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Bed bugs | American Academy of Dermatology

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Bed bug bites: When bedbugs bite, you often see clusters of bites. Each cluster usually contains 3 to 5 bites that appear in a zigzag pattern. How do you know if you have bed bugs?

To find out if you have bed bugs, you need to look for two things:

Bites on your body: If you have bed bugs, youre likely to have bites. Bed bug bites usually cause itchy welts. These welts usually appear in a zigzag pattern as show in the photo above.

Youll seldom see bed bugs, so many people mistakenly believe that mosquitos, fleas, or spiders bit them. Sometimes people mistakebed bug bites for a common skin condition such as an itchy rash, hives, or chickenpox.

To make sure you have bed bugs, youll need to look for signs of bed bugs.

Although bed bugs dont usually require serious medical attention, they can cause a great deal of anxiety and restless nights. To help find bed bugs before they find you (and your belongings), dermatologists recommend looking for the following signs near places where you sleep.

Signs of bed bugs: This step is important. If you have abed bug infestation, you need to find out so that you can get rid of the bed bugs. Getting rid of the bed bugs is the only way to stop the bites.

If you have a large number of bed bugs, you may see the bugs. Most people, however, only see signs of bed bugs. To look for signs of bed bugs, check the places that people sleep for the following:

If you do get bed bugs and have many bites or a bite that looks infected, see a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can treat an infection and help relieve the itch.

If you see bed bugs, they will likely scurry toward the closest hiding place. Any dark place such as inside a mattress or even a picture frame makes a good hiding place.

As you watch bed bugs move, it can look like they are flying or jumping because they can crawl quickly. Bed bugs cannot fly or jump; they can only crawl.

If you find signs of bed bugs, call a pest-control company or your property manager. You should not use bug spray or a fogger. These products have little effect on bed bugs.

You should see a dermatologist for treatment if you have:

Your dermatologist may prescribe the following to treatbed bug bites:

Allergic reaction: Some people may require an injection of an antihistamine, corticosteroid, or epinephrine (adrenaline) for a severe allergic reaction.

Infection: An infection may require an antibiotic. If the infection is mild, your dermatologist may recommend an antiseptic medication that you can buy without a prescription. Your dermatologist will tell you which one to use. Your dermatologist also may recommend an antiseptic to prevent a skin infection.

Itch: A prescription antihistamine pill or liquid can help. You also can apply a corticosteroid to the bites. Your dermatologist will tell you which is best for you.

If you do not have any signs of an infection or a serious reaction, you can often treat the bites at home.

To treatbed bug bites:

Bed bugbites usually heal and go away within a week or two.

ReferencesLeverkus M et al. Bullous Allergic Hypersensitivity to Bed bug Bites Mediated by IgE against Salivary Nitrophorin. J of Invest Dermatol. 2006;126:2364-2366.

Liebold K et al. Disseminated bullous eruption with systemic reaction caused by Cimex lectularius. J Euro Acad of Dermat and Vener. 2003;17:461-463.

Steen CJ, Carbonaro PA, Schwartz RA. Arthropods in dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol 2004; 50:819-42.

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Bed bugs | American Academy of Dermatology

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