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.
Bedbugs have resurged worldwide and these blood-sucking insects (both the Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus) are a problem in many homes and hotels. Fortunately, bedbugs aren't known to spread contagious diseases. However, it is difficult to eradicate an infestation and you will want to take steps to prevent bringing bedbugs home. Learn how to identify and treat these pests.
Wearing an insect repellent is not completely effective, although you might try oil of lemon eucalyptus or DEET to prevent bites. Avoid bringing home second-hand items such as used furniture, mattresses, or any item that someone has kept in a bedroom. Unfortunately, bedbugs can linger in items for a year without feeding. Launder all used clothing before storing or wearing it. Use mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements on your bed. Fill in any cracks and crevices in your bedroom.
The bites do not usually require medical treatment. Secondary bacterial infection of the skin may develop in areas that become irritated due to prolonged scratching. Topical antibiotic creams or ointments may relieve symptoms of a secondary infection. Antiseptic lotions may also be beneficial. If you've had an allergic reaction to the bedbug bites, your doctor may recommend oral antihistamine medications or corticosteroids.
To avoid light, bedbugs hide in the seams of mattresses and crevices of bed frames, walls, and furniture during the day.5,7 They are attracted to human hosts by warmth and carbon dioxide; these hosts generally sleep within 3 to 7 feet (1 to 2 meters) of the bedbugs’ hiding places.8,9 Feeding usually takes place just before dawn.10 Bedbug saliva contains several anesthetic, vasodilatory, anticoagulant, and proteolytic compounds that allow the insects to feed undetected for five to 10 minutes. Three of these compounds have been identified as instigators of the subsequent hypersensitivity reactions that may be noticed when the host awakens.11–14
Bed bug bites can leave you with painful inflammation and since they love to hide in beds, you may be bitten a number of times before you wake up in the morning! If you have a severe allergic reaction, its recommended that you seek professional medical assistance as soon as possible. Besides medical creams and pills, things like tea tree oil, baking soda and even lemon juice can also give you relief at minimal cost. I highly recommend that you try these first as they work really well.
Bed bugs are active mainly at night. During the daytime, they prefer to hide close to where people sleep. Their flattened bodies enable them to fit into tiny crevices--especially those associated with mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards. Bed bugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but do tend to congregate in habitual hiding places. Characteristically, these areas are marked by dark spotting and staining, which is the dried excrement of the bugs. Also present will be hatched and un-hatched eggs, the tannish shed skins of maturing nymphs, and the bugs themselves. Another possible sign are rusty or reddish smears on bed sheets or mattresses from crushed engorged bed bugs. Although it’s often stated that bed bugs have a telltale “buggy” odor, the smell is seldom evident except in extreme infestations and should not be relied upon for detection.
Just because you can't see bed bugs, does not mean that they are not still there. Bed bugs are rarely seen in the day, out in the open or on the surface of beds or chairs. They have been described as champions of hide-and-seek. So, it is not uncommon to miss the bed bugs altogether. Bed bugs love to hide in the cracks and crevices associated with mattresses, cushions, bed frames and other structures, which is why it is very important to look for telltale symptoms of bed bugs and signs of an infestation, such as shed skins and specks of blood or feces on linens, furniture, mattresses and other areas where the bugs might be hiding.
Luckily we were at the tail-end of our trip and once I arrived back home I immediately soaked in a hot-hot Epsom Salt bath. I used 3 cups of Epsom Salt, repeated that twice…and shazaam! The bites reduced in size and the itch was “almost” completely relieved. I had an extremely severe reaction going on and at one point considered going to a dermatologist or hospital to get some professional care.
I think the lice/bedbug/flea killing shampoo and gel I’ve been using accounts for me not getting munched on that terribly…as i stated earlier the worst of it seems to be over and I’m going to keep using gold bonds and neosporin. I had a few other topical anti itch creams lying around and while they’ve helped some…nothing soothes like the golds bond. I feel very lucky that I’m not bitten in anyplace visible. my right bicep was where i was bit the most (besides my feet)…which is also the side i sleep on.
