What do you wish people knew about bed bugs?

by nobugsonme on April 8, 2007 · 34 comments

in bed bugs, information and help

Welcome Readers of the San Francisco Chronicle article! Please read our extensive FAQs, and if you have a question or comment, feel free to comment below.

I’d like to invite Bedbuggers to add a brief comment below: tell the world one thing you wish the world knew about bed bugs.

Here’s mine:

Everyone’s not allergic to their bites. If you are, they can make you miserable with itching, and even send you to the hospital in rare cases, with a serious allergic reaction. Someone in the same home could be unaffected. If you live alone, you may not know you have them until they’re so serious, they’re crawling everywhere in broad daylight.

Your turn: hit comment, and have your say below!

1 wantmyskinback April 8, 2007 at 11:10 am

One thing the world should know about bed bugs, is– they do not differentiate between rich or poor or clean or unkempt. Bed bugs like blood, that is all. So if you are living in a beautiful home and think you are impervious, think again.

2 S. April 8, 2007 at 12:31 pm

One thing the world should know about how to AVOID bedbugs, is to be careful when you travel. Every hotel, fancy or cheap, is a candidate.

First, check your hotel on tripadvisor.com before you book. If there is even one report of bedbugs, pick a different hotel. When you get to the room, leave your suitcase in the bathroom. Inspect the bed – sheets, mattress, headboard, frame – for any moving bugs, any small dark spots (blood stains), or anything that looks like eggs (like tiny grains of white rice).

Only after you’ve inspected the bed can you rest easy. If you find anything suspicious, ask for a different room. Bedbugs are an absolute nightmare and it really doesn’t hurt to be cautious.

3 jessinchicago April 8, 2007 at 1:27 pm

One thing I wish I had known when I got bedbugs is that once you’ve got them, you’re in for a very long ordeal. Bedbugs really ARE “very difficult to exterminate”. You can’t hire an exterminator to come in and treat your home and have the bedbugs die in one day. Or one week. And in many cases, it takes months to get rid of them. This means that you’ve got to live with them. You have to sleep in your bed (which is no longer just your bed- it’s a feeding and breeding ground for large-ish parasites whose sole source of food is YOU) for months- for however long it takes until they all die. That’s a hard reality to deal with, considering the level of discomfort you experience.

4 willow-the-wisp April 8, 2007 at 3:05 pm

Absolutely, treat the local or bldg. Laundromat like it is a potential breeding ground for the little bed bugs, which are so tiny you can rarely or barely see them. Don’t panic, read the FAQ’s on doing laundry. Since the health dept(s) don’t seem to be up on this terrible blight of the 21st century–be very proactive about having the Laundromat up the temp in the hot water and the driers. 120F for 45 minutes-to one hour is a minimum–and a must to kill them. I don’t let the drier run for less than 75 minutes.
Call the BBB–and then also call the local health dept–if your Laundromat doesn’t offer very hot water and very hot driers. Go to a payphone and call anonymously if you must, because; doing all the laundry in the world will not help much at all–if you aren’t doing it correctly. I seal the bags airtight from right out of the drier then I whisk the HEAVY DUTY SEALED BAGS home ASAP.
From there–I live out of the plastic bags and re-seal them each and every time I change my clothing, In fact–I even sterilize my hands before I open the bags and pull something out to wear. Then I re-seal the bag ASAP. I spare no expense here!
Currently hundreds of little BB’s live off my blood in my hotel room but most are so small that I can’t really see any of them. PS They don’t just bite at night–and I feel that they’ve evolved in more ways than just one!!!!

5 Dan April 8, 2007 at 11:10 pm

If you are in an apartment building make sure others know of the problem and insist (or more than insist) that the whole building be treated. I got my bugs becuase the apartment complex i lived in only treats on a case by case basis, meaning they sprayed an apartment around me and then they came to me.

Also as hard as it is, try not to stress out to the point of ulling your hair out and not sleeping. I know how hard it is and i wish i knew someone who went through this, but i lost so much sleep and its really not worth it.

Don’t be a pack rat, throw away anything you dont need (even before you get bedbugs). If not it will make the extermination job extremely difficult, almost impossible and at tiems pointless.

