I've developed a tolerance for bites(34 posts)
There's not much to say about this, I'm just making a public statement to give a "case story." Here is living proof that you can develop a tolerance to the bites. When I first discovered the bugs a few months ago, I only had a few bites on my wrists but I was itching like CRAZY. I carried hydrocortisone in my purse and applied it more times than is recommended.
Now I have figured out that I still get bumps from the bites, but they tend to go away before I wake up. I only discovered this because I woke up scratching my leg in my sleep. The bite was there. I noted its precise location and went back to sleep. (I was REALLY tired.) When morning came, all signs of the bite were gone, but I found a bug running when I lifted the sheets to look.
That's all. Thought it might be helpful to give testimony. Stay vigilent, even if it seems you're not getting bitten.
That's interesting,I think you may be the first case on this site that knows that for sure,though some seem to suspect it.I started out unallergic,maybe I'll devolop a response to bites.Although I hope to have them gone soon,if they are upstairs by now I'm doomed.A response would be helpful,if uncomfortable.Are you still getting treatments?I hope so.How's the dog doing?
I'm very sorry, m.
In the interest of developing our collective experience of this, when was the last time you had an itchy bite? And how long have you had bedbugs?
Also, you should watch for any possible delayed reaction in that spot (days), just in case it happens.
I had what I felt sure were bites that faded very quickly like that and did not itch at all. But I still had other itchy bites so I never stopped reacting completely. I wonder if you will experience another itchy bite at some point.
bugbasher and hopelessnomo, I'll respond to both of you in the same post
the dog is doing fine, thanks for asking. It's just a long process for him.
this morning I had a MILDLY itchy bite for 5 minutes then it went away. It was definitely not a hive. I don't know if I got it at night and it just came up later in the morning, or if I got it in the morning somehow. I suspect the former. The leg thing I described happened last week. Again, it itched enough to bother me in my sleep, but it went away before I got up. Whereas when I first started getting bitten I had big, intensely itchy bites that bothered me all day and didn't go away for a week.
As for my treatment schedule, it's very complicated. I don't think this is representative of a normal experience and I don't know how useful it is to retell the tale. Right now my treatment is half-assed and soon I will find a new PCO because I'm not thrilled with the last one. My landlords are very sweet people, but they think they can do it themselves. So I am planning to get some ducks in a row, and then interview some new pcos and hire one and then try to convince my landlords after the fact to pay for it. That's it in a nutshell.
Good for you,that's the right attitude.I'm sure the LL's are well meaning but this is beyond their capablities I'm sure.It seems beyond a lot of pco's as well,so interveiw carefully to get the best bang for your buck,so to speak.I'm happy the dog is faring well.Keep us posted.Sending hugs.
It is nearly impossible (to my knowledge) to develop a resistance to the bites. The reason for this is that your body is reacting to the proteins in the saliva of the bug and we just do not have the ability to adapt that fast to them. You generally either react or don't react, and in some cases get worse as time progresses.
I would suspect that you were having a flaring up of an old bite (maybe previously undetected).
I know that my bed bug bites will actually come and go for up to a month after the original bites.
I thought that there was a theory around that you could become desensitized to the bites after a period of time,almost like allergy injections.In the above case she actually found a fed bug in the bed with her at the time she noticed the bite,but in the morning all evidence of the bite was gone.I'm not saying that it's possible or not,just that there's a lot we don't know yet.She may yet have a delayed reaction in a bit,who knows? I see from reading the posts here it seems to work the other way at times,too.There're people who didn't react at first,but then do react after a period of time goes by.The body's mechanism is so unique to each person I'm not willing to say it's not possible.These are just theories at this point anyway.
Sean. That is most good to hear. I've always wondered that myself. My husband has been taking allergy shots for over 5 yrs and he still reacts to the shot every week. OH, and he's still allergic to dog and cat hair anyway.
Just to clue in on this and as a reminder..NoBugs has mentioned in the past that everyone reacts differently to the bites as we all know. But each person may react differently on many of the bites they receive. For example, you may get a few bites that are worse or not so bad as others. Other bites the same person may not react to at all or maybe 9 days later. Just figured I would point that out.
