Bed Bug Bites & Health Hazards

Bed Bugs Do Not Carry Diseases

Mention bed bugs and most people panic. Understandably so. At their rate of reproduction, a home can quickly become infested and getting ride of them is difficult and can be costly. However, unlike mosquitoes and fleas, there is no existing evidence that bed bugs transmit diseases.

Bed bugs do however cause health consequences. Most often a bed bug bite only results in reddening, swelling, itching, and sometimes blistering. But many people have allergic reactions to the bite that can lead to a severe whole-body reaction in very rare cases. Particularly due to scratching, bites can lead to secondary infections. Because of emotional reactions, bed bug bites can cause anxiety and insomnia.

It is important to note that other insects and bug bites can cause similar reactions, so sometimes it is hard to differentiate the bite of a bed bug unless other evidence linking it to bed bug infestation exists. If you suspect you are being bitten, begin a search for bed bugs.

How Bed Bugs Bite

Bed bugs suck blood. That is their only diet. They are nocturnal and hunt for hosts at night while people are sleeping. They are attracted to carbon dioxide. Since humans breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide giving bed bugs evidence that blood targets are nearby. The will bite any exposed body parts.

The feed by piercing the skin with a beak-like tube resembling a very tiny hypodermic needle searching for small blood veins near the surface. The same bed bug make pierce the skin in several places looking for just the right vein source. When they “bite”, the bug injects saliva that contains an anesthetic and an anticoagulant. The anesthetic effect prevents the sleeping-host from feeling the injection while the anticoagulant thins the blood at that spot to make sucking the blood easier. It takes 5 to 10 minutes to become engorged.

After “dining”, the bed bug will scurry off to its hiding place. Generally a bed bug will feed every 4 to 5 days, but can actually go months without feeding if it must. People have differing reactions to the bite. In some cases, symptoms may not appear at all. Some will be immediately evident when the host awakes and in some cases the redness, swelling and itching may take several days to notice. Rubbing alcohol and/anti-itching ointments will generally subside the symptoms.