6 BeenBedBugged April 9, 2007 at 2:55 am

Here is the most important thing I can tell people:

If you think you might have bedbugs, you probably do.

If you think that something is “off” about your hotel room, it probably is.

When I stayed at the hotel where I picked up bedbugs, I KNEW there was something wrong. I didn’t quite know what it was, but something was off. On the one night my husband joined me, he sensed it, as well. I didn’t even imagine that it could have been bedbugs.

When I discovered the cast skin in our bed two weeks before we positively identified the bedbugs on my luggage, I remember a sense of relief, thinking, “oh, it’s not a bedbug, it’s some kind of dead moth. Good.” Don’t ask me why I thought that. I know how to identify insects, and there was some kind of deep denial at work. I just could NOT face it.

If you think that you might have been exposed to bedbugs, activate all of your senses, and learn as much as you can about protecting yourself so that you can catch an infestation early.

So many “old time” practices now make so much more sense to me- airing out the bedding in the sun, airing out the mattress in the sun, IRONING THE SHEETS, etc. This is all about making it inhospitable for bedbugs to set up shop in your home.

If I can offer one more thing I think the world should know, it is that it is hard to get rid of bedbugs, but it is not impossible. Don’t give up, and you will eventually succeed.

7 bugzinthehood April 9, 2007 at 3:21 pm

Getting the right Pest Control Operator is crucial to proper treatment. I would look for someone with at least five years experience treating bed bugs. Interview them scrupulously. Find out how long they expect to take per visit, how many visits, treatment pre-preparation on your part.

If anyone says you can get rid of them with one treatment, get rid of them by hanging up the phone. Follow this link on our site for other PCO info.


8 Bugalina April 9, 2007 at 3:43 pm

I want the world to know that I abhor it when I read that bed bugs are not a serious health issue thus “getting” them shouldn’t be as big a deal as one might think. BS!! This is the bug equivalent to DRACULA and it is a COMMUNICABLE BUG….please think long and hard about that. These bugs suck human blood for long periods of time, while living and spreading, undetected – in the smallest of cracks and crevices. These Dracula’s leave SCARS on the body. Yes, you can get rid of them, but, because they are being allowed to spread at a virtually unchecked pace, there are decent odds they will come right back into your home via their many avenues of transport. They cost thousands of dollars to get rid of. They have a seriously stressful effect on a person’s well-being. Everything about bed bugs is awful and terrible. I want a product to come onto the market to kill them faster and more effectively than the inadequate chemicals being used now. I want the world to know that, in the year 2007, It should not be so hard to get rid of them, and It should not cost thousands of dollars. Something is very wrong with this picture….

9 willow-the-wisp April 10, 2007 at 2:38 pm

NOBUGSONME the key master of this wonderful NYC based site said I could post again. (As far as I know I am the only member on that blog living in San Francisco:

Listen up here SF!–and the entire world!!!

#1—read the FAQ’s here on doing your laundry here:

Also …

There is now such a thing as “Laundromat Bed Bug Etiquette.” This is because Laundromats are turning into breeding grounds for the little unseen almost clear colored hatchling bed bugs. And this is because there is a higher concentration of bed bug infested clothing articles coming in/out of the Laundromat all day long:
So going to the Laundromat is sort of like going to the Airports, or being in very crowded public transportation etc …

A–we no longer, as in NOT EVER! shake out our clothes in a public Laundromat (think about it) you may have bed bugs so small and of course you want them out of your clothing, but by shaking your clothes in a public place is likely to spread bugs to others if you do have them and don’t know it. (I had them for perhaps three months before I even knew it! And a lot of my clothing was infested with the little eggs and little hatchlings.) And think about this too … If you do a bunch of laundry at you local launderers, by shaking the heck out of your clothing before you wash I is all for naught, Many of them (and especially the eggs, (white-ish little tiny grains of rice-like, will still be in your clothing anyway.) The adults attach them with some sort of goop. So–you may have dropped some little bb’s off onto the floor . . .
There they’ll stay? NO. They will roam around unseen just waiting to “hitch a ride” by attaching themselves to anybody’s–even your own laundry again—This is known as BAD-BED-BUG-KARMA. The next time you come in to do your laundry—boom! Remember–Bed bugs—are so small (at first) that they can and will climb up on your shoes—they can–and will–hitch a ride in your clothing like they did mine. So wash the shoes and dry them off as well. (Get a steamer and steam them at home properly—that works, or helps.) And there are many other cleaning agents you can use. Check this site or others like it, for that type of info.

