Bed bugs? Carpet beetles? Am I going insane? (first timer here)(7 posts)
First time poster here. I hardly ever actually register for specialized forums when I'm searching the internet for a solution to a problem. But this has me absolutely stumped. I will be as descriptive as I possibly can.
First, my situation. Yesterday, I woke up in the morning and had random itches. I didn't think anything of it until I stepped in front of the mirror to shave. I realized that I had approximately 30-40 "bites" in various parts of my body. The morning before, nothing AT ALL. The bites seemed to be mosquitoes, with respect to both the appearance and the itching sensation.
A little something about me and mosquitoes. As a whole, I have zero allergies that I know of. I don't believe I've ever had a rash aside from jock itch, and my skin is immune to poison oak. But mosquitoes... those little buggers love me to death. First of all, I can never feel when they bite me. So unless I see it right away, I never know until it's too late. Secondly, I ALWAYS get bit more than once by the same mosquito. I once had one stuck in my room that bit me 6 different times. Any time I am in a position where I can be bitten, I always get bitten at minimum 4 times as much as others near me. Last, mosquito bites get pretty darn big on me. On average, each mosquito bite will typically swell to the size of a nickel. It isn't uncommon for them to swell bigger than a quarter though.
So anyways, back to my problem. I started to look over my bites in the mirror, but really took more of a quick glance as I was running late for work. From that glance, I noticed that the bites were IDENTICAL to mosquito bites. The size was dead on, and they appeared white with hardly noticeable redness around the perimeter. There was no obvious "center" that would be common with most insect bites. They seemed to be randomly scattered. Most were on my stomach, with my sides and back coming in second. Then there were a few on my legs, a single bunch on my buttocks, and very few on my arms. Some were scattered out individually, but in quite a few places the bumps were grouped together and overlapping even. As I thought about it on my way to work, I remembered waking up about twice during the night with intense itching. I'm a heavy sleeper, though, so I was in no way alert and fell back asleep immediately after scratching.
I literally scratched these bumps all day long. I usually half good self-control with mosquito bites, and only catch myself scratching them a few times. But this was completely different. As I scratched, the itching got exponentially more intense. On my legs especially, I could not control myself. I literally scratched until the pain from scratching was greater than the itching. Meanwhile, the bumps neither grew nor shrank in size. There was more red around the bumps, but I attributed that to the scratching. Literally nothing changed until I restrained myself from scratching. The swollen areas went away within a few hours, leaving behind only tiny red spots (probably where I broke the skin from scratching). The areas that I scratched less left behind almost no sign of the bites.
I have a pretty extreme case of ADHD, and medical issues tend to make my hyper-focus go completely out of control. That evening, I spent a good hour and a half researching bed bugs once I suspected them. There was literally no sign of mosquitoes anywhere in my apartment, and I leave the windows closed. I then proceeded to spend almost 5 HOURS looking for any sign of bed bugs in my bedroom, armed with only a Maglite and a cheap magnifying glass. I have no furniture in there besides my bed, and there's a closet. Of course, every single piece of fuzz and lint looked like a bug to me. Periodically, I would take a break from looking and do more research. Then I would look at images. In that entire time, I didn't manage to find a single thing that indicated bed bugs. And I only managed to search the creases in my mattress, along with the nearby creases where the baseboard meets the carpet. I also looked over the ENTIRE top of the mattress, along with the creases of the boxspring. Nothing.
That night, I kept the flashlight within reach of my bed. I did not lay down until about 3:10. At approximately 5:15 (this morning, by the way), I was awakened by the same intense itching as the night before. As soon as I was alert (about 2 minutes), I grabbed the flashlight and began slowly peeling back the covers. I searched and searched. Spent about an hour total, and still had absolutely nothing to show for it. I would probably still be searching, but I had to get ready for work. Once again, in front of the mirror to shave. Once again, numerous bumps that appeared to be mosquito bites. I did notice that there seemed to be many more on my stomach this time, and only a handful elsewhere.
So I had a little downtime at work and started doing more research. I have theorized that it may not actually be bed bugs that are at fault, but perhaps the larvae from carpet beetles. However, I cannot find a image to use for comparison of the resulting skin reaction to carpet beetles. I will undoubtedly research this in excess and exhaust all possible options until I get an answer.
Here is any information I can offer that may be even remotely relevant:
I have lived in this apartment for two weeks now.
Before that, I lived in a different apartment in the same complex.
I have no pets.
Just two days prior, pest control had visited to spray.
Also two days prior was the last time I had washed my clothes/bedding.
I use a public laundromat.
I haven't changed detergents in a few months.
My "bed" consists of a box spring and a mattress. Straight on the floor.
To make matters worse, I do not have sheets. I put a comforter down and sleep on top of it with a blanket. I know that I urgently need to change this, but my ex-wife and I just separated two months ago, and money has been tight.
I have a pillow (purchased about a month ago) with a pillow case.
