that cockroaches are mechanical vectors for several pathogenic microorganisms (Salmonella sp, Streptococcus sp, E.coli) that cause diseases, including cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, and hepatitis.

According to Driesbaugh et al., in the journal Proteolytic Activation of the Protease-Activated Receptor (PAR-2) by the Glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored Serine Protease Testisin, in addition to dermatitis, activation of the PAR-2 ​​enzyme can trigger other allergic reactions such as asthma. PAR-2 ​​activation can trigger hemostasis, inflammation, and tissue repair. PAR-2 ​​activation signals the brain to survive so that the body’s immune system works.

In addition to cockroaches can spread disease, the presence of cockroaches itself can cause allergies. Allergies are hypersensitivity that occurs as a result of being triggered by an allergen. Hypersensitivity is a pathological immune response due to an excessive immune reaction that causes damage to body tissues. Allergies occur due to genetic factors, external factors (insect bites), and environmental factors. To detect allergy to insects, a serum IgE test can be performed.

First Aid for Cockroach Bites

When you are bitten by a cockroach, you should take the necessary precautions as soon as possible to prevent infection. Here are the first aid measures when you are bitten by a cockroach:

  • Do not rub or press the wound
  • Clean the wound with soap and water.
  • Applying ice cubes (compress) to the swollen area affected by the bite for 10 minutes
  • Do not scratch the wound so as not to cause infection
  • Use calamine lotion or a solution of baking soda and water several times a day to reduce itching and pain. Calamine lotion is an antihistamine cream.
  • Dropping lemon water or alcohol on the affected area
  • Using aloe vera gel to soothe the skin caused by bites
  • Compressing bite marks with used tea bags
  • Taking anti-inflammatory drugs, namely drugs that can reduce inflammation.

Advanced Treatment of Allergies Due to Cockroaches

What if you already have a cockroach allergy? The following are some alternative treatments for allergies to cockroaches:

  • Antihistamines. Antihistamines are available in pill, liquid, or nose spray form. Antihistamines can relieve symptoms of sneezing, and itching in the eyes and nose
  • Nasal corticosteroids. Available in the form of nose sprays. Nasal corticosteroids can relieve nasal congestion and have side effects. Corticosteroids are one of the compounds that can burst inflammation.
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists. Is another alternative that functions more or less the same as Antihistamines
  • Cromolyn sodium. Available in the form of nose sprays serves to prevent the appearance of inhalant allergens.

The use of nose sprays aims to reduce inflammation in the nose. Usually, your doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and bronchodilators if you have asthma.

Cockroach Diseases’ Prevention

Cockroaches bite humans when there is a lack of food supply because their number is more than the available food supply. The following are things you can do to prevent cockroaches from coming into your home:

  • Close the trash can. Even if you don’t smell trash, cockroaches can still smell it. By closing the trash can, the smell will be disguised and the cockroaches will not come
  • Clean the garbage to be recycled, especially food jars. Jars should be washed with soap to remove odors from food.


Using borax as a pesticide. Borax can kill cockroaches effectively by absorbing cockroach body fluids. Borax is commonly found in household cleaning products. Here are the steps for making pesticides that you can make yourself using ingredients you have at home:

  • Cockroaches like sugar and flour. You can mix sugar or flour with borax. Store this mixture in a jar/bottle/jar.
  • Shake the tube so that the contents are completely mixed. After that, spread the mixed powder into crevices and dark, damp places (places where cockroaches can hide).
  • Do not forget to check the contents of the tube periodically. If the borax mixture is dry or wet, you can make a new mixture, as these tips only work in dry conditions.
  • In addition to the above method, you can also make bait by mixing borax with sugar, cornstarch, onions, and water as bait for cockroaches. Keep this bait out of reach of children.

Borax cannot kill cockroaches instantly because borax kills cockroaches slowly by damaging the cockroach’s digestive system. If you don’t want to clean up a strewn cockroach carcass, there’s a neater alternative with these steps:

  • Use an old jam jar or an old sweet food storage jar, because cockroaches love sugar
  • Enter bread covered with jam or beer as bait to attract cockroaches
  • Grease the inside of the jar with Vaseline, so that the surface of the jar becomes slippery so cockroaches can’t get out
  • Close the jar tightly
  • Throw it away when the jar is full or there are no more cockroaches in the house.

So, that is all about the disease caused by cockroach bites. Well, it is not only atopic dermatitis but also other diseases coming from germs carried by roaches such as cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, and hepatitis.