Lingering sensations, phantom bed bug bites: what does a bed bug infestation really do to our skin?

by nobugsonme on March 16, 2007 · 76 comments

in bed bug bites, bed bug research, bed bugs, bed bugs and real estate, other causes of itching, pesticides, signs and symptoms of bed bugs

Disclaimer: This post is speculative: I don’t understand this phenomenon, or what causes it, but I thought we should talk about it anyway. Having read some pretty weird stuff on the web about bed bugs and other pests, I want to assure you that we Bedbuggers are scientifically-minded. With that in mind, the following describes sensations some of us have experienced and possible explanations from scientific sources.

Please do not adjust your set– the site is not hosted by a 1970’s Leonard Nimoy and I will not be blogging about the Loch Ness Monster tomorrow. We want rational, researched, peer-reviewed information on the after effects of bed bug bites, and causes of sensations we’re experiencing. However, until we get that (remember, bed bug entomologists have their hands and brains tied up right now with the whole killing-the-monsters business), we have to share information amonst ourselves. Entomologists and doctors are encouraged to share their input and I’d love sources on this. But be warned, non-sufferers may just not get this one.

On another thread, Hopelessnomo’ raised the question of whether it’s possible to feel bites, sense bugs crawling on the skin, and even see “bites” in the absence of bed bugs (I distinguish actual bed bug bites here from “bites” which may or may not have another cause, by use of those quotation marks):

I moved to escape bedbugs. I took extreme precautions. I am fairly certain that I don’t have bedbugs in my new apartment. . . . I moved about 2 months ago. My “bites” (both biting sensations and small nymph-like bites) have only recently begun to fade. I’m sitting here, using the computer at work since I no longer own a computer, and it’s very warm and I feel faint crawling and itching sensations on my arm and back. I’m not sure if this will ever go away. A few weeks ago, I was still feeling what I call the “memory” of bites at different times during the day. . . . [The new bites are] Complete with raised bumps and little red dots and all the old manifestations, except that there was a difference in the quality of these sensations that I cannot articulate that allowed me . . . to believe that they were not new bites.

I did a bit of snipping for space, but you get the idea. What could be causing this?

1. Bed bugs. Yeah, we know. It’s improbable in this case, though it is worth taking seriously as the most likely cause in most cases.

2. Old bites that won’t stop itching plus lingering allergies. (Nomo’, are the new bite marks in the same places, or are you breaking out in new “bites”?)

3. Sensitivity to insect by-products touched or ingested. (Eh?) Seriously. This came up on the yahoo Bedbugger group (which is not affiliated with this site, but which you can join by clicking the links in the sidebar under “information and help”). American Museum of Natural History entomologist Lou Sorkin said (9/25/06, message 1358: I can’t link to these but you can join the group and view it),

I know it has been reported for mites [that] shed skins of the mites on a patient’s skin sometime after having been bitten will elicit a similar or indistiguishable “bite” from an early bite.

Though bed bugs are true bugs, and not “mites,” Lou is speculating over whether the same thing may happen with bed bugs as happens with mites. Lou continues:

A researcher who raises bed bugs told me that a person had been bitten and had “typical bites” (bites had been witnessed by the researcher) and later when the patient ate a . . . preparation vitamin D (later found out to have been mixed with crustacean shell derivative called chitin . . . . The patient broke out in “bites” indistinguishable from real bites.

Perhaps chitin–made from shells of unidentified origin (usually it’s shellfish) used in the vitamins caused an allergic reaction in someone who had become very sensitive to chitin in bed bug shells? However, Lou noted in another message that chitin is not supposed to cause reactions, and he speculated that perhaps something else was in the vitamin.

4. On the Leonard Lopate show on NPR (2/3/06), Richard Pollack, Harvard entomologist, and Richard Cooper of Cooper Pest Solutions in NJ (a PCO), discussed how sometimes people who are no longer getting bitten get new “bites” (that is, lesions appear, even in the absence of bed bugs) after bed bugs are gone. A caller to the show reports occasional isolated “bites” three and six months after an infestation. (Possibly, but not likely to be a reinfestation if they wait 3 months to feed.)

Richard Pollack gives as another example of this: a grad student he knows who was exposed to bed bugs in a hotel room, months later experienced “bites,” identical lesions, though she was not exposed to bed bugs in the interim. Granted, how you can be sure you were not exposed to bed bugs–especially if you’re a student living in Boston– is a tricky question! Nevertheless, these “phantom bites” seem to be a phenomenon bed bug researchers are aware of.

Is it an allergy to debris left behind after the infestation? Is it a lingering skin problem caused by months of allergic reactions to bites? Is it your imagination? A reaction to pesticides (which can also cause allergies and reactions)?

5. Some other non-bed-bug-related cause:

There is at least one person who was on the yahoo group who had bites but could find no bed bugs (or other mites). After months of treatment, she finally found out the cause: folliculitis. She never had bed bugs. (I found this out offlist.) It’s just a reminder to rule out everything. However, it’s unlikely that bites which continued after an infestation and a careful move (like Nomo’s) would be caused by something else. Possible, not likely, but I want to throw it out there for others.

Warning: I strongly discourage anyone from assuming their bed bugs are gone and that the bites are just “phantom” bites unless they have really good evidence this is the case. Bed bugs are really hard to get rid of and they can linger a long time; don’t ignore bites unless you have very good reason to think they are gone. Nomo’ didn’t “just move,” Nomo’ went to extreme lengths while moving; “just moving” on its own, and even parting with lots of stuff, is not reason enough to assume you have phantom bites.

Also, don’t panic if you are fighting bed bugs and worry this will never end. This reaction is not experienced by everyone.

That said, does one of these theories explain what’s happening to Nomo’? I’m going to ask Lou to pop in and see this thread if he has time. Perhaps he will have further insight. I welcome your thoughts and any relevant leads. This should probably become a FAQ, but it needs some whittling down.

And let me give another plug for the Leonard Lopate show on NPR, which mentions how hard the bugs are to find, how people can go for months without seeing any bed bugs, as well as how bites do not look the same on every person, or on the same person at different times. NJ PCO Richard Cooper also says they’re seeing infested laundromats. That is so, so something I had in mind: most people in NYC go to laundromats; many leave their laundry (unsealed! unattended! for days! side-by-side with others’ dirty laundry! Arrrggghhh!)

1 hopelessnomo' March 16, 2007 at 9:19 am

This is a delicate subject, isn’t it? It is positively mined.

So, proceeding with caution, no, I don’t think these new “bites” are in new places, but I never really mapped all the locations of my old bites, I just knew the areas of greater concentration and itchiness. My chest is well-covered I’d say and some of these new slight bumps surface there.

I’m almost afraid to recount this other thing. I went to the theater early in my new life, trying to get back to normal and all, and I felt bites during the whole evening. (I understand Alfred Molina is a great stage actor; I have no clue.) The chair was infested or it was in my head? I couldn’t tell the difference! This was incredibly depressing. Of all things, I want my mind back, you know?

A hair falling on my neck the wrong way can make me crazy. When I find it, I feel overwhelming relief.

The allergic reactions that pesticides can cause, perversely, feel like bites and crawling sensations.

Please note that I have found no signs. No debris or feces, no shed skins. I still trust my brain though, it’s been battered but it’s still ticking, and it’s telling me that these are not real bites.

Still, I broke out the DE the other day. The equivalent of crossing your fingers behind your back.

2 S. March 16, 2007 at 9:57 am

Thanks for bringing up this topic! It is exactly what I am trying to answer for myself, right now.

