Got Bed Bugs? Bedbugger Forums » Bed bug bites, skin, etc.

How long do bedbug bites itch?

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  1. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 2:58:52
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    I'm currently trying to figure out whether my numerous bites are mosquito bites or bedbug bites (or, gulp, both).

    I've looked at tons of pictures, and mine definitely look more like mosquito bites, but as I'm reading here, they look different on everybody and it's hard to tell the difference. I haven't seen any telltale signs of bedbugs, but I know after reading this site that that doesn't mean I don't have them. I am seeing mosquitos in my apartment, but that still doesn't eliminate bed bugs!

    So my question is, how long do your bedbug bites itch for? Because my bites itch for a day or two and then stop, and I've been reading a ton of old posts and somebody mentioned bites itching for weeks, but I'm not sure how typical that is.

    I'd really appreciate any advice! Thanks!

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 3:16:08
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    Do you scratch them? That can make them last longer and itch more.

    Some last a few hours, some last for weeks. Depends on the bite and on the person. They're an allergic reaction, so it depends on your level of allergy.

    Remember to look for little black specks (like small poppy seeds or flecks of pepper) as well as other bed bug detritus. See photos of bed bugs and signs of bed bugs on bedbugger.com (links at top!)

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 3:31:00
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    I've caught myself scratching in my sleep, but I usually don't scratch (I'll rub around the area gently or slap, which is supposedly better.)

    Where am I looking for the little black specks? I haven't seen anything on my mattress (and I've looked numerous times) or the seams. I've looked behind paintings and under nearby furniture. I've looked at photos and signs on the website. I don't have any of the signs except bites, but from what I'm reading here, that doesn't mean I don't have them.

    I'm just trying to hear what the general experience is - if bedbug bites itch longer or take longer to heal than mosquito bites. My bites were extremely itchy for a day or two, I took some benadryl each night, and now they're not very itchy at all. So if somebody here tells me that there's no way bed bug bites that started out very itchy would heal/stop itching that fast, that would suggest mosquitos. I want to get as much information to compare/contrast as possible.

  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 4:05:51
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    I'd look on the bed, on the sheets, on your skin, on the floor (or bottom of your bare feet). If you do not have many bed bugs, though, there may be few signs. You can still be bitten.

  5. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 13:03:37
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    Like I said, I've looked on the bed, sheets, my skin, the floor, the bottom of my feet....I've looked everywhere. Looking isn't helping me much.

  6. bbto

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 13:24:47
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    I looked everywhere too in the beginning and found nothing. Then one night I saw one one the wall, a few feet from the floor. That was about after 1 month of getting bit every few days. I never saw another one again, except for what I think was a flattened dead one, it was brown and banded, about the right size, but I'm not certain it was a bed bug. I never saw any casts or feces.

    I think that's a lot of bites for mosquitoes alone, unless your place is teeming with them. In the evening have you ever caught a mosquito biting you?

    As for how long my bites lasted, I found that in the beginning they were not as itchy, maybe 2-3 days, and as time went on, new bites got increasingly itchy-- my body reacted more to them, so there was more redness as well, and I got large welts, even without scratching. Then when I scratched the welts they got even bigger. But I am allergic to many things, so that's just me. I've also had my ankle swell up to the size of a baseball from a mosquito bite for more than a week, but usually my response would not be so extreme, more like itching for a few days.

  7. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 13:33:50
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    Well, I just called my doctor, and explained to him why I thought they would be bed bugs, and he made a very convincing case that he thought I had a combo of mosquitos and no-see-ums that got through the screen on my window - primarily because I've only been bitten on exposed skin, but also because I've seen no clues otherwise that it's bed bugs.

  8. buggeroff

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 14:43:44
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    Yeah, if it was bed bugs, you could very well find bites in weird places like your back, your belly, your armpit and other places mosquitoes don't generally mess with. When I get mosquito bite, the bite doesn't usually itch for more than about 24 hours. My bed bug bites took FOREVER to go away and itched for several days (like 5). The marks and the raised bumps stayed for two weeks or more. Plus all my BB bites from one night's chewing were clustered in an area maybe two inches across. Not so much 1 - 2 - 3 in a line like you always read about but stab-stab-stab-stab-stab like the thing couldn't quite find the right spot.