The mattress is less than a year old. It was purchased by my older sister, then used for about two months and put into storage. I have been sleeping on it for two weeks total.
I've had maybe 3 guests over in the past week. One of them may have been in my bedroom at some point, but I can't recall. None of them have similar symptoms.
I shower daily. Sometimes twice.
I am not home often, as I work two jobs and go to college four nights a week.
Neither of my jobs are "dirty" per se. Computer technician and waiter.
I keep my carpet clean, for the most part. However, I do not own a vacuum cleaner yet. Again, money is scarce right now.
That's about everything I can think of. Please, I am begging you guys to help me. This is only day two, and the situation combined with an unhealthy lack of sleep is making me lose my mind. Plus, my two-year-old daughter is coming to visit for the weekend tomorrow afternoon. I'm afraid that we will have to stay at my parents' house.
Oh yeah, a couple other things.
I live in northern AL, so a predominately warm climate. Temps have been slightly above mild for the past couple weeks now.
The bumps pretty much disappeared within a couple hours this morning. I fought back most urges to scratch them.
This was probably inferred but I have no roommates.
Also, I will go ahead and admit that I did not read any of the stickies before posting this, which is very uncharacteristic of me. I am majoring in Computer Science, so I'm rather familiar with forum conventions online. This whole ordeal has me so on edge though, and checking the stickies was the last thing on my mind. I'm going through them right now while I await a response.
Thanks so much in advance. I really hope I can get some help here.
Welcome. You have a few things working in your favor:
A. You don't have a lot of stuff, so inspection and treatment should be relatively easy.
B. You're inspecting, so if there are BB in your home, you're likely to catch them early.
Your bites might be reactions to mosquito bites or other allergens. You might also be having a delayed reaction to BB bites you sustained outside the home, a few days or weeks back. Based on that, I'd "chill". BB are not fun, but also not deadly. If you have them, you'll know in time and you'll deal with them. The "horror stories" are outlier cases.
Best bet, read our FAQ, end to end, so you have a foundation to build on. Develop an empowered mindset. Develop and maintain an inspection routine.
Treat yourself as best as you can. Try to get out and enjoy the spring. Between the separation and the BB scare, this is a sensitive time for you.
I hope this helps.
Yeah, there have been a TON of things stressing me out lately. So naturally, I lost it at the mere thought of this. But I have been reading the FAQ since I posted, and the info has been very helpful thus far.
I'm sure that a delayed reaction is quite possible, if not probable. Before moving into the two-bedroom in which I currently reside, I was living in a furnished efficiency. Yeah, furnished as in had a day bed. And no, I didn't even have a sheet back then. I don't recall ever seeing any bugs besides a single roach the day I was moving out. But I only would have looked if something made me suspect it.
Regardless of how this situation reaches a resolution, I'm sure it will be a major learning experience for me. I will update as I have time. I'll certainly get some pics up tomorrow, as I'm sure the fresh bites will be much more clear.
Again, thanks a bunch. Even if I'm still distances away from an answer, it is reassuring to hear back from someone.
Don't worry about getting pix of the bites. People post them here all the time, but the answer is "we can't tell". Do keep a record for yourself if the bites increase in number, drop or stay steady. Now that you have a baseline of understanding (you've read the FAQ), you'll be on the lookout for signs of bugs, should they appear. Bed bugs are good at hiding, but are not invisible. They and their signs can be spotted, if you know what to look for and have a good routine. If trouble manifests, you'll know the precautions to take to continue "having a life" with confidence. Did you mention school? If so, is there a student life office you could turn to for assistance, if necessary (like, maybe someone on or off campus has a PackTite, should you ever need one).
This website is incredibly useful. I can't believe such a repository of knowledge on this subject even exists!
And honestly, the more things I read from this website, the less I think that my little nuisance is BB-related. Or, at least, related to an active infection. It just doesn't make sense to me that I would go from absolutely no bites to 40-50 individual ones. Is it common for the onset of bites to be that extreme?
I think my next step will be finding a video of BBs actually moving. Because I have no idea how fast they are, or how obvious the movement is. All I know is that I haven't seen a single thing move in my bed. But I was getting rather tired of staring at pieces of lint and waiting for them to move, heh.
Just speculation here, going on what I've read thus far, there's only one scenario that would make BBs a likely cause here. When I washed my bedding earlier in the week, I'm sure it is possible that some live eggs managed to stick to my blanket and comforter. I could have slept comfortable one night without getting bitten if they hadn't hatched yet.
But alas, I'm still a noob. Reading more.
...oh, jeez. I just stumbled across the hotel pic of the fecal matter. It hasn't been recently (as in the last 3 years), but I distinctly remember sleeping on a mattress with those marks before. Can't remember where, but I definitely recognize the marks. Ugh... gross.
Eggs are hard to dislodge, but die from the dryer's heat. Comforters should be given extra time for heat to penetrate. (It does not need to be very hot, just about 130F).
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