I am fairly certain bedbugs are gone from my apartment, and my PCO agrees. However, I still see some “bites” – I’ve been putting them in quotes too – and so I’ve been thinking they were coming from my car or office. But perhaps I’m wrong and they aren’t bites at all.

I asked about this issue on The Bed Bug Resource – here is part of my question:

“My bites are TINY now. I’ve only had one major welt, which was over two months ago. The vast majority of my bites have been smaller – swell up, itch and burn, but fade in a few days. We saw two live bugs and one dead one in 3.5 months. We treated six times and it appears to have been effective. I still find bites, but in the past few weeks, my bites have literally decreased in size and itchiness, a lot. It seems like every week they get smaller and smaller. And yet, they still appear, regularly, about one every other day. Could these bites be from bedbugs, but my body just doesn’t react the same? Can one become resistant to bedbug bites, so that they cause a teeny fraction of the reaction they once caused? Or might these be old bites flaring up again? I’m pretty certain many of them are in new places, not the same locations as previous bites. Could this be something else?”

The folks on that site gave me some helpful responses, which I will paraphrase.

“Two possibilities exist. One is that you are building up an immunity, but I don’t hear much about built-up immunity to bug bites. The other possibility is that you don’t have any bugs left (or very few), and the old bites are flaring up every few days, but the reaction is lessening. I have seen “delayed” reactions numerous times in the field and I’ve heard of many people dealing with them.”

Thanks to JWhite27 for that response.

“Another possibility is that the bugs are gone, and what you are seeing are normal imperfections of the skin, like clogged pores, abrasions, rash, etc, combined with a mental association with bedbugs…I personally raise bedbugs, and the only way to feed them is on me. I regularly see small red dots, small bumps, etc. on my skin but in places where I know I have not fed the bugs. I never noticed them before, but then again I never really had cause to look.”

Thanks to Sean for that response.

I guess that still leaves me wondering. I know that I never used to have spots swell up on my skin before. While many of mine have been in the same general areas, only one has been in the exact same spot (that I’m aware of – and I keep a detailed record of my bites AND my “bites”).

I have often wondered if the bugs biting me in one place can leave some sort of reaction, in other parts of my body, after they are gone. It’s like when you get a mosquito bite on one upper arm, and then you notice the exact same one on the opposite arm. I have heard that this second one can be an allergic reaction, something like the body building up its defenses on that spot, but getting the side of your body wrong. Has anyone else ever heard of this?

Thanks for reading my thoughts on this very perplexing matter. I’d love to hear if others experience this delayed reaction, and if they have any other theories on what it could be.

3 WantMySkinBack March 16, 2007 at 10:21 am

HNM: I just had the bed bug sniffing dog’s brother come back here after taking out the bed frame and two chairs that last week she sniffed supposed eggs/live ones on. The brother dog, who is also a sniffer, came into my room and found nothing now. (By the way, I have NEVER seen a bug during this past year of trauma. Saw blood once or twice, saw what I believe to be moult, and saw black specks) I still have the mattress. I am skeptical, because LIKE YOU I get bites…phantom or allergic or whatever, but they are hive like welts that later form into hard round bumps. Anyway…. the dog found nothing. This is after 2 weeks ago doing my “final” spraying in this round of treatment, with “The Kicker” which according to my PCO says is: 6% pyrethrum automatic contact kill, no survivors. I was bitten like a crazy person afterwards. Was I allergic? Is it due to bringing them out excitedly and they’re struggling for that last meal before certain death? I don’t know…. but all I know is I am covered with bites — feeling the odd sensations you feel — and the DOG SAYS NO. The dog found nothing, and supposedly can sniff out a single egg that is even concealed in tupperware….
I would love to get intouch with the people NOBUGS mentioned in her article today, and have a conversation about this…. what the +8&%^ is going on???????

4 Mike Harris March 16, 2007 at 11:41 am

Another thing a small subset of bedbug sufferers may end up dealing with … my skin, when examined very up-close, has red dots on it. Turns out I have something called keratosis pilaris, which is extremely common amongst a lot of adults in their 20s and 30s. More on Wikipedia. However, bedbug sufferers who may not have examined their skin closely prior to their infections may have been, as I was, somewhat concerned about the possible origins of said red dots, even if they really didn’t resemble the welts resulting from bedbug bites …

5 Ihatebedbugs4eva March 16, 2007 at 11:50 am

Ok….WHY does Sean raise bed bugs? Thats just creepy. 🙂

I havent been bitten in many months (and i scratched til it bled, it was that bad), even when i was living with a good sized infestation of the buggers, but still..everytime i feel itchy, before i scratch it i HAVE to see what it is and its never anything.
My home is so dry, and my skin was just really itchy due to being dry. I get the normal bumps in places ive always gotten them, but they never itch.

its so weird how mosquitos or even fleas don’t do this to our heads but bedbugs do! Ill take fleas any day.

Even though i have never had a bug on me while i was awake, i still feel like theyre crawling on me, but how would i knwo what it feels like? I did pick one up the other day off the floor to kill it, and that is the only time one was on me while i was awake (that i was aware of).

This is such an interesting subject

6 nobugsonme March 16, 2007 at 11:50 am

Thanks Mike!

WMSB, I haven’t heard of anyone in the absence of bed bugs getting LARGE welts. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. I just wanted to throw that out for others to leap on if they have.

7 S. March 16, 2007 at 12:30 pm

4eva, Sean raises bedbugs because he is a pioneer in researching bedbugs and methods of controlling them. You can read about him here:

To us, it’s creepy; to many, it’s just science. I am thankful every day for people like Sean – they are seriously saving us. My PCO also keeps a bunch of bedbugs in a jar so he can study them. And they have to eat to live, so he lets them feed on him. Please try to get over your grossed-out reaction, or at least just realize how valuable this research is to people like you and me.

(Though yes, I know, the thought is indeed creepy! Have you watched the CBC video? It’s linked on the right sidebar).

Also, to respond to your other question, one night in January I had a bedbug crawl over my hand. I saw it, but I swear to g-d I didn’t feel it. It was moving so fast that I couldn’t kill it (though I tried), and I could barely even see it but I think it was a nymph. My PCO says that you might feel the adults if they were walking on your skin, but you would be very unlikely to feel the nymphs.

I took this information as a mixed blessing; hooray, that tingling sensation probably isn’t a bedbug, but oh no, if it IS, it’s an adult! Ahh!

8 parakeets March 16, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Here’s something that no one has brought up about bed bug bites: The nature of puncture wounds.

The reason I say this is that I had surgery and more than a year later, long afer I had totally healed, out of the blue some of the spots where the the staples had punctured my skin started to bleed. There was no scab and I wouldn’t have even associated the bleeding spots with the staples except that they were the same width apart as the staple prongs, spaced evenly along the healed scar. The orthopedic surgeon agreed that they were where the staples had been, but he had no idea why they would be bleeding months later.

Puncture wounds obviously do this sometimes. Bed bug bites are puncture wounds.

9 WantMySkinBack March 16, 2007 at 9:01 pm

Nobugs: I am puzzled. The DOG sniffed THIS MORNING March 16th, and the outcome was no more bugs…however….i just found a new welt (a double, side by side) on my right shoulder, that has been covered all day except for the hour that I was on the treadmill from 8-9 am. Huh?? !!! ??? I don’t understand it. Nobugs, do you know of a dermotologist who specifically treats bed bug bites or who can identify them in NYC that I can call?

