All About Bed Bug Bites
Waking up with red bumps on your arm?
When first calling a pest control company, homeowners almost always mention waking up with bites as a reason for their suspicions and worries. Most of the time, homeowners are very ignorant of bites to begin with and don't understand that a bed bug treatment is not a random procedure done for any skin lesions you may be waking up with. This blog post aims to educate on some of the interesting points about bites, address misidentifcation issues, and finally, encourage bed bug inspections before jumping to treatments, if you are waking up with skin reactions. This blog post is a summary of the full article on the Pest Solution Services' Bed Bug 101 blog series. You can read it by following this link: All About Bed Bug Bites.
Mouth & Saliva
The bite from the beginning: a bed bug, like many creatures, uses its mouth. However, the bed bug mouth parts, unlike many creatures, are needle-like parts. When it punctures your skin, your body's immune system responds to the saliva of the bed bug - which contains 40+ proteins. As a consequence to the severity of your body's response, various types of skin reactions ranging from small red bumps to bullae, may occur.
Will You Always See A Bump?
There are two types of individuals: those that react to the bed bug bites, reactive individuals (they make up anywhere from 30% to 90% of the poulation), and those that do not react to the bites: non-reactive individuals (usually the elderly). Therefore, depending on how your immune system reacts to the saliva of the bed bugs, you might see signs and skin reactions varying from unalarming to extreme dermatological issues. Among these signs are the "red bumps" but also:
- itchiness at place of bites
- a punctum at the center of skin lesions (this is the place where the bed bug inserted its needle mouth-parts)
- bullae breakouts
Do Bed Bugs Transmit Disease?
A common question when any blood sucking insect is involved: Does it transmit diseases?
Current study of the matter indicates that in common field situations, bed bugs do not transmit disease. Although it has been proven that bed bugs transmit pathogens in lab environments, these studies are very few in number and their conclusions are highly debated due to consistent results in natural situations that are contrary to what the studies observe. What you should know, however, are 3 main points:
1) Bed bugs do not transmit HIV; there is insufficient evidence to suggest this
2) Bed bugs do not transmit Hepatitis B; there is practically a negligible chance of transmission in a common house infestation
3) Bed bugs may transmit Trypanosoma cruzi (causes the Chagas disease)
All above finidings and conclusions in this section are based on writings and research from the well-known source: Advances in the Biology and Management of Modern Bed Bugs published by Wiley.
Misidentifaction Of Bed Bug Bites
Various different dermatological reactions can be misidentified as bed bug bites. The most notorious case here in Toronto, Canada, has been homeowners with allergic reactions to carpet beetle larvae hairs. Many homeowners report bed bug bites or wish for a treatment, but the matter cannot just be solved with haste. Bed bug inspections revealed that these homeowners needed a simple solution to fight carpet beetles and not bed bugs.
Building upon that: no one should assume a bed bug infestation due to the presence of "bites". A bed bug inspection (looking for evidences: fecal matter, eggs, exoskeleton, etc.) from a pest control company (or atleast a thorough inspection by yourself) is the first step to properly ascertaining whether the "bites" are actually due to bed bugs, or some other issue.
 Figures and findings based on writings and research from Advances in the Biology and Management of Modern Bed Bugs
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