  9. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 15:01:17
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    I haven't caught a mosquito in the act, but I've definitely seen them about to bite me and I've swatted them away. When I'm asleep I'm terrible at swatting, it seems.

    Ok. I have one bite on my stomach, I'm guessing my shirt rolled up a couple inches in my sleep. But besides that, nothing on my back, stomach, armpit, etc.

    My bites itched for a couple of days and that's it. Right now I still have scabs from bites I got about a week ago and the ones from a few days ago, but they're obviously shrinking and healing pretty fast, and none of them really itch for more than a few seconds.

    I also wouldn't call mine raised bumps, really. I have a cluster of bites on the side of my hand (a really unfortunate place to get 6 bites), but they're not in a straight row. That sounds kinda like yours, buggeroff.

    Right now I'm hoping/leaning towards mosquitos, but I'm still not positive.

  10. bugalew

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 18:08:46
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    I've had 3.5 (don't ask) treatments over 6 weeks. Haven't had an actual bite in over 2 weeks. However, while at work I feel like I'm getting bitten over my entire body and have been waking up at the bug witching hours- 3-5:30am- all agitated like I'm getting bit. It actually hurts at times although I know there is nothing on me particularly at work. After two nights of interrupted sleep, I saw a dermatologist yesterday. She said A)I can't tell you how many people I've seen in here because of bedbugs. B) You are having an allergic reaction to the toxins left in your body. C) We start a treatment now but this could go on for another month or two.

    Listen-It's not the bugs themselves but this certainly is the gift that keeps giving.

  11. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Oct 4 2007 20:14:58
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    Hey Bugalew,

    I'm really sorry to hear that. Right now I am pretty paranoid and am getting phantom itches all the time because I'm so worried and nervous.

    When you had the actual bites, how long did they take to heal? How long were they itchy for?

    Thanks! I hope your situation gets better soon.

  12. bugalew

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Oct 5 2007 18:08:05
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    Thanks G-Crazy,

    I am very lucky in the bites department. I had one awful morning early on where I woke up and my hands looked borderline arthritic- they were so bitten up, painful etc. Called my GP and she said cortisone cream and Ibuprofen. Sometimes on forearms but I was generally bitten on the butt (seriously) even wearing leggings tucked into socks. Never the head to toe or bitten up limbs I've seen on others and in photos. Any welts dissapeared sometimes in the same day. I've felt the "crawling and creeping" at work, during the day since it started. Mine is apparently a delayed reaction based on the accumulation of the toxins in my body and out. My own experience is very low key so my sympathies to all who have it any worse. I am now grateful to be on prescribed daytime anti-itch med, a night time anti-itch med and an anti itch cream. During the actual biting section of the story, I was all about tea tree and peppermint oils before bed etc. Now all attention to my skin is based on "unscented",
    "sensitive"- basically all Dove/all the time. Any question about it, I would see a doctor/dermatologist. I'm annoyed w/myself for not seeing one sooner. Ya live, ya learn. Take care.

  13. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Oct 5 2007 18:48:23
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    See, I've been wearing long sleeves tucked into gloves and pants, and my pants tucked into socks, and bug spray on my face and neck, and since I've been doing that haven't been bitten. Since bed bugs can go under clothing, I'm hoping that this means it's not them.

    I had 6 bites just on the side of my hand - they hurt/itched like crazy. It's been 4 or 5 days and they've almost completely healed. I was taking ibuprofen, hydrocortisone cream, and a topical analgesic, as well as benadryl every night.

    My bites have only been on my arms, legs below the knee, hands, face, and one on my stomach, right above the hemline, so if the shirt moved up an inch in my sleep, flying bugs could've done that.

    I've been seeing mosquitos in my room constantly, and I want so badly to believe that they're responsible for all my bites. So far, my bites are my only evidence that I have bbs, I think. I did find some black specks, but they were only on my desk, (and it would take a lot of doing for them to get onto it) and they really could've been something else.