Remember– Bed bugs tend to cling like tiny hidden lice but to clothing—not to hair.

It’s the heat that you need to kill them, so if you feel you want to shake out your clothing do it at home, carefully, and directly over the bath tub. Then rinse the tub down and the whole area working from outside inward–with very hot soapy water.

Shaking the laundry just doesn’t seem like a good idea any more, now does it.

B–If the washers and driers are not hot–complain Especially the dryers.
If I get a machine that’s not hot enough–I carefully transfer my laundry to another. Spending an extra few $’s at the Laundromat, even though I’m nearly broke—is, in the long run saving me money. Could cost thousands upon thousands in extermination fees a few months down the road for you, not to mention all the grief and the agonizing itching, the sleepless nights, and yes—THE SHAME.


C–we no longer use anything but heavy duty plastic bags to transport laundry to/from our homes/Laundromat: (Doubling the bags is best, and squishing them down into a vacuum is going to hopefully have an adverse effect on the air breathing bed bugs you might UNWITTINGLY already have in the bags and in the clothes. So think of trying to shrink-wrap the stuff in the bags before … during … and after … your day at the Laundromat.

(Yesterday I only saw one family–a group effort using plastic bags …They did like 30 loads of laundry but let the 30 bags sit on the Laundromat floor–for hours. Not a good scenario for them I fear. Bed Bugs seek out heat to a certain degree!

These folks spent something like $60.00 but by not having the bags sealed and by leaving them on the tables ands floors …

D–We no longer touch other people’s laundry both for fear of catching and spreading the unseen bed bugs. If someone dropped a sock–just tell them … don’t pick it up and hand it to them. Bed Bugs are insidious and you could have them for months and not even know it!

E—If you plan on folding your clothing on the tables provided plan on increasing your chance of catching/spreading bed bugs. Squish up your bags directly out of the machines, do your folding and ironing at home.
Thank God for permanent press Huh?

And finally—F
For God’s sake! Understand that bed bugs can pass through a canvas bag like we open and pass through a door—PLASTIC BAGS ONLY AT THE LAUNDROMAT PLEASE!!!

My experience in the Laundromat yesterday was so harrowing—I had to soak in a tub for 45 minutes with the clothes I had on at the Laundromat—the moment I got home. When you think about it—this is not a bad idea (sounds crazy) but an ounce of prevention—IS–worth a pound of cure!

P.S. I’m not an overly neurotic clean freak—but I “guestimate” we could cut the transference of bed bugs by 15—30% by following this type of Laundromat etiquette.
I am not a loon—I am a professionally trained Nurse who likes to think of bed bugs as if they are unseen roving germs. Adopt that stance and you’ll protect yourselves and others in all crowded public settings.

Hugs? Not a great idea anymore. Yet I’m hugging you with this long note and I’d like to send you my bill, because; bed bugs are VERY, VERY expensive to get rid of!!!

10 Dee April 11, 2007 at 1:37 am

Bedbugs can come into your home on NEW furniture. Beware of sellers that offer you the convenience of taking away your used mattresses. They may have taken away someone else’s bug-infested one in the same truck. Even if they treat the truck every day with insecticide, there may be unhatched eggs that can either hatch while your new delivery is in the truck, or may be knocked ot rubbed from the place they were laid onto your new furniture!

11 bugbasher December 25, 2007 at 10:45 am

I wish people understood the transmission angle better.That should really be hyped up by the media,since the impression most have is they are bugs that live in your bed.They don’t know how easily they are transfered.I think of them as a cross between a tick and a louse.Lice travel on you and so do the bedbugs!Uninformed people assume they are leaving the bug behind when they walk out the door,usually to go to someone elses bed to get some sleep!They really need to know the transsmission factor.If I ever get rid of these things,NO ONE is coming to my house,no one is allowed here now either.These bugs just isolate you. I really hate bugs espespcially these cowardly,sneak attack tiny bloodsuckers.Someone really has got to get out this message to avoid the whole planet being infested.