First, make sure that the suspected bugs are bedbugs, because other insects or arthropods such as a carpet beetle, scabies mite, a bat bug, louse, or other bugs may be mistaken for bedbugs. If there is confirmation of a bedbug infestation, several measures can be taken to help control or eradicate the infestation, using both nonchemical and chemical (insecticides) methods. It can take several weeks to months to achieve complete eradication of a bedbug infestation, and it may take several treatment cycles to completely eliminate them. In many cases, it will be necessary to hire a pest control service in order to implement a comprehensive extermination strategy.
To reduce the effects of swelling and rashes, you could take an over-the-counter antihistamine, which is usually in the form of an oral pill. Be sure to check the product label for possible side effects, though: some may cause drowsiness, dizziness, irritability, and vision changes, ringing in the ears, and other disrupting symptoms. You’ll want to be careful about taking these pills if you’re going to be driving or operating heavy machinery, and you definitely want to talk to your doctor first if you’re pregnant or have high blood pressure.
The bites usually last about 7 days, even if they are treated correctly. However, if you have sensitive skin like myself, they can last a couple weeks or in my husbands case, they last only a few days. As mentioned, if you scratch the bites its going to make things worse and besides running the risk of a bacterial infection, they will also take longer to heal so keep your nails away from them!
All of the stages of bed bugs are visible, at least if you don't need reading glasses and you have a sufficient amount of light. So if you're looking closely enough, you can even see bugs in the nymphal first instar stage. A fecal spot, for its part, can be as large as a bed bug itself in terms of the area it covers. The spots are basically digested blood, so most are dark in color. On a white mattress, they stand out pretty well.
A common concern with bed bugs is whether or not they transmit diseases. Although bed bugs can harbor various pathogens, transmission to humans has not been proven and is considered unlikely. Their medical significance is most commonly attributed to itching and inflammation from their bites. Antihistamines and corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce allergic reactions, and antiseptic or antibiotic ointments to prevent infection. Though not known to carry diseases, bed bugs can substantially reduce quality of life by causing discomfort, sleeplessness, anxiety, and embarrassment. According to some health experts, the added stress from living with bed bugs can have a significant impact on the emotional health and well-being of certain individuals.
Specks of blood on bedding, mattresses, or upholstered furniture such as couches and headboards: Look carefully at your blankets, sheets, and mattress pads and then check the mattress and box spring. Are there specks of blood anywhere, especially near the seams? If so, there could be a bed bug infestation. You should also check for specks of blood on all upholstered furniture, including couches and headboards.
My daughter stayed at a friends for 2 nights…. And brought home bedbugs!! She has bites from the top of her head to her feet. The itching must be horrific. Poor child. After 2 days of not being able to stop the itching, as a last resort (on a Sun at 11pm) I told her to use a bathroom spray cleaner that had bleach in it. She only put it on her legs, but the itching stopped there, just not on arms, stomach or in her head. Don’t recommend bleach but she was able to get a couple hours of sleep. I will try several things to try to help her that I have read from previous comments. Thanks everyone….
As mentioned earlier, applying insect repellent at bedtime will probably not deter bed bugs from biting. When working in severely infested dwellings, there may be some benefit to spraying tops and bottoms of shoes with DEET-based repellents. Those working in bed bug-infested environments may also want to hot wash or run clothing, etc. through a dryer upon returning home or to the office.
Fumigation using a penetrating gas is another way to de-infest dwellings or furnishings, but the procedure is only offered by certain companies. True fumigation is not the same as setting off a total release fogger or ‘bug bomb.’ (It should be noted that bug bombs are considered ineffective in the treatment of bed bugs, and can be quite dangerous if misused.) The fumigation process is technically complex and requires vacating the building for a period of days. The building is then sealed and injected with a lethal gas, usually sulfuryl fluoride. Because the entire building must be vacated, structural fumigation is logistically more challenging with multi-unit buildings such as apartments, than for single family homes. Bed bug fumigations tend to be more common in southern and western states, where the procedure is also used to control certain types of wood-dwelling termites.
My bites from two weeks ago are still rough. I have used the window cleaner, cortisone and then for the open areas , antibiotic ointment. I slept in my bed last night with no problem. I will spray again and again and again in the event of new generations. They don’t sell Phantom in my area. That is supposed to kill 95% of the eggs. Wish I could find some. These little bastards are something else. Good Luck to all.
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.
