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Bedbugs as an allergy catalyst

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  1. bedbuggery

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Oct 25 2009 2:55:14
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    It's been about eight months since I got rid of bugs and began a long recovery back to health.
    When I was living with bedbugs I developed a huge spectrum of symptoms including; sore joints, anaphylactic attacks, fever like symptoms, insomnia, jumpiness, dysphoria (doom), asthma, angiodema, diarrhea, vomiting, weekness, contact/allergic/and shower urticaria, and a resurgence of panic disorder that had been under control since high school.

    Before my run in with these bugs I was 15 pounds above my average wight. I had been living and working on a salmon fishing resort in Alaska and was healthier than a horse. I've never had asthma and I've certainly never experienced anaphylaxis or any skin condition of any kind.

    I still have shower urticaria and dry skin, and I seem to have picked up allergies to both dust mites and flea bites that result in a resurgence of a lot of my old symptoms including asthma (although less so.)

    I don't think that we can look at bedbugs as simply an "allergen" because they actually exacerbate, and maybe even cause immune system sensitization. I have the notion that prolonged exposure plays a role in this and it supports that bedbug populations need to be treated aggressively and immediately. One of the things that make them so difficult if you are allergic is that, say, with peanut or detergent allergies- you can simply avoid these things because a peanut doesn't depend on biting you for it's survival. I think this last factor contributes to a unique situation that results in prolonged and very uncommon "tampering" with the immune system that causes it to go haywire. (obviously I'm no doctor.)

    One of the more documented conditions that bedbugs cause is Urticaria, which is an autoimmune disorder, so is asthma for that matter. Which combination of exposure/allergic susceptibility does it take for someone to develop thyroiditis, or systemic reactions?

    Can anyone see my point here? On these grounds bedbugs are a public health threat to an unknown cross section of the population and that alone should be enough to legislate wiping out their populations.

  2. ruthven78

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Oct 25 2009 3:19:22
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    I'm no psych but I'd reckon there is more of a psychological process here than physical.....people would be amazed at how many asthmatics put themselves into severe asthma attacks purely based on psychological response. Im a registered respiratory therapist and I can tell you asthma is not an autoimmune disorder....or I should say is not strictly an autoimmune disorder, there are many other things that cause asthma that are not linked to an immune response.

    IMHO I think your anxiety and panic disorder, possibly also depression, has your body so keyed up that it over reacts to the smallest stimuli giving your the hives, anaphylaxis, etc. I not trying to demean you but I think you should consider therapy. I already had been seeing a psychologist for other reasons prior to getting bedbugs and I know Ive been having big anxiety issues during just the 2-3 weeks Ive had them.

  3. bedbuggery

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Oct 25 2009 4:44:04
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    Yes, I have had therapy thank you, and I don't consider this dimeaning but responsible. And in fact I actually scared my therapist that I would infest his office (he didn't even realize that they were a blood feeder until the third session- until then it was all in my head?)

    The point about this post is that I have NEVER had asthma until my run in w/ them. And I am no stranger to stress. I am no doc, but I definitely wouldn't see myself as "asthmatic." Stress has never caused this and it's pretty obvious to me that it's directly related to an allergic response from insect bites.

    Here is a journal I just found which demonstrates that

    "It is concluded that IgG is present against C. lectularius (bedbugs), C. pipiens (mosquitos), and P. irritans (fleas) in papular urticaria and may contribute to its pathogenesis."

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/p0u0354451l10461/fulltext.pdf?page=1

    This would explain a lot about my situation. I also read a few months ago that urticaria can trigger systemic reactions including anaphylaxis. As a lot of the people on this site seem to display symptoms of urticaria, this (for the consideration of Nobugsonme in particular) would be a noteable angle to approach the topic of "bedbugs as a public health concern."

    Im a registered respiratory therapist and I can tell you asthma is not an autoimmune disorder....or I should say is not strictly an autoimmune disorder, there are many other things that cause asthma that are not linked to an immune response.