10 nobugsonme March 16, 2007 at 10:55 pm

WMSB, No, sorry–I don’t have a helpful dermatologist. But someone will. However, it’s my understanding that they can’t diagnose with any certainty that this is bed bugs. If this is now possible maybe someone can explain the test involved. What they can do is rule out other causes.

As far as the skin-covering issue, many of us have bites that occur in places we don’t expose during an infestation–to put it bluntly, most of us dress like we’re sleeping in a tent in the arctic, and many still find bites in places always covered.

Bites can also appear days after they occur. And certainly 2, 4, 8 or 24 hours later, depending on the person. And people react differently at different times.

11 nobugsonme March 16, 2007 at 11:45 pm

Off-topic bonding:

Nomo, Alfred Molina is at his peak in the made for TV drama “Not Without My Daughter” starring Sally Field. (You have to watch it ironically, you understand, especially in today’s political climate.) He’s also good as a burly Russian sailor in the charming 80s film Letter to Brezhnev. Not much of a speaking role, that one. It’s all done with the eyes.
I generally like him on screen, but now I come to think of it, I can’t tell you which films he actually good and actually speaks.

12 beenbedbugged March 17, 2007 at 12:24 am

How many of us ever thought we would find fascination in this subject?

There’s been an ongoing conversation in our home along just these lines, as we prepare to move. We’ve not had any large welt-like bites since the one suspect bite my husband suffered in late December. This bite, after four treatments, triggered another round of spraying, which we have continued until now.

Found suspect spots on the white sheets, which may have been missed before, so we marked them with a Sharpie, and it appears that at least no new spots have been added. It seems that whatever black-spotted dust we drag into the bed is not BB droppings, as I’ve wetted each one I’ve found, and no blood residue appears.

We both obviously obsess about any skin abnormality, and the latest appearance was two perfectly symmetrical bites, one on his left calf, and one on his right. EXACTLY on the same spot on each leg. The idea that this could be his left and right brain getting confused over where to send the “bite” response is really fascinating.

I’ve had a few tiny “bites” appear, with very little itching, and then disappear within hours, or a day at the most.

I do not believe these are bedbug bites, but probably a reaction to the pesticides. These appear at completely new places, so I thought they were not old bites being excited by exposure to chitin. It’s interesting to think that perhaps these phantom bites might actually be appearing at a new location in reaction to chitin, either through ingestion or exposure in some kind of cosmetic. (My facial cream has “ancient sea algae”- sounds chitin-y)

We are still not sure how to handle the move. Have talked with numerous PCOs about getting the house tented and vikaned, but that is out of the question in our little green enclave, apparently. Ok, that’s cool, we’ll deal with it some other way.

We’re thinking about moving ourselves and taking a detour to Death Valley for a little camping trip and special BB cleansing ritual, just in case there are vestiges. What do you think?

13 nobugsonme March 17, 2007 at 1:33 am

Hey BBB, Is thermal an option? There is more than one company doing it now. I think it can really work well, but companies vary, yadda yadda.

Death Valley! Yes! How long do you have to stay there? How long for your truck to get up to 140 F and stay there at least 4 hours (remember, everything has to be that hot at its core for 4+ hours). And let’s face it, who among us would not err on the side of longer, longer.

If this works, it could become the next big thing. “Hey honey, let’s go to Death Valley for a week in August on the way to our new home. I know we live in Boston and the new place is in Halifax, but come on, it will be cleansing.”

We could open a spa to cater to the traumatised skin of sufferers, with treatments and a space free of bites. They’d enter, privately strip of all clothing and personal items (which would be picked up and cleansed, destroyed, or sauna’d by Hazmat helpers). After a nice sauna yourself, and a dip in a pool, you’d shower, be presented with a robe. The next morning your clothing washed very hot and dried very hot.

The employees would also take precautions similar to these (and be highly compensated for doing so), and nothing would be allowed to enter that was not treated cautiously, and so the resort would never get bed bugs, and it would be a great place to get rid of them. Solar powered, of course (nod to our Green friend Geof!)

14 Dee March 17, 2007 at 2:59 am

We have been bite free in our home for almost 3 months.

Here are some of my observations (rambling a little, sorry):

I have not experienced the recurrence of “bites” in the same places as known bites, probably because they drove me nuts & I scratched them to oblivion, but I do itch when I think about bedbugs! Also, I have had more itchy bumps on my body, mostly my face & neck than I did pre-bugs. This is not just an “I’m noticing more” reaction. I do have more blemishes. There may be other explainations (I’m 46… ripe for perimenopause & hormonal changes).

When I used DE, my healed or nearly healed bites itched more.

I’ve noticed more blemishes on my kids, too. Again, 4 of them are teens, & it may be coincidental, but 3 of them didn’t have problems with frequent blemishes bbb (before bedbugs), but all 4 do, now.

My 11 yo daughter had what looked like roseaca on her cheeks while we were actively spraying. I attributed that to the insecticide.

Oddly enough, my 2 that have exzema problems in the winter did not have a trace of it this year!

As for “bites” in the exact same places on opposite limbs, if you look at my scarring, you will see scars arranged that way. Bedbugs follow the veins, so it stands to reason that some bites will be symetrically placed on the body.

I don’t think I actually felt a bedbug on me, although I saw one adult & killed 2 nymphs on me. I was so hyper-aware of movement around me that I was noticing the dust as it fell from the rafters in the basement “ceiling”. I had never been that conscious of it before. I also felt every drop of sweat, & every out of place hair. My husband did feel one on him, grabbed it, freaked out & threw it across the room. He doesn’t handle bugs well.

Our minds are powerful things & can affect our bodies in many ways. I think that most of our reactions that can’t be attributed to physical causes are caused by the trauma in our minds.

I still think about bedbugs every day, but I’m no longer stressed by them, now that I believe they are gone. I still startle at lint of certain sizes, I worry & ask questions when I see my kids scratching. But I’m no longer constantly “bugged” (every pun intended!). But, I have itched more while typing this out than I have in a while.

15 beenbedbugged March 17, 2007 at 12:03 pm

HA! NBOM, you crack me up!

I think that is but one of the fabulous business plans that has developed during all of our discussions here and on the Yahoo group.

My husband and I just spent 40 minutes fantasizing a full-service Vikane bunker, where trained technicians would come to your home, pack everything into a big truck, and take it to a bunker, where your car would be pulled in as well.

The bunker would be specially equipped with blowers and perfectly hermetically sealed to allow no escape of Vikane gasses (or if you went thermal, heat). Your stuff would go in for 4 days, and then be loaded into a freshly treated truck, to be delivered to your new home, all spankin’ bedbug free.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

In the meantime, the spa angle really sings to me. There could be a BB recovery spa associated with the Vikane Bunker Ranch, and pets could come, too! Why not let Spotty in on the fun? After all of the spa treatments, all of the BB sufferers in the place can get together to share Tales of Bedbug Woe, laugh, and enjoy being social with people without worrying about spreading BBs.

We figured that people would easily pay $2000 to have all of their belongings BB-free. With multiple bunkers, let’s say ten of them, in use on a regular basis, you’re starting to look at some decent change. And the spa? I’d go for that, too!

16 nobugsonme March 17, 2007 at 2:19 pm

BBB, Love it! Though you gotta work on the name. “Bunker” doesn’t say “attached spa” to me. Or it says “the other kind of spa” if you know what I mean!

I think we’re on to something here…

DEE, good to see you. Do we have a success story posted for you (click top links) yet? 🙂
Let me know when you’re ready and interested.

