How bed bugs Bite
Most observed bites consist of a raised red bump or flat welt, and are often accompanied by very intense itching. The red mark is the result of an allergic reaction to the anesthetic contained in the bed bug's saliva, which is inserted into the blood of its victim. Reactions to bed bug bites may appear indistinguishable from mosquito bites although they tend to last for longer periods. Bites may not become immediately visible and can take up to nine days to appear. Bed bug bites tend not to have a red dot in the center such as is characteristic of flea bites. A trait shared with flea bites is tendency towards the pattern of sequential bites often aligned in rows of three. This may be caused by the bed bug being disturbed while eating and relocating half an inch or so farther along the skin before resuming feeding. Alternatively, the arrangement of bites may be caused by the bed bug repeatedly searching for a blood vein.
People react differently to bed bugs, and individual responses vary with factors including skin type, environment, and the species of bug. This also means the presence of itchy welts cannot be used as the only indicator of a presence. It is possible for an initial infestation within a household to be asymptomatic and go undetected. In some rare cases, allergic reactions to the bites may cause nausea and illness. In a large number of cases, estimated to be fifty percent of all people, there is no visible sign of bites whatsoever, greatly increasing the difficulty of identifying and eradicating infestations. People commonly respond to bed bug infestations and their bites with anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Development of refractory delusional parasitosis is common, as victims develop an overwhelming obsession with bed bugs. Individuals may also develop skin infections and scars from scratching the bed bug bite locations.
Most patients who are placed on systemic corticosteroids to treat the itching and burning often associated with bed bug bites find that the lesions are poorly responsive to this method of treatment. Antihistamines have been found to reduce itching in some cases, but they do not affect the appearance and duration of the lesions. Topical corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone, have been reported to resolve the lesions expediently and decrease the associated itching.
Victims may relieve itching and inflammation for several hours by using a blowdryer or hot washcloth to heat the area of the bite. Many patients experience temporary relief of itching and inflammation with the application of hot water. The water temperature should be about 50 °C (120 °F), or this procedure may aggravate the symptoms. To avoid scalding the skin, this treatment should only be self-administered.