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.
Excessively scratching the itchy, bitten areas also may increase the chance of a secondary skin infection. Antiseptic creams or lotions can be used to ward off infection and antihistamines can be used to treat the itching. And an infestation can take a psychological toll on those affected: People whose homes have been infested with bedbugs may have trouble sleeping for fear of being bitten in the night. There are also public health, social and economic consequences; office buildings and schools often have to close if they are dealing with a bedbug infestation.

Hey Ruth! If there are absolutely no signs of bed bugs (upon close inspection), its unlikely that they are the cause for the bite marks. I recommend taking another look for dark brown marks (dried blood) and other signs of their presence. Regardless, if you want to kill any bug on that mattress, just get a handheld steamer and blast it. The heat will kill everything and its completely natural. Hope that helps!


Hello! Almost overnight I have had a series of small bumps appear on my chest. These bumps look like pimples and they don’t itch at all. I had bed bugs well over a year ago and once they were treated I never saw anything except these bumps recently. My sister thinks I’m just being paranoid because we’ve both checked the bed and saw no signs. And because my chest is always covered, but my arms and legs that are are exposed never have places. I realize that I’m probably being paranoid, but I just wanted an outside opinion.
Bed bugs have five immature nymph life stages and a final sexually mature adult stage.[13] They shed their skins through ecdysis at each stage, discarding their outer exoskeleton.[14] Newly hatched nymphs are translucent, lighter in color, and become browner as they moult and reach maturity. Bed bugs may be mistaken for other insects, such as booklice, small cockroaches, or carpet beetles; however, when warm and active, their movements are more ant-like, and like most other true bugs, they emit a characteristic disagreeable odor when crushed.
These bloodsuckers love exposed areas of flesh such as closest to their nest such as the face, forehead, arms and known to attack babies.. Those repeatedly bitten over time are more likely to become sensitive. You may even find the person sleeping next to you does not show any signs of bed bug bites while you do. In fact, the person next to you may not have been bitten at all – a good sign that the infestation is closest to you.

The likelihood of bed bugs increases if the affected individual has been traveling, or if they have acquired used beds or furnishings before symptoms started to appear. Bed bugs also are suspect if you wake up with itchy welts you did not have when you went to sleep. It’s important to recognize, however, that not all bite-like reactions are due to bed bugs. Confirmation requires finding and identifying the bed bugs, shed skins, fecal spots, etc., which often requires the help of a professional. (Other possible sources of irritation that may be mistaken for bed bugs are discussed in University of Kentucky entomology fact sheet ENT-58, Invisible Itches: Insect and Non-Insect Causes). 
Considering how time-consuming and costly it can be to eradicate bed bugs, it’s prudent to take precautions and avoid infestations in the first place. Householders should be vigilant when acquiring used furnishings, especially beds and couches. Discarded items should be avoided, and secondhand articles should be examined closely before being brought into the home. Look carefully in the folds and seams of furniture for signs of bed bugs (see the previous section entitled "Description and Habits" for more details). There is no reason to stop shopping in consignment stores, yard sales, etc., but it would be prudent to run clothing and fabric items through the washer or dryer before storing them in the home. The risk of acquiring bed bugs from items purchased in antique stores would generally be insignificant.      
No two people react to bites in the same way, although some reactions are similar. Because of the saliva that they leave behind, the first reaction is usually severe itching and irritation. This is often followed by a raised appearance on the contacted area. Some people, however, react by having welts and hives all over the body. Still others will have small, pinkish bumps that are concentrated in one area.
when i was a young kid and got the chicken pox my mom had bathed me in warm water and oat meal, when my children developed chicken pox i did the same for them, this helps with the itching for several hours. You can buy packets of oat meal at a drug store for purposes suck as chicken pox, poison ivy, poison oak, etc. The packets sold at stores contain oat meal and other ingredients to ease itching and burning. I hope this is helpful for anyone who is willing to try it, it works for my family.
I have very small red bumps on only one hand. Most of them skin color a few red. They don’t hurt and if I scratch them they itch a little bit mostly I don’t even notice they are there. They aren’t really in a line but I have probably about 6 or so on the top of my hand only. I searched my bed and all around it I find no trace of anything. I did read up and find that some bed bugs affect people differently and don’t show up right away. I have been sleeping on this mattress for over a month now and this just started happening for about 3 weeks. Am I just being paranoid or you think it sounds like bed bugs at all
Hi, I am 20 and am recently in remission from cancer, so my immune system SUCKS. I have been getting bitten by what my family and I have thought were FLEAS for the past months. Well, come to find out, it was bed bugs. Now, I have horrible scars on my legs and all up and down my arms :( I don’t know how to get rid of them. They are UGLY dark brown spots all over. Any advice??
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.
I’m suffering a similar problem. I had a friend who stayed with me on and off for a few months. She just didn’t tell me she had bed bugs right away. I had three kids and one on he way at the time. I bombed everything, threw out lots of things, and washed everything. Its now been a year and they’re back. Only now i have three kids and I have recently become the only income. Im barely holding rent and i don’t know what to do. I’m about ready to burn everything i own. I just can’t take it. I work 40 hrs., go to school, and have a child starting school in a week. Urgggg!!!!!!
My fiance and I have been dealing with bed bugs for 3 years. In the beginning I was the one being bitten. Just recently my fiance has been covered in bites. His lip is swollen this morning. We don’t know what to do anymore. This entire process is expensive and hard for us to afford. we’ve been treated by 3 exterminators. None have worked. I’m very upset because all of our belongings are damaged because of this! The Land Lord keeps bring exterminators and nothing’s working. we follow all the directions. I’ve checked my cat he seems to be fine, but I don’t know anymore. we’re miserable. I think we are stuck for life.

