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Dermatitis Herpetiformis Mistaken For Bug Bites..

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  1. zelchbug

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Mon May 6 2013 22:28:05
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    About a year ago, I developed what appeared to be bed bug bites on the lower part of my back in a familiar pattern. I had (confirmed) bed bugs before and was certain I had carried them with me to my new home. After an exhaustive search, I wasn't able to locate any bed bugs.

    I continued to get occasional *bites* on my back and buttocks, almost always in the same location. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that there is a skin conditions that can look a lot like bug bites called Dermatitis Herpetiformis. It doesn't always appear as blisters, this is what you'll read on the net. This is mainly for people who continue to get what they ascertain to be bites and have no evidence of bed bugs, there are skin conditions that mimic bug bites and this is one of them. It's due to a gluten allergy or in some cases, celiac disease. A lot of times, people don't realize they have a gluten allergy and eventually, it can cause skin problems.

    Just a heads-up, again, I believe this is what's causing my skin problems but I'm sure it doesn't apply to most people. Point being, I was certain I had bed bugs based on my skin, you should never assume your skin problems are related to bites without solid evidence. I became extremely stressed out over this and I was dead wrong. Now, I'm not 100 percent certain I don't have bed bugs but after a year of dealing with this, I'm 99 percent sure.

    Wishing everyone out there (who's dealing with this) the best and I am extremely grateful to this forum and consider it one of the best forums (period) on the net.

  2. bugsonme

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Mon May 6 2013 23:07:22
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    Hi. Please tell me more about your skin and bites.

    I moved a month ago and had been getting "bites" since around January. I attributed them to a mold allergy since I knew I had mold. Once I moved to a mold-free place, the "bites" continued, only smaller. But, still just as itchy. I was just sitting here thinking they were in my car, because I can't find them anywhere in my house. No sign whatsoever of any infestation. Even had a dog here to check things out and nothing. I got "bites" that night and continued to search, stress, worry and feel dirty. I'm itching all the time. No one who has stayed here, or who's house I've been to has any infestation. I had one friend who stayed with me months back who has bed bugs now ... so I just figured I disrupted things so much during my move, I couldn't find them. I've been systematically cleaning everything I own, washing clothes over and over, encasing everything I can in plastic and roaming around all night with a flashlight and tape.

    Last night I slept in pants tucked into socks and long sleeves - and now, late tonight, "bites" are coming out. How did they get my legs? Ankles? Are these bugs the stealthiest on the planet that I can't find a single trace, and they seem to know the odd hours I sleep and ONLY surface while I sleep?

    Please tell me whatever you can about your skin issue - the itching the bite-like things. Did they bleed? I'm losing my mind

    Thanks.

  3. zelchbug

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Mon May 6 2013 23:33:37
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    With dermatitis herpetiformis, often times you'll get a cluster of bumps that look like bites appearing (mainly) in the same area, usually on the buttocks or back but they can also show up on other areas, they can blister. Another thing I noticed was that my skin would burn quite a bit before the bumps would appear, almost a burning/aching sensation, this is common with dermatitis herpetiformis. You can also have other symptoms of gluten sensativity like GI issues. The first set of bumps looked exactly like the bed bug bites I had a couple years before! They also itched like crazy and would (usually) heal within about 5 days. I didn't experience any bleeding but I used a lot of cortisone.

    From what I've gathered, this condition tends to occurs on the elbows, knees, back, and buttocks. If you're getting *bites* on other parts of your body it would (probably) point away from this issue. Have you seen a dermotologist? They can test you to see if you have skin allergies that might account for your skin problems. Again, my main reason for posting this was to let people know that the experts here are right, *bites* are not enough evidence to assume bed bugs.

  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Tue May 7 2013 3:07:00
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    Hi zelch,
    Wow-- thanks for sharing your experience. And thanks for your kind words about the site!

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  5. AbsolutelyFreaking

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Tue May 7 2013 10:04:46
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    @zelchbug: I'm so glad you figured out what your *bites* were! Thank you for sharing and reiterating that you can't diagnose bed bugs based on bites without finding the solid evidence - no matter how certain you are that you have them!

    @bugsonme: I like zelchbug idea of seeing a dermatologist. I believe I have read on the forum that a dermatologist would be able to tell you if your *bites* are insect bites or not - - they cannot tell you, however, if they are bed bug bites, just insect bites. At least, perhaps, you might be able to rule out insect bites and/or allergies?

    AbsolutelyFreaking a/k/a Abs . . . NOT an expert/professional:
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  6. zelchbug

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Tue May 7 2013 14:31:57
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    AbsolutelyFreaking - 4 hours ago  » 
    @zelchbug: I'm so glad you figured out what your *bites* were! Thank you for sharing and reiterating that you can't diagnose bed bugs based on bites without finding the solid evidence - no matter how certain you are that you have them!
    @bugsonme: I like zelchbug idea of seeing a dermatologist. I believe I have read on the forum that a dermatologist would be able to tell you if your *bites* are insect bites or not - - they cannot tell you, however, if they are bed bug bites, just insect bites. At least, perhaps, you might be able to rule out insect bites and/or allergies?

    Absolutely, they can generally tell you if they are bites but for the most part, they can only give you an educated guess regarding what type of insect it may be. When I finally saw my dermatologist in September of last year, she told me she didn't think they were bites, that was a huge relief. Most importantly, they can do allergy testing and that could lead to a resolution of your problem. I think one of the experts here mentioned that most of his inspections don't yield bed bugs which leads me to believe there are a lot of skin allergies out there that are not being diagnosed causing a great deal of stress because people believe they are being bitten.