17 Dee March 17, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Nobugs, I’m holding out a little longer… we’re starting to carefully bring things back in from storage, I’d hate to write “success”, only start getting bitten again next week.

Soon, though, God willing!

18 nobugsonme March 17, 2007 at 11:06 pm

Good! You let me know when.

19 WantMySkinBack March 18, 2007 at 12:30 am

I totally dig the spa idea. Make it exclusive. Make it fun and peaceful. Make it make you rich too!!!! As I’m finding out, we’ll pay anything when we’re depserate for help.

20 WantMySkinBack March 18, 2007 at 9:21 pm

Has anyone who’s had a biopsy on their bites tell what it was like? Do you scar from it? What can a doctor look for in the biopsy? Are there any dermatologists who read this site who can answer this question? I am thinking of getting a biopsy on my bites .

21 S. March 19, 2007 at 11:05 am

Dee, thank you SO MUCH for sharing these thoughts! Thank you thank you thank you!

My recent “bites” have also been on my face and neck! Almost exclusively! This kinda gave me further reason to believe that a) I am not alone in my experience and b) these may indeed be “bites,” not bites.

While we were actively getting sprayed, I had what looked like rosacea on my hand. It never itched, and now it’s gone. I definitely also have the mental “I’m thinking about bugs so I feel itchy” thing, but that’s totally fine and totally different.

The last “bite” I had was 6 days ago, and the last bite I had was 10 days ago. Before that one, there were a ton of “bites.” I have been keeping a log, as Nobugs described above.

We are still treating the cars (D-Force, once a week) and last night we sprayed the whole front hallway (Demand on the baseboards), just because it’s the area where we come into the house, take off our coats and shoes, etc. so we wanted it to be a ‘hostile environment’ for a little while longer. But then we realized something – we could bring the coat rack in there, and hang our coats on it. Since the floors were hostile, we would WANT any bugs in the coats to come out and die!

I almost had a panic attack, seeing my coat, uncovered, not in a ziploc, just hanging there on the coat rack. I had my boyfriend spray the coat rack with D-Force just to be doubly sure it was safe. But, baby steps, baby steps.

Thanks again for this post on lingering sensations – it’s given me a big dose of hope.

22 Dee March 19, 2007 at 7:48 pm

S., you are very welcome! I’m praying for continued success!

23 Sally March 21, 2007 at 10:48 pm

I totally have the ‘lingering’ sensations and phantom bites. They only pop up when I am super stressed with work (like now) and seem to be in identical places of old bites. I am freaked out, having moved into a new apt, and leaving EVERYTHING (clothes, dishes, furniture…i only brought my laptop and heat cleaned clothes)behind, literally starting from scratch…when I arrived at the new place I had it professionally inspected and treated just to be sure. But now, 3 months later 2 “bites” are they real? Is it b/c I am stressed and paranoid? It will have me doing Drion Dust again this weekend…you can never be too safe, right? The things really mess with your head!

24 deb March 22, 2007 at 7:28 am

Sally, Your situation speaks to the dire need of the “pheromone trap” that Sean the entomologist wrote about. Even though this trap won’t kill the infestation, it will indicate an infestation. I am cynical about “phantom bites”. I think they are bites and people want to be in denial…I would not ignore them…Deb

25 Kelly March 23, 2007 at 2:09 am

Hello again-
I had my 4th PCO treatment today. I was bit 2 weeks ago and through a series of circumstances had to wait two weeks for the PCO to get back. I had not seen any signs of bugs but the one bite and all of the phantom tingeling kept me up ( I feel every slight movement of hair on my body!). I figured it was nymps. The night before he arrived I tore the room apart to clean and vaccum. I found what I though to be a shedding! I wanted to find it as much as I did not want to find it. I then lifted my carpet on the edges of the room and nothing AT ALL! When I showed the PCO my bug things he said the good news was they were not sheddings but actual dead bugs- He sprayed in the outlets with what he called an anti growth poisen- ? He feels they are gone but will continue to come once a month for anothr 8 months. I still feel that they could not possibly all be gone. I did sleep bite and for the first time in awhile tingle itchey free for two nights. I am in california – santa monica, Are their any others in here from this area? I feel very isolated with this. Also I saw somewhere that someone was looking to have carcases. I will gladly send my two.

Still ithchy and not as shamefull-


26 wantmyskinback March 23, 2007 at 11:58 pm

Hello S. I finally found the thread. I want to reply to you replies. I’m not sure I am bug free. But after the “kicker” spray ….getting rid of all of my bedroom furniture (except paintings, mirror and mattress which is wrapped) I would think I have it under control…but I have continual welts….I looked up this term my dermotologist told me about, Papular Urticaria, which is in additon to, something else she mentioned about my skin being that of Dermographic Uriticaria…Papular Urticaria is something that mimics bug bites, long after the bites are over…it usually occurs in children, and within certain ethnic groups…but it can and does occur with adults…. here is a link, tell me your thoughts.

27 nobugsonme March 28, 2007 at 3:16 pm

More reason to be cautious about thinking you might have “lingering sensations”: hopelessnomo has just asked me to update this conversation to inform you that Nomo’s lingering sensations are, in fact, now known to be from bed bugs. I’m not going to say any more about that situation right now, but Nomo wanted to make sure people knew that.

28 S. March 28, 2007 at 4:15 pm

Thanks WMSB for this link. The part that is most encouraging is this sentence: “These lesions can and often do occur in areas away from the bites.” I am fairly certain many of my itchy bumps are in NEW places, so I’m glad to hear that this is possible with this condition.

What I wonder is, for how long can this condition (papular urticaria) go on? Any thoughts on that? It’s been so long (weeks, maybe months) that I’ve only had small swellings and bumps, nothing large.

Thanks Nobugs for this update. I am very aware that my phantom bites may be real and new. This is further corroborated by the fact that bedbugs are considered “nymphs” throughout all 5 instars, and that they don’t become “adults” until they have gone through all these life stages (this info from Sean at The Bed Bug Resource). So if I am indeed experiencing nymph bites, these nymphs could go on for say, 6 weeks before becoming adults and giving me large or super-itchy bites (such as those I experienced in the beginning).

To put this issue to rest (hopefully) I had an idea. I spoke with my PCO today. He raises bedbugs in a jar to study them. If he can get approval from his boss, he’s going to let me and my boyfriend come to his office next week, and be bit by his bedbugs. Ideally, I’ll have a nymph bite one arm and an adult bite the other arm. This way I can see if my body reacts differently to nymphs versus adults, and also HOW my body actually reacts to nymph bites. If my nymph bite looks anything like my “phantom bites,” I’ll have at least partial proof that my recent bites are new and real. If my nymph bite is significantly different (large, red, super-itchy or long-lasting), and/or if it looks like my adult bite, I’ll have at least partial proof that my recent bites are not new/not real.

I am scared out of my mind to do this, but the desire to know is much greater than the fear at this point. I promise I’ll keep you posted, and will document with photos.

Finally, my boyfriend offered to join me in this. He wants to see if the bugs DO bite him and he doesn’t react. (If for some reason they turn their noses up at his skin, then we’ll find a way to bottle him and sell him to everyone!) 🙂 Having my boyfriend do this too is helping me to be brave.

I know that my reaction will only be mine, and that others won’t necessarily be able to take any sort of “proof” from it. Ideally there’d be a huge study of this sort of thing. But this should give us one more data point.

