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You don't always bring back nice souvenirs from your vacation, but occasionally a bug or two. However, these are not just any bugs, but blood-sucking specimens of the species Cimex lectularius - better known as house or bed bugs. An infestation is not easy to recognize, especially since the bedbug bite is difficult to distinguish from other insect bites. You can use these characteristics and symptoms to identify the annoying pests.
The unequivocal identification of the bites is also so difficult because people react very differently to them. An estimated one fifth of those affected do not even notice a bug infestation because they neither feel the bite nor experience any skin reactions to it. Others develop swollen redness, possibly with itching, or even severe allergic reactions. The latter, however, are very rare. However, there are a few similarities:
- pain free
- Bite is expressed by round reddening
- very red
- are sometimes, but not always, swollen
- occasionally wheals form
- Bugs always bite multiple times
- clear indication: Wanzenstrasse
- only uncovered parts of the body
Since the bug hides during the day and only attacks its sleeping victims at night, the bites go unnoticed at first - especially since the insects secrete an anesthetic so you don't feel the puncture. In search of a suitable blood vessel, the little animals bite more often, mostly in the immediate vicinity of the first attempt. This often - not always - results in a row of bite marks, which is also known as bedbugs and is a clear indication of an infestation with bedbugs.
notice: Because bed bugs don't have a stinger, they don't bite. Ergo, it is actually a bite and not a sting.
Skin reactions after a bug bite
During their nocturnal meal, the bedbug only visits uncovered areas of clothing or blankets, so the bedbug bites are often on the limbs. In principle, however, any part of the body can be affected. After the bite, the bite site starts to itch after some time, whereby the itch can be compared to that of a mosquito bite and can last up to a week.
Treat the stings with suitable remedies from the pharmacy - we will present a few of them below in the article - and try them not to scratch. Scratching can cause skin inflammation and other infections, the doctor speaks of secondary infections, as this allows germs to get into the wounds.
Differentiation from other insect bites
Bedbugs are very difficult to recognize by their bites, since the relevant tracks are very similar to the bite and sting marks of other insects. This is why you are given an overview of the typical characteristics and symptoms of other common insect bites here, so that it is easier for you to distinguish between them and, if in doubt, you can take countermeasures more quickly.
Flea bites and bedbug bites are virtually indistinguishable from each other as both have very similar symptoms. Fleas also bite repeatedly, and the swelling and reddening of the bite are the same as bedbugs. Distinctions can only be made about the time of a bite, because fleas also bite during the day and are not limited to the night.
If you have a dog or cat, if you have any suspicious marks, check for fleas first - they are far more common than bed bugs, making a flea infestation more likely. But not only animal owners are affected, because the pests can also get to you via wild birds and other wild animals - for example squirrels. With their strong jumping legs, the tiny creatures can jump up to 50 centimeters.
Mosquitoes are widespread nuisances that make life difficult especially near water bodies - even a small garden pond is sufficient for this - and on warm summer nights. Externally, the bites of mosquitoes and bugs differ in the following features:
- Formation of swellings two to five millimeters in size
- localized and slightly reddened to whitish
- no blood spot in the middle
- immediately itchy
- not painful
As a rule, mosquito bites, unlike bedbug bites, only occur sporadically, unless you have a whole mosquito invasion in your bedroom and, as a result, several bites.
You don't always notice a tick bite as long as the tick is still on the skin. Sometimes only a coin-sized, flat reddening remains, which testifies to the bloodsucker. Unlike bug bites, tick bites are not swollen or itchy. Therefore, they can be identified comparatively well.
tip: But be careful: Since ticks can transmit serious diseases, as soon as the redness spreads and the characteristic white ring forms around it, see a doctor immediately. This can be an indication of Lyme disease, which must be treated with a special course of antibiotics.
Is a bug bite dangerous?
Contrary to some reports to the contrary, bed bug bites do not pose any danger. Although scientific studies have been able to detect the pathogens of diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C or even the HI virus in the animals - after all, they ingest them with their nightly blood meal - transmission is unlikely, however, since the pathogens are in the bug not multiply themselves. As a result, a bug bite is considered unpleasant, but is not dangerous to health.
Other symptoms of a bug infestation
Since a bed bug infestation cannot be determined without a doubt based on the rather unspecific bite marks, you must consult other symptoms for identification. These include:
- Traces of feces in the bed linen
- Traces of blood on the sheets
- dead bed bugs
- Nymph skins as remains after pupation
- Smell reminiscent of coriander (rare, only with very severe infestation!)
On the other hand, you will most likely not see the live animals, as they hide in small cracks and hiding places during the day and only come out at night. They are about the size of a ladybug, oval in shape and solid brown. In addition, bed bugs are very flat, only after a blood meal do they swell to several times their actual body size.
Note: bed bugs are not only a souvenir from holiday accommodation with questionable hygiene, but can also be transmitted by bats and birds. The little animals often appear on sparrows, pigeons and domestic poultry.
Treat bed bug bites properly
If the itching bothers you, you can relieve it with various home remedies and medicines. For example, the following are suitable for this:
- Cool with clear water or a cooling pad
- Fenistil gel (pharmacy)
- cooling cream or gel with aloe vera
- Alternatively, cut open an aloe vera leaf and place it on the bite site
- low-dose and non-prescription cream with cortisone or hydrocortisone (pharmacy)
In the rare case of an allergic reaction, it is advisable to see a doctor who will relieve the symptoms with the help of antihistamines.