For some people, the first sign of a bed bug problem may be waking up with unidentified bites.
These bites resembles those caused by many other kinds of blood feeding insects and can rarely be identified by the appearance of the bites alone.
In order to positively identify the bites as bed bugs the culprit “must be found”.
Bed bugs are drawn by warm temperature and carbon dioxide and feed on exposed skin while you are sleeping.
A bed bug pierces the skin of its host with two hollow feeding tubes called proboscis. With one tube it injects its saliva, which contains anticoagulants and anesthetics, while with the other it withdraws the blood of its host, yet the person seldom knows they are being bitten.
Bed bugs are known for “dining and dashing”, once bed bugs have a full blood meal they scurry off quickly to return to their hiding place dropping their last meal as fecal matter on the way as they digest their fresh blood meal.
- They will bite any exposed area of the body, such as the face, neck, arms, and hands.
- The act of biting is usually not felt.
- Some people do not react to bed bug bites and others can retain serious rashes or even blisters.
- Two people sharing the same bed can be affected differently.
- Many people develop an allergic reaction to the saliva injected by the bed bugs as they feed. This reaction usually results in small, flat or raised bumps, red swollen and itchy skin. If scratched, the bite areas can become infected.
- The significance of medical intervention if any comes from secondary infections, swelling and itching from the bed bug bite.
Breakfast – Lunch – and Dinner
The number of bites does not always mean there are large amounts of bed bugs involved. Bed bugs are sensitive to any type of movement or slightest disturbance and may withdraw its mouthparts during the feeding, move a short distance and continue to feed again. This may cause multiple bites that may be in a row. This is sometimes called a “Breakfast – Lunch – and Dinner” pattern.
A common concern is whether or not they transmit diseases. The bed bug has not been known to transmit diseases but they are known for reducing the quality of life of the bite victim.
According to medical experts, the added stress from living with bed bugs can have a significant impact on the emotional health and well-being of certain individuals. Reported effects include anxiety, insomnia and systemic reactions.
- severe inflammation and serious rashes
- bulbous or blistering eruptions, staph infections or impetigo
- allergic reactions
- potential serious immune problems in sensitive people
- anemia and iron deficiencies (especially with babies and young children)
- anxiety and severe loss of sleep
Repeated exposures to bed bug bites during a period of several weeks and months can cause some people to become sensitized to the saliva and continued bites may result in mild to intense allergic reactions.
Treating Bed Bug Bites
Most bites do not require any medical treatment and will go away with time. However, bed bug bites can be pretty itchy. Doctors have determined that scratching damages and breaks the skin. Constant scratching creates a cycle which causes the “itchy area” to spread and healing takes longer than if you avoid scratching.
- To relieve the itchiness there are many over-the-counter (OTC) creams and lotions you can purchase. (E.g. Calamine Lotion, Hydrocortisone Cream, Lanacane, Dermarest Plus, Gold Bond Anti-itch, Benzocane)
- Aloe Vera is very soothing and Tea Tree Oil kills germs and aids healing, as well as numbing an itch.
- Use tepid water when bathing or showering. Hot water tends to increase the “itchiness”.
Young children have a hard time not scratching the bites. To help avoid opening the skin, keep their fingernails short and place socks on their hands.
NOTE: Call the doctor if you see any signs of an allergic reaction, or infection. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read in this book when it comes to any bed bug health related problem or remedy.
Mental Health Affects
Bed bugs may also affect the mental health of people living in infested homes. Reported effects include anxiety, insomnia and systemic reactions.