From my experience there are three distinct groups of people when you look at BB bites:
1 Those that do not respond to bite at all regardless of the size and extent of the infestation
2 Those who immediatly respond and tend to have a more aggressive and annoying bite reaction
3 Those for whom the bite response is either based on the number of bites or possibly an environmental role. This group account for those who have had an infestation for monthas and only just start to respond to the bites.
I am not 100% convinced that a siliva based anti coagulant or protein plays a role in bed bug bites. I dont have scientyific data to back that up but I have also not seen any scientific data supporting the role of an anticoagulant in the bite process. One of the reasons for my assumption is that if there was an anticoagulant present then the bugs would have little reason to sometimes bites 2 or 3 times in a row.
So from my obeservations yes it is possible that you only respond at a certain bite level and then possibly only with the added influence of the environment that you find yourself in.
It is also possible as mentioned for bites to reappear in the same location some time after the bite has originally occured. With some of my team this is evident with limited exposure to bed bug infested envrionments, the most rapid response I have seen is the re-emurgance of a bite spot 30 seconds after entering a room where bed bugs are present.
Bites and the response is a complex issue and one that a lot more research is needed into. The variation between people and locations are the number 1 reason why I continually say its not possible to diagnose a bed bug problem with bites alone.
I would like to share my experience into the mix to be considered...
The first time I ever saw live BBs in my life was in Dec 2007 when I stayed at a hotel in New York. I woke up that morning and had dozens in bed with me - all life stages. Some were full of blood, so I know they had fed.
Of course I checked my skin for bite marks. At that time, I had no visible reactions - no lumps, red marks, not even pin pricks.
However, 8 days later - wow!!! Tons of bright red pimple-sized lumps on my hands, arms, neck, etc. I know that was a late reaction.
Once we discovered BBs at home (despite my decon measures when returning from the hotel), I started noticing the pin-prick marks. I've not had the lump type bites since then, though I know I'm getting bitten. My theory is that my body needed a lot of whatever they inject into you in order to react with the swelling, etc.
Either that, or after my first exposure, I am now more tolerant (?) Who knows?
My husband and son seem to get a mix - sometimes lumps, sometimes pin pricks. Makes it so hard to know what's going on!!
There is an anticoagulant and an anesthetic. I will dig up the scientific data on it.
The reason they have to sometimes move is the length of time that it takes for them to become satiated. Most blood feeding insects (such as a mosquito) require short periods to fill up, bed bugs can take up to 10 minutes in some cases. The human body is remarkable and can detect that it is "leaking" and thus produces coagulants and sends them to the area that the bed bug is feeding. If the bug is not satiated before the coagulants counteract the anticoagulants then the bed bug simply moves. Much of this also has to do with the diameter of the capillary that the bed bug has tapped in to.
In my own personal experience I have never seen a bed bug move from one spot to another on me while feeding. Perhaps it has found good capillaries, perhaps my body is slow to send coagulants ...
Entomologist / Pest Professional
I have, unfortunately for me, spent some time looking into this.
On the issue of salivary proteins playing a role in bite reactions, there is one study that supports this specifically with respect to nitrophorin. There could be other things going on, too; I don't think this has been studied much at all.
Regarding whether one can become desensitized to bedbug bites and exhibit no reaction (after having previous allergic reactions), this is, sadly, documented.
Over a period of time of repeated exposure to bites, changes in a person's reactions can occur in the following pattern:
Stage 1 - no reaction (while the person becomes sensitized)
Stage 2 - delayed reaction (I think Stage 2 is now also referred to as a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction, DTH-IV)
Stage 3 - immediate reaction followed by a delayed reaction
Stage 4 - immediate reaction only
Stage 5 - no reaction
These stages were first formulated (by K. Mellanby) with regard to mosquito bites, but have been confirmed with fleas, bedbugs and possibly other blood-sucking insects. It's possible they have now moved beyond this model or somehow refined it but this is my information so far.
