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Bed Bug Bites: Identification, Treatment and Prevention

Is there a vampire in your bed? Maybe, but more likely, it is tiny insects called bed bugs, because they are typically found in and around beds where they feed, hide, and lay their eggs.


Bed bug bites are very common in the United States. Almost 100 percent of pest control professionals have treated cases of bed bugs in the past year, with most of them agreeing that bed bugs are the hardest pests to control.


While most people think of hotels as the main source of bed bugs, you might be surprised to learn single-family homes and apartments are the most prevalent places for bed bugs. Hotels are a distant third.


Bed bugs are extremely difficult to get rid of and incredibly tenacious by nature. They can survive without a good feed for up to a year. Bed bugs can climb through the smallest gaps and move from room to room and house to house. They can hitchhike their way into our suitcases, purses, clothes, and furniture.


Traditional baits and traps usually don’t work on this type of bug, so clearing your house of the infestation will require effort. If you can, hire a professional pest control service, preferably one with experience in dealing with bed bugs. If you cannot afford a pest control service, there are plenty of DIY solutions, from powders to steamers, readily available for you to try.


Bed Bug Bite Signs and Symptoms


Bed bug bites can appear anywhere on your body where they can find exposed skin. The most common areas are the arms, neck, torso, the lower portion of the legs, and feet. Despite being tiny (full-grown adults are only a quarter-inch long), it can take anywhere from three to 10 minutes for the bed bug to get filled up on your blood. Bed bugs are not known to harbor or transmit diseases, so their bites are more annoying than harmful. When they bite, they release some of their saliva into your skin, which can cause an allergic reaction.


If that happens, you will develop a bump on your skin about the size of an apple seed, which can itch. So how do you know if you’ve been a snacking source for bed bugs or another type of insect? You need to look for a pattern. With bed bug bites, you often see clusters of bites — usually three to five bites that appear in a zigzag shape.


Treatment of Bed Bug Bites


Bed bug bites can usually be treated quickly and easily with the help of a medical professional. It normally takes about one to two weeks for bed bug bites to get better, that is, if you resist the urge to scratch. Scratching bed bug bites can cause them to bleed and get infected, and potentially lead to cellulitis. This is a common bacterial skin infection that can be introduced when you break your skin open. Cellulitis impacts all three layers of the skin and can cause redness, swelling, and inflammation. This skin condition needs to be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can become serious and, in rare cases, deadly.


To relieve bed bug bite symptoms, your doctor may prescribe:


  • Corticosteroid anti-itch cream or an oral antihistamine to reduce itching
  • Course of antibiotics for infections
  • Administer an injection to counteract an allergic reaction


If you need help identifying whether you are dealing with bed bug bites or need help addressing bed bug bite symptoms, you can always stop by your nearest American Family Care location. Our clinics are open seven days a week, and no appointment is necessary.


Click here to find an AFC location near you.


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