12 kitt December 25, 2007 at 1:36 pm

i got bedbugs living in nyc last summer. they were treated by an exterminator but when i moved out i still spread them to different households i visited (4 total– 3 that i was staying at and one that i just visited for a night). i still have them, so i’ve had them in total in my life for about 16 months. i know them well, and like some other people on this board have suggested, they have evolved and exterminators do not know everything about them.

here’s what i’ve learned.

-they will burrow into your body when in a treated environment in an attempt to survive. their favorite places to go in my experience are: my hairline (around my temple especially), armpits, and (sorry, but this is undeniable) in my anus and vagina.
-they are not active only at night. they will bite anytime.
-they are not visible and a low-grade infestation cannot be detected by anything other than body sensations.
-if you have an infestation, expect them to be on your body basically all the time. and they will drop themselves off everywhere you go, and revisit you the next time you go there (especially in wooden chairs/furniture) and the infestation will start again.
-prayer does not work.

i’m so grateful for this site. the emotional stress of this and the damage done to my relationships has been incredible. not to mention the financial stress. i think these things may be unbeatable.

13 kitt December 25, 2007 at 1:43 pm

…i meant to say they are not *always* visible… it’s possible to have an ongoing lowgrade infestation and never see a bug.

and they will live anywhere. anywhere. not just in wood and not just in a bed. i just had, after being bedbug free for about 2 months, a recurrence because i opened a small plastic bag with some random xmas presents in it which was in my closet during the last two fumigations i had which otherwise seemed to treat them. as soon as i opened the bag i felt them spreading on my skin, but didn’t see anything. (i now have had 7 bites, very small)

also, they panic when treatment has been dispensed and they will put up a fight before dying, and often their fight is successful and they are able to resist death and continue their life cycle in various ways including those described above.

you can often feel them crawling on you and not see them at all and people will think you’re crazy if you tell them.

14 nobugsonme December 25, 2007 at 3:47 pm

kitt said,

-they will burrow into your body when in a treated environment in an attempt to survive. their favorite places to go in my experience are: my hairline (around my temple especially), armpits, and (sorry, but this is undeniable) in my anus and vagina.

-if you have an infestation, expect them to be on your body basically all the time. and they will drop themselves off everywhere you go, and revisit you the next time you go there (especially in wooden chairs/furniture) and the infestation will start again.


you can often feel them crawling on you and not see them at all and people will think you’re crazy if you tell them.

kitt, I am sorry you have had bed bugs for 16 months. I am perplexed since they are treatable. Even pesticide resistant bed bugs can be gotten rid of–completely–with proper, thorough treatment. I encourage you to find someone who can do that. You do not need to live with this problem.

However, there were some inaccuracies in what you said. First, bed bugs do NOT stay on your body all the time. In fact, they only crawl onto you to feed, which takes 5-10 minutes. Then they leave and hide, off of your person. They do not “burrow into your body” or live on your hairline. They are 1mm to 6mm in size (1/32 to 1/6 inch) and so are visible. And not designed to enter your skin.

The crawly sensations you describe are called formication–and are a real sensation. But even though it feels like bugs are crawling on you often, they are not.

I am not sure if you ever saw a bed bug (or a PCO identified that you had them for sure), but if not, I would strongly encourage you to make sure you do not have another problem. There are mites (like scabies) and body lice and other organisms that DO live on your skin, and a PCO would not be able to remove them. (A doctor could.) There are medical conditions like folliculitis and other problems which can also be treated. I mention this because it is possible–from what you describe–that bed bugs are not the problem.

15 hopelessnomo December 25, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Kitt, I’m very sorry for what you are going through.

The crawling sensations are indeed a normal response to a bedbug infestation but do not, in fact, mean that there are bedbugs crawling on you all the time. There is a FAQ about this topic here. For some of us, there are some lingering sensations and skin reactions that may occur for a few weeks past the point when our bedbug infestation is eradicated. The allergic response to bedbugs is not completely understood.

But skin reactions or sensations that do not resolve for such a long time should be seen by a doctor or dermatologist.

