Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Diagnosing bed bug bites can be hard for medical professionals. We often hear of doctors assuming a variety of skin conditions before bed bugs – especially doctors who haven’t encountered patients with bed bug bites before. While there is no specific test to determine whether bites are from bed bugs there are tests that can show whether or not it’s an insect bite. This is useful for ruling out issues like eczema or allergic reactions, but not for determining that any specific insect bite is a bed bug. To be sure you’ll want to check for other signs of bed bug infestation, such as the bugs themselves, moltings, and the characteristic staining of their blood meal feces.
You should look for traces of the insects in the folds of your mattresses, box springs and other places where they are likely to hide. You might be able to find their papery skins, which get cast off after molting and look like popcorn kernels but are smaller and thinner, Harlan said. They also leave small, dark-colored spots from the blood-filled droppings they deposit on mattresses and furniture. If you can touch the spot with a water-soaked towel and it runs a rusty, reddish color, you're probably looking at a fresh drop of bedbug feces, Harlan said.
Bed bug bites are caused primarily by two species of insects: Cimex lectularius (the common bed bug) and Cimex hemipterus.[3] They are about 1 to 7 mm in size.[7] Spread is by the bugs walking between nearby locations or being carried within personal items.[2] Infestation is rarely due to a lack of hygiene but is more common in high density areas.[8][2] Diagnosis involves both finding the bugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms.[5] Bed bugs spend much of their time in dark locations like mattress seams or cracks in the wall.[2]

The decline of bed bug populations in the 20th century is often credited to potent pesticides that had not previously been widely available.[44] 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.[66]
Infestations with bedbugs date back to ancient Egypt.1 The incidence of bedbugs in developed countries decreased in the 1940s because of the availability of more effective pesticides (especially DDT) and improved economic and social conditions.2 In the past decade, however, a significant resurgence of bedbug populations has occurred. This is attributed to a combination of factors, including increased pesticide resistance, more frequent travel, lack of public awareness, and inadequate pest control programs.3 In a 2010 survey, 95 percent of more than 500 U.S. pest management companies reported encountering a bedbug infestation during the preceding year, compared with only 25 percent of companies during 2000.4 Bedbugs spread actively by migrating from one infested room to another, often through ventilation ducts. They also spread passively, carried in the seams of travelers’ luggage, bedding, or furniture.5 Bedbugs do not travel directly on human hosts.6