29 nobugsonme March 28, 2007 at 4:24 pm

It seems like a good start. It would not be conclusive even about your bites, since different bugs on different days on different body parts — any of this may be relevant to the appearance and itch factor on a given bite. I say “may.” My scientific training, which was cut short at 18 (I got distracted by the more liberal arts) tells me to be cautious about generalizing even about what a certain aged nymph does to you, when you’re testing one, and it’s on one part of your body, (add additional variables here).
Still, more data is never bad 🙂

30 S. March 28, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Right. And are my PCO’s bugs the same breed/strain/mutation/whatnot as the ones in my apartment. Different body parts definitely seem to react differently as it is – swelled puffs happen on face and neck, smaller darker bumps happen on chest and back.

Though at least his are field-collected in Chicago, making them a little closer to home.

I was wondering if I should let them bite me in my most-commonly-bitten areas, to compare, for example, a new chest bite with older chest bites. However, I’m nervous that it would bite me on the same spot as an old bite, which could obscure the reaction (if the old bite were to go crazy, for example).

Sean suggested that I have them bite in previously-unbitten spots, so as to avoid the response I just mentioned. I’m thinking arms. But hey, if we’re experimenting, maybe I should try a few different areas? Left side of my body all nymphs, right side all adults?

I’m only half kidding. I’d love your thoughts.

31 nobugsonme March 28, 2007 at 5:20 pm

I don’t think it’s going to be scientific in any case, though perhaps unbitten spots make the most sense.

32 wantmyskinback March 28, 2007 at 5:52 pm

S !!!! Marry that guy already will ya? If he’s willing to go with you and get bitten, he’s a keeper.
Good luck with that (the biting thing).
I am in Florida, enjoying the SUN and peace of mind. Mmmmm….

33 Barb April 20, 2007 at 12:35 am

I have been fighting these bugs for over a year. I read about he lingering sensations and I am wondering if I am having them. I do know for a fact that I have bites that are over a month old and the itch like crazy when they flare up.

When people suggest that our bumps may not be from bedbugs. One thing I know for sure, I have never had any other kind of bump on my body that itched so intensely.

I have at least 15-20 new bites on my face tonight. All on the same side. I still don’t see any bugs. Are these new? Are they new responses to old bites? Have I developed hypersensitivity? How can I know? I am ready to let a bug bite me and like S, I would cry and probably scream, but I need to find out what is going on.

34 nobugsonme April 20, 2007 at 1:55 am

Barb, do you see any cast skins, black specks or other signs? Has a PCO inspected recently?

“Lingering sensations,” “hypersensitivity,” and so on are still theories. We don’t really know if they exist.

We do know that people get bitten by bed bugs, and I think people should completely rule that out before looking to other causes.

While I know sometimes PCOs can’t find evidence of bed bugs, I think if you have enough bed bugs to give you 15-20 new bites in one day, then they will be able to find something.

Just a thought.

35 buggedup July 12, 2007 at 2:19 pm

This is interesting…I was at the beach in the midst of dealing with bedbugs (everything in plastic and did laundry there). But one night I got tossed in the ocean and was UNBELIEVABLY itchy all over my thighs afterwards. I had shorts on and didn’t get very wet on top, so nothing there. I went a little nuts thinking my freshly laundered shorts had somehow carried a thousand bedbugs that feasted on me as soon as I got wet for some inexplicable reason. But the chitlin reaction would completely explain it I think. I am also allergic to shellfish, but don’t ever have that kind of reaction in the ocean. Next night we went out for crabs (I didn’t eat any) but a little piece of shell got stuck to my elbow and immediately welted up like a bite. Again I freaked, but thought maybe it was just my natural bodily reaction to shellfish (even though I’ve never had that severe of a reaction). So this puts me a bit at ease…though I’m still dealing with bedbugs at home (though I think they’re losing and the bites have more or less ceased) I don’t think I took them with me.

36 hopelessnomo August 29, 2007 at 8:13 pm

I wanted to update this conversation since I am about 4 months from my ordeal and hope that this time it sticks. My notorious lingering sensations lasted about two-and-a-half months this time. Arguably, the original lingering sensations that were the subject of this post were not lingering at all, but the end of this chapter suggests otherwise, which brings me to the issue of papular urticaria which WMSB mentioned above.

Nobugs previously blogged the John Hopkins-developed diagnostic guidelines called SCRATCH meant to assist in the diagnosis of rashes in children. Well, the research article in Pediatrics is well worth reading. The authors propose a new term for papular urticaria:

Insect bites and the associated hypersensitivity reactions known as papular urticaria account for a significant number of all referrals from pediatricians and dermatologists to our pediatric dermatology clinic. […] We conclude that a more appropriate term for future study and diagnosis of this entity is insect bite-induced hypersensitivity.

Emphasis added.

Insect bite-induced hypersensitivity. IBIH. But only for children?

Although the prevalence of IBIH peaks in children from 2 to 10 years old, it occurs occasionally in adolescents and adults.

The authors describe the stages of insect bite hypersensitivity reactions:

After a period of sensitization during early infancy, when bites occur with a minimal reaction (stage 1), patients develop a delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) IV reaction, histologically characterized by a diffuse mononuclear infiltration of the mid- and deep dermis (stage 2). In stage 3, sensitized individuals first develop an immediate hypersensitivity type I urticarial papule followed by a delayed reaction.

So there is, after a period of time, an immediate reaction followed by a delayed reaction. If the bites continue, then it stands to reason that the skin proceeds to go utterly crazy with multiple immediate and delayed reactions.

DTH, however, is the basis for both the clinical chronicity and variable severity of IBIH in pediatric patients. The elapsed time between an insect bite and the formation of a firm, intensely itching papule begins to lengthen as children gain exposure to these allergens. Consequently, it can become difficult for a patient and/or parent to accurately report “bite events.” Continued and repeated exposure to the inciting antigen results in not only immediate skin reactions but also a cycle of DTH-mediated lesions. Parents subsequently go on to find more new skin findings as the child persists at itching and scratching from previous sites. This sequence is perpetuated until the offending agent is identified or the individual becomes desensitized, which can take weeks, months, and sometimes years.

Furthermore, a phenomenon known as reactivation can result in variable severity of pruritis and skin lesions even when the number of new lesions seems to be waning. This was first described in the 1960s, when clinicians noted that some individuals reactivated previous lesions after appearance of new bites. This effect is now thought to be secondary to circulating insect antigen stimulating cutaneous T cells in previously sensitized sites. Clinical evidence of this is seen in children with generalized eruptions and pruritis after only limited exposure to biting insects at a focal site. The idea of reactivation again complicates clear diagnosis of IBIH in that it may be difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between new-onset lesions and a reactivation event. One can expect, however, that given the DTH mechanism of the cutaneous T-cell response, a majority of reactivation events will resolve within 4 to 6 weeks.

Emphasis added.

I’m speculating, but this is probably not common in bedbug sufferers (not everyone here reports these lingering reactions) and probably has to be the result of prolonged exposure, in certain individuals, in order to cause this type of hypersensitivity?

Chronic delayed hypersensitivity, reactivation… fun, fun, absolute fun with bedbug bites. I’m so relieved it’s over (knock on wood).

37 hopelessnomo August 29, 2007 at 8:31 pm

And I forgot to point out that the article specifically mentions bedbug bites in connection with IBIH (aka papular urticaria).

Finally, I also found that a bedbug salivary protein that causes hypersensitivity reactions has been identified, nitrophorin.