Bedbugs are not difficult to see out in the open. They are sometimes difficult to see because they hide in harborage locations in your home and only come out when they feed. This is usually when you are sleeping or resting. Yes, bedbugs can bite at any time of the day and yes they can be very hard to get rid of but based on what you describe and what we have learned over many months of research, bedbugs do not exhibit the behavior you describe. Please keep in mind that we have had bedbugs ourselves and known the personal stories of many, many others.

Human contact with bedbugs is incidental. They feed for a few minutes and then they hide in locations away from your body but close to where you sleep or rest or in other places in your home. They do not, however, hide in your body.

I must reiterate that bedbugs do not hide in our bodies. Only in extreme cases of homelessness or a person living in isolation with a very large bedbug infestation will there be any bedbugs crawling on a person or on their clothes in the manner you describe.

Further, bedbugs do not burrow in human skin. This is not even controversial or disputed in any way. They do not.

I suggest that you consult qualified entomologists who can help identify if there is another culprit. It is possible to obtain samples with clear tape for identification. There may be other medical or environmental conditions to identify and address.

Consulting a doctor, a dermatologist and getting help from a caring entomologist would be what I would do if I were in your position.

There is always a solution and there is no need to fight alone. I’m not sure how you are handling this problem but you cannot do it on your own.

I hope that you take some positive steps to identify and solve your situation.

Please let us know if you need anything from us.

16 hopelessnomo December 25, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Sorry! Cross-posted with Nobugs.

17 nobugsonme December 25, 2007 at 4:10 pm

bugbasher said,

“I think of them as a cross between a tick and a louse.Lice travel on you and so do the bedbugs!”

bugbasher–it is true that people do spread bed bugs when they leave home, but (as per my and hopelessnomo’s responses to kitt) it is important to remember they only do so by hitchhiking briefly in a bag, a rolled trouser cuff, a jacket pocket, etc. They don’t live and travel on our bodies per se as lice would.

It’s also a good idea to keep some perspective on how often this happens, and doesn’t happen. While we need to take precautions against spreading our bed bugs, it is not true that there would always be a bed bug traveling with you–except possibly (as hopelessnomo suggests) in cases where people have a seriously larger infestation or travel with all their possessions and clothing on.

I think that once your bed bugs are gone, it would be a sad thing if you never had friends over again. The best thing we can do, in my opinion, is educate friends about the need to search for bed bugs in hotel rooms, avoid taking in discarded furniture, and so on. I think it is completely normal to feel, during a bed bug experience, that you never want to have others over again. I just hope this feeling will go away for you, as it seems to for most of us.

18 kitt December 25, 2007 at 5:14 pm

thanks everyone. you’re so kind!! i really appreciate your feedback and your offers of help.

here are a few responses:

1) re: burrowing sensation. well, i’ve heard this before, from a doctor i saw and an exterminator who treated my sister’s house (successfully, though i haven’t treated mine successfully), about them not burrowing, and about the crawling sensations not being real. they both said it was “psychological.” well, they had never had bed bugs. and there’s nothing you can really say to that because the more you insist it’s real the crazier you sound…. and i understand that it is not what you all believe, as well, probably for good reason, but it is consistently my experience and i do believe that it is true– i have felt them burrowing, especially last summer when the infestation was at its worst. and when the infestation is active i absolutely feel them on me during the daytime on my person when i am nowhere near my living quarters.

i am convinced that they live on our bodies, but not in their adult stage, only in the nymph stage. and i’m also convinced that alcohol does not kill them, and that they are also not vulnerable to water, either, and absolutely NO over-the-counter remedy at all. nothing but a full-on gassing of professional ingredients has gotten rid of them in my experience. this is what i mean about how they’ve evolved and exterminators and doctors don’t understand this.

i guess i could be wrong but i really think it’s true based on the physical sensations i have and the ways i’ve put together pieces of the puzzle each time the infest. has recurred. they definitely burrow if nothing else to just bite, because that’s why the bites always have this pinprick look to them, because they leave an opening in the skin when the crawl out, unlike mosquitoes which don’t require such a large opening to get their feeding.