  14. Zycron

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sun Oct 7 2007 13:54:56
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    Here's an easy way to relieve itching. My brother and I discovered it when we were just young lads infected with poison ivy. I recently had a bout with bedbug itch, and it worked great. Also works with mosquitos.

    Use regular handsoap (Ivory works well). Wet it, apply a coating to the itchy spot, and let it dry. A light crust will form and the itch will be gone for many hours.

  15. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sun Oct 7 2007 14:16:22
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    Thanks Zycron - how long did your bedbug bites itch?

  16. Zycron

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sun Oct 7 2007 15:18:00
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    Four to five days for the itching to stop. It's been 2 1/2 weeks since I was exposed, and I still have bite marks, but the itch is gone. I remember in the height of the itching, taking a hot bath for relief. The first 57 seconds in the hot water were heavenly, then every bite started to itch furiously -- simultaneously. Did I ever have that scrub-brush going.

    Have you tried the soap? Did it work?

    Good luck.

  17. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sun Oct 7 2007 22:51:22
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    Sounds like bed bugs all right. Scrubbing, as well as hot water, really can aggravate itching.

  18. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sun Oct 7 2007 23:45:31
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    Zycron - Unfortunately I only have liquid soap. But my bites aren't that itchy- I'm asking about itch to try to figure out whether my bites are bedbugs or mosquitos.

  19. Anonymous

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Oct 8 2007 0:37:03
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    "I've been seeing mosquitos in my room constantly, and I want so badly to believe that they're responsible for all my bites. So far, my bites are my only evidence that I have bbs, I think. I did find some black specks, but they were only on my desk, (and it would take a lot of doing for them to get onto it) and they really could've been something else."

    Careful, goingcrazy. While it's probably just the mosquitos, and I don't want to add to your worries, I think one should not dismiss what one actually sees. Black specks are black specks, and you should take note and look to see if you find any more. If you don't, fine, but I can't think of a single place where bedbugs would have a difficult time getting onto, unless, as a PCO who participates here put it, it hovers off the ground and has an umbrella. A desk is just furniture, not really off-limits to bedbugs at all.

    Some people have bedbug bites that don't itch much and/or don't itch for long. You should ask yourself if these bites and your reaction to them are similar to other mosquito bites you've had in the past.

    If it were me I would take some preventative steps like encasing the mattress and box spring and inspecting and cleaning the bed frame.

    Good luck.

  20. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Oct 8 2007 0:41:10
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    Yes--you can't diagnose bites on appearance or how they feel. The absence of bites does not even mean you don't have bed bugs.

  21. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Oct 8 2007 14:57:25
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    Hey Hopelessnomo - thanks. I agree with a lot of what you're saying. The only reason I say it's harder for them to get to the desk is that my "desk" is essentially a very nice board that sticks out of the wall, so it would have to climb pretty high up the wall to get to it.

    I'm going to order mattress covers tonight for the mattress and box springs.

    I had an exterminator diagnose me as having bed bugs solely based on my bites today. He has a very good reputation though - should I trust him?

    Also, I am feeling hopeless. Your name reflects that you, however, do not. How do I get over this constant feeling of dread, depression, and hopelessness?

  22. Anonymous

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Oct 8 2007 16:21:46
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    Hi goingcrazy,

    Those terrible feelings are normal. We all go through the same thing. Now, the hopelessness, I want you to get rid of that one asap because, honest I tell no lie, you can get rid of bedbugs, if that's what's been biting you, sometimes pretty quickly if you act swiftly and intelligently.

    Once you take control of the situation and are busy doing tasks, then it gets better. Nothing like action to soothe your worries. When you are fighting back and not just taking it, it's a different game. Promise.

    So, I recommend you get that professional inspection as soon as possible. People who are trained know where to look and what they're looking for. They may not find anything in the very beginning stage of an infestation because bedbugs are such sneaky little suckers, but they have a better chance than you. Sometimes, if you are motivated enough and careful enough, you can inspect very well, yourself, but it's quite understandable if you don't know how to to go about it. There is no reason to do this alone. One of the things that leads to feeling in control is having the best professional help.

