It seems a lot of people are getting bitten by bed bugs. Fortunately these insects are not dangerous as they don’t carry any diseases. Some people are allergic to the saliva and will break out in a rash or have localized itching. Occasionally a flat welt or raised bump will appear which are actually skin lesions. Sometimes the lesions can be found in clusters or in a linear pattern. Normally they go away in a week or two. Bites usually occur on exposed areas of the skin when a person is sleeping. The hands, arms and legs are commonly fed on as well as the torso if there are no clothes on the person. Occasionally on the neck or face. As mentioned, mostly these bites are insignificant, but some people have more pronounced symptoms such as a skin infection from intense scratching on the skin. Rarely a more severe allergic reaction may develop and some people develop insomnia and anxiety from repeated bites. Unless the insect is found, it is very difficult to diagnose a bed bug bite as they appear similar to the bites of other insects.
If you get bitten by bed bugs, here are a few things you can do to reduce the itching or pain. Wash the bitten areas with soap and water and then make a thick, sticky paste with water and baking soda. Thick enough that it will stay on the bitten area. Let the paste settle till it is completely dry and then wait an hour so and wash the paste off and pat the area dry.
You can also use astringents like Witch Hazel, St. John’s Wort and Lemon Juice. They all work by removing the itching sensation. You can also use the gel from an Aloe plant to treat the bites. The gel contains anti-fungal and antibiotic properties that work very well. Just trim a tip and apply the exposed area to the bitten area. If you want, you can take a bath with peppermint oil. Fill the tub with bath water and then add a half cup of peppermint oil to relieve the itching.
Why are bed bugs so numerous now? There are several things to consider. First is that they can develop a resistance to pesticides, particularly synthetic pyrethroids, which many pest control companies use. This is especially important in apartment complexes where bed bugs will get sprayed, not die but just spread throughout the building. This also happens in university dormitories. Bed bugs will also hitchhike when people travel and move from a hotel to a person’s home.
We also have to consider whether they are really more common now than before. Because of the internet, mass media, social media, etc., any time a bed bug is found, it makes the news. Years ago, before all this media, they never made the news and they may have been almost as prevalent then as they are now.
To put it in perspective, they are not dangerous. If you made a list of the 100 most dangerous insects on the planet, bed bugs wouldn’t make the list.