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do bedbug bites always itch, and other freaked out questions

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  1. spookedasheck

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Mar 13 2008 14:42:58
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    Hello, I'm new,and don't want to be repetitive here, but a few weeks ago I was getting ready to take a shower and noticed about 10 large, quite red bites or a rash on my abdomen and sides only. They didn't itch at all -- I didn't even know I had them until I saw them, which of course freaked me out. The first doctor I saw thought they were bites, but didn't know what kind --possibly chiggers? After I had 50 total bites (took from a Thursay to a Tuesday to get that many) I went to the dermatologist, and he said he thought they were bites and that they were bedbugs. I totally spooked. We had come back from a resort on January 18th, and I saw nothing until Feb. 21st. So -- do they always itch? Can it take that long (from Jan 18 to Feb. 21st) for the first bite? Even now, the original bites are still fading away, so it's taking a long time to get over them. After seeing the dermatologist I called an exterminator who specializes in bedbugs (not a lot of them do here in Raleigh, NC), and he looked carefully at my mattress, the sides of the box spring, crawled behind the bed and looked at every bit of dust on the floor, under the rug near the wall, up the back of the headboard, and used a big flashlight, and he said he was almot 100% sure we didn't have bedbugs. he said with that many bites he would have seen some sort of indication. So we moved back upstairs and I have five new bites. It took 7 days to get the 5 new ones. We don't see anything on our mattress, on the sheets, on my nightclothes, nothing. My husband has no bites at all. The vet doesn't think it's fleas. The PCO doesn't think it's bedbugs -- and I don't want to do the entire extermination unless I'm pretty sure. I'm having a lot of trouble sleeping -- surprise, surprise! -- and would like to resolve this. But how? and what is a NESDCA K9? Would that help determine what the heck it is? Any advice and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

  2. BBcoukHome

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Mar 13 2008 15:28:07
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    Hi,

    Well it certainly sounds as if you had a thorough inspection. If you yourself have not seen any of the typical signs of bed bugs, i.e. faecal traces, cast skins, live samples and blood spots it may not be bed bugs.

    To be sure and rule out fleas I would suggest that you use a plug in flea trap. After a day or two of using it if you find nothing trapped on it you can generally rule them out as an option.

    The next thing I would suggest if that does not work is to try a mattress protector/encasement which will rule out an allergy to dust mites.

    It may also help if you surround either the base of the bed or the sides of the mattress with a continual loop of double sided carpet tape. This will act as a physical barrier and may catch anything that is crawling over it. I am not sure what brands are available in the US but try and get one with a fibre weave through the middle, the light toupee take type tape does not work very well.

    If all these fail I would suggest that you find an entomologist who may be able to do a complete survey of the property checking for potential mites or other insect based causes.

    Try to remain calm and logical when investigating what the cause is, often reactions and apparent bites seem a lot worse when you are stressed.

    Hope this gives you some answers.

    David

  3. Jeannie

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Mar 13 2008 15:34:10
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    Hello,

    We had bedbugs. We went to San Francisco October 1st of 2007, and didn't have any bites until October 30th. We didn't find any evidence very easily either - no blood or fecal spots. I found a shell of an adult very well hidden. My bites were generally three at a time, very linear - in a row...got bit every 4-7 days. Slightly itchy - not too much. We had an exterminator come and treat three times. So far so good. So don't fret too much - if it is bedbugs, you'll get rid of them. Just be diligent, and hire a professional. Remember: often, the exterminator won't find anything...I was the one who found some evidence.

    Best of luck.

  4. St.BarthsBites

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Mar 13 2008 16:31:14
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    I would consider hiring a bed bug sniffing dog.

  5. SPDIBBK9Handler

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Mar 13 2008 20:55:48
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    Spooked,

    The short answer is no, bedbug bites don't always itch. Some people don't show any signs at all that they have been bitten. I had one client who had literally hundreds of bedbugs on just her headboard,(I have pictures that will give you nightmares) and had no visible bites or itchiness.

    Your time frame from bite to reaction seems on the long side, as the longest I have heard of is 9ish days to 2 weeks. I have the great fortune to react within about 20 minutes myself, but my assistant is one of the non-reactive types. (We used to feed our colony on my assistant, but I recently got some guinea pigs for that task. OSHA might frown on feeding the employees to the bugs)

    A NESDCA canine is part of a certified canine team. The handler and dog certify together as a team. You can find out more about the certification process at http://www.nesdca.com. (any one who cares, NESDCA stands for National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association... but NESDCA is far easier to say and type.)