    Finally, since you need to investigate what is biting you and you need to keep an open mind and take careful notice of everything in your environment, I want you to please realize that bedbugs can harbor on ceiling fixtures and fans, behind frames hanging on the wall, on drapes and curtain rods, and SO many other places, plausible and implausible. And that means... right, the height of your desk is nothing to them, no obstacle at all. Sorry! In addition, you can accidentally transport bedbugs here and there on your stuff.

    I hope you get a truly experienced PCO to your place as soon as you can.

    The mattress encasings are an excellent thing to do even if you don't have bedbugs. Also, until you have an answer, you might be careful with what you wear outside your home. See the laundry FAQ and, if you feel that doing all your laundry right now is too daunting, you might just wash a few things, bag them, and wear them directly from the bag until you know what's what. At least, that's what I would do. You can, of course, decide to wait on acting as if you had bedbugs until you know for sure that you do. But we like to urge caution when feasible.

    I think I speak for everyone here: we hope it isn't bedbugs. Best...

  23. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Oct 8 2007 17:01:52
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    Thanks hopelessnomo. I live in an apartment so there's a bunch of bureaucracy to go through, but if they don't send in an exterminator, I am going to hire my own. Right now I'm shopping for a good PCO in Manhattan, and although I've read the FAQs on that, I'm still not sure which is best to go for and who to trust. I talked to a PCO with mixed recommendations today who diagnosed me as having bedbugs solely based on my bites, which don't even look like the stereotypical rows. He also told me that they usually get all of the bugs in just one visit (but they'll keep coming back afterward if I still have them). So I don't know what to make of that.

    I have nothing on my ceiling, but I've looked behind my posters. I'd say I've looked pretty thoroughly, but I'm sure I've missed some places they could be hiding.

    To make life more difficult, not only do I not have laundry machines in my building, I don't even have one all that closeby, and the closest one has limited hours. So I am inspecting clothing and items before I go out, and the next chance I get I probably will do a huge load of laundry and bag things up, but right now I'm running really low on time and energy.

  24. Anonymous

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    Tue Oct 9 2007 0:39:53
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    Well, step by step. The inspection is the first priority.

    We've heard from other PCOs who tell us they would never say "bedbugs!" based on the appearance of bites. They vary from person to person and, more important, may be caused by something other than bedbugs. That, coupled with outright bragging about getting rid of bedbugs in one visit, which would be a feat indeed, would not be reassuring to me. But maybe the generous interpretation is that it's just his act, meant to inspire confidence. I would interview others too, can't hurt.

    As a reference point, a lot of PCOs will not even treat a home where they find no evidence of bedbugs, despite evidence of "bites." So many people are at pains to find evidence and actual bugs precisely for this reason.

    I really hope that your apartment building management arranges for your PCO, for several reasons. One is that the apartments adjacent to yours should be inspected and, if also infested, treated at the same time to ensure that your treatment is successful.

    For people who have to hire their own PCOs for whatever reason, interviewing several companies is recommended. When you don't have a specific PCO recommendation where you live you need to interview several PCOs and go with the one that best answers all your questions. The FAQ indicates what those questions should be. One of the big ones is the treatment interval schedule. The recommendation is that treatments should take place every two weeks until the infestation is eradicated, not after 30 days or "if you see more bugs."

    I know finding a good PCO is very difficult sometimes but it has to be done.

    The inspection is usually free or low cost; pretty much the only criteria for that is that the PCO be very experienced with bedbugs. So concentrate on finding a knowledgeable PCO to inspect your apartment, and then go from there.

  25. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Oct 9 2007 1:00:46
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    The above PCO didn't seem too worried about the other apartments in my building. I really have some qualms about this group. They seemed set on believing it was bed bugs just talking on the phone with me, and once again in person. This is keeping in mind that I have virtually no evidence - I have things that are suggestive, but that's it. But they could be right. (I just found some tiny red/gold stains on the outside of my pajamas, but they're inexplicable - no dead bugs on my sheets, no new bites on my legs. So those might not mean anything.)

