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Posts Tagged "bug bites"

How Bed Bug Bite Reactions Differ

Bed bugs affect people in a number of ways, but perhaps the most important are various skin reactions and allergic reactions. True allergic reactions are rare from bed bug bites, and anaphylactic shock is even rarer; however, people often claim that severe bite reactions are allergic (but sometimes this is not the case). The presence of itchy, red bumps, and even blood blisters, are more common. This brief article attempts to classify in laymen’s terms the various reactions resulting from bed bug bites. Actually, the most common response to a bed bug bite appears to be no skin reaction at all, with a barely visible tiny hole (punctum) at the location of the bite. Research studies have shown that anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of people bitten by bed bugs have no reaction whatsoever. Common skin reactions for which medical attention is sought are usually 2- to 5-mm itchy red spots at bed bug feeding sites, one per insect. These usually itch, and if not abraded, resolve within a week or so. The size and itchiness associated with these common reactions may increase in some individuals who experience repeated bites. I have known several people who said bed bug bite reactions are extremely itchy. Complex Skin Reactions. Some patients may experience complex skin reactions. Reports of these have included itchy wheals (local urticarial or hives) around a central punctum, itchy small red bumps, or diffuse hives at bite sites usually noted or arising in the morning. Blister-like rashes may occur upon new biting events days later. In some cases, these reactions evolve into itchy papules or nodules (hard bumps) that when scratched may become infected (impetiginous) and persist for weeks. These “secondary infections” from scratching bed bug bites can become quite serious and require medical care. The timing of cutaneous reactions to bed bugs may change with multiple exposures. This appears to reflect host immunological responses to the proteins in bed bug saliva. In other words, the person is becoming more sensitized to the bites each time. One of the original bed bug researchers, Robert Usinger, fed a colony of bed bugs on himself weekly for seven years and noted that his reactions progressed from delayed to immediate,...

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