Avoidance is the best means of preventing bedbug infestation.8 While traveling, sleeping quarters and bedding should be closely inspected for signs of bedbugs. Suitcases should be placed on metal racks away from walls and furniture. Frequent travelers might consider obtaining a portable heating unit for luggage and clothing (e.g., Packtite) as an additional precaution. Items at yard sales and secondhand stores should also be carefully examined before purchase.8  All potentially infested items should be sorted and sealed in plastic bags and removed only when ready to be disinfested (see Table 36 for instructions regarding effective care of infested items). Wearing long-sleeved nightclothes can minimize exposed skin, and although insect repellants have not been shown to be reliably effective, oil of lemon eucalyptus or diethyltoluamide (DEET) might help deter bites.44,45
Scabies is a skin infestation of a type of mite known as Sarcoptes scabiei. These are tiny, almost invisible, eight-legged creatures that fall under the same class as spiders and ticks. Scabies mites burrow under the skin to lay eggs and will crawl around on the skin, causing intense itching. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae that emerge will burrow back into the skin, causing even more irritation.
In most cases, the only way to say for sure whether it was a bedbug that bit you is to search for evidence of bedbugs living in your home. "Once you start to notice the itchy bites, the second giveaway is the presence of small blood spots on your sheets or mattress, usually resembling patches of rust,” Durham says. Those spots are left behind after a bedbug has been smashed.
Probably chiggers -- they are very small, red mites that usually cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are about as small as the period at the end of this sentence. To stop the itching, use OraJel (usually sold for teething babies), which contains benzocaine (an anesthetic). Also, rub in hydrocortisone cream. To prevent chigger bites, wear long pants and stuff the cuffs into your socks.
I have been divorced from my ex for 4 yrs now but remain friends with him and see him often. I recently learned that my ex in laws have a heavy bed bug infestation. My ex lives 3 houses away but is at his mothers every day as they are elderly. He has been dealing with the bugs and my ex’s petulance about the bugs. They have doctors appointments coming up and I wonder if they should tell the doctor about this. My ex has tried to get them to bathe more, treat the bites, wash the clothes but they act as if it is a big imposition to them. I have not asked him over since I found out about them and am reluctant to do so. Am I wrong in thinking that the ex in laws can spread them to others at the doctors office and is it possible for my ex to bring them here?
Run hot water as hot as you can take it. When its hot enough for you, run the hot water over your bites. Yes it does burn a little, but you’ll feel relief from the hot water drawing the “itch” out. Do this for about 10-15 seconds and then immediately switch to very cold water and run that over it. The shock to your skin from going from hot to cold immediately relieves the itch and it lasts for hours. I can take it pretty hot, so I almost give myself burns, but its worth it.
Hey Jessica! Sounds like bed bug bites to me but don’t stress, although bed bugs are known to travel with you from other locations its not a guarantee that they always do. I recommend giving all your clothing a hot wash when you get back home (and your travel bags) and to inspect your bed for signs of their presence. As a precautionary measure, you can put DE under your sheets for a day or two and that will kill any pests that are hiding there. Good luck
All of the stages of bed bugs are visible, at least if you don't need reading glasses and you have a sufficient amount of light. So if you're looking closely enough, you can even see bugs in the nymphal first instar stage. A fecal spot, for its part, can be as large as a bed bug itself in terms of the area it covers. The spots are basically digested blood, so most are dark in color. On a white mattress, they stand out pretty well.
Chances are, you or someone you know has had a run-in with bed bugs. It might have happened in a scrupulously clean bedroom. Or maybe it was a hotel room, office or college dorm. In the February issue of Scientific American entomologist Kenneth Haynes of the University of Kentucky explains how, after a lengthy absence, bed bugs are staging a comeback. The good news is scientists are intensively studying these insects, and their insights suggest novel ways of detecting the bugs and eradicating infestations. Some of those potential solutions are a long way off, however. In the meantime the best bet is to avoid bringing bed bugs home in the first place. I called Haynes to ask him how to do that and what to do if one suspects an infestation (eek!), among a bunch of other practical-minded questions.
Vanessa: I am so glad I found your website. My family and I just returned from vacation two days ago, and my youngest children are covered with bed bug bites. At first, we did not know what they were. The bites started after the first night of staying there. They got increased in number and became worse over the week. We had no clue. Bed bugs never crossed our minds. I took them to the doctor as soon as we got home and we got the news. BED BUGS!
Bedbugs are found in temperate and tropical climates worldwide. The insects are most commonly found in living quarters where their host resides. Bedbugs generally hide in the seams and crevices of bed mattresses and box springs, bed frames, headboards, upholstery, old furniture, closets, and in spaces underneath baseboards or behind loose wallpaper. Clutter and disarray also provide additional hiding places for bedbugs. Bedbugs may be transported from one location to another via luggage, furniture, clothing, and used mattresses. Although they are often associated with unsanitary living conditions, bedbug infestations also occur in clean, well-maintained living quarters, including five-star hotels and resorts. Bedbug infestations have been increasingly reported in hotels, dormitories, homes, apartments, nursing homes, cruise ships, shelters, jails, and hospitals. There have been several cases in the U.S. involving litigation because of infestations of bedbugs, and thus bedbugs are considered a public health pest by several agencies.
Bed bug eradication is challenging and it’s prudent to hire a professional when resources allow. However treatment can be expensive, often costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Those who cannot afford this often must cope with the problem themselves. A useful step that anyone can take to combat bed bugs is to install bed encasements. Covering the mattress and box spring can help eliminate a substantial portion of the bed bug population -- especially if discovered early while most of the bugs are still confined to the bed area. Extra care should be taken when installing budget encasements since these can tear easily, especially on metal bed frames. Ideally both the mattress and box spring should be encased. If only one encasement is possible it’s often best to cover the box spring which is harder to subsequently inspect.

