Bed bugs are biting insects that feed on the blood of people while they sleep.
Bed bugs can bite only one person in a group of people sharing a bedroom. They rarely bite pets.
If they are not exterminated, they reproduce and spread rapidly. When their numbers grow, bed bugs become a nuisance. This constitutes an infestation. The effects of a bed bug infestation can have very significant consequences on the health and quality of people’s lives.
Bed bug bites are often numerous on the skin. Bites are found mostly on parts of the body not covered when sleeping, such as arms, shoulders, back, stomach and legs.
Symptoms caused by bed bug bites can vary from one person to another. Some people have no reactions at all to the bites. Others may have more severe reactions, such as hives or a more intense allergic reaction.
The main symptoms are the following:
- Red lumps similar to those caused by mosquito bites
- Itching that can at times be very intense and uncomfortable. The intensity of the itching is more pronounced early in the morning but subsides as the day progresses
Bed bugs do not transmit any illnesses to persons bitten.
When to seek medical help
You can seek medical help if the itching is extremely uncomfortable or if you develop significant skin reactions such as:
- Allergic reaction
- Blisters on the skin
- Swelling of the skin
- Intense redness of the skin
- Hot and painful skin
To relieve itching, follow these tips:
- Try not to scratch yourself
- Wash your skin with fresh water and a mild, unscented skin soap
- If the itching persists, see a doctor. You will be prescribed, as needed, an antiseptic lotion, a cream or antihistamines to relieve you
Should your skin not be bitten again, traces left by the bed bug bites disappear after a few hours or within a few days without treatment.
Persistent scratching due to itching can sometimes result in skin infections.
A bed bug infestation must be dealt with immediately. Failure to do so can have significant consequences on quality of life. For instance, people that are victims of an infestation may experience the following:
- Problems sleeping
Protection and prevention
Last update: June 22, 2020