    I don't want to assume medical or scientific authority here but to my understanding urticaria is also "not strictly an autoimmune disorder" but we aren't talking about dust irritation or exercise, these things appear to be exacerbated by a prolonged immune response to Cimex antigens. The point I'm making from this is that I think it's reasonable to say these dormant conditions wouldn't have surfaced if not for repeated bug bites/immune responses, and to me no symptoms=no condition.

    Also you have just added yourself to my list of medical professionals who have dismissed my symptoms because of panic disorder. I realize that Occams razor provides a wonderful excuse for diagnostic laziness but seriously... can a person who has had a panic attack ever have physical health problems? The only reason I brought up panic disorder was that it was on my list of problems from the bugs. And honestly, no one even knows what panic disorder is so I appreciate the ability to espouse your affinity for medical pop culture.

    Ok, really though, I know you are trying to help and thank you. And if you are a respiratory therapist and only 3 weeks deep in your infestation then I ask you please PLEASE if you develop any symptoms similar to mine then use your medical connections to find out what the he11 is going on!!
    I would be very grateful and the info. would be valuable to others like me.

  4. pleasebugsgoaway

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Mon Oct 26 2009 16:37:19
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    I definitely think bedbug exposure (or any allergen exposure) can cause/worsen other allergies. The immune response is not perfectly specific; when you react to bedbugs, you're also revving up your immune response in general. Probably, there are lots of examples of this, but the only one I can think of right now is when pts with multiple sclerosis (an autoimmune disease) get any infection, their MS can get much worse, even though the immune response is presumably directed at the bug that caused the infection (typically, a uti). My husband, a bedbug bite non-reactor, was in sort of the opposite situation that you describe: he had a 10 minute reaction to bed-bug bites while he was experiencing anaphylaxis to something else (an unknown food; this happens to him periodically.) The bites appeared during the anaphylaxis, then they disappeared and never returned. I posted this here a few weeks ago.

  5. bedbuggery

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Mon Oct 26 2009 23:29:59
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    Are u sure these weren't hives? They can be intensely itchy and are one of the symptoms of anaphylaxis.

    What I'm addressing in particular is prolonged exposure, maybe at least 6 mos and onward.
    I would figure that stress, sleep deprivation, and increased allergy play a roll in this but what I've noticed on the forums is that many people have developed similar symptoms (urticaria.)

    You would think that if it were just stress then people would be experiencing different and unique problems related to their chemistry (which we are.) But I believe there is some kind of acute sensitization going on here. For instance, when I was younger my house had a flea infestation.
    It was pretty bad and I would get bites all over me, no matter where I slept in the house. This went on for like a couple of months during the summer and it drove me crazy. But I never developed asthma or urticaria, or anaphylaxis. But now when a flea bites me, I get all of those.

  6. watkinsnewan

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Oct 27 2009 0:10:51
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    hello there!! Smile it could be worse!! BUt with that said I would really like to put my two cents into this conversation!!
    I have a 22 month old daughter who is adopted!! I got her when she was 1 month old!! She was diagnosed with bronchitis when she was about 8 months old and asthma at18 months old( I thought it was cause her bio mom smoked around her and while she was pragnent)!!!! She is a very healthy and rambunctious young one other wise!! I have been monitoring this problem the whole time ... Well this is involved so let me brake it down almost 4 months ago we bombed!! NO buggs for 3 months!! 3 weeks ago I treated the house with Ortho home defance max!! !! She has not gotten bitten at all!! no bites no bugs!! I was giving her treatments At least once A month for over a year !! SUCKS!! since I have been fighting the bugs she has not had a attack!! an now that I think about I have not been to the DR for her bronchitis since 6-25-09!! WOW that is a record!! I have also noticed (pre BB) when she would sleep I had to keep the ceiling fan on and a air purifier running!!
    any thoughts....

  7. BBCOUKonTour

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Oct 27 2009 0:22:56
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    I think the range of effects of bed bugs on different people is vast. Some are not that affected while others have a much harder time with them both physical and mentally.

    There is also a great range between physical and mental responses that people seem to suffer. Thankfully the extreme reactions are rare and I have only seen two cases which were what I would classify as a serious medical concern.

    There does seem to be some correlation observed between some underlying medical conditions and reactions to infestations of which asthma is a prime case. In such situations the best advice you can get will always be your medical professionals as they can take a more informed decision of how to best treat the symptoms.