If you are seeing bites everywhere and wondering, what do bed bug bites look like, have a look at the bed bug bite pictures below. They illustrate how bed bug bites look on different parts of the body, making it much easier to identify the bites. Write a comment below if you need help determining if you have been bitten by bed bugs or some other insect. You are also very welcome to submit your own bed bug bite pictures, like many of our other members have already done. Just write a comment and I will get back to you on how to upload images.


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.
Bedbugs often invade new areas after being carried there by clothing, luggage, furniture or bedding. The creatures don't discriminate between dirty and clean homes, which means even luxury hotels can be susceptible to bedbugs. The most at-risk places tend to be crowded lodgings with high occupant turnover, such as dormitories, apartment complexes, hotels and homeless shelters.
Bed bugs were mentioned in ancient Greece as early as 400 BC, and were later mentioned by Aristotle. Pliny's Natural History, first published circa AD 77 in Rome, claimed bed bugs had medicinal value in treating ailments such as snake bites and ear infections. (Belief in the medicinal use of bed bugs persisted until at least the 18th century, when Guettard recommended their use in the treatment of hysteria.[51])
Hi, I am at a loss about what to do. I have been getting bitten day and night, but I don’t know if they are bedbugs. Whatever it is, seems to get under my clothes and bite me along the waist, bra line, posterior, and chest. They only itch when I first discover them, afterwards they don’t bother me…. But I am the only person in the house getting bitten! I washed and steamed everything and everyone! What else can I do?!

thank you natasha! i’ve reached out to both locations i’ve traveled to and they confirmed their pest control vendors have found nothing. and i had a visual/dog inspection from a reputable pest control company to check my entire house and they’ve found nothing as well. so hopefully this is just a one off and / or mosquito bites that just like biting in a line…can’t help but still be paranoid and sleep bundled up with socks
It is also recommended to put infested items, such as a mattress, in a sauna that reaches temperatures of upwards of 170° Fahrenheit. Similarly, they also perish in extremely cold temperatures so mattresses and other items can be cleansed of these bugs with the use of plastic wrap and dry ice. Cover the items with large plastic tarps and carefully insert dry ice, and then secure. The extreme temperature will naturally fumigate the pests.
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.
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.
Bedbugs do, however, have a unique bite pattern. Although some bites may appear alone, most bites occur in a row of three to five bites (termed "breakfast, lunch, and dinner") or in a cluster of red bumps (a rash called bedbug dermatitis). The bites often appear in a zig-zag formation, but may appear in a straight line if the bugs bite you in the morning.

Scratching can cause superinfection, leading to impetigo, cellulitis, or folliculitis.27–32 Reactions typically resolve within one to two weeks without treatment.32 Systemic reactions have been described, including asthma, generalized urticaria, angioedema, iron deficiency anemia, and, very rarely, anaphylaxis.33–36 Although bedbugs have been suspected to be vectors of more than 40 microorganisms, there is no evidence that they are involved in the transmission of disease.5

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.
Jump up ^ Johann Friedrich Wolff; Johann Philip Wolff. "According to Scopoli's 2nd work (loc. cit.), found in Carniola and adjoining regions. According to Linnaeus' second work on exotic insects (loc. cit.), before the era of health, already in Europe, seldom observed in England before 1670". Icones Cimicum descriptionibus illustratae. p. 127. Retrieved 1 December 2016. fourth fascicle (1804)
Each of the following pictures of bed bug bites shows typical skin reactions to the insect's saliva. Most people  are not hypersensitive to the bites and will show no reaction at all with the exception of two small dots where the bedbug punctured the skin. Other people can develop red papular eruptions (raised inflamed areas) or in severe cases, blisters.
You can identify a bedbug infestation by checking bedding, mattress seams, furniture, and wall fixtures for the bugs or their traces. Each bedbug is about the size of an apple seed, about 1/4 inch long. You will often see their droppings instead, which are tiny brown or red specks. You may also see small blood stains on sheets or mattresses when a bedbug has been crushed after feeding. Eggs about the same size as the adults might be seen in seams or cracks and you will also see their molted exoskeletons.

One trick to make this disposal easier involves using the cut-off end of a nylon stocking (or a knee-high nylon stocking) and a rubber band. Insert the stocking (toe first) into the end of the vacuum suction wand/tube, leaving the opening of the stocking protruding out of the end of the suction wand. Then fold the stocking opening back over the end of the wand and use the rubber band to secure it there. When the vacuum is turned on and the bed bugs are sucked into the tube, they will be trapped in the stocking. Afterwards, carefully remove the rubber band and retrieve the bug-filled stocking. Then secure the end of the stocking with the rubber band and dispose of it. 


Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that only feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep. They are reddish-brown in color, about 1mm to 7mm in size, and can live for several months without a blood meal. Bed bugs are not known to spread diseases, but their presence can cause itching and loss of sleep. Excessive scratching can increase the chance of secondary skin infections. Bed bugs are found all over the world and the cleanliness does not determine the presence of bed bugs.
A definitive diagnosis of health effects due to bed bugs requires a search for and finding of the insect in the sleeping environment as symptoms are not sufficiently specific.[5] Bed bugs classically form a line of bites colloquially referred to as "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" and rarely feed in the armpit or behind the knee which may help differentiate it from other biting insects.[4] If the number in a house is large a pungent sweet odor may be described.[4] There are specially trained dogs that can detect this smell.[2]
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.
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