    A canine can be useful for finding extremely low populations of bedbugs, or finding out how dispersed an infestation actually is. I've seen our dogs alert on as little as one bug or a few eggs. I've also used the dogs to help someone rule out a bedbug infestation, but only with a thorough visual inspection and taking a full history from the client. We actually did that not long ago with a client over in Raleigh that as it turns out was having a reaction to carpet beetle larva.

    As an aside, in North Carolina, it is illegal for a PCO to treat without direct evidence... (sorry bites don't count) so any ethical PCO wouldn't treat your house for bedbugs just because anyway.

    If you want more info on canines, either visit the NESDCA website, or PM me if you want.

  6. fightorflight

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Mar 14 2008 4:12:39
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    Spooked - The sniffer dog might be a good way to go if one is available.

    Bite reaction: Aaaah, yes, we who labor at the Bedbug X-Files are all over the map about this. I am not by any means saying you do or do not have bedbugs - you clearly need some supporting evidence. But if it turned out you did, I am not surprised at all by your reaction time. If I were not alerted by a neighbor that I might have bedbugs, I would not have been on the lookout for bites. Two weeks after the neighbor's alert, I noticed bites for the first time after getting out of the shower. Now, 3.5 months after I think I got the last bites, I am still itching and seeing new red spots and little welts. Yes, it sounds like I still have bugs, but rationally that is unlikely. Was I itching before I noticed the first bites? Quite possibly I was and just obliviously ignored it.

    What am I trying to say here? - that personal biology seems to allow for many, many reaction permutations. People react, then don't react, show and don't itch, itch and don't show, react some of the time, etc, etc.

  7. IveBeenBugged

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Mar 14 2008 7:10:41
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    spooked, when I first started getting bitten they itched tremendously and the bites appeared larger than they do now. These days I still get bites but the itch is not as bad. If I do not scratch them the itching sensasion stays relatively low. If I scratch them it gets really bad. I also do not notice a reaction to being bitten for around 4 to 6 hours after I was bitten (I know this from the one time I actually seen a bug feeding on my ankle). It makes it extremely difficult to know where I was bitten at in my place.

    Meanwhile my partner (who is no longer allowed in my place) breaks out in large welts that itch severly and appear within seconds of being bitten.

    My main point is that different people have different reactions and that reaction may also change over a period of time. Some stay the same - some get worse - some get milder.

    My biggest fear is that I will become non-reactive and stop showing bites at some point. My point is that reactions vary through a wide spectrum and can change over a period of time.

    I had never noticed anything on my bed or boxspring - until I seen an acutal bug crawling out from under the boxspring (it sits right on the floor - no bedframe) and then pulled the material off of the bottom of the boxspring and inspected did I see that it was indeed bed bugs in the frame of the boxspring.

    I had went online and identified the bug I caught afterr it crawled out from the boxspring.

    The doctor thought I was reacting to a change in meds at that time and was treating me for a rash.

  8. spookedasheck

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Mar 14 2008 8:37:27
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    Thank you everybody for the tons of useful advice. It's ironic, but after I said that the bites never itch, I of course have a really itchy one now. I'm going to go through all the suggestions with my husband, and decide what to do. I want to move on this because if it is bedbugs I don't want to encourage any more of them to live with us. But I agree that I have to be rational -- well, as rational as I can be without a lot of sleep and lying awake and wondering "was that a bite?...was that a bite?" etc., etc. When I look quickly I see nothing. Are they fast movers? I'm sadly learning more than I ever wanted to know about this subject! But I am so glad that this site exists, and that you are all so generous with your experience and knowledge. Thanks agin, and I'll be reporting on the outcome here.

    Kathy

  9. completelybuggedout

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Mar 14 2008 8:43:02
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    Spooked, to answer your fast moving question from what I have read and experienced they are. I was one of those people the react almost instantaniously to the bites, and I never caught one exiting the scene of the crime. Well wishes for your bb massacre!

  10. spookedasheck

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Mar 14 2008 9:04:46
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    Completelybugged (there maybe more to your name, but I can't see it), thanks so much for your well wishes on the total destruction of these things! When I mention it to friends, they sort of sidle away from me, and I can't blame them! It's good to know they're fast -- it makes sense, considering that they hide so well -- detection is their enemy for sure. I sometimes wish for the olden days and DDT, dangerous tho it was.

