If you’ve ever woken up from a long night’s sleep, only to find welts on your face, hands, arms and legs then you know the feeling of the “bed bug panic”. Questions often race through bed bug victims mind regarding the bites and the severity of their bed bug problem. While unexplained bites can definitely mean that you’ve got a bed bug problem, those bites could be explained by other bugs or rashes as well. To avoid confusion and panic, IBBRA has compiled everything you need to know about bed bug bites below.
Bed bugs are drawn by warm body temperature, the carbon dioxide you exhale and are known to feed on your blood while you’re sleeping. While they are known for feeding at night, bed bugs can feed at any time of the day or night, whether you’re sleeping or not, and will adjust their feeding times according to your schedule.
The bed bug bites by first grasping the exposed skin with their fore tarsi. As the proboscis is extended forward and thrust into the capillaries of the skin (categorized as vessel feeders) the bug injects anticoagulant and anesthetic to numb the area so you won’t feel the bite. Bed bugs will feed for several minutes before withdrawing the stylet bundle from the feeding position and retracting it back and folding the entire unit back under the head. It takes between five to ten minutes for a bed bug to become completely engorged with blood.
While the act of biting is usually not felt, the effects of that bite are often quite irritating and painful. Some people experience an allergic reaction to the protein found in the bed bug’s saliva. Approximately 50% to 70% of people develop this allergic which can cause severe rashes or even blisters. A varying level of reaction can occur, usually beginning with small, flat or raised bumps, and red swollen, itchy skin. If scratched, the bite areas can become infected. The saliva of the bed bug often contains active substances (hyaluronidase, kinins or proteases), which may cause different skin reactions including (erythema, wheal, vesicle, hemorrhagic nodule).
It’s important to remember that everyone reacts to bed bug bites differently. Some people don’t react to bed bug bites at all. Even two people sharing the same bed can have completely different reactions to being bit by the same bug.
The bitten areas of skin can also become subject to secondary bacterial infections. It has also been reported that the affected skin can be more susceptible to eczema, cellulitis, and/or lymphangitis. An occasional systemic reaction can occur from a bed bug bite, and in some cases, if the bite reactions are intense, repetitive scratching will produce skin lesions that may be complicated by impetigo.
Bites Look Like…
The skin lesion produced by the bite of a bed bug resembles those caused by many other kinds of insects, such as mosquitoes, spiders and fleas. Therefore, bed bug bites can rarely be identified by the appearance of the bites alone. This means that identification often requires the guilty insect to be found and positively identified as a bed bug.
Most welts heal in a few days, but there are cases where the wound may persist for several weeks to months. Usually, an anti-itching ointment will help easy irritation, but if bites become infected the people should see their doctor right away. To date, the bed bug has not been known to spread any human diseases.
Once the bed bugs have finished feeding, they scurry off quickly to return to their hiding place, sometimes dropping a portion of their last meal as fecal matter on the way as they continue to digest their fresh blood meal. These droppings can also help identify bed bugs during an inspection.
What You Should Do…
If you have experienced unidentified bites, especially after traveling, you should do a full inspection of your bed for any signs of bed bugs. For a quick guide to bed bug inspections, check out your bed bug inspection guide at https://ibbra.org/best-diy-bed-bug-solutions/. Bed bug bites can be extremely irritating, painful, and potentially dangerous. If you think you’re having an allergic reaction to bed bug bites, contact your doctor immediately.
If you suspect bed bugs at your home or business call in an IBBRA approved professional near you. You can find the best pros at https://ibbra.org/service-providers/