Summary: A bed bug bite is difficult to identify even for an expert like a dermatologist. Collect a sample of any insect you find in or around your bed to have it properly identified before buying expensive bed bug treatments or products.
Everyone is worried about bed bugs. We get call after call reporting bed bugs. Often, the caller has not seen the insect, but has discovered a bite on an arm or leg. The question is, is the bite really from a bed bug or is it a mite, mosquito, chigger or something else?
Although bed bugs are becoming more common in the
However, for now, let's just try to identify what a bed bug bite looks like. This is no easy task because different people react in different ways. Regardless of your training, identification is, at best, an educated guess. To begin, the injury caused to the skin is related to the structure of the insect's mouthparts. There are vessel feeders that insert their mouthpart into a capillary and there are pool feeders that get their blood from the area surrounding damaged tissue. Bed bugs are vessel feeders, taking their blood meal from the face, neck, hands, arms, lower legs, as well as other locations, but most commonly, on exposed, rather than covered skin.
About six out of ten people show no signs from bed bug bites. A puncture site is present, but no swelling or redness. Others showing reactions will often have bites lined up in groups of three accompanied by reddened, irregular, elevated patches, severe itching or blisters. The bite is painless and is usually discovered well after the fact. Using highly developed mouth parts, their elongated peak easily pierces the skin.
The wheals, or red marks, last only a few days, although some bites result in blisters and even loss of tissue. The use of an ice pack is recommended to reduce swelling. More intense pain can be alleviated with pain-killing medication.
As a result of the immense media coverage given to bed bugs, people often report being bitten by bed bugs when, in fact, the source of the bite is something totally unrelated to bed bugs. The best way to confirm bed bug activity is by identification of a captured insect specimen. If you discover bites on your body upon awakening, search your mattress and box spring for the tell-tale signs of bed bug infestations. Tiny specks of blood on a pillow are probably not bed bug-related. Larger smears of blackened blood along the edges of the mattress and box spring are the positive indicators.
Keep in mind that during the warmer months many insects are active blood feeders including mites, ticks, chiggers and mosquitoes. Spiders don't feed on human blood, but they can leave welts if you happen to be sharing your bed and roll over on it. Do yourself a favor and get a positive identification before you start spending tons on money on bed bug treatments.
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