The bed bug has reemerged as a worldwide pest. Usually between midnight and 5 am, the bugs creep out from their hiding place, burrow under your bedding and bite your sensitive skin. After only a few nights you may be covered in itchy red welts and lesions that can last for up to 14 days.
Understanding the Bed Bug Bite
Every time a bed bug bites a victim, it injects an anesthetic into the wound, so they don’t feel the bug consuming their blood. A single bug will bite two or three times in a row and drink up to six times its body weight in one feeding. In a heavy infestation, it is possible to sustain hundreds of bites without ever waking up.
Are Bed Bugs a Health Threat?
Bed bugs are not known to spread disease and for the most part, their bites are just itchy and irritating. However, each person reacts differently:
- Secondary infections can occur from bed bug bites in some circumstances.
- Bed bug bites can cause severe reactions in some individuals. Anaphylaxis, which is a severe and often fatal reaction has been noted in some cases.
- Mental health issues can arise in those who have experienced an infestation. Even after the bed bugs are eradicated, individuals can suffer from anxiety, systemic reactions, and insomnia.
Treating a Bed Bug Bite
If you encounter bed bug bites you should wash the lesions with soap and water and apply ice to help soothe and control the itching. A tropical or oral antihistamine can also help relieve the incessant itching.
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Bed Bug Bite Infection
For the most part, bed bug bites will disappear in a matter of days however it is possible for them to become infected and require a topical or oral antibiotic. Symptoms of an infected bed bug bite include:
- Tenderness when palpitated
- Feels warm to the touch
- Spots or red streaks might develop
- Dimpling of the skin
Anaphylaxis and Bed Bug Bites
In rare cases, bed bug bites can bring on anaphylaxis in sensitive individuals which is life-threatening. If you start to exhibit the following symptoms, seek emergency medical attention:
- Trouble breathing
- Heart palpitations
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
- Reduced blood pressure
Dangers of Bed Bug Bites to Children
Little ones are driven by instinct and automatically want to scratch if something itches. However, excessive scratching on delicate skin can cause scratches and scarring. In addition, children’s fingernails are a source of bacteria and scratching can allow the bacteria to invade the wound and a secondary infection to occur.
Mental Trauma from Bed Bug Bites
Bed bugs are scary. People can be relentlessly attacked while they sleep without ever seeing an insect. During the day, it is common for victims to suffer anxiety attacks. In many cases, people start to experience delusional parasitosis, a mental condition where the sufferer hallucinates bugs crawling on them. In addition, they may start seeing bugs all around them. Insomnia can also become an issue. With little sleep and bouts of serious anxiety, the sufferer often becomes unable to focus throughout the day causing other negative consequences.
Can Bed Bugs Transmit Virus or Disease?
The ability of bed bugs to transmit virus’ and diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) , Hepatitis B, and Chaggas among others, has long been a fear. Although bed bugs have been shown to carry these illnesses, at this time no evidence of transmission to humans has been found. While bed bugs can cause various physical and mental trauma, at least this is one area the nightmare falls short.
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