Bedbug bites, like all insect bites, can become infected through excessive scratching, as underneath the fingernails lies a host of bacterial pathogens. If your bites become infected, they will appear red and swollen, feel tender and may drain pus. Typically there will not be a fever unless a substantial area of the skin is involved. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must seek medical attention as it points to a secondary infection. Your physician may prescribe antibiotic therapy or, if the infection is mild, an antiseptic medication that you can buy without a prescription.[12][13][14]

Check the mattress throughly, paying close attention to seams and tufts along the edges. Flip the mattress over and inspect the bottom carefully as well. Pay particular attention to any rips in the fabric. View the fabric on the bottom of the box spring and shine a flash light to verify that bed bugs have not penetrated the interior of the box spring.


Jump up ^ Kambu, Kabangu; Di Phanzu, N.; Coune, Claude; Wauters, Jean-Noël; Angenot, Luc (1982). "Contribution à l'étude des propriétés insecticides et chimiques d'Eucalyptus saligna du Zaïre (Contribution to the study of insecticide and chemical properties of Eucalyptus saligna from Zaire ( Congo))". Plantes Médicinales et Phytothérapie. 16 (1): 34–38. hdl:2268/14438.
I personally did not know about bedbugs or how to treat bites. I and my family have suffered the trauma of dealing with this problem. I have little knowledge of bedbugs. It has been a very bad experience to my family. I have had to throw away many items that was precious to me. Giving up all the mattress in my home. Sleeping on the floor with jackets, socks, long pants, and long shirts. My son is has asthma. I have a major concern with his health. My family is my major concern.
I have no idea what works…. all the benedryl, cortizone, calamine lotion, and any cream/ointment said that they help with insect bites DOES NOT work. Once you start scratching, it’s over, you are going to scratch until the cows come home. If I am able to the trick is not to scratch at all. The enzyme is only released when you scratch, unless you are highly allergic like the picture that is show above, and I thought I was allergic, guess not.
I need some really serious advice. I’m presently staying in a shelter because of abusive situation. It’s only been two days but I am COVERED in bed bug bites. The shelter refuses to move me to another bed because of limited space they said. I have taken oral and topical medications. The thing is it keeps getting worse and worse because every night I have to sleep in the same bed.
Bed bugs are attracted to their hosts primarily by carbon dioxide, secondarily by warmth, and also by certain chemicals.[4][16][17][18] Cimex lectularius only feeds every five to seven days, which suggests that it does not spend the majority of its life searching for a host. When a bed bug is starved, it leaves its shelter and searches for a host. It returns to its shelter after successful feeding or if it encounters exposure to light.[19] Cimex lectularius aggregate under all life stages and mating conditions. Bed bugs may choose to aggregate because of predation, resistance to desiccation, and more opportunities to find a mate. Airborne pheromones are responsible for aggregations.[20]
I have been divorced from my ex for 4 yrs now but remain friends with him and see him often. I recently learned that my ex in laws have a heavy bed bug infestation. My ex lives 3 houses away but is at his mothers every day as they are elderly. He has been dealing with the bugs and my ex’s petulance about the bugs. They have doctors appointments coming up and I wonder if they should tell the doctor about this. My ex has tried to get them to bathe more, treat the bites, wash the clothes but they act as if it is a big imposition to them. I have not asked him over since I found out about them and am reluctant to do so. Am I wrong in thinking that the ex in laws can spread them to others at the doctors office and is it possible for my ex to bring them here?

