In addition to the physical manifestations of bedbug bites, patients can experience significant psychological distress. The stigma that bedbugs are related to poor hygiene (however inaccurate) can lead to poor self-esteem, avoidance of family and friends, and suspension from work.37–39 Management of an infestation can be stressful, costly, and disruptive to everyday life. Worry can lead to insomnia, depression, anxiety, and even delusional parasitosis.37
"We originally thought the bedbugs might prefer red because blood is red and that's what they feed on," study co-author Corraine McNeill, an assistant professor of biology at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, said in a statement. "However, after doing the study, the main reason we think they preferred red colors is because bedbugs themselves appear red, so they go to these harborages because they want to be with other bedbugs, as they are known to exist in aggregations."
The symptoms of a bedbug bite are usually mild when present, and often individuals will not experience any symptoms at all. Bedbug bites can occur on any exposed part of the body, with the face, neck, arms, and hands being areas commonly affected. The signs and symptoms can appear from minutes to days after the initial bite. Affected individuals will usually complain of localized itching and reddish-colored skin lesions, which may look like a flat welt or a raised bump. Sometimes, the lesions can be found in clusters or in a linear pattern. Typically, these skin lesions will go away after one to two weeks.
Don't assume your bites are bedbugs. Bites can be hard to identify, even for doctors. Rule out mosquitoes, fleas, mites, and biting gnats by conducting a visual inspection. It's best to collect and identify bedbugs to confirm bites. Look for the bugs themselves or their bloodstains, especially along the seams of mattresses. Further, look for dark spots of insect waste where bedbugs might crawl into hiding places on furniture, walls, and floors.
Bed bugs usually bite people at night while they are sleeping. Hungry bed bugs may also feed during the daytime, especially if this is when the occupant normally sleeps. They feed by piercing the skin with an elongated beak through which they withdraw blood. Engorgement of the bed bug takes roughly three to 10 minutes, but because the bite is painless, the person seldom realizes they are being bitten. Bed bugs normally do not reside on people like head or body lice do; instead, immediately after feeding, bed bugs crawl to a secluded location to digest their meal. Symptoms after being bitten by bed bugs vary from person to person. Many develop an itchy red welt within a day or so of the bite. Others have little or no reaction. Sometimes the reaction is delayed days or even weeks after the actual bite occurs, which can make it difficult to determine where or when bites actually occurred. Studies conducted in bed bug-infested apartments suggest about 30 percent of people do not react even when bitten repeatedly over time, and there is still higher incidence of non-reactivity among the elderly. Unlike flea bites, which occur mainly around the lower legs and ankles, bed bugs feed on any skin exposed while sleeping (face, neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, etc.). The welts and itching are often wrongly attributed to other causes, such as mosquitoes. For these reasons, infestations may go a long time unnoticed, and can become quite large before being detected.
As if you needed something else to worry about, bedbugs, those pests from the old bedtime rhyme are making a comeback. More of a nuisance than a health hazard, they’re showing up to suck blood from people in hotels, college dorms, and hospitals. Take an informative look at bedbugs: what they are, where they lurk, and how to spot them before they get you.