    Kathy

  11. SPDIBBK9Handler

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Mar 14 2008 9:24:26
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    Spooked, the stigma associated with bedbugs is simply from the lack of public awareness and education. I can't tell you how many customers I have that say "But my house is clean, how can I have bedbugs?" I had one customer who stayed in denial until her boyfriend refused to come over until she had us come out and tell her she had bedbugs. I have to have magnetic signs on our trucks that we can pull off any reference to bedbugs when we go to our hotel clients, and have had at least one residential customer request that as well. They didn't want the neighbors knowing they had BBs. The funny thing is over time some of those same "hide the problem" people will do a 180 turn on the subject and become bedbug information advocates, which is great. It just takes time and education. There are several threads on here as to why the good ol' days of heavier chemicals weren't necessarily so great. At least we aren't back to where we were before the OP's were phased out... My grandfather had to use kerosene on their mattresses, and my grandmother often tells the story of going to sleep on the kitchen table to get away from them for a while.

    As far as their speed, they are shockingly fast, similar in speed to a cockroach. (which makes sense if they are running from cockroaches sometimes.)

    Try catching one without killing it sometime... quite a challenge.

  12. spookedasheck

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Mar 14 2008 9:40:09
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    SPDIBBK9, Yes, it seems that the need for secrecy in the hotel industry may be why some of us have bedbugs in the first place (not that I particularly blame them -- they do need to operate in order to make money). My husband and I went to a lovely resort in Park City Utah, and there was less than a month between our return and my first bites. Now, we may not have bedbugs (though I suspect we do), but if we do, I can't help but think that lovely resort is where we got them. The exterminator also said that often the nicer the resort, the more international the clientele, and the greater chance of somebody transporting a bedbug in their luggage and on the plane. Oh hell! Are we doomed to have this go on forever? But how the heck do hotels get rid of the things without somebody noticing? Your removable sign is certainly one way.

    I wouldn't say that I run a spotless home, but it's decent,and has been for years, so clearly something has entered that wasn't here before. I do feel that I need to tell people that I'm not a slob, because yes there is a stigma about infestations.

    Your story about your grandparents makes me glad to not have lived in the "good old days", when people just had to constantly deal with this sort of thing. At least we're not using kerosene!

  13. fightorflight

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Mar 14 2008 17:24:27
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    >The exterminator also said that often the nicer the resort, the more international the clientele

    Spooked, - I'm not buying this line about international travel anymore. I think it's outdated information. Fact is, if you have BBs there is a good chance you got them and spread them from a domestic hotel, like too many others here. No international travel required; it is a domestic problem. I've heard the cause pinned to international travel and travelers in a number of ways that don't make sense - "Hostels and budget motels have a problem because that's where foreigners stay," together with, "Luxury hotels have a problem because of their international clientele."

    I ain't buying it anymore, outdated information IMHO. We're doing a fine job of spreading them all by ourselves.

    (Maybe in France or Thailand they're thinking, "Those damn Americans come over here and use our overnight trains and give us bedbugs!")

  14. lil_bit_obsessed

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Mar 14 2008 18:56:46
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    FoF... i couldn't agree more.

  15. bugbasher

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Mar 14 2008 19:19:57
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    FOF,
    That was very entertaining! The french don't like us anyway,so who cares what they think.Yes, I agree we're doing a great job of spreading them unfortunately.Which brings me to my next piece of advice for Spooked.Please read the FAQ's because these things are great hitchikers,you don't want to spread the wealth of bb's,lol.Here's another idea : Have you called where you stayed and asked them to check the room that you occupied? They might be honest folk and care about public relations and actually tell if they find anything.Then you would know one way or the other.A lot of these places use dogs to tell them ,so they aren't relying on people,who have a high incidence of failure.It's worth a try,just don't come off as accusatory or anything,be diplomatic.One thing I've read is some hotels are amazed to find an infestation,because the customers don't mention it.Good luck

  16. ladyamalara

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Nov 23 2011 19:49:37
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    I was wondering can you get a few bites and then not get anymore? Not too sure if mine are bedbug bites. They were not in any pattern. But the pictures I have seen vary so much that almost anything looks like it could look like a bite.

  17. loubugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Thu Nov 24 2011 12:29:15
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    spookedasheck
    "I sometimes wish for the olden days and DDT, dangerous tho it was."
    DDT wasn't really dangerous, at least acutely, the problem was that it is persistent and bio-accumulates. It became a problem in the natural foodchain up to the birds of prey and their egg (egg shell) production.

    SPDIBBK9Handler
    "As far as their speed, they are shockingly fast, similar in speed to a cockroach. (which makes sense if they are running from cockroaches sometimes.)"
    What makes you think they run from cockroaches?

    Bite reactions do vary widely and after rearing them for many years my reactions have dropped off considerably, but never actually experienced much itching for all those years. Reaction still starts almost immediately after feeding, but the raised welt leaves around an hour post bite. Little red marks are all that remain after that and in a few days they disappear.

    Professional entomologist/arachnologist. I consult in all matters dealing with insects and arachnids, including those of natural history and biology to pest management and forensic entomology.

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