Bed bugs are very unpleasant parasites that can appear out of nowhere in a private house or apartment. They go hunting at night, biting sleeping people on exposed areas of the body. Very often in the morning you can find a whole “path” of bites that the insect leaves on the skin. The blisters themselves are not dangerous and can be treated at home, however, they cause severe itching, and in some cases they can cause allergies, especially in children. What are bedbugs? When and whom do bedbugs bite? How to recognize and treat bedbug bites at home? We shall give you the answers of all these questions as well as a lot of useful information how to check for pest infestation, the places where bed bugs hide, etc.
Bed bugs are blood-sucking insects with flat oval body and can be from 1 to 7,5 mm long. The color and size of the bugs depends on their age and degree of saturation with blood. Adults are light brown in color. After the bug feeds the color may change from bright red to almost black. The average life of bedbugs is from 1 year to 1.5 years.
Where do bedbugs hide? Pests infestation is a problem for every home so it is a good idea to have a look around the house and see if there are any populations. The usual hiding places are the seams of mattresses and upholstered furniture, electrical outlets and appliances, pet beds, cracks on the bed frame, headboard or floor, near pipes, etc.
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How to recognize bedbug bites?
Sucking blood is the way of nourishment of bed bugs to support life. They feed exclusively on the blood of humans, birds, and animals. Unfortunately, it is really hard to prevent the appearance of these extremely unpleasant insects. Every year the number of people suffering from the bites of these parasites is growing. Stereotypes that they appear only in unsanitary conditions have long been in the past.
Very often bedbug bites are mistaken with flea and mosquito bites or an allergic reaction. To distinguish a bug bite from other insect bites is somewhat more difficult, since all bites look about the same – a red spot accompanied by an itch. The main difference is that when you got bitten by bed bugs you will notice massive, densely spaced and grouped bites, usually in a line. Typically, you shall notice a group of 3-5 bites at a distance of 2 – 4 centimeters from each other. Flea bites are randomly distributed in certain areas of the skin, most often the leg area is attacked. The difference between bug bites and an allergic reaction is that an allergic rash is spread over the entire surface of the body and not in separate areas.
Basically, bed bugs feed at night and in those places where the skin is the thinnest, and the blood vessels are located close to the surface. The pests are attracted to exposed skin but they can get under the clothes and continue suck blood. Most often bites from bedbugs can be found on the back and shoulders, on legs and arms, on the neck and on the back of the head. Rarely traces appear on the face or stomach of a person.
What are the symptoms of bedbug bites?
As we said, bedbugs bite mainly the exposed areas of the body – legs, arms, neck, face, shoulders. The reaction to a bite can be different for every individual. As a rule, the main symptoms of a bed bug bite include severe redness, rounded swelling, and strong and irritable itching. In some cases, an allergic reaction is possible, but this is rare. An interesting fact is that if you are bitten by an adult bug the reaction can not be seen immediately. If the bug is young then most likely the reaction will appear instantly. This is due to the fact that young bugs, unlike adults, are not able to secrete saliva, which contains a substance that acts as an anesthetic. After a bedbug bite, a person has the following symptoms:
- Groups of red dots appear on the skin, usually in a line. During the day they can increase in size and get a more intense color.
- A multiple rash appears on some parts of the body. In appearance, rashes on the body are similar to an allergic reaction.
- There is a burning sensation and severe itching on the bitten area. When allergic to insect saliva, itching becomes very severe, especially at night.
- Small blisters filled with liquid may form. Gradually, these blisters increase in size.
- The bites may become very painful. Typically, such a reaction occurs if the person develops an allergic reaction.
- In complex cases, people may feel shortness of breath and due to lack of oxygen, loss of consciousness occurs. Such cases are not typical, though.
When and whom do bedbugs bite? It is known that the activity of these parasites is mainly at night and early morning hours, i.e. in the dark, when a person sleeps and the bites can be noticed in the morning after waking up. Hungry insects can bite not only at night, but also during the day, although this is not typical for them. Small children and women suffer from bedbugs, as their skin is more delicate and thin, therefore, the vessels are closer, which attracts the bugs. Adult men are less sensitive to bites, and sometimes they may not even notice them.
Are bedbug bites dangerous? Generally, a bug bite is not more dangerous than a mosquito bite and does not require professional medical help. The insects are not carriers of infections that are dangerous to human life. The most dangerous consequence of a bed bug bite is a possible allergic reaction. If a person is especially sensitive to the enzymes that the bug secretes, the bite may provoke anaphylactic shock. If the bites do not heal for a long time and after a while you notice pus, this is a sign that an infection got into the wound and in such cases it is advisable to consult a doctor. In general, when bites are found on the body, one should not panic, but measures to destroy parasites must be taken immediately.
How to treat bedbug bites at home?
In most cases, bedbug bites do not require special treatment. The appearance of the first signs is not a reason to run to the hospital. If the bites are not infected and there are no allergic reactions, you can treat them at home. Usually, the symptoms disappear within 1-2 days. It is very important to know how to properly handle the bite spot. Properly provided assistance will eliminate the risk of developing a skin infection. If the bugs have bitten a pregnant or lactating woman, she should seek help from a doctor, the same applies to young children. So, how to treat bedbug bites? First aid tips:
- The wound is treated with a soap or soda solution, but alcohol can also be used.
- To eliminate swelling and severe itching, apply cold to the bite. Moisten a towel with cold water or apply ice cubes.
- If the bites are very itchy, you need to take an antihistamine, but you need to consult with a doctor, especially if you have allergies.
- A special gel or ointment for bites which relieves itching and burning is applied to the skin.
- If the bite spot hurts and itches, you can treat it with antibacterial soap or alcohol.
Here are some other easy homemade remedies that will help you:
Onion ointment – Grind a large onion with a blender or on a grater. Add chopped Plantago to the pulp. Apply the mixture on the bite and hold for 3 hours.
Parsley – Finely chop a bunch of parsley, put in a bowl and squeeze garlic juice. Wash the skin before treatment and apply the parsley and garlic mixture for the night.
Garlic juice has an antiseptic effect. Cut a clove of garlic and place it on the bite spot or apply a cotton swab dipped in garlic juice to the skin. This will not only soothe irritation and relieve pain, but also prevent the swelling.
Mint leaves relieve pain. If you haven’t got fresh leaves, then apply mint toothpaste to the bites.
Chamomile – Add 2.5 tbsp. spoons of chamomile in 250 ml of boiling water. Let it sit for about an hour, strain and use to relieve itching.
Aloe – this is a great home remedy for a variety of insect bites. Place a leaf of flower to the bite so that the juice gets on the sore spot. Fix the leaf with a bandage for 7-8 hours to relieve swelling and itching.
Propolis tincture disinfects the affected area and removes swelling. However, propolis can not be used for children and adults who are allergic to honey.