I am apparently allergic to these things. My bites swell to huge sizes and I get red marks running up my arms and it itches like crazy, almost like a burning itch. However, doing some research I found an effective way to stop the itch. Its not for everyone, but for someone like me who can’t even touch the shells (my fingers have gotten swollen searching for the damn things), this works for me. Again, not for everyone:


Caregivers, firefighters, and other service providers are sometimes required to enter and work in bed bug-infested dwellings. In doing so, there is the potential to transport some bugs home or to the workplace. It should be noted that bed bugs do not fly, nor jump onto people/pets as fleas do. During the day, bed bugs usually remain hidden and immobile, becoming more active at night when seeking a host. Consequently, the chance of picking up bed bugs by merely walking into an infested dwelling during the day is unlikely. The risk may increase while providing care but can be lessened by taking some precautions. 
The bites themselves don't usually pose any major health risk since bedbugs are not known to spread diseases, but an allergic reaction to the bites may require medical attention, CDC officials say. There have also been some strange cases linked to bedbug infestations. Researchers reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2009 that they treated a 60-year-old man for anemia caused by blood loss from bedbug bites. Another study published in 1991 in the Journal of the Egyptian Society of Parasitology found that people with asthma might be more susceptible to allergic reactions from bedbug bites.

Some bed bug species are parasites of bats or birds, and may bite people if the wild hosts are no longer available. Although similar in overall appearance, the species of bed bugs that normally feed on bats, swallows, chimney swifts, pigeons or other wild hosts can be differentiated from those that prefer humans. Entomologists and knowledgeable pest managers can make this determination. If bat bugs or bird bugs are present, roosting and nesting sites should be the primary focus, and the animals should be removed and excluded from the building. 
Bed bugs are annoying insects that hide in soft, warm places like beds, couches, and clothing. These bugs feed on their hosts at night, leaving small bite marks that, though rarely dangerous, should be treated right away to prevent unwanted symptoms and potential allergic reactions. To prevent more bites in the future, you’ll need to get rid of your bed bug infestation completely.
Bedbugs can live in any area of the home and use tiny cracks in furniture as well as on textiles and upholstered furniture as hiding places. They tend to be most common in areas where people sleep and generally concentrate in beds, including mattresses or mattress covers, box springs, and bed frames. They do not infest the sleeping surfaces of beds as commonly as cracks and crevices associated with the bed frame and mattress. Other sites where bedbugs often reside include curtains, edges of carpet, corners inside dressers and other furniture, cracks in wallpaper (particularly near the bed), and inside the spaces of wicker furniture.
To avoid light, bedbugs hide in the seams of mattresses and crevices of bed frames, walls, and furniture during the day.5,7 They are attracted to human hosts by warmth and carbon dioxide; these hosts generally sleep within 3 to 7 feet (1 to 2 meters) of the bedbugs’ hiding places.8,9 Feeding usually takes place just before dawn.10 Bedbug saliva contains several anesthetic, vasodilatory, anticoagulant, and proteolytic compounds that allow the insects to feed undetected for five to 10 minutes. Three of these compounds have been identified as instigators of the subsequent hypersensitivity reactions that may be noticed when the host awakens.11–14
Although most furnishings need not be discarded, in some cases this may be necessary. This is especially true of heavily infested beds, sofas and recliners where bugs and eggs often reside in hard-to-reach places. Consequently, pest control firms may recommend such items be discarded, especially when in poor condition. When infested items are discarded, bagging or wrapping them prevents dislodgement of bugs en route to the trash. 