38 Barb August 29, 2007 at 9:55 pm

Thanks Hopelessnomo. That was Very informative.

I am pretty certain that I am one of those people with DTH. I have had more than one bite that I am absolutely certain of the location that continued to itch for weeks after the original bite. Sometimes it will be weeks in between bites. Some of my bites (like on my chest) I receive so many that I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. I am not currently being bitten, but continue to have old bites flare up occasionally. Thank you so much for those of you who continue to update us. It helps all of us to understand this better.

I thought that mention of recirculating insect antigen to the bites. I am assuming this means that this stuff is circulating in our blood and when it goes past an old bite it makes it flare up again. What do you guys think?

39 tammy August 30, 2007 at 10:15 am

can bed bugs infest in your hair if so then what can i do

40 tammy August 30, 2007 at 10:20 am

what does murphy’s oil do to bed bugs. i’ve heard you wipe down all wood areas of your bed frame and baseboards

41 hopelessnomo August 30, 2007 at 11:54 am

Bedbugs don’t infest hair. They don’t stay on the host for long; after feeding they go back to their hiding places. Murphy’s oil soap is used as a contact killer. It has no residual effect. You can click the blue bug above to visit the forums (your current login is the same there) and start a thread to seek advice or share your story. I hope you went to the doctor and are getting professional treatments. Good luck.

I’m not sure, but it makes sense that if the antigen persists it causes all kinds of mischief. The issue is whether these new papules can be in different locations as well as old bite sites; the way I read it, they can. It’s also worth noting that there isn’t much out there on bedbug bite allergic reactions and a lot of it is old but it’s encouraging to see some attention paid. The authors here, writing in 2006, were at pains to note that clinicians should be aware of the rise in bedbug infestations. Well, yeah.

42 hopelessnomo August 31, 2007 at 11:16 am

Barb, yay for you! You got rid of them!

I confess I have carpet phobia after bedbugs (though I did not have it, thankfully) and could never live somewhere with carpeting. It’s just a bad idea in my opinion.

43 Barb August 31, 2007 at 10:17 am


Yes, thanks again. I just think it helps all of us to share what we have learned. I have certainly learned a ton from my personal experience. I have a lot of theories that aren’t proven, but I do understand them much better than I did a year and 1/2 ago.

As Hopeless said, check out the FAQs. I will tell you I did everything. Sprayed, dusted, hired a PCO, cleaned. Vaseline. I didn’t win the war until I got rid of my bed and my carpeting. Then I sealed every tiny crack and crevice in the floor and wall. I know it sounds drastic, but after 1 1/2 years drastic measures were required. I’m still not totally sure I am out of it, but it looks promising. The lingering sensations are always make me wonder if that was another bite!! But since I don’t receive several bites at a time or regularly, and they aren’t as intensely itchy as the real ones, I believe they are gone.

44 fightorflight January 25, 2008 at 8:48 am

This thread/FAQ has not seen action in a while, but I think my experience will be helpful.

While I think it is a complete jinx to say I have bedbugs NOMORE, I will say that I am someone who went through multiple iterations of fleeing and taking NOTHING except eyeglasses, ID and credit cards. So my chances of having the bugs now, unless my luck is abominably poor, are pretty low.

Nonetheless, everyday I will feel an itch somewhere, peel up my clothes and see welts where I had not seen any before. I really have to believe my last instances of being bitten are almost 2 months ago. Therefore, it is likely these are months’ old bites flaring up. But Holy Hell – they look fresh out of the oven! The terror of the bugs lingers. Funny thing is, I’m one of those who was not initially reactive. But I am months later!! My chest, shoulders and back are positively plastered.

In response to another post-er, I also add that my body is extremely prone to moles and discolorations. And what’s weird is that the old bites on me seem to eventually fade into moles. First they form bright red, mole-shaped dots, like someone else mentioned. But I am pretty sure these are bedbug scars, because then I get regular moles – but in lines of 3! I have always kept pretty good track of where my moles are and I swear to god my skin has all sorts of astrological constellations of moles that weren’t there before.

So for all of you who think you have beaten them and are freaking out – maybe you have beaten them. Then again, if I find blood marks on my white sheets tomorrow, I will hang myself.


45 paulaw0919 January 27, 2008 at 11:32 am

I must agree with ForF. After 6 traditional treatments, ridding most of what we own and still showing many signs of the bugs (black specs and blood on sheets, bites) we opted to Vikane our home, vehicles, everything. This was done back in early fall. I still wash/dry our bedding weekly on hot/hot and inspect weekly. No signs yet. I think we are in the clear. (God, I pray)
I still experience the the occasional welt, bite marks here and there..some are tiny like a rash, some are welts, some itch and some don’t. Despite using allergenic detergents this still happens.
I feel part of it is some possible lingering sensations from the bites, part due to our skin possibly being hypersensitive, and partly that we are even in our subconscious scanning our bodies constantly looking for something.
Nothing about Bed Bugs is good. The worst part is no matter what you do to rid them, somewhere in the back of your brain, you will always be on the lookout and every blemish, bite, rash and itch you get for what seems like the rest of your life will mentally link you to a possibility of a bed bug infestation.

46 IveBeenBugged February 6, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Wow folks so it turns out I’m not as crazy as I thought. A thank you to fightorflight for pointing me to this post. After changing my bathroom lights to a higher wattage – hence brighter light – I noticed that the bites I had thought were gone are still there.

Worse some seem to reactivate. I checked myself quite frequently before this bb problem as I am prone to rashes and skin irritations from a comprimised immune system. I have noticed that some of the old bites seem to reactivate and many I had thought were gone actually just got smaller and less red so less noticable.

Just makes me feel better knowing it is not just me experiencing this.

Thank you to you all for posting your own experiences with this phenomenon.

47 fightorflight February 7, 2008 at 12:03 pm

I should add that really a lot of my old bites are turning into freckles, not moles. Crazy stuff, huh?

48 fightorflight February 10, 2008 at 4:41 am

I feel the need to do a follow-up here, so folks don’t think they will never be able to tell if bites are old or new. I am pasting from a post I did in the forums:

Maybe I should back off a little bit on this. What I have been experiencing are probably not hives, but a rash, an itchy rash. I have not seen a dermatologist, so I don’t know. As for the classic “how do I know if they are new bites or old bites” dilemma, I should also say that, while I still experience symptoms that could indicate new bites, overall the marks on my body seem to be lessening or maturing (= many new freckles). A month ago, I had rashes so huge on my upper body that I couldn’t even detect them as that. It just seemed my chest, shoulders and upper back were all red. Now the red patches have shrunk and in some cases turned into just old, individual bite marks. So even though I still see seemingly new marks which itch, my body does display evidence that the bite marks are fading or old.

49 Will it ever end? July 11, 2008 at 12:57 am

My original bb bites of 2 yrs ago
took 3-4 months to heal. At that time I also kept getting in different body areas (one individual hive like welt) which I felt were not new bites as they cleared up in an hour or so, while meantime I still had the original burning itching bb bites all over my body & face and red rashes on my chest area. My entire body was miserable to say the least. Ever since then I get what looks & feels like a real bite (or one hive welt)and some seem to be in same places as some original bites. But after rubbing benadryl cream on they fade in about an hour leaving no trace. 2 yrs ago I
used hydrocortizone cream for the bites. I have since read to not use it for very long as it thins the skin especially on the face. I wonder if hydrocortizone cream could have anything to do with bite reoccuring flareups or! is it flareups of individual hives from hydrocortizone cream! I have not used hydrocortizone cream tho. for a year now and I have not found any data on if it’s possible to have just one hive.

