Bedbugs lurk in cracks and crevices and they've been living on human blood for centuries. Though they aren't known to transmit disease or pose any serious medical risk, the stubborn parasites can leave itchy and unsightly bites. However, bedbugs don't always leave marks. The best way to tell if you have a bedbug infestation is to see the live, apple-seed-size critters for yourself. Unfortunately, once bedbugs take up residence in homes and businesses, they can be difficult to exterminate without professional help.
Until fairly recently, most people (and even pest control professionals) had never seen a bed bug. Bed bug infestations actually used to be very common in the United States before World War II. But with improvements in hygiene, and especially the widespread use of DDT during the 1940s and ‘50s, the bed bugs all but vanished. The pests persisted, however, in some areas of the world including parts of Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Over roughly the past decade, bed bugs have made a dramatic comeback in the U.S.― they’re appearing increasingly in homes, apartments, hotels, health care facilities, dormitories, shelters, schools and public transportation. Other places where bed bugs sometimes occur include movie theaters, laundries, rental furniture, and office buildings. Immigration and international travel have contributed to the resurgence of bed bugs in the U.S. Changes in modern pest control practice, less effective insecticides ― and a decrease in societal vigilance ― are other factors suspected for the recurrence.
Visit your doctor. You can also see a doctor for diagnosis if you do not find signs of bedbugs in your bed and cannot identify the source of the bites or rash. However, there is a very good chance that your physician will not be able to firmly diagnose that you have been bitten by a bedbug because the symptoms look so similar to those that result from other insect bites and skin conditions. Nevertheless, you may feel comforted by going to see your doctor, who can confirm for you that bedbugs pose little physical threat to humans.
Zonalon and Prudoxin (doxepin) are topical creams that can be prescribed for relief from itching. The active ingredient in these products is a topical tricyclic antidepressant and seems to work against itching by reducing histamine. Histamines are chemicals your body produces in response to injury or when having an allergic reaction. A prescription-strength cortisone cream may also help. In some cases, a prescription antihistamine will be given.
A few decades ago, bedbugs were somewhat of a novelty in developed countries. But since the early 2000s, infestations have become more common in places like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A 2013 study in the journal Nature Scientific Reports suggested that bedbugs have evolved ways to resist insecticides.
The decline of bed bug populations in the 20th century is often credited to potent pesticides that had not previously been widely available. Other contributing factors that are less frequently mentioned in news reports are increased public awareness and slum clearance programs that combined pesticide use with steam disinfection, relocation of slum dwellers to new housing, and in some cases also follow-up inspections for several months after relocated tenants moved into their new housing.
Some people develop allergic reactions to bedbug bites, which can include a fever, difficulty breathing, hives, or a swollen tongue. Others may develop an infection where the bite starts oozing pus. If you experience either of these reactions or you develop blisters where the bites occurred, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a dermatologist.
Hi! I was just curious, I am staying at my parents (which Ive never had an issue before) and have 21 bites on my bicep/forearm/in the bend of my arm which I noticed yesterday. They dont itch and are already losing the redness. This morning I woke up and have no new bites. My husband and son do not have bites either (they both are very sensitive to insect bites too). We checked the bed before bed last night and there were no signs of bed bugs. Is it possible that its still bed bugs???
These blood suckers lock on to the carbon dioxide (CO2) release when sleeping. Once they have you, they head toward a warm part of your body and begin to bite. Two tubes are inserted into your body; one is used to inject a mixture of anticoagulant and anesthetic while the other is used to suck up your blood. You never notice the bites until you wake up and realize you were the main course!
If you arrive home and discover that you have brought some unwanted guests home with you, immediately notify the hotel of your discovery. Having a possible infestation in hotels and motels can be a public relations nightmare for the owners. Politely ask them to pay for any and all costs incurred to rid your clothing and home of a possible new infestation.