    This PCO and another I talked to each charged roughly $125-$150 for an inspection. Do you think I can find better? If a PCO does an inspection and finds something, wouldn't they expect me to hire them?

    I did ask all of the questions from the FAQ, but it seems like each one has their own pros and cons, you know?

    My roommate expresses disdain for the management company (I've never dealt with them really), which is why I'm already looking into outside PCOs.

  26. Anonymous

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Oct 9 2007 2:15:31
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    If they could be tiny blood spots, then you add them to your inventory of possible evidence. I'm not sure that finding dead bugs on the sheets is something that is common, so please don't dismiss something based on that. Try to keep a written record, it will help and then you'll see the patterns. Don't dismiss things yet. Just note them.

    No, the PCO that charges you for an inspection cannot expect that you will hire them. Don't worry about that. I'm not really sure about the quotes, you should call other companies in the area so that you are able to compare. Fees tend to vary by location, company, etc. Ask them how long they expect the inspection to take. If it is a very thorough, patient inspection, then the fee is worth it.

  27. Anonymous

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    Tue Oct 9 2007 2:22:05
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    An idea might be to have the landlord's PCO inspect, and that way you ask them questions and try to get a sense of what their protocol is and whether they know what they're doing. I don't think you should assume that the landlord's PCO will be no good. Consider all your options.

  28. goingcrazy

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Oct 9 2007 2:45:42
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    Well, I've met one of their PCOs today, and he really had no idea about bed bugs. He lifted up a corner of my mattress, saw nothing, and said "You probably don't have them", basically.

    It's not that I automatically distrust the landlord's PCO, it's that my roommate is giving me the impression that they're going to be reluctant to send somebody else in, but might reimburse us, which is why I'm researching them myself.

    I'm definitely hanging onto the pjs - I shouldn't have said dead bugs. What I was thinking was - if those were blood stains from me rolling over them, wouldn't there also be stains on the sheets? My sheets are totally clear.

  29. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Oct 9 2007 3:35:52
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    Hopelessnomo said,

    "I really hope that your apartment building management arranges for your PCO, for several reasons. One is that the apartments adjacent to yours should be inspected and, if also infested, treated at the same time to ensure that your treatment is successful."

    i was going to say the same thing. Goingcrazy, you may only be concerned with your apt. but if your neighbors have them, they will keep coming. You really do need your landlord's PCO to inspect and treat the neighbors. Getting your own PCO precludes this.

    Many readers have had trouble getting rid of bed bugs because they tried to go it alone, getting their own PCO, while their neighbors were untreated.

    If the landlord is willing to reimburse you, that is good, but the PCO needs to inspect all units adjacent on every side, above, and below.

  30. goingcrazy

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    Tue Oct 9 2007 9:17:02
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    Wow, I guess I really come across pretty terribly. I thought it was clear that I didn't trust PCO number 1 because he was unconcerned about the rest of the building. I don't know how much action I can take to make the management send in PCOs to all surrounding units, especially since I may be living here illegally. Before I worry about saving the building, I just need to find out whether I even have the things! One step at a time.

  31. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Oct 9 2007 12:37:31
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    goingcrazy,

    I am sorry that people's responses made you feel overwhelmed.

    No one is suggesting that you "worry about saving the building." What we are saying is that only getting your own apt. treated won't solve your apt.'s problem.

    You're absolutely right that you need to find out if you have the things. Good luck with that and let us know if you have other questions.

  32. goingcrazy

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    Tue Oct 9 2007 13:38:41
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    The responses aren't making me feel overwhelmed. No worries. If anything is overwhelming, it's the situation. I'm glad I have this site as a resource.

    That's actually one of my concerns - that I'd pay out of my own pocket for a PCO to treat my room, they'd spread to the rest of the building and then eventually come right back to me. Obviously if management doesn't send anybody in but they do tell me to hire a PCO and they'll reimburse, and the PCO finds bedbugs, I'll be sure to really talk to them about inspecting surrounding rooms.


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