    It is certainly an area where a clinical cases review would help but quite who would be in the best position to conduct such a study I am not too sure but if anyone picks up that ball I would hope there is a mechanism for some people to be able to submit their records for review to attempt to understand the correlations.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

  8. bedbuggery

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Oct 27 2009 2:45:57
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    Also I think people come to these forums because they are having physical or mental issues from BB's (lord knows I did!)
    Still, I think there are certain conditions (like asthma and various urticaria aka; "phantom bites") that are surfaced by infestations and I am very curious of the parameters involved and how common/likely they are.

    See thread http://bedbugger.com/2007/03/16/lingering-sensations-phantom-bed-bug-bites-what-does-a-bed-bug-infestation-really-do-to-our-skin/

    I agree about the clinical cases.. it would be fantastic to have a dermatologist conduct scratch tests .

  9. NewBlood

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Oct 27 2009 10:27:36
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    This is an interesting topic indeed! I'm not sure if this is the best place to post this, but my reactions to bed bug bites (if that's what they are) is extremely varied.

    [1]- I have extremely itchy bites around my feet and ankles which have remained with me for two months - they usually flare up in the shower (heat causes them to become itchy) as well. They seem to swell occasionally - as they're usually flat, but become raised whenever they itch.

    [2]- I have 'mystery' bites that show up on my arms around mid-day or evening. They itch for a few minutes then never itch again - although they remain red and slightly raised for 1-2 days before becoming flat and vanishing. I never see anything biting my arms though and these bites are never present upon waking up.

    [3]- Sometimes I wake up with a bite on my stomach. These bites itch like the mystery bites do (for a few seconds) then become red bumps which last for a week or two before going away. They never itch, and when they vanish they tend to peel away (flaky skin slightly, like sunburn in a circle) - unlike the arm bites I receive which just go away with no residue or marks.

    [4]- Finally I have a host of bites on my right calf that don't itch often, have been here for two weeks and HURT if I was to scratch at them. They are bright red - unlike my other bites which are pinkish in color - and have a white mark in the center.

    If it wasn't for a bed bug dog indicating that I had bed bugs I would normally think that a host of different insects have formed a league with which to plague me - and take turns biting me. I've never heard of different body parts reacting to bites differently, so it's been leaving me very confused. Of course I have to realize that just because one has bed bugs doesn't mean OTHER bugs are going to leave you alone - so it could be different bugs biting me. It's quite disconcerting - and if I had to guess I'd say the [1] and [4] bites were caused by chiggers/fleas, my arm/stomach bites caused by bed bugs, no-see-ums, allergies or mites. Add to this that I've never seen a single bed bug, casing, blood spot or fecal stain and it's enough to drive one crazy!

  10. Deathlyallergic

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Oct 29 2009 1:54:09
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    bedbuggery - 3 days ago  » 
    It's been about eight months since I got rid of bugs and began a long recovery back to health.
    When I was living with bedbugs I developed a huge spectrum of symptoms including; sore joints, anaphylactic attacks, fever like symptoms, insomnia, jumpiness, dysphoria (doom), asthma, angiodema, diarrhea, vomiting, weekness, contact/allergic/and shower urticaria, and a resurgence of panic disorder that had been under control since high school.
    Before my run in with these bugs I was 15 pounds above my average wight. I had been living and working on a salmon fishing resort in Alaska and was healthier than a horse. I've never had asthma and I've certainly never experienced anaphylaxis or any skin condition of any kind.
    I still have shower urticaria and dry skin, and I seem to have picked up allergies to both dust mites and flea bites that result in a resurgence of a lot of my old symptoms including asthma (although less so.)
    I don't think that we can look at bedbugs as simply an "allergen" because they actually exacerbate, and maybe even cause immune system sensitization. I have the notion that prolonged exposure plays a role in this and it supports that bedbug populations need to be treated aggressively and immediately. One of the things that make them so difficult if you are allergic is that, say, with peanut or detergent allergies- you can simply avoid these things because a peanut doesn't depend on biting you for it's survival. I think this last factor contributes to a unique situation that results in prolonged and very uncommon "tampering" with the immune system that causes it to go haywire. (obviously I'm no doctor.)
    One of the more documented conditions that bedbugs cause is Urticaria, which is an autoimmune disorder, so is asthma for that matter. Which combination of exposure/allergic susceptibility does it take for someone to develop thyroiditis, or systemic reactions?
    Can anyone see my point here? On these grounds bedbugs are a public health threat to an unknown cross section of the population and that alone should be enough to legislate wiping out their populations.