In most infestations, consultation with a professional exterminator is advised because elimination is more likely to be effective if multiple pest management methods are used. These include monitoring devices, canine detection, clutter removal, vacuuming, heat or cold treatment, sealing cracks and crevices, and judicious use of nonchemical and chemical pesticides. Monitoring devices include moat-like devices (e.g., Climbup Insect Interceptor) that trap bedbugs ascending and descending furniture legs, and emitting devices that use carbon dioxide, heat, and/or chemicals (e.g., Nightwatch monitor) that attract and trap bedbugs. Specially trained dogs are reported to detect bedbugs with 97 percent accuracy and are able to differentiate live bedbugs and viable eggs from debris remaining from previous infestations.41 Vacuuming is a highly effective method for removing bedbugs, but not eggs because these adhere to surfaces.42 High-efficiency particulate air filters eliminate bedbug allergens and debris.42 Nonchemical treatments include petroleum jelly (which can be applied to legs of furniture to prevent bedbugs from ascending), heating, and freezing (see Table 36 for effective killing temperatures).
Becoming a victim of a bed bug infestation is certainly devastating, but the public can rest easy knowing that these pests are not known to transmit any diseases. While it is true that some pathogens have been detected in and on bed bugs including hepatitis B, and exotic organisms such as Trypanosoma cruzi (cause of Chagas Disease, rarely found in the United States) or Wolbachia species, unlike mosquitoes and ticks, bed bugs have not been associated with disease transmission.
Bed bugs are a traveler's nightmare. They can be picked up in hotel rooms, leaving red itchy bumps and possibly rashes to ruin your vacation. Or even worse: If you accidentally bring them back with you, they could infect your whole house. To prevent a plague of bed bugs, here are some tips of what to check while you're on the road and how to determine the symptoms of bed bug bites.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Center for Environmental Health; Environmental Protection Agency. Joint Statement on Bed Bug Control in the United States from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Atlanta, Ga.: National Center for Environmental Health; 2010.
We have already replaced are furniture, threw out our bed that we still haven’t be able to afford to replace I have treated the house daily with sparaies and powders. We have torn up our carpet one three rooms of the house. Did all that before getting new furniture but yet we still can’t seem to rid of these bedbugs. The infestation doesn’t seem to be as bad, yet we are still getting bitten nightly by them we don’t have a lot of money we are struggling the way it…help what can I do
Hello there Trish from Reno we found bed bugs oh my gosh, I am am the only one who has been getting bit last yr on my feet this yr on my hands. My husband saturated our mattress with rubbing alcohol baseboards and I am washing everything tomorrow should we spray our entire you’re house too even our cloth furniture? What else should we do. Thanks you for this site. Sleepless in Reno…
While encountering bed bugs in hotels is possible, typically only a small number of rooms have problems. If bed bugs are discovered, guests can request another room, preferably in another area of the building, since problems often extend to nearby units. Should you experience itchy welts suggestive of bed bug bites during your stay, it would be prudent upon returning home to place all clothing directly into the washer and/or dryer. Inspecting or vacuuming luggage upon arrival home is less useful since it’s hard to spot bed bugs inside a suitcase. The suitcase itself can either be treated or discarded.
Prior to World War II, infestations of bedbugs were common; however, after the widespread introduction of the use of the insecticide DDT in the mid-20th century, bedbug infestations became much less common. The recent resurgence in infestations of bedbugs worldwide is thought to be related to several different factors, including the increase in international travel, dense urban living conditions, insecticide resistance, and new, ineffective pest control measures.
So I just moved into my new place everything brand new I noticed 2 bed bugs I had my house exterminated right away and everything is Double baged I still have to do laundry. But anywho I woke up this morning and got bit on my leg again. My bed isn’t againt the wall the legs to my bed have Lil plastic up with powder. My question is if I use DE will it ruin the 1st treatment I just got done in my home or is it okay…
Bed bugs are obligatory bloodsucking. They have mouth parts that saw through the skin, and inject saliva with anticoagulants and painkillers. Sensitivity of humans varies from extreme allergic reaction to no reaction at all (about 20%). The bite usually produces a swelling with no red spot, but when many bugs feed on a small area, reddish spots may appear after the swelling subsides. Bedbugs prefer exposed skin, preferably the face, neck, and arms of a sleeping person.
