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.
Bed bugs have flat oval bodies, six legs, are reddish-brown in color and are similar in size to a dog tick - many have described the adults as resembling a flat apple seed. Adult bed bugs are approximately 1/4 inch long, while nymphs (juveniles) may be as small 1/16 of an inch. With feeding, they enlarge or engorge with blood. The adults turn from a brownish to reddish color, while the translucent nymphs may become bright red during the feeding process. 
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Hey Randy! Based on your description of the situation, it does sound like bed bugs. Since you have had the similar experience for 5 years, I highly recommend getting someone to take a look at your bed for bed bugs. Something that you can try in the meantime is a close inspection of your linen. If you find any tiny blood marks on the sheets, that’s a tell tale sign of the presence of bed bugs. If you like you can send me a picture and I can take a closer look
Bed bugs are a growing problem in schools and daycares. Typically they are introduced by students or staff living with an infestation at home. Pinpointing where the bugs exist can be challenging in such environments since there are no beds or sleeping areas for the insects to congregate. (Similar challenges occur when bed bugs are found in offices, libraries and retail stores.) Usually only small numbers of bed bugs are spotted, often on a student’s clothing, backpack, chair or desk. While this does not necessarily confirm that the child’s residence also has bed bugs, the parents should be notified that the home should be inspected, preferably by a professional. Teachers, nurses, and staff should be educated about the bugs and what they look like. Bed bugs should also be considered if a student frequently has reddened itchy welts --but keep in mind such reactions can be for reasons other than bed bugs. 
Application entails treating all areas where the bugs are found or tend to hide or crawl. This takes considerable effort and follow-ups are usually needed. Companies typically treat seams, folds and crevices of bed components, chairs and sofas, but usually will not spray the entire sleeping surface or seating area. They also do not spray bed sheets, blankets or clothing, which instead should be hot washed or heated in a dryer. 
Bedbug bites usually do not require any treatment. If you develop itching of the skin around the site of the bite, you can use an over-the-counter antihistamine pill or cream such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Some individuals may also experience relief from the itching by applying a hot washcloth directly to the affected area. Try to avoid scratching the skin, as this can cause skin breakdown and a subsequent secondary bacterial skin infection.

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). 


Bed bugs are small, brownish, flattened insects that feed solely on the blood of animals. Although the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) prefers feeding on humans, it will also bite other warm-blooded animals, including dogs, cats, birds and rodents. It has done so since ancient times; bed bugs are mentioned in medieval European texts and classical Greek writings back to the time of Aristotle.
Every morning, even after countless treatments of our bed and linens, I wake up with 20-30 new bites. I react extremely strongly to them, they can swell as big as a half dollar, and they itch sO badly I often end up ripping them open, leaving them prone to infection. I’m now a diagnoses anemic, which the doctor is sure is because of the number of bites…they are literally eating me alive…and killing me.

Doctors often misdiagnose those afflicted because it is nearly impossible to tell, if you are experiencing an allergic reaction, what bit you. Often healthcare providers and individuals that have been bitten by a member of the Hemiptera order mistake bites for those of a mosquito. The only way to discern, with complete surety, what your bites are from, is to get a sample of what has bitten you.
Bed bugs are not too picky when it comes to feeding. As long as skin is exposed, it’s a juicy target. However, it seems that bed bugs enjoy feeding on the neck region, making their feeding habits very close to those sparkly vampires you see on Twilight. Since most people wear pajamas when they go to sleep, other common areas for bites include the arms, hands, feet and face since they are also exposed. If you are sleeping in a hotel and are nervous about bed bugs, simply wear extra clothing to completely cover your skin. You can also purchase plastic covers to protect yourself against these pests while sleeping out.
About a week ago my son bought me a sectional sofa at a yard sale and by the 3rd day my grand daughter had more than 100 bites all over her arms, legs and back. I told my son that it was chicken pox because she got so full of them by the next day again, until i got up the next morning with my legs, back and arms filled with the same bites…. for my luck the sofa was loaded with the unwanted bed bugs and now they were all over my home. This is the worst itching ever not to mention the frustration when people see you with all the bite marks and they see you like you have something contagious . I threw the sofa out and found a spray called “Rest Easy bed bug repel” ($10.00) and a powder (Diatomaceous Earth) ($10.00) and sprayed all the mattress in the house along with the powder and washed EVERYTHING with hot water. I think they are gone now. I bought Calamine lotion, benadryl anti itch cream, and cortisone but the only way that my itching started to feel better was with “Gold Bond max relief cream.
We had bed bugs two years ago and I was hyper allergic. I’ve been paranoid every since. This morning I woke up with five marks on my stomach and am now terrified. When I got bit before it was my hands arms or face but it was my stomach… I wear guys shirts so my stomach was definitely fully covered. There have been zero signs for two years and suddenly five marks on my stomach. Is this some sort of rash or did they suddenly come out of nowhere within a night?
Bedbugs are small oval-shaped non-flying insects that belong to the insect family Cimicidae, which includes three species that bite people. Adult bedbugs reach 5 mm-7 mm in length, while nymphs (juveniles) are as small as 1.5 mm. Bedbugs have flat bodies and may sometimes be mistaken for ticks or small cockroaches. Bedbugs feed by sucking blood from humans or animals. Cimex lectularius is the scientific name for bedbugs.
Medicated shampoos–both over-the-counter and prescription–can help get rid of them, as can combing and re-combing your hair carefully and disposing of the critters. If you do get head lice, don’t share anything that goes on your head (including hats, brushes, headphones, or hair accessories), and make sure you clean bedding and clothing that could have been infested in hot water.
The bed bug is a universal problem yet it can be dealt with on a regular basis. used items and new items carry bed bugs. always wash and dry for 20 min. ( its the heat that kills the bug). bed pillows need to be washed and dried on a regular basis and the beds head board are full of body skin cells that attract the bugs. a good old cleaning with vaccum and wipe down is needed. keep your vac cleaned and bag empty after each use, the bugs are in the vac.
“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” This horrific nighttime creature is a member of the Hemiptera order of insects that feast solely on blood. Because of the way they mate, they multiply in size while breeding. A Department of Health report claimed that if forty are placed in a room with a mild temperature, within six months their population would exceed 5,900.
A deterrence for them that we’ve found, as well as the bleach, is lavender. Blood sucking bugs don’t seem to like it too much. I don’t personally like it because the lotion that we have makes my skin itch, and I’d rather just deal with the bites since my reactions aren’t so bad to them. However, the lavender lotion has been seemingly working, at least a little bit, for my mother and sister. Although this is the case, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone. It’s okay to use, but it doesn’t seem to be too strong at keeping them away.

