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You are here: Home > Health Risks of Bed Bugs > Bed Bug Bites
Bed Bug Bites Photo - Cimex Lectularius BitesWhen bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from feeling the bite.  Because bites usually occur while people are sleeping, most people do not realize they have been bitten until marks appear.  Signs and symptoms of bed bug bites vary by individual.  Some victims may show no visible signs of bed bug bites, while others may show bite marks similar to that of a mosquito or a flea - a slightly swollen and red area or prominent welts, along with intense itching that may last several days.  Symptoms may not appear until some days after the bites have occurred.
 
Reactions often become more intense after multiple bites due to sensitivities and allergic reactions to the saliva of the bed bug.  Numerous bites may lead to a rash.  The most common areas for bed bug bites to be found are the shoulders and legs as they are more frequently exposed at night.
 

Some victims may show no sign of bed bug bites, while others may show bite marks.
Symptoms from bed bug bites include allergic reactions and bacterial skin infections.

 
Serious infestations and chronic attacks can cause anxiety, stress, and insomnia.  Development of delusional parasitosis is possible as a person develops an overwhelming obsession with bed bugs.  Sufferers of delusional parasitosis may feel the sensation of "bugs" crawling on or under their skin, even when in reality no parasites are present. 
 
Bed Bug Bites Photo - Cimex Lectularius BitesA number of other symptoms may occur from either the bite of the bed bugs or from their exposure. Anaphylaxis, a life threatening allergic reaction from the injection of serum and other nonspecific proteins, has been rarely documented.  Bacterial skin infections may occur due to skin break down from scratching.  Systemic poisoning may occur if the bites are numerous.  Exposure to bed bugs may trigger an asthma attack via the effects of airborne allergens.
 
There is no evidence that bed bugs transmit infectious diseases, however they are known to carry 28 agents of human disease including viruses, bacteria, and parasitic worms. 
 
Infestation is rarely due to a lack of hygiene.  Everyone is at risk for bed bugs bites when visiting an infested area.  However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has an increased risk for being bitten and for spreading a bed bug infestation.
 
These insects feed exclusively on blood and may survive for a year without feeding.  They are attracted by body warmth and carbon dioxide. Transference to new places is usually in the personal effects of the human they feed upon.
 
Treatment of bed bug bites requires keeping the person from being repeatedly bitten and possible symptomatic use of antihistamines and corticosteroids (either topically or systemically).  Symptoms usually resolve without treatment in 1–2 weeks.  Avoiding repeated bites can be difficult, since it usually requires eradicating bed bugs from a home or workplace.  Mechanical approaches, such as vacuuming up the insects, heat treating, or encasing mattresses, have been recommended.
 
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