    OMG!!!
    I HAVE ALL THOSE THINGS, I KEPT THINKING IT WAS ALL IN MY HEAD WITH ADDITIONAL HIVES, JOINT ACHES, SOMETIMES SEVERE, SEVERE STOMACH PAIN,( WHICH I THOUGHT WAS MY ULCER, IM SURE PART FROM THE STRESS OF ALL THIS.)
    FEVER LIKE CHILLS BUT NO FEVER, SOMETIMES THESE GET SO BAD I'M DOWN FOR THE WHOLE DAY. I'M NOW ON ANTI-ANXIETY MEDS,
    PARANOID AS HELL THAT THEY ARE CRAWLING ON ME.
    I'M DEATHLY ALLERGIC, STERIOD SHOTS, INHALERS/BREATHING TREATMENTS, PRESCRIPT ANTIHISTIMINES, ETC.....
    MY EXTERMINATOR IS A LITTLE FREAKED OUT BY THE SEVERITY OF MY REACTION, HE IS WORKING AIMLESSLY TO HELP ME SOLVE THIS, AS I DON'T KNOW HOW THEY GOT HERE.
    HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO BE SURE YOU WERE RID OF THEM COMPLETELY?
    HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Deathlyallergic

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Oct 29 2009 1:58:08
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    NewBlood - 1 day ago  » 
    This is an interesting topic indeed! I'm not sure if this is the best place to post this, but my reactions to bed bug bites (if that's what they are) is extremely varied.
    [1]- I have extremely itchy bites around my feet and ankles which have remained with me for two months - they usually flare up in the shower (heat causes them to become itchy) as well. They seem to swell occasionally - as they're usually flat, but become raised whenever they itch.
    [2]- I have 'mystery' bites that show up on my arms around mid-day or evening. They itch for a few minutes then never itch again - although they remain red and slightly raised for 1-2 days before becoming flat and vanishing. I never see anything biting my arms though and these bites are never present upon waking up.
    [3]- Sometimes I wake up with a bite on my stomach. These bites itch like the mystery bites do (for a few seconds) then become red bumps which last for a week or two before going away. They never itch, and when they vanish they tend to peel away (flaky skin slightly, like sunburn in a circle) - unlike the arm bites I receive which just go away with no residue or marks.
    [4]- Finally I have a host of bites on my right calf that don't itch often, have been here for two weeks and HURT if I was to scratch at them. They are bright red - unlike my other bites which are pinkish in color - and have a white mark in the center.
    If it wasn't for a bed bug dog indicating that I had bed bugs I would normally think that a host of different insects have formed a league with which to plague me - and take turns biting me. I've never heard of different body parts reacting to bites differently, so it's been leaving me very confused. Of course I have to realize that just because one has bed bugs doesn't mean OTHER bugs are going to leave you alone - so it could be different bugs biting me. It's quite disconcerting - and if I had to guess I'd say the [1] and [4] bites were caused by chiggers/fleas, my arm/stomach bites caused by bed bugs, no-see-ums, allergies or mites. Add to this that I've never seen a single bed bug, casing, blood spot or fecal stain and it's enough to drive one crazy!

    MOST DEFINITELY REACT ON MY DIFFERENTLY:
    FACE: smooth welps like mosquitos
    hands: small pointy bumps
    arms: start out smooth, then turn in to hard pointy bumps, itch more with pain on my arms, especially around the bony areas
    legs: start small with pin hole looking like middles then they spread out like a spider bite, in to a large welp
    its frustrating like nothing else I can imagine.
    they say they don't cause health risks, BS!!!!