2) re: my failure to rid myself of them. part of the reason i’ve had a hard time treating them is that i move constantly due to my work. i don’t have a steady address– i’ve had 7 living spaces (hotels/temporary apartments) and 4 different time zones in the past 16 months since first getting the terrible and massive infestation in NYC last summer. i somehow managed to bring them to each and every one.

perhaps in this way i qualify as a kind of “extreme case of homelessness or isolation” which hopelessnomo mentioned.

and i’ve had them treated successfully twice over the past 16 months (by professionals… in all the other addresses pros were not available but i used stuff i bought online and had sent to me.) with the pros it worked but i “always missed a spot” in one way or another, and, like this recurrence (small plastic bag) they have returned because of how tenacious they are. when i did it myself, i experienced the reduction to a “low grade infestation” and these odd sensations which i’ve talked about– burrowing, travelling with me on my body, and the sense that they seem to *crawl out of hiding* randomly, during the day… believe me, i have felt this. i’ve been at lunch with a client and all of a sudden i feel this undeniable crawling sensation in spot near my hairline– or in my underwear. it’s awful. there have been bites in these areas (including my private areas!!!!!!!!) which confirm this.

3) id’ing them: yes, i did see 2 of them last summer when the infestation first started and was at its absolute worst. 2 of my friends who i spread them to also saw one in their apts after i told them to look for them.

now, i am at a dear family friend for christmas and in that bag of presents i have carried them here again. it’s one of the same places i originally infested. they have a small baby. they were very gracious at first– didn’t make me pay for the exterminator, had compassion for me etc– but this time, i think they’re going to be pissed. i’m literally having a breakdown over telling them. (i don’t think they’ve sensed them yet, but i can feel them here and i have new bites every day since i’ve arrived (on sat), as well, and all the other crazy sensations i described as well). meanwhile, i’m leaving tomorrow, and i think i ought to be here for the treatment process. so i’ve got to make a decision and tell them asap.

they have truly defied reason and logic in their ability to survive all of my attempts to eliminate them.

please tell me if you have any suggestions.

thanks again!!!!!! your solidarity is a lifeline for me!!!!!!!!!!!!

19 kitt December 25, 2007 at 5:26 pm

also, i’ve experienced health problems due to significant exposure to pesticides which i’ve endured since august of 06. part of it is my fault– i have sprayed chemicals directly onto my bedding and clothing and even in my body when i was in states of extreme frustration about this situation…. hair loss and ongoing stomach pain are the most obvious, i’m sure possible infertility and organ damage is resulting as well.

i know this may sound like it doesn’t make sense but if you knew the precise timeline of where i went and when and what i experienced and what chemicals i had access to and when, you’d understand. i won’t lay all that out for you, but suffice it to say that i’ve had them in each place i’ve been to since the original terrible infestation and have treated them or attempted to in every place i’ve had them one way or another.

oh, and i had a doctor check for scabies and she told me what to look for (between the fingers bites) and they are not scabies.

20 hopelessnomo December 25, 2007 at 6:12 pm

The best advice we can give you is to consult a doctor as soon as possible.

If you can take anything away from your visit here, it should be:

a) bedbugs do not live on human skin. Experiencing crawling sensations, while there may be a psychological component, may also be simply a physiological response to bedbug bites. The bites occur at a certain point and when the allergic reaction manifests, you feel a pinprick or the actual surfacing of the bite reaction creates a sensation that you are aware of. Many people report such sensations in addition to crawling sensations. However, if you had bedbugs and experience crawling sensations, again, these sensations do NOT signify actual bugs crawling on you. They are a skin response. The skin reacts to different things in similar ways. That is why a lot of illnesses and a lot of medications can produce prickling or crawling sensations. A crawling sensation does not equal a bug or insect.

b) you should immediately stop all pesticide treatments. I mean, right away and never contemplate doing something like that again. I am very sorry that you have had such bad information or such choices out of such despair but you can stop today. Please do not exposure yourself or any others to chemicals that you have no knowledge about and that can make you sick. Again, bedbugs do not live on human skin. I know this is hard for you to accept now but I assure you that it’s the truth.

When I referred to extreme homelessness and isolation I meant people who are unable to change their clothes or shower or sleep in clean bedding.

Can you make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible? A thorough inspection of your home can also be done by a pest control professional or by an entomologist. If there is no biting pest, then you must consider what else could be causing your symptoms and proceed from there.