Bed bugs are obligatory bloodsucking. They have mouth parts that saw through the skin, and inject saliva with anticoagulants and painkillers. Sensitivity of humans varies from extreme allergic reaction to no reaction at all (about 20%). The bite usually produces a swelling with no red spot, but when many bugs feed on a small area, reddish spots may appear after the swelling subsides. Bedbugs prefer exposed skin, preferably the face, neck, and arms of a sleeping person.
Bed bugs are attracted to their hosts primarily by carbon dioxide, secondarily by warmth, and also by certain chemicals. Cimex lectularius only feeds every five to seven days, which suggests that it does not spend the majority of its life searching for a host. When a bed bug is starved, it leaves its shelter and searches for a host. It returns to its shelter after successful feeding or if it encounters exposure to light. Cimex lectularius aggregate under all life stages and mating conditions. Bed bugs may choose to aggregate because of predation, resistance to desiccation, and more opportunities to find a mate. Airborne pheromones are responsible for aggregations.
Bed bugs have five immature nymph life stages and a final sexually mature adult stage. They shed their skins through ecdysis at each stage, discarding their outer exoskeleton. 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.
use advantage plus on your cat or frontline plus its cheaper..you cannot get rid of fleas with a flea collar & they are actually very toxic & dangerous to your cat & your child..i had almost killed my cats using over the counter flea treatments when my whole house was infested because of a neighbor and we had bought the over the counter flea dips & my cats were shaking & having seizures & the over the counter variety of advantage or frontline i think it was called zodiac they sold it to me telling me its cheaper than a vet bill for the prescription & just as effective..my cat almost died..thats when we took it to the vet because it was deathly ill from that posion..stick to the prescription brands you can even buy them on ebay or online shipped from overseas w/o a prescription thats how i used to buy them..now my new cat never goes outside & our dog & cats never catch fleas here but i sure remember what a living hell that was & how i almost killed my cats & my KIDS with the toxic posions they sell you in stores & these flea bombs..i had been using them weekly so now ihope i didnt give us all cancer or something those chemicals are neurotoxins to humans and animals.its well worth the $10 the frontline or advantage plus costs..the fleas die within a day or so & that kills the eggs and keeps them from hatching & the plus also protects against mosquitoes & ticks that may carry diseases.
Just recently had my first experience w/ bedbug bites in Nicaragua. Hundred plus bites in one night and over a period of three days they became so inflamed, there were tiny blisters on each bite. These suckers snacked on me like I was an all you can eat buffet. I itched 4 days straight and finally went to a pharmacy there, which prescribed me acne creme. Worked, I guess, at least psychologically. But the bites kept festering more and more.
Just an FYI – We steamed ALL of our leather reclining living rm furniture to get rid of bedbugs. In short only the single glider/recliner was saved. The large sofa and loveseat were “sacrificed” to the firepit “gods”!!! HA Ha ha!!! Really wasn’t funny AT ALL!!! Watching quite a bit of $$$ that was hard earned just goin’ up in flames. Hate them damned bugs!!! What their purpose I wonder???!!!
The bites of bedbugs can be difficult to identify, and not all red bites are due to bedbugs. Mosquitos, fleas, biting gnats, and mites can all bite humans. Collecting and identifying the bugs can help establish the diagnosis. They can often be found beneath or on the seams of mattresses. Their bloodstains may be visible even in the absence of bedbugs. You should also look into nooks and crannies of furniture, walls, and floors if you're suspicious that bedbugs may be present.
Cutaneous reactions to bedbug bites can vary widely and are easily confused with other conditions (Table 1).15–19 A typical lesion is a 2- to 20-mm, pruritic, erythematous maculopapule with a central hemorrhagic crust or vesicle.5,8 Macules, papules, wheals (Figure 3), vesicles, bullae, and nodules have all been reported,20 as have asymptomatic lesions with a barely visible punctum as the only evidence of a bite.8 Bites vary in number and are preferentially distributed in unclothed areas (e.g., face, neck, extremities). Unlike many other arthropod and insect bites, bedbug bites are rarely located in the popliteal fossae or axillae.21 Lesions can be noticeable immediately when waking up or several days later, with the reaction often progressing from delayed to immediate with subsequent exposures22–26 (Table 2). The classic bedbug rash is referred to as “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” because it commonly presents as several bites in a row or cluster 20 (Figure 4).
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.