  12. Deathlyallergic

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Oct 29 2009 1:59:47
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    Deathlyallergic - 9 seconds ago  » 

    NewBlood - 1 day ago  » 
    This is an interesting topic indeed! I'm not sure if this is the best place to post this, but my reactions to bed bug bites (if that's what they are) is extremely varied.
    [1]- I have extremely itchy bites around my feet and ankles which have remained with me for two months - they usually flare up in the shower (heat causes them to become itchy) as well. They seem to swell occasionally - as they're usually flat, but become raised whenever they itch.
    [2]- I have 'mystery' bites that show up on my arms around mid-day or evening. They itch for a few minutes then never itch again - although they remain red and slightly raised for 1-2 days before becoming flat and vanishing. I never see anything biting my arms though and these bites are never present upon waking up.
    [3]- Sometimes I wake up with a bite on my stomach. These bites itch like the mystery bites do (for a few seconds) then become red bumps which last for a week or two before going away. They never itch, and when they vanish they tend to peel away (flaky skin slightly, like sunburn in a circle) - unlike the arm bites I receive which just go away with no residue or marks.
    [4]- Finally I have a host of bites on my right calf that don't itch often, have been here for two weeks and HURT if I was to scratch at them. They are bright red - unlike my other bites which are pinkish in color - and have a white mark in the center.
    If it wasn't for a bed bug dog indicating that I had bed bugs I would normally think that a host of different insects have formed a league with which to plague me - and take turns biting me. I've never heard of different body parts reacting to bites differently, so it's been leaving me very confused. Of course I have to realize that just because one has bed bugs doesn't mean OTHER bugs are going to leave you alone - so it could be different bugs biting me. It's quite disconcerting - and if I had to guess I'd say the [1] and [4] bites were caused by chiggers/fleas, my arm/stomach bites caused by bed bugs, no-see-ums, allergies or mites. Add to this that I've never seen a single bed bug, casing, blood spot or fecal stain and it's enough to drive one crazy!

    MOST DEFINITELY REACT ON MY DIFFERENTLY:
    FACE: smooth welps like mosquitos
    hands: small pointy bumps
    arms: start out smooth, then turn in to hard pointy bumps, itch more with pain on my arms, especially around the bony areas
    legs: start small with pin hole looking like middles then they spread out like a spider bite, in to a large welp
    its frustrating like nothing else I can imagine.
    they say they don't cause health risks, BS!!!!

    OH and to add insult to injury, they do have a slow start to showing up, can either be immediately, but then bites will start to surface up to 4 days later!!! So its hard to tell if you have been recently bitten until no more show up from the time you discover your first bite.
    they are truly mysterious

  13. bedbuggery

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Oct 29 2009 3:45:34
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    Hi, D A.

    I had the strongest attacks with my first few sets of bites I then went a long period (prob 4 months) experiencing bites with little reaction. Then I started getting the sore joints (very sore like someone had punched me in the arm with the bites on it) The asthma showed up at around 5 months and thats when I moved out because I thought it was some kind of weird mold exposure even though when the bites first started showing up my LL mentioned BB's and I had a PCO check for them (with no results obviously)

    The weird attacks and urticaria seemed to show up when I took time to get away from the infestation for about about two weeks. Hence my theory that my body had been turned on itself, BB's or no.

    I'm curious if you find yourself developing a tolerance to the bites.... BUT, considering you appear to be a lot more allergic than me, I think it's extremely important you avoid this process entirely.

    If you have a backyard set up a tent and dryer anything that follows you in.
    Even if you have a PCO treating, sometimes the initial treatments will make the bugs go crazy b/f they die. In my state (Oregon) there is a law that a Landlord has to provide a dwelling if yours is temporary unliveable, I think you would def. qualify for that here.