The first thing is you have to be able to recognize and distinguish a bed bug from any other insect. Everything starts to look like a bed bug if you start to worry about them. An adult bed bug is about the size and shape of an apple seed. If it has not fed recently it will be flattened and brown. If it has fed it will be round in circumference and reddish. Immature bed bugs have a similar appearance to adults, with the smallest being the size of the head of a pin. You can then learn to look for their fecal spots, which can be easier to detect than the bugs themselves. Check your hotel rooms when you travel. And think twice before bringing home used furniture. If you are purchasing used furniture, ask the furniture store how they deal with bed bugs. If they have no plan whatsoever, that's probably not a good sign. If you purchase used clothing, put it through a clothes dryer on a medium to high setting for a cycle as soon as you bring it home. And before you move into an apartment, ask the landlord whether there has been a bed bug infestation, or whether the building has ever been treated for bed bugs.
The Internet abounds with so-called miracle cures for bed bugs. But bed bugs are hard to get rid of, so anything that advertises an immediate solution is not accurate—it's snake oil. These "cures" have included (as reported by pest control operators who come in afterward to tackle bed bugs correctly) using bleach, ammonia and even DIY heat treatment, which carries fire risk.
Items that cannot be placed in a washer or dryer can sometimes be de-infested by wrapping them in plastic and placing them outdoors in a hot, sunny location for at least a day (for example, on pavement or in a closed vehicle parked in the sun). Packing items loosely in garbage bags and elevating objects off the ground helps the heat permeate further, and will make it harder for bugs to find a cool place to hide. Monitoring with a thermometer is prudent to ensure that a temperature of at least 120°F is achieved wherever the bugs may be.
The symptoms of a bedbug bite are usually mild when present, and often individuals will not experience any symptoms at all. Bedbug bites can occur on any exposed part of the body, with the face, neck, arms, and hands being areas commonly affected. The signs and symptoms can appear from minutes to days after the initial bite. Affected individuals will usually complain of localized itching and reddish-colored skin lesions, which may look like a flat welt or a raised bump. Sometimes, the lesions can be found in clusters or in a linear pattern. Typically, these skin lesions will go away after one to two weeks.
Claude suggested a “hot as you can stand it” shower or bath to treat the bites. The itching will intensify for a few seconds, but then there is the relief which lasts for many hours. Some believe that the heat from the water overloads the ends of your nerves and prevent them from telling your brain to itch. Some think that the heat causes your body to release more histamine than usual and thereby less histamine around the bite. Whatever the reason, it’s commonly used as a solution to itching caused by bites.
There are thousands of types of spiders (technically arachnids and not insects) crawling around the U.S., but only two of them–the black widow and the brown recluse–can cause serious problems, and even those are rare. Most of the time you’ll see red bumps that hurt and itch if you’re bitten by a spider. Very few people get the severe pain and cramping of a widow bite or the decaying ulcers of a recluse bite (although if you do, get medical help right away).
Hi Natasha !! I recently saw a bed bug crawling on my bed. So, I immediately cleaned all clothes in my room with hot water and put in high heat in the drier. I also sprayed the whole house with bed bug spray. Now on closer look of the mattress I found some bug remaining like its cover/shell, 2-3 blood stains but I did not find a colony/cluster of the bugs (which I was sort of expecting). So I bought a steamer and steamed my mattress and box spring. I also bought covers for the mattress and the box spring so that in case I missed any, they might get suffocated (at least I hope so). After all this, the next morning I woke up and found some sort of bite marks on my face. Also since I could not find any cluster of bugs, could they still be somewhere in my room ? where should I look for them ?
On Tuesday my arm became worse after spending the night at my friend’s place. At home, when I got out of the shower a bug near my jeans and killed it. I called my doctor to treat my arm and mentioned the bug. He saw me that day and put me on prednisone. Last night I took the antihistamine he prescribed, and it knocked me right out. I fell asleep on my friend’s shaggy carpet for about an hour and a half. As I awoke, I saw another bug run across my shorts.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.