Bed bug bites are generally small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin. Redness, swelling, and itching commonly occurs.
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With millions of species of bugs and insects, thousand of which bite or sting humans, proper identification of bed bug bites can be a challenge. The longer a bed bug problem goes undiagnosed, the more difficult and expensive effective bed bug treatment becomes.
Bed bug bites are usually itchy, raised, and inflamed; this statement unfortunately also describes most insect bites and stings. To clear up the confusion, the experts at Western Exterminator have pulled together a few tips to distinguish bed bug bites from some common imposters.
Bed bugs have a needle-like mouth part that tucks into a special slot built into their under-side. The needle emerges when the bed bug is ready to feed, piercing the skin through to the blood vessel beneath. The bed bug injects saliva that numbs the area, so the bite is not felt and releases an anticoagulant so that blood flows freely.
Bed bugs are attracted to the heat and carbon monoxide that humans give off when they breathe. Their senses allow them to find the blood vessels closest to the surface of the skin. Although their ability to feed is not quite as fast or economical as a mosquito, they manage to feed relatively quickly before returning to their hiding places. If the person wakes up while they're being bitten, bed bugs are likely to scuttle away and hide, only to return after to pick up where they left off.
As the saying suggests ‘Good night, don’t let the bed bugs bite’, bed bug bites occur at night, when we are sleeping. Bed bug bites are unlikely to wake someone who is asleep, as bed bugs inject an anaesthetic so the bite is not felt.
The short answer is, no. If you are talking about actual physical risks, bed bug bites have minimal risk for adverse health effects. Unlike mosquitoes, whose bites are known vectors of many diseases, bed bug bites are not considered to be dangerous.
Having said that, bed bug bites affect each person differently and bite responses can range from a small bite mark to serious allergic reactions. There is also the heavy emotional trauma of waking up to find you have bites all over body and the longer-term toll of having to deal with a bed bug infestation. This can be incredibly distressing from a psychological standpoint as they invade such an intimate and personal space.
If you are not having a serious reaction, wash the bites with a mild soap and apply an antihistamine cream to relieve itchiness. Everyone has a unique reaction to bed bug bites, so if you are concerned about your bites, contact your physician.