Avoiding repeated bites can be difficult, since it usually requires eradicating bed bugs from a home or workplace; eradication frequently requires a combination of pesticide and non-pesticide approaches. Pesticides that have historically been found to be effective include pyrethroids, dichlorvos and malathion. Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time and there are concerns of negative health effects from their usage. Mechanical approaches such as vacuuming up the insects and heat-treating or wrapping mattresses have been recommended.
In conclusion, bed bug bites can be a pain to deal with (pun intended) but with a few natural or product based remedies, treatment is rather easy. Most of the time, these bites can be extremely itchy and may cause a slight swelling, depending on how sensitive the victims skin is. However, caution needs to be taken when more adverse symptoms develop and if this happens to you or a family member, it’s a good idea to contact your doctor immediately! I invite you to share this post with your friends and I hope you have a fantastic day!
Probably chiggers -- they are very small, red mites that usually cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are about as small as the period at the end of this sentence. To stop the itching, use OraJel (usually sold for teething babies), which contains benzocaine (an anesthetic). Also, rub in hydrocortisone cream. To prevent chigger bites, wear long pants and stuff the cuffs into your socks.
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??
I am so glad I came to this site, as it at least I don’t feel alone in this battle I’m fighting! It is 2am and I am sitting in my new recliner that my sister gave me last spring!! I love my recliner, but it is ruined as of tonight when as a last resort I decided to sleep in it since I have been driven out of my bed from these unrelenting bloodsuckers!
Did you or someone else in your home recently come home from a trip? Bugs can stow away in clothing and in the recesses of your luggage. A good preventative measure is to check lodging you are staying in immediately after arrival. As mentioned before, signs are evident, even during the daytime, include the blood-colored excrement they leave behind.
No typically they do not like hair and actually prefer a host without hair (shaved legs etc). I would imagine this is one reason why we have hair on our bodies. However; this doesn’t mean that 1 or 2 wont get lost and end up in your hair. But typically they will not make that their place of rest or feeding. One thing I would like to advise is that for what I could imagine was quite some time these went unnoticed in my residence and have never caused me to itch, I would awake for work with my face being EXTREMELY PALE and a neck rash that I always assumed was from shaving also if goes unnoticed they must have been a factor in my bout of extreme depression / listlessness over the past few years. The cause…. According to the exterminator was the used furniture I got a too good to be true deal on at a garage sale for my first apartment, which he was even “nice” enough to deliver. He’s lucky he’s moved since than, lord knows what I would have done. But I will never forget his face.
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.
We kept feeling something crawling on us when we sat on tge couch. Then tiny bites Started appearing. After months of trying various cleaning approaches, we contacted Terminex. Their inspector found two bedbugs in the seams of a chair in the bedroom , but nothing on the sofa. They charged me a thousand dollars and steam cleaned both the bed, chair and sofa. About 10 days later, we started getting bites again. Terminex came and “dusted” the areas thus time. This continued for a a few months and them the “inspector” from Terminex said they could fund no signs of the bugs rhe last few times and he thought misquitoes were probably biting us. It has been months now and the problem has worsened. Now I get horrible welts when bitten and we constantly look for tangible signs: excrement, bugs in tape, anything before we call a different extermination company but life has become unbearable. We can’t have guests over because we fear they’ll become infected. It has been and is a truly awful experience.
If you are experiencing itching, burning, and other forms of pain, there are a couple of treatment methods you could try. The most common recommendation is a topical corticosteroid cream or an anesthetic, which are applied directly to the wound and rubbed in to provide relief from the itching. A possible alternative to corticosteroids is calamine cream, though the FDA isn’t convinced of its effectiveness.
Last Saturday, I slept over my boyfriend’s house to be safe from that hurricane that came to NY. His house is pretty infested with them, but he bombed the room where I slept, and sprayed a whole lot of bug spray on and around his mattresses, did all his blankets and pillows, and yet I’ve either been bitten so much, that I can’t even tell if they are “breakfast, lunch, dinner” dots, or just rashes from a bad reaction to something. And the baking soda trick, to my surprise, didn’t work! Grrrrr!!!
Many news reports in recent years have focused on the discovery of bedbugs and their health effects (even in upscale five-star hotels), and a number of lawsuits have been filed by guests of fashionable hotels who awoke to find hundreds of bedbug bites covering their skin. Searching on travel-review web sites regularly reveals information and even photos confirming the presence of bedbugs in numerous hotels.