50 hope it comes off July 27, 2008 at 12:18 am

stupid bed bugs i hate thiem aaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllooooootttt the need to do some thing with there lifes

51 hw218 July 30, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Hello whoever is reading this. I have recently been become enlisted in the war against the bugs after a 1 night stay at a BestWestern hotel. It seemd to take a couple of weeks for the bites to appear which I find odd. The bites are large red areas with raised white lines in the middle. I have used generic permethrin and Gentrol recently which is an IGR. I think the bed bugs are gone, but I am not absolutely convinced. I am still seeing what seem to be “new” bites. Last night I took a pen and drew around the bites on my legs so that when I woke up I could see if there were bites outside the lines. I did not see any, but I failed to mark myself on my hip where I did see what looked like a brand new bite. Tonight I will try double-sided carpet tape around the bed. If anyone knows where to get some black market DDT let me know. If an agent of the law is reading, they should go get bed begs first before judging me.

52 nobugsonme July 31, 2008 at 12:48 am

The longest I have heard bed bug bites can take to appear is 9 days (which seems long– most people SEEM to have them appear more quickly). I suppose it’s possible, but a couple of weeks seems like a long time for bites to appear after being bitten.

But maybe you mean you were not bitten for two weeks after leaving the hotel? This is fully possible. Maybe you did not react until you’d had a certain amount of bites. Or maybe you only took a few bed bugs home and they were not biting in large enough numbers at the time.

I think your priority should be verifying you have bed bugs. If you have not seen one, you have a few options:

1/ Read the FAQ on catching a sample (though this can still be tricky if you have few bed bugs, it’s worth trying).

2/ Get a bed bug dog in to search. Get some recommendations for your area on our forums:

3/ Keep looking. If new bites keep appearing, you probably are being bitten by a pest.

I would NOT try and get black market DDT.

First, it’s illegal.

Second, it may not work (not least of which because it has probably been sitting around since 1972, but also because when it was phased out, there’s some who suggest bed bugs were already becoming resistant to it).

Finally, you can get rid of bed bugs without it. But make sure you have them first.

53 Lisa August 9, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Oh my gosh! I have the exact, identical thing, literally. I am going nuts! I left everything behind, moved to new place, couple months later a rash, now new moles and or freckles. I am re leaved to hear you say this but at the same time, not sure what to do. Have you found anything out? I just need some sanity, I cannot hardly cope let alone go out other than to work. Please reply-I live in Northern, KY!

54 hopelessnomo August 9, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Lisa, I would recommend that

a) you consult a dermatologist (there have been people who have had excellent experiences doing so, and have received a reasonable explanation that lets them relax);

b) you have your new home inspected, either by a very knowledgeable PCO who knows bedbugs, or by a competent bedbug dog team (neither is easy to find in some places but do your best to find the most experienced you can)

c) undertake your own investigation of the matter. It’s not easy but there is an answer to the question “do I have bedbugs again?” and it takes work and a cold, analytical mind but you can emerge from this period of uncertainty.

I do not recommend that you just hope for the best. I was wrong once about my reactions, and right the second time. More experience, more knowledge? Who knows. But I do not recommend the experience. I know what you are going through. Grab some good inspection tools and get to work. You will also feel better by your activity, rather than just worrying. Good luck.

55 livinginahorrorfilm September 2, 2008 at 11:05 pm

I have just been hit! This is the worst nightmare possible! I thought I was going crazy for weeks….sooo friggen itchy…but no explaination for it. I looked everywhere. I admit I did have a few blood specs around the bottom and top of my bed – but I have been scratching and making myself bleed so just thought it was from that. No sign in the mattress, or bed…..Then last night – I was soooo sure I could feel things crawling on me. I would flip on the light and rip back the covers – nothing. Then completely sleepless I went and watchd some TV in the living room – but before I did I took the covers off mt husband and left the door open. At around 3am I quietly tuned on the light and looked at the bed. And I saw one! And then closer I saw two nymps! Hardly there but there……

56 livinginahorrorfilm September 2, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Neither of us went to work today – and for the first time my husband actually had marks on him too. Now he is taking me seriously! I called a few pest control places, but eventually asked my super. I think it was us who brought them into our building from a friends cottage where we brought our own blankets…so brought them home. That is where the bites started – but I assumed it was just bug bites.

Pest control is coming in 2 days, and I have been cleaning everything. The super knows it is me, but luckily he is just taking action. Says they will come out 3 times in total….hoepfully they will come more if we still have a problem. We plan on trying to do a 3am attack tonignt….

In addition to the vaccuming and laundry, thoughing out most of our blankets and linen, what can I do to help? Is there pesisides that work? Sprays for my bed frame? It has been 2 months since I think we picked them up – has it gone to long already for a quick successful clean?

I know that I will be itchy and paranoid for years to come…I am soooooo upset that this has happened!

57 nobugsonme September 3, 2008 at 12:55 am

Get prep instructions from the PCO. Make sure they want you to prep before you come. (Some PCOs will want to inspect before you turn the place inside out and clean all the evidence away.) Do the prep as specified.

I would not start self-treating with pesticides (anything you spray or dust should be OK’d by the PCO as part of his/her treatment plan).

See our FAQs for tips to help you deal with clothing and stuff.

And if you want to discuss this further, please come to the forums, you will get many more responses there:

58 Gary September 14, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Recently I had like 3 big Red bumps on my right cheek. 2 days later I had 3 on the Left Cheek.

I think they are bed bug bite.

Problem is I am so worried abut it.

the bumps are red and big, I had a very clear skin so far and now seeing 3 red bumps on my left cheek and 3 on my right has made me very nervous and frustrated.

How do I get rid of them or shud I ask how long will it take for them to go.

I have done the Infestation control.

But these bumps are killing me man!

Can someone help

59 nobugsonme September 15, 2008 at 9:24 am


Try not to itch the bumps. If they are bed bug bites, they should not last long.

Please make sure you treat the infestation aggressively. An experienced pest control operator is your best bet.

If you want to discuss this further, please come to our forums:

60 Desiree September 16, 2008 at 11:53 am


I see that you’re in Santa Monica, Ca. I’m in Long Beach. I can’t find a PCO that seems to know what they are dealing with and feel completely alone with this problem. May I ask which PCO you are using? I’m losing my mind!

61 nobugsonme September 16, 2008 at 7:59 pm


Kelly left her comment over 16 months ago. I recommend asking in the forums for recommendations:

62 Kihun September 20, 2008 at 2:51 am

For those feeling invisible bites and have bite marks, what you may be experience are biting mites, with the common ones being bird mites and rat mites. They are virtually microscopic and may appear as a spec if that so they are very hard to find. A person’s home and car can be easily infested and they are extremely hard to get rid of. You’ll fee itchy crawling sensations, as well as pin-prick stings from time to time. You also may notice ppl around you starting to itch alot when they are around you. Everyone knows about bedbugs and dust mites but not too much about biting mites. For more info about these relatively unknown critters, check out Infestations will truly drive ppl insane!

63 nobugsonme October 6, 2008 at 12:46 am


Good pest control pros can find and get rid of bird mites. (I would choose a company big enough to have a consulting entomologist, so they can figure out what kind of mites you have.)

Bird mites do sound quite awful but we are told they are treatable.

