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Bed Bug Bite

Definition

  • Bites from bed bugs

Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites

  • Usually cause itchy, red bumps in a group or line
  • Often they look like a hive or mosquito bite
  • Bite may have a red dot (puncture) in the center. This is where the bed bug bit through the skin.
  • Occasionally, a small blister can occur in the center
  • Bites are usually on exposed skin (arms, legs and face)
  • Bites are usually first noted in the morning

Diagnosis of Bed Bug Bites

  • Live bed bugs hide and are not usually seen. Close inspection of the mattress may find some.
  • They are ¼ inch (6 mm), flat, oval shaped, reddish-brown bugs.
  • Suspect bed bugs if over 3 red bumps in a row are on exposed skin. The bumps or bites are very itchy.
  • Bed bug waste is found on bedding or mattress seams. It looks like dark brown flecks or coffee grounds.
  • A blood stain on the sheet may sometimes be found. This is from a bug smashed after feeding.

Cause of Bed Bug Bite Reactions

  • The skin bumps are the body's reaction to the bug's saliva.
  • While the bug is sucking blood, some of its secretions get mixed in.
  • Bed bugs are small visible blood-sucking bugs. They are about ¼ inch (6 mm) in length.
  • During the day, bed bugs hide in the corners of mattresses. They may also be found in bed crevices, floors, and walls.
  • At night, the bed bugs come out of hiding. They feed on humans for about 5 minutes.

Prevention of Getting Bed Bugs

  • Over half of bed bug infestations within homes start after recent travel.
  • Avoid hotels and hostels where bed bugs have been reported. (see bedbugregistry.com)
  • When you check into a hotel room, look for signs of bed bugs. Look for flecks of their waste (like coffee grounds) in the bedding and mattress. If present, ask for another room.
  • Keep your luggage and clothing on a luggage rack off the floor.
  • When you return from a trip, place all travel clothing into the clothes dryer. Run the dryer for 20 minutes. (Reason: The heat will kill any bed bugs or their eggs that are present). One pregnant bed bug can spread bed bugs to an entire house.

Frequent Questions (FAQs)

  • Can bed bugs transmit HIV or hepatitis? This is highly unlikely. It has never been reported.
  • Do bed bugs like dirt? Not really. What bed bugs like is the warmth of the human body. Dirty and cluttered spaces just give bed bugs a place to hide.
  • Are bed bugs too small to be seen? No. You can see adult bed bugs. They are about the size of an apple seed (4-7 mm; ¼ inch).
  • Are bed bugs scared of the light? They do prefer darkness. But keeping the light on will not stop bed bugs from biting you.

When To Call

Call 911 Now

  • Life-threatening allergic reaction suspected. Symptoms include sudden onset of trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Spreading red area or streak with fever
  • Spreading red area or streak that's very large
  • Your child looks or acts very sick

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Painful spreading redness started more than 24 hours after the bite. (Note: Any redness starting in the first 24 hours is a reaction to the bite)
  • More than 48 hours since the bite and redness gets larger
  • You think your child needs to be seen

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Severe itching not better after 24 hours of steroid cream
  • Scab that looks infected (drains pus or gets bigger) not better with antibiotic ointment
  • After 7 days, bites not better
  • After 14 days, bites not gone
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Normal bed bug bite

Care Advice

  1. What You Should Know About Bed Bug Bites:
    • Bed bug bites cause itchy red bumps.
    • They are usually less than ½ inch (12 mm) in size.
    • Some are larger (like a hive). These are normal reactions to a bed bug.
    • A large hive does not mean your child has an allergy.
    • The redness does not mean the bite is infected.
    • Bed bugs do not carry any infectious diseases.
    • Don't panic: You can get rid of bed bugs from your home.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Steroid Cream for Itching:
    • To reduce the itching, use 1% hydrocortisone cream (such as Cortaid). No prescription is needed.
    • Apply 3 times a day until the itch is gone.
    • If you don't have, apply a baking soda paste until you can get some.
  3. Allergy Medicine For Itching:
    • If the bite is still itchy, try an allergy medicine by mouth.
    • Benadryl is a good one. No prescription is needed.
  4. Try Not to Scratch:
    • Cut the fingernails short.
    • Help your child not to scratch.
    • Reason: Prevent a skin infection at the bite site.
  5. Bed Bug Repellents - Not Helpful:
    • Insect repellents do not keep bed bugs from biting.
    • Repellents containing DEET (used on skin) and permethrin (used on clothing) do not help.
  6. Removing Bed Bugs from Your Home:
    • Getting rid of bed bugs requires a licensed pest control service.
    • Look in the phone book or on the internet under Pest Control.
  7. What to Expect:
    • Any pinkness or redness usually lasts 3 days.
    • The swelling may last 7 days.
    • The itch may last for 2 weeks.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Bite looks infected (redness gets larger after 48 hours)
    • Large red bumps last more than 7 days
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

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