Reactions to bed bug bites differ from person to person from none to a full-blown allergic reaction. A mild reaction may reveal flat, red bumps at the bite sites. A more severe reaction may include an irritating itch (as in my case), or swelling. Resisting the itch is incredibly difficult, but giving in to it can cause severe irritation to the skin, increasing your risk for an infection. It’s the chemicals in the bed bug’s saliva that trigger such reactions, some lasting more than two weeks.
A number of other symptoms may occur from either the bite of the bed bugs or from their exposure. Anaphylaxis from the injection of serum and other nonspecific proteins has been rarely documented.[5][10] Due to each bite taking a tiny amount of blood, chronic or severe infestation may lead to anemia.[5] Bacterial skin infection may occur due to skin break down from scratching.[5][11] Systemic poisoning may occur if the bites are numerous.[12] Exposure to bed bugs may trigger an asthma attack via the effects of airborne allergens although evidence of this association is limited.[5] There is no evidence that bed bugs transmit infectious diseases[5][7] even though they appear physically capable of carrying pathogens and this possibility has been investigated.[5][3] The bite itself may be painful thus resulting in poor sleep and worse work performance.[5]
Bedbug bites don’t normally require treatment by a doctor, though there are a few precautions you should take at home. (8) Start by cleaning the area with soap and water to lower your risk of infection and to relieve itchiness. If the bites are itchy, pick up a corticosteroid cream at your local drugstore and apply it to the area. The bites generally will heal within a couple of weeks. (9)
Bites on dogs and cats will look much like bites on people, and the pet owner may actually suspect a mosquito or flea bit the pet. As with people, bed bugs do not stay on pets, but return to a protected harborage site after feeding. In addition to bites, the presence of the bug’s feces, cast skins and the animal’s irritation at night are also indicators of bed bugs biting pets. Therefore, one of the best things to do is inspect the pet’s bedding and frequently groom the animal while being vigilant for the telltale signs of bed bug presence.
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