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. 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. If the number in a house is large a pungent sweet odor may be described. There are specially trained dogs that can detect this smell.
As bed bugs grow they molt, shedding their skin five times before reaching maturity. A blood meal is needed between each successive molt. Adult females also must feed in order to lay eggs. Under favorable conditions (70-80°F), the bugs can mature fully in as little as a month, producing multiple generations per year. Cooler temperatures or limited access to blood prolong the development time.
Traditional methods of repelling and/or killing bed bugs include the use of plants, fungi, and insects (or their extracts), such as black pepper; black cohosh (Actaea racemosa); Pseudarthria hookeri; Laggera alata (Chinese yángmáo cǎo | 羊毛草); Eucalyptus saligna oil; henna (Lawsonia inermis or camphire); "infused oil of Melolontha vulgaris" (presumably cockchafer); fly agaric (Amanita muscaria); tobacco; "heated oil of Terebinthina" (i.e. true turpentine); wild mint (Mentha arvensis); narrow-leaved pepperwort (Lepidium ruderale); Myrica spp. (e.g. bayberry); Robert geranium (Geranium robertianum); bugbane (Cimicifuga spp.); "herb and seeds of Cannabis"; "opulus" berries (possibly maple or European cranberrybush); masked hunter bugs (Reduvius personatus), "and many others".
Although treating bedbug bites isn't difficult, actually getting rid of the bedbugs is another story. A professional exterminator can help. You will need to discard infested mattresses, box springs, and pillows. You can heat treat or cold treat items such as clothing by laundering or freezing. However, the room itself will need to be treated to eliminate bedbugs that can live in cracks in walls, floors, and furniture.
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.
I can definitely understand. This is has been going on with us for almost a year. My hands and arms look like I have leprocy or something. Horrible blisters, rash, scabs, and bunches of “bumps” especially in my right hand. I wind up with painful blood blisters some times. I am living on benedryl and calamine lotion. I hate going out because of what I look like. I have taken to using cover up and foundation on my hands to make the mess less noticable. i have a long-sleeved summer weight sweater that I wear whenever I do have to go out.
I use witch hazel with aloe vera (from Thayers). Apply with Q-tip or cotton ball. WORKS VERY WELL for me, especially when applied soon after bite is detected. Found that if it stings a bit when applied, it is likely that bite was recent, and more likely to reduce the itch. If I apply soon after a bite, I feel a little sting from the astringent, and the itch if often eliminated (although not sure how large the bugs are that bit me).
I just moved into my new apt with my 1 yr old and 3 yr old sons. the first night we slept on covers on the floor until i got the beds in. that very first morning there we woke up with bite marks on us. i thought maybe they were just mosquito bites or something. after the beds got in we continued to have this problem. poor kids cant play right from the itching. I’m pregnant so when the bites we on my stomach i went crazy especially since i worked so hard not to scratch and cause stretch marks.
Prior to the mid-20th century, bed bugs were very common. According to a report by the UK Ministry of Health, in 1933, all the houses in many areas had some degree of bed bug infestation. The increase in bed bug populations in the early 20th century has been attributed to the advent of electric heating, which allowed bed bugs to thrive year-round instead of only in warm weather.
Bedbugs bite and suck blood from humans. Bedbugs are most active at night and bite any exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. The face, neck, hands, and arms are common sites for bedbug bites. The bite itself is painless and is not noticed. Small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin are the most common sign; redness, swelling, and itching commonly occur. If scratched, the bite areas can become infected. A peculiarity of bedbug bites is the tendency to find several bites lined up in a row. Infectious-disease specialists refer to this series of bites as the "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" sign, signifying the sequential feeding that occurs from site to site. In some people, the bites can take several days to develop. The signs may become apparent up to 14 days after the bite has occurred.
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.