64 Bedbuggery October 12, 2008 at 4:12 am

I seem to have experienced both the phantom “bites” as well as the real bites intermittenly. I think that there are many different things going on here, including rehashing old bites, both adult and nymph bites, as well as urticaria. I actually discovered urticaria before I knew I had bugs. One thing about it is that you can actually create welts or ‘wheels’ by scratching or even brushing against your skin. It also makes my skin feel prickley like a bunch of little pinprick, which makes me itchy and then if I scratch I can actually produce welts that look like bites in a row that follow my scratching paths. There is one characteristic about being bit that makes me unique which is that I have had allergic reactions. one of the first times I was bit by adults right on the jugular and I woke up with symptoms of anaphylaxis, and went to the bathroom and vomited followed by weekness, fever, and was sick with what I concluded was the result of brain-swelling all of the next day. I never went to a doctor because I’m poor, and it took me about 6mos. to find a bug suctioned to my leg and I finally figured out what my problem was. I thought I had tuberculoses or mold allergies. SO when I’m bit I tend to know it, and when it’s urticaria or old bites, I don’t feel like death. I know that I still have bugs and am working on it, but i also have been experiencing phantom bites. Also, my allergy sensitivities tend to build up a tolerance like drugs, If I go a long time w/ out being bit, I tend to get pretty sick the next time it happens even if it’s only a couple of small bites. I hope that you can all use this info, and also find comfort in the fact that although bed bugs suck (literally) and I affetionally refer to them as a stuff STD or possesion transmitted infestation (PTI) atleast you can find comfort in the fact that it has never been life threatening, and that youhave money for a doctor, let alone pest control. I am using silicon dioxide mixed with pyrethrins, a product called “results” bug powder. seems to have been helping.

65 Bedbuggery December 23, 2008 at 5:33 am

OK here’s an update on my situation w/ bedbugs and allergies- I believe it’s been sometime since I have been bit. The past week I have been sleeping in a trailor that I know to be ‘clean’ and I don’t bring shoes, bags, or anything else into this sleaping space. Yet I’ve been having severe allergic reactions repeatedly that seem to onset in the evenings and behave eratically w/ out warning. I’m wondering if I am going through some kind systemic illness or if the bug-Antigen protiens are continually being worked out of my skin and I’m reacting. If this is the case, then it would be quite possible that these protiens are hanging around in all of our skins causing subsequent Urticaria/ phantom bites every time we aggrevate them or our bodies attemp to metabolize them. Will be going to see the doctor and keep everyone posted.

66 Bedbuggery December 24, 2008 at 2:10 am

upon seeing a doctor who has no experience w/ BB’s, was told that an allergic response cannot happen (or is not known) unless the antigens or offending proteins are present. Was also told that following an allergic response one can have a buildup of histamine et. al that will make a person more sensitive in the presence of other possible allergens. This means that because of BB bite’s people may develop a sensitivity to other things if I am to understand properly.
Anyone else who has experienced potential asphyxiation or respiratory failure as result of bedbugs- don’t listen to conventional advice, be prepared with antihistamines for possible resurgence. Maybe this is a subject for a valuable new thread.

67 nobugsonme December 25, 2008 at 7:40 pm

“Anyone else who has experienced potential asphyxiation or respiratory failure as result of bedbugs- don’t listen to conventional advice, be prepared with antihistamines for possible resurgence.”

Anyone who has experienced a life-threatening reaction to bed bugs should definitely get a good doctor’s advice about being prepared for such a thing to happen again.

If bed bugs are still present in the home, they should also seek professional medical advice about whether it is safe for them to return home.

68 Bedbuggery January 2, 2009 at 3:40 am

“If bed bugs are still present in the home, they should also seek professional medical advice about whether it is safe for them to return home.”

I agree entirely with nobugsonme on this matter and am not suggesting that someone forego sound medical advice for my own.

That being said I have found that I have a blood infection that my doctor believes may be pacific lyme’s disease (a less common strain that occurs in the pacific northwest) which was the likely cause of my ongoing allergic attacks after removal from the bugs.

I will be posting results from my western blot test in this thread:

Also, this type of infection can cause chronic urticaria, which would behave very much like “phantom bites” if anyone develops symptoms like sore joints or a fever following bedbug exposure I would recommend speaking with a doctor about a blood test.

69 abdi June 10, 2009 at 11:40 pm

hey everyoen u are not alone we got em too this si becoming a serious problem in north america and especially where i live in edmonton ab canada we have sprayed 5 times! already adn counting we have anohter spray due this week man i hate these things [expletive deleted] bed bugs

70 Itchy E November 28, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I’ve noticed that some bites come back. I think that bed bug bites do a small amount of tissue damage. I think that the itch that you experience is your skins reaction to the very small amount of dead cells left under the surface. I could be wrong, but that makes sense to me. I’ve noticed that new bites tend to get very red; a lot redder than a mosquito bite. Although, the initial reaction doesn’t last long, I believe that there is a bit of hemorrhaging under the skin. This, in combination with a histamine reaction that leaves a small amount of damage that has to heal. With this in mind, it would be logical that an itch will reoccur. The one reassurance that I have when this happens is that it is never as intense as the initial bite.

71 wondering January 31, 2010 at 12:13 pm

My son, my mother and I were all bitten by bed bugs this past summer. We have been able to eradicate the problem on all fronts. Some strange circumstances remain. My son and I have had a light redness around our lower necks and collarbones. I have experiences phantom bites, or hives/rash that are similar but do not last like the original. My mother developed an allergic reaction to the bites (hives) and now she can’t take Ibuprofen which she used to take without problems, without breaking into hives.
Has anyone else else had any of these problems? Please share!

72 Erie April 2, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Hi I was bitten by beg bugs last summer while living at my mothers house she had them pretty bad. I have since moved from there and am living in my own place now! I was very carefull not to bring them with me. Im very sure i dont have them but i keep getting itchy bumps in a rash kind of form on my belly. I was mostly bitten on my belly in the same spot and it took forever to go away. It went away but now it comes and goes and only in that spot it gets so itchy i have to scratch it! What is this!??

73 chadlen April 6, 2010 at 3:19 am

i was getting bitten here and there, and was always wondering what it was, but no luck for a long time. i put up with being bitten once in awhile, and still wondered if i’d ever see one, because i have checked my mattresses and sheets and never found one. But holy moly, it’s about 4am, and i saw 2 bed bugs crawling across my mattress. i gathered them and burnt them in my ashtray in total revenge. i looked again at the seams on my mattress and comforters, and nothing there. i hope i can sleep tonight without getting bit, or should i say this morning.

74 nobugsonme April 6, 2010 at 11:30 am


The post above is three years old, but still fairly current in the sense that we do not know much about what happens to your skin after bed bugs. The recent bite study by Potter et. al. is illuminating on other issues, but not this one.


I hope your bites do go away but I would not count on it. Seeing two bed bugs suggests there are probably more, maybe even a lot more. They may be harboring elsewhere besides the seams on your mattress and comforters. Depending on the design, they may be inside those (slipping out to bite you), inside a box spring or bed frame, pillow, or even in the structure of the room or other furniture — chairs, sofas, etc.

I suggest reading our Bed Bug Detection FAQ.

Please come to our forums if you’d like feedback or suggestions:

75 desperate June 20, 2010 at 4:04 am

idont itch ,it hurts i can feel them or something in day or night in my car cant see anything going crazy cant sleep feelslike something is crawling on me and sucking my blood nobody else feels it they think iam crazy have few like pimple marks but no itch feels like a prick then feels like aits following me in my bed and car help me

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