If I go to an infested apartment, then when I leave I check my shoes very carefully for bugs that may have crawled onto them. I also keep a change of clothes in my garage and put them on before entering my house. Once inside, I immediately put the clothes I wore to the infested apartment in the dryer, which is located in a room just off the garage.
Dismantling bed frames in infested areas typically exposes bed bug hiding sites. Having access to these areas during cleaning is important. Stand up the box spring and shine a flashlight through the gauze fabric and look for bed bugs. If the fabric is torn (possible hiding place), remove fabric to prepare for spraying. If the mattress and or box springs are infested, you may want to consider Encasements by Mattress Safe. Once covered with these encasements, bed bugs can not enter or exit. There is no need to treat the mattress or box spring when using these encasements. Keep them on for a year.
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
I have read about this remedy online but i haven’t tried it yet but i think it will work pretty well . After u have been bitten and u find the bites in the morning on ur body , if ur itching , its going to make it worse so try not to scratch but if u cant help yourself , i have this remedy ! Ok , so put vinegar onto ur fingers and dab it at the spots..its a great itch-relief (if thats a word) !
Every morning, even after countless treatments of our bed and linens, I wake up with 20-30 new bites. I react extremely strongly to them, they can swell as big as a half dollar, and they itch sO badly I often end up ripping them open, leaving them prone to infection. I’m now a diagnoses anemic, which the doctor is sure is because of the number of bites…they are literally eating me alive…and killing me.
I recently flew on Airtran Airways, First trip I went well. flying back I had a 30 minute layover in ATL (not enough time to sit down). By the time I got home I was covered in bites from the back of my thighs to my neck. I counted over 100 bites! We have got a serious problem here. these bugs are on planes. I knew nothing about these bugs. Thank you for your stories and remedies. I won’t think twice next time they ask me if I want to upgrade to first class.
Bed bugs have flat oval bodies, six legs, are reddish-brown in color and are similar in size to a dog tick - many have described the adults as resembling a flat apple seed. Adult bed bugs are approximately 1/4 inch long, while nymphs (juveniles) may be as small 1/16 of an inch. With feeding, they enlarge or engorge with blood. The adults turn from a brownish to reddish color, while the translucent nymphs may become bright red during the feeding process. 
I have been suffering from these stupid bed bugs but i want to know if the baking soda mixture thing only cures the itchiness or make the spots disappear because i try as much as possible not to scratch it because it makes it expand. I am looking for something to make my skin color be maintained not to be having unwanted spots all over. I’m on the heating business to cure the bugs though. Thanks for the hints.
Hi please help me out Natasha! A few days ago I woke up at midnight to find 3 bites in a almost straight line and I was afraid that it was a bed bug my mom said that there was a chance of it being a misquito since I was outside all night long but I’m still getting this weird feeling that it could be bed bugs what do you think it is can you take a guess. Help!
Nightstands and dressers may need to be emptied and examined inside and out, and tipped over to inspect the woodwork underneath. Oftentimes the bugs will be hiding in cracks, corners, and recesses. Other common bed bug hiding places include: along and under the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting, especially behind beds and sofas; cracks in wood molding; ceiling-wall junctures; behind wall-mounted pictures, mirrors, outlets and switch plates; under loose wallpaper; clothing and clutter within closets; and inside clocks, phones, televisions and smoke detectors.

I have had one bite in threes which cleared up in days and an occasional acne looking sore on my but and arm. I have noted in my car lots of little bites but no marks. My son does not appear to have bites. once he had one on his back that cleared quickly. I really needs some help here as I am getting obsessive with cleaning and making my child change and bath. I have checked my cat for flees and bought her a flee collar as I am thinking the stinging bites I get in the day may be from flees but no itch or real marks. Help please.

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.
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