Do not continue to self-treat or to act in accordance with incomplete and erroneous information. What you describe is not bedbugs, but if it is a biting pest, it can be found and eliminated.

21 kitt December 25, 2007 at 6:59 pm

thanks….. gotta process this……

22 kitt December 25, 2007 at 7:01 pm

leaving the US in a few days… going to a country where they could never offer me help with this, but what on earth could it be, really?

23 hopelessnomo December 25, 2007 at 7:43 pm

There are many, many things that can cause skin conditions, from allergies, to environmental and medical conditions, to medications, etc. The list is very, very long, kitt. Abusing pesticides and improperly using them in your bedding and on your skin is another SURE way to make yourself miserable and to have a cycle of skin reactions seemingly never end. The way I saw it described somewhere I don’t have at hand now is that the skin has a “limited repertory of reactions” and it pulls out the same old ones in a variety of circumstances and conditions.

Talk to your doctor about any possible symptoms, prickling, crawling, numbness, irritation, itching, blisters, or things that look like “bites” and resist making everything worse by scratching or using inappropriate remedies… and keep an open mind. Do not assume bedbugs or some kind of infestation. Just investigate and see where the evidence and medical advice leads you.

Even in the normal course of a real bedbug infestation, skin responses vary, and people can have immediate or delayed reactions or immediate plus delayed reactions. So you can see, if your original infestation (which I do not doubt was real) was eradicated but you continued to have some skin reactions and symptoms and you therefore mistakenly believed that your infestation continued… In short, I can understand how it might be possible for someone in that situation to make everything worse by continued and ever more despairing and even irresponsible self-treatment and especially by not consulting doctors and others qualified to help.

Any number of things could be happening in your situation and the best possible thing is to consult a doctor and disclose the entire history of your symptoms and what you have done and/or taken in an attempt to alleviate them.

Go see your doctor before your trip. Then, proceed from that advice.

24 nobugsonme December 25, 2007 at 9:03 pm

Hi kitt,
Everything hopelessnomo says is wise and true.
We know how bad bed bugs can get.

But we also know they do not burrow in your skin. You can see a photo of a first instar nymph feeding on an entomologist’s arm here. It IS small. But it is as small as bed bugs get and not small enough to go inside the skin. Lou Sorkin is the man with the finger, and he studies them and we trust him.

I hope you will see a doctor as hopelessnomo suggests. Lots of things can cause such itching and marks. Pesticides can greatly irritate your skin. So can drying skin by washing in hot water a lot (as many people in such cirumstances do). Scabies is not always between the fingers. Folliculitis can look and feel like bed bug bites.

I don’t think doctors in other countries would have trouble with many of these diagnoses. Please keep trying to find the real source of the current problem, and please stop using pesticides.

25 kitt December 26, 2007 at 1:40 am

okay, going to the doctor tomorrow.

26 hopelessnomo December 26, 2007 at 1:59 pm

That’s good, kitt. Make sure you give a complete history, include all the information you told us. I’ll think good thoughts.

27 nobugsonme December 26, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Good luck, kitt!

28 kitt December 26, 2007 at 8:52 pm

thanks folks. well, i went today and the results were, as i suspected, inconclusive. he didn’t even listen to the whole history. (someday, someday…someone will listen to it all! ) i don’t blame him. it is rather meandering. anyway, he got impatient after about 5 minutes of me trying to give him the 16 month play by play, and ultimately was just concerned with present symptoms. which were…as stated…inconclusive. it seems i either have bedbugs that act like scabies or scabies that act like bed bugs. i *swear* they have mutated, and there is a weird hybrid bug out there that scientists don’t even know about. why? because ultimately, the two contradictory traits that are consistent are: 1) the sensation of burrowing and of living on me and especially in the crevices of my body (a scabies-like trait). 2) a very long lifespan in spite of lack of feedings (a bb trait).

regarding the burrowing and living on me sensation, just today i was in the movies and my arms started flaming up like crazy (on the old bites that are already there, plus two little tiny new bites) while i was sitting in the dark watching the movie. as soon as i left the theater this flameup ceased.

so he’s treating me for scabies, and gave me instructions of what to do, wash, vacuum, etc, like i don’t know how to do that already…. i’m still not sure what to do about my hosts. he suggested not getting them worried until i see how this treatment effects things….

thanks for your good thoughts, hopelessnomo and nobugsonme! i hope this is really the end of this nightmare.