My boyfriend is staying with a man who rents a room out in his house. The last tenants had bed bugs and the living room couch and everything is infested and theyve been gone for a month. The bugs were dormant until a week or two ago. The man has sprayed the house with something that is supposed to kill bed bugs yet my boyfriend is continuously being bitten. We counted around 100 bites. They are swollen and the itching is making him crazy. He is unable to sleep at night. We are trying to convince the man to just throw the couch out. Since he has no carpet we believe the couch is their main breeding ground and the sprays DID NOT WORK.


recently i have gotten an infestation of bed bugs.. i noticed it not long after i got an exterminator to come spray for ants and other outside bugs.. after he sprayed i noticed an increase of spiders(especially black widows) and a lot more bugs coming inside.. i have a fairly new home(5yrs old) and i shouldn’t have this problem… make sure you get a real professional company to come and do the work. ask what they are spraying/laying down, and what they are treating for and research it to be sure.. i think my house was baited rather than treated
Just recently had my first experience w/ bedbug bites in Nicaragua. Hundred plus bites in one night and over a period of three days they became so inflamed, there were tiny blisters on each bite. These suckers snacked on me like I was an all you can eat buffet. I itched 4 days straight and finally went to a pharmacy there, which prescribed me acne creme. Worked, I guess, at least psychologically. But the bites kept festering more and more.
No money whatsoever to do anything about it. I’m out of work and can’t even pay my rent. If we mention the infestation to the landlord he’ll toss us out because he’s in the process of selling the building. I’m going to try and go to an urgent care place to see if I can at least get something to stop the itching. This is driving me crazy with all the itching.
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.
Often, bedbug bites are clustered along lines usually following arms and legs. Theories range from the idea that bedbugs are feeding along blood vessels to the idea that bedbugs remain with their bodies touching the bedding while they feed, and the bugs are left to feed only along lines where the skin is touching the bedding in just the right manner.

i just recently stayed at the A-1 Motel and our bed had bed bugs. i really want to get rid of these bites because they itch so bad. i have them all over both my arms, legs, neck, back, and my stomach. i want to get rid of them so i can go out in public without having to be embarrassed over them. i will try the baking soda and water thing and i hope it will work.
Within 20 of exposure I started coming down with bumps. They started to.on my forearms but now have spread to legs. My company sent a exterminator to my home to check to make sure I didn’t spread them to my home, my home declared bug free:). They sent me to employee health where I was put on strong antibiotic and cortisone like cream to put on wounds. They are red, cluster like itchy. Frustrating thing is I keep getting more. I am so itchy I can’t sleep. Could it be something different then bugs that I was exposed to? Just frustrated with continual bites

About a week ago I woke up with bites on my legs starting at my ankle up to my thigh. They were sparse but could be counted as grouped or lined. I have no bites anywhere else and have not gotten anymore bites since this happened. My husband shares the bed and our two small children (3 years and 17 months) are frequent bed joiners and none of them have any bites. I sleep with pj pants on and under blankets so it wouldn’t be the most exposed skin that I have at night. However I have no recall of being bitten and had pants on during the day. The bites were itchy for about two days and then they are just red. I am wondering if they could be bed bugs. I am having trouble sleeping because of the uncertainty. I have pics I could post.


Maybe before you go fear mongering, you should at least Google whatever your about to say that makes you look bad? First read above. Second to answer your question how did you say it….. oh yes ……. Is the blood cleaned by the bed bug when sucked up from infected people? Well the answer is yes and no. HIV can’t live very long at all once the blood has been exposed to air much less been digested by something(ick).

Hi i been had these bite on my ankle they start to spread on my arm in leg. . I found. Bug on son bed. I start. Spray hot spot for bed bugs all over the 3 bed .Is there anything else i need to do because it my first time every have bed big in my life .they i see small bug on feet awake up this morning. So I freak out because i had children in one my son complained about itch.I live in apartment buildings on third floor
People don't often consider bed bugs until they've left their mark. The appearance of flat, red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters is a key sign of bed bugs on humans. Bed bugs can also leave their bites in straight rows and, while they don't spread diseases to humans, their bites are quite irritating and scratching them can lead to bleeding and infection.
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