Bed bug bite: photo, pimple, or mosquito?

Small blackheads in bed, restless sleep, red pimples on the skin, itching… You may be a victim of bed bugs. How to recognize their bites? What treatments? Duration ? What are the differences with a mosquito bite?

[Mise à jour le 6 juin 2022 à 10h25] Eradicated in the 1950s, bed bugs have recolonized the places of life. The bed bug, or Cimex Lectularius, is the insect species best adapted to human environments. Those are insects visible to the naked eye, which are 5 to 8 mm longbut that we do not see during the day. “When they have infested a house, you don’t see them right away: they live hidden in little nests, under the parquet floor, under the carpetin hollows in the walls, sometimes in the mattress… You can’t find them, and they move very fast,” begins Stéphane Gayet, infectiologist. “These bugs are very primitive : at night, when everyone is sleeping, they suddenly come out and bite us and suck our blood“, he explains. If you don’t feel them, it’s because at the time of the bite, they inject their saliva who has power anesthetic and anticoagulant. But 1 to 2 hours later appear itching and red marks on the skin kinda like a mosquito bite. How to recognize a bed bug bite? Is it dangerous on the face? How long do symptoms last? What can I do to stop it scratching? Focus and advice from an infectious disease specialist.

Why do bed bugs bite?

Bed bugs feed on human blood, which is why they bite humans. Through her saliva, she injects analgesic products, anticoagulants and vasodilators, thus facilitating the bite. They only bite at night.

Frequency: can you be bitten several times or only once?

Bites usually come from three or four on the same area of ​​skin and often on uncovered areas of the body (arms, legs, back). They appear grouped or aligned. Also, a bedbug that was disturbed during its bite will bite again. They can sting up to 90 times in one night!

How long does a bedbug bite last?

Generally speaking, pimples occur approximately 10 to 30 minutes after the bedbug bite. Bed bug bite pimple remains between 3 to 5 days sometimes up to 10 days.

photo of a bed bug bite
Photo of bed bug bites © 123RF-Otto Pleska

Bedbug bites can be mistaken for mosquito bites : “They look like bloody red bumpswhich may itch, but are usually painless”, describes the specialist. In general, all bites are grouped at the same location. In people who are allergic to histamine, a substance released by bed bugs, they can cause unbearable itching, inflammation, even edema or respiratory problems. If nothing is done, the bed bugs will multiply and there will be more and more bites.

Causes: What Attracts Bed Bugs?

The presence of bedbugs reveals a maintenance problem, immediately explains the specialist. But they can also be brought : bedbugs can travel in our suitcases over very long distances by hiding in our clothes, then invading our homes. “So you have to be careful when you stay in a hotel or an AirBnb”, recommends the specialist. Of the signs can alert us regarding the presence of bedbugs in a hotel: blackheads in bed, restless sleep and bloody bites on our body are the three signs to recognize. Some countries have admitted to having bed bug infestations, such as the United States and Canada, and because of the many travelers, bed bugs are spreading more and more in France.

By dint of scratching, you can get a staph infection

What diseases can cause a bed bug bite?

It is recognized that bedbugs are not not effective virus transmitters, and that no disease is directly related to them. The most important problem is not the transmission of diseases, but is the risk of infections : “By dint of scratching, you can have a staphylococcus infection for example”, explains the infectiologist. In case of allergies, you should consult your doctor to be prescribed a cream or antihistamines.

Blackheads in the bed, restless sleep and bloody bites are the 3 signs to recognize.

Are bed bug bites dangerous if you are pregnant?

Bedbugs do not transmit diseases, there is a priori no risk. Nevertheless, it is necessary disinfect the bite well and above all, do not scratch.

bed bug house
Places where bedbugs hide in the house © Ministry of Health

What treatment for bed bug bites?

“No specific treatment for humans is indicated for bed bug bites.explains Tina Géréral, Pharmacist. It’s important to clean the wound well and avoid scratching to limit the risk of superinfection. If you suffer from persistent itching, consult your doctor who can prescribe a cream to relieve you. It is always better not to scratch so as not to over-infect the lesions. Then you have to change the sheets, look to see if you can see droppings in the sheets, under the mattress or under the box spring, to identify the infection. If it is certain that it is bedbugs, it is necessary to treat the accommodation. Specialized companies can intervene and use toxic sprayers or fumigators.

► Bed linen, clothes must be vacuumed, washed at high temperature (60° or more) and mattresses, curtains and carpets steam cleaned at more than 120°.

► When possible, freeze items (especially children’s comforters) for 72 hours at -20°C. Bedbugs are not resistant to extreme temperatures”, recommends the pharmacist.

Thanks to Tina Géréral, pharmacist and Stéphane Gayet, infectiologist.

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