29 kitt December 26, 2007 at 8:58 pm

btw, is there a scabies blog that’s as active as this one?

30 hopelessnomo December 26, 2007 at 10:23 pm

I’m sorry that your doctor was not more helpful.

Actually, I’m sorry that I have not been more helpful to you, to be honest and that all the reasonable explanations I offered you were not useful to you.

If I may be frank, the sooner you start thinking in practical, problem-solving ways, and the sooner you move away from a persistent belief that you, and you alone, are afflicted with a strange, unique, hitherto unknown burrowing/hybrid bug–the characteristics of which are NOT based in fact or science–the sooner you will get better.

I know this is very hard to comprehend in your situation but I will repeat: a crawling sensation (or indeed any other kind of skin reaction) does not, does NOT equal a bug infestation that is unidentifiable. These are normal, again, NORMAL responses that are caused by something real, including a real bedbug infestation where your skin is constantly reacting to current and previous bites or other known and perfectly understood biting pests, or a medical condition, or an allergic response to something in your environment–and you can investigate and find the cause of your troubles, with the assistance of professionals and scientists. Further, if you continue to use and abuse pesticides in your environment and on your body, your problem will likely get worse.

If you persist in these various thoughts, the road to getting better will be difficult. I hope that is not what you actually want. I hope that you want and hope to be healthy and active and to have your life back.

My best advice is to continue to seek medical and professional advice (dermatologists, entomologists, pest control professionals) and to keep an open mind to the solutions, explanations and counsel that such people may offer.

And, as far as the internet, there are a lot of scary sites out there that peddle fear, paranoia, and outright lies. Please do not seek them.

31 nobugsonme December 27, 2007 at 3:44 am

Scabies is not difficult to treat. Follow the doctor’s instructions and if you have scabies, as it sounds like you may, then it should go away. If not, please go to the doctor (or if you have already left the country, a local doctor). Although most cases of scabies clear in one treatment (and should certainly improve), I have heard in some cases a second treatment–by a doctor–is necessary. Doctors can also take skin scrapings to positively ID scabies.

Scabies is found worldwide and a doctor in any country can help you. The important thing is to persist in seeing doctors until the problem is gone.

There is no way that scabies and bed bugs have mutated into a hybrid. Bed bugs are insects, scabies are mites. Besides, they are wildly different in size and behavior. You may be being bitten by some other kind of mite and you absolutely need a doctor and perhaps eventually an entomologist to help (but the doctor will know if that is needed).

I know this is frustrating, but please do persist with the doctors.

32 Cliff17 May 18, 2009 at 3:53 pm

I don’t want to throw water on a grease fire and stir the pot. However, earlier on this page I read where someone definitively said that “bedbugs do not burrow under your skin”. I sincerely hope this is true. However, if it’s true that they do not, then there is still on awful lot to clear up about them, because my doctor told me they do. She even gave me a prescription for a body cream meant to do away with them. Clearly, a lot of misinformation is out there on one side or the other. My exterminator recommends rubbing alcohol; 91%. Dispensed via a simple spray bottle. This will definitely kill them. The problem of course, is finding them all. -Cliff

33 nobugsonme May 18, 2009 at 5:37 pm


I can unequivocally assure you that bed bugs do NOT burrow under your skin.

Scabies mites do, however. Are you sure your doctor was not talking about scabies — the symptoms of bed bug bites are sometimes mistaken for scabies. Scabies is treated with a body cream as you describe.

Your pest pro is right that 91% alcohol will kill bed bugs on contact. However, you are extremely unlikely to be able to spray even a small percentage of your bed bugs directly. You will not “find them all.” I hope your pest management professional is using a variety of more serious treatments than this alcohol contact kill spray.

34 nobugsonme November 7, 2009 at 3:25 am

Comments for this thread are closed. If you want to discuss bed bugs or talk to others who’ve had them, please come to the Bedbugger Forums.

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