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.
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Bed bug bites occur most frequently while you’re asleep. As bed bugs bite they inject their victims with an anesthetic (as well as an anticoagulant), numbing the area and making it very rare for someone to wake up when bitten. Bites normally take a day or two to appear, although depending on your individual reaction they may be more visible sooner.
Bed bug infestations are primarily the result of two species of insects from genus Cimex: Cimex lectularius (the common bed bug) and Cimex hemipterus. These insects feed exclusively on blood and may survive a year without eating. Adult Cimex are light brown to reddish-brown, flat, oval, and have no hind wings. The front wings are vestigial and reduced to pad-like structures. Adults grow to 4–5 mm (0.16–0.20 in) long and 1.5–3 mm (0.059–0.118 in) wide.
Pay attention to when the bites occur. Consider, for example, if you notice the bites after waking up when previously you hadn't noticed them. However, this can also be difficult to determine because each person's reaction time can vary significantly. Symptoms that result from the bite can manifest at any point from a couple of hours to more than a week after the bite occurred.
Amazingly, these sneaky little bloodsuckers dine on you without waking you. You don't feel their stealthy bite because they inject a numbing agent into your body, along with an anticoagulant to keep your blood flowing as they suck. The first sign of bedbugs may be itchy, red bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. Bedbugs tend to leave straight rows of bites.
Blood spots found on one’s sheets, bites and the presence of bed bug feces and cast skins are some of the indications of a bed bug infestation. Bites are commonly found on the parts of the body that are more likely to be exposed to bed bugs during sleep – the hands, neck, face, shoulders, legs and arms. While not always the case, bed bug bites are often grouped together in a small area and at times may occur in a line or a zigzag pattern. Bites normally look like small, flat or raised areas that may become inflamed, itchy, red or blistered. Bed bug bite reactions don’t always appear immediately after you’re bitten and may take a few days to begin causing symptoms. However, not everyone reacts to bed bug bites in the same manner.