  14. Deathlyallergic

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Oct 30 2009 1:11:23
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    bedbuggery - 21 hours ago  » 
    Hi, D A.
    I had the strongest attacks with my first few sets of bites I then went a long period (prob 4 months) experiencing bites with little reaction. Then I started getting the sore joints (very sore like someone had punched me in the arm with the bites on it) The asthma showed up at around 5 months and thats when I moved out because I thought it was some kind of weird mold exposure even though when the bites first started showing up my LL mentioned BB's and I had a PCO check for them (with no results obviously)
    The weird attacks and urticaria seemed to show up when I took time to get away from the infestation for about about two weeks. Hence my theory that my body had been turned on itself, BB's or no.
    I'm curious if you find yourself developing a tolerance to the bites.... BUT, considering you appear to be a lot more allergic than me, I think it's extremely important you avoid this process entirely.
    If you have a backyard set up a tent and dryer anything that follows you in.
    Even if you have a PCO treating, sometimes the initial treatments will make the bugs go crazy b/f they die. In my state (Oregon) there is a law that a Landlord has to provide a dwelling if yours is temporary unliveable, I think you would def. qualify for that here.

    Thank you for your input, all those symptoms, that you describe, haven't taken but a couple of weeks to manifest in me, miserable for the most part like I have the flu, but its definitely different and related to the bites, I thought I was imagining things til I read your comment.
    I show no signs of tolerance yet, Im hoping I will but my body grows more and more tired and fatigued each day. Im on my second set of bites after free for 2 weeks thinking the treatments worked and wear just a tshirt and shorts to bed verses the full body coverage.
    Im exhausted over this and just don't feel good, function fairly well but.....
    my apartment complex will let me relocate, problem is, I don't want them to follow me.
    so still trying avenues til Ive exhausted everything. Ordered the "climbups" from usbedbugs.com, I need to know where they are hiding.
    thanks for the support, I need it.

  15. bait

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Oct 30 2009 21:53:29
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    My bites also appear different on different parts of my body. My hands - like paper cuts, chest - pimple-like (w/o pus), feet - round and raised like mosquito bites, legs and arms - tiny pin holes (sometimes w a tiny tuft of skin poking out) with 3, 4 or 5 close together, belly - larger, redder, wider and deeper, face - hardly noticeable except they last much longer than a blemish would. All itch. When I scratch the itch, I get a temporary bright red streak. Also, my eyelids swell - are puffy and translucent on the side of the body I got the bites.

  16. Deathlyallergic

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    Fri Oct 30 2009 22:41:17
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    bait - 46 minutes ago  » 
    My bites also appear different on different parts of my body. My hands - like paper cuts, chest - pimple-like (w/o pus), feet - round and raised like mosquito bites, legs and arms - tiny pin holes (sometimes w a tiny tuft of skin poking out) with 3, 4 or 5 close together, belly - larger, redder, wider and deeper, face - hardly noticeable except they last much longer than a blemish would. All itch. When I scratch the itch, I get a temporary bright red streak. Also, my eyelids swell - are puffy and translucent on the side of the body I got the bites.

    Yes exactly, and what is so frustrating, is that they keep just popping up days later from one bite episode

  17. Bugbitten Meg

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Oct 31 2009 0:02:13
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    I'll add a kid-related one:
    my 4 yr old was almost always dry overnight. Then he started having occasional problems. About when he was 'usually not' dry overnight was when my husband and I started noticing bites. Problems continued up through treatment. About 2 months later? I can't quite remember the last time he had a problem.
    ...although it may or may not be an actual allergy, it's just as likely sleep disruption.

  18. bedbuggery

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Oct 31 2009 1:10:45
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    No DA, you are not imagining it.

    After months I am finally feeling the way I did b/f the bugs and I know I've
    recovered from something drastic.

    Before I offer some perspective on my situation, I will say that you should pursue this with your doctors (and specialists if you have the resources) as much as possible, because the medical community needs documentation on this and it will help others.
    What I think is going on here is that our skin is sending distress signals to our immune system which is then attacking our skin and causing other more serious reactions. My simplistic understanding of things is that we need to take care of our skin to nurse it back to health (after all it is one continuous functioning organ.)
    Sooo... use moisturizing lotions, not on bites, but all over. Eat lots of protein and consider whey, soy, or rice protein supplements that will help your body reproduce skin cells.
    Maybe vitamin C like carrots and oranges would be good too, also fresh air.
    Anything good for the skin must help in some way I figure.

    Also, try meditation if you like. Take a few deep breaths and visualize your immune system and your body cooling or calming down.

    I also had acupuncture before I actually knew what was going on but it took away the sick feelings.


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