    However, the bed bug problem is becoming so widespread that I'm always on guard and extremely careful about choosing a hotel room when I travel. When I went to my cousins (out east) for Christmas, I came across a hotel room that was infested.

  7. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Tue May 7 2013 14:42:41
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    My understanding is dermatologists can tell you if a bite is from an insect, with a skin scraping (not just a visual inspection). And as noted above, they can't tell you which insect.

  8. buggingoutinthemidwest

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Tue May 7 2013 20:50:11
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    Funny that you mention this. I missed the beginning of my infestation for 2-4 wks because I thought that the bites were hives/ welts from a wheat allergy spreading. I'd been dealing with wheat itchies for 4 mos at that point, so when my arms started to welt in addition to my back, I thought the allergic reaction was spreading. It didn't occur to me to think it was anything else until the night I woke up itching like crazy, finally went to put some hydrocortizone cream on my arms, and found a bug still on my arm.

    I admit that I'm always amazed by the number of people who jump directly from a "bite" to thinking that it must be bed bugs. Maybe I'm just unusually itchy, but bed bugs weren't even on my list of 'explanations for random itching/bites/hives/welts' before this. There are so many other things that can trigger an allergic reaction that mimics bites.

  9. OnceBittenTwiceChi

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Tue May 7 2013 21:44:59
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    I too have a hard time (nearly impossible) knowing if my skin issues are BB related. This worries me because I tend to be highly allergic to things - my allergist once said and I quote "I don't know how you're not struggling to breathe right now" - so rashes, hives, and itchy bumps aren't uncommon. I can usually tell when something is an allergic hive - usually in the same place on my face, triggered by something I ate or touched. I can feel it swelling up before it shows and its more uncomfortable/painful than itchy, though it does itch. Benadryl or other allergy medications help.

    Bites though, its so weird. I know we have bed bugs. We *are* being bit. However I work out in my garden all the time and go walking/running in grass, and with spring there are TONS of bugs crawling around. Some of my bites look like little raised dots, almost like zits, and they are mildly itchy. But the other day I felt a sudden, intense itch in my lower back and looked in the mirror and WOW. HUGE welt, SUPER itchy, giant quarter-sized red round nasty thing. Its still a little swollen. So what the heck! I have noticed a few more other non-bed bugs coming out of hiding since we began our treatments, and moving around our furniture to vacuum pissed off a few spiders. Maybe they're just more awake now that its spring. I have no idea if its a BB or not but its totally different from our other bites.

    All I know is something is biting me. I'm doing whatever I can to fight the BBs, so that should hopefully reduce my discomfort, but I'm learning to accept that there are a lot of bugs in this world and sometimes I am just going to be someone's dinner.

    BBs need to die though. No tolerance. Spiders? OK. Little beetles? I don't like it but alright. Bees, wasps, flies, and biting crawlies? You can live, just not in my house. BBs? DIE.

  10. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Tue May 7 2013 21:51:48
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    Oncebittenrwicechi said,

    All I know is something is biting me.

    The point is, though, you don't know that something is biting you. You are assuming that. And yet there can be other causes. You're having a skin reaction which you think is an allergic reaction but even then, it may not be bites.

  11. OnceBittenTwiceChi

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Tue May 7 2013 22:32:30
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    We've seen bugs, and this particular welt is consistent with bug bites like mosquitoes or biting flies I've had in the past, but you're right. It could be anything. We do have the bugs though... its hard to get it out of your mind that you're being eaten all night long!

  12. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Tue May 7 2013 23:03:06
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    OnceBittenTwiceChi - 29 minutes ago  » 
    We've seen bugs, and this particular welt is consistent with bug bites like mosquitoes or biting flies I've had in the past, but you're right. It could be anything. We do have the bugs though... its hard to get it out of your mind that you're being eaten all night long!

    Sorry, I was reacting to this,

    I too have a hard time (nearly impossible) knowing if my skin issues are BB related.

    I did not catch where you'd said you had a confirmed case of bed bugs. My apologies.

    If you do have bed bugs and you're suffering from a new skin reaction, then yes, it is probably bed bugs.

  13. zelchbug

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Sat May 11 2013 23:20:14
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    buggingoutinthemidwest - 4 days ago  » 
    Funny that you mention this. I missed the beginning of my infestation for 2-4 wks because I thought that the bites were hives/ welts from a wheat allergy spreading. I'd been dealing with wheat itchies for 4 mos at that point, so when my arms started to welt in addition to my back, I thought the allergic reaction was spreading. It didn't occur to me to think it was anything else until the night I woke up itching like crazy, finally went to put some hydrocortizone cream on my arms, and found a bug still on my arm.
    I admit that I'm always amazed by the number of people who jump directly from a "bite" to thinking that it must be bed bugs. Maybe I'm just unusually itchy, but bed bugs weren't even on my list of 'explanations for random itching/bites/hives/welts' before this. There are so many other things that can trigger an allergic reaction that mimics bites.

    Yes, it can definitely work the other way too but I'm sure there's a lot of scared people out there with hives who don't have bed bugs.

    I can relate to your story though, the exact same thing happened to me at my last apartment a few years ago, I thought I was reacting to a new laundry soap, come to find out, it was bed bugs. Hope your seeing some resolution with your infestation issue and wish you the very best.


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