The nitrophorin study: http://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v126/n1/full/5700012a.html
This article in Pediatrics (which moreover confirms the possibility of "reactivated" bites): http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/118/1/e189
And this article from '68 by BF Feingold and others: http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.en.13.010168.001033 (I got my copy from the excellent Armed Forces Pest Management Board's online library).
I have now also seen a couple of accounts here and elsewhere from people who report having bedbugs, experiencing bite reactions, and then having those reactions completely stop, while the bedbugs were still around as evidenced by their crawling around in plain sight.
Some alternative explanations could be that the bedbugs switched to a non-reacting host (if there is a family or couple, say, and this may not even happen according to one ento who said somewhere that bedbugs don't switch hosts, I don't really know) or that the first reactions were not produced by bedbugs but another insect, like a mosquito. However, having now seen a couple of these reports, I have to credit them.
I'd like to think that this can't happen very quickly, though, because it scares me, this idea that you can stop reacting to the bites and still have bedbugs around.
There is one researcher mentioned in the Feingold article who experienced delayed reactions, then progressed to immediate reactions, and finally to no reaction in the space of 11 months of feeding bedbugs.
But I think Dr. Harlan still gets reactions (immediate plus delayed) even after all these years of feeding his colony. (I don't have a source for that, just something I saw in a PowerPoint presentation of his that was available online.) So, thankfully, it's not automatic and there is no reason to think that this will happen to any one of us. For all we know, the incidence of such a progression may be really tiny.
Thanks for those links. I can see the role of Nitrophorin as a Nitric Oxide transporter and the role of Nitric Oxide as a vaso dilator as well as the role that IgE plays in bullous responses but thankfully these are the least common type of reaction. I have only seen this level of reaction once or twice in 6 years. In fact I would say it is worth making people aware that however unpleasent bites can be this type of reaction is far worse than most people find themselves with.
The fact is however that with a low bite response rate (commonly accepted fact is that 60% of people will not initially respond) it is a lot more complex than just an immune response alone. To illustrate this I had a defining example a few years ago, the client did not respond to bites at all when he was at home and only responded within 5 minutes of stepping out of his vehicle at work. A thorough examination of the vehicle showed it was clear from infestation and the inspection of the home showed some 50 - 100 bed bugs localised in the main sleeping area, all other rooms were not affected. If the person took a day off work they did not respond to the bites, the response trigger was clearly related to the working environment which is a known area of high hydro carbon pollution.
I suspect a lot more larger studies will be needed before we fully understand the mechanism of bite response and what factors cause changes in bite responses. I does however support the fact that bites alone are not reliable enough to focus on as a symptom of bed bugs.
Lots of food for thought and discussion though.
Could it be possible that the smaller pin-prick bites are from bb's that are under physical duress, i.e. not dead but comprimised by whatever we are all throwing at them to kill them. An unhealthy walnut tree still drops a prolific amount of walnuts but the walnuts are usually smaller and less desirable than those from a healthy tree.
I hope so!! My pin pricks seems to be getting smaller these days. Possible less frequent also.
My other theory is that smaller pin pricks = from smaller BBS (ie: newly hatched ones). That would suck!!
Interesting, and yes there is widespread speculation that nymphs produce smaller reactions but there's no evidence that I am aware of yet. (Personally I don't think that's true, based only on S's limited bite test. But could it be true for some but not for others? I think that's possible and I think Parakeets believes it to be true for her.)
Clearly, researchers and others interested in the subject need to pay attention to reports from sufferers!
I find David's observations intriguing. I think the idea of environmental stressors that trigger the immune response should be explored, there's probably a relationship of that and other factors. But I guess we shouldn't hold our breath for research; it will come but perhaps slowly. I hope so anyway.
I remember someone (somewhere) reported (a theory) that after a vacation trip where another insect bit, the reactions from bedbugs back home started.
Many things to think about.
I agree that bites are not very reliable when it comes to identifying an infestation (or the end of an infestation) but I can't dismiss their importance. For obvious reasons.
After going back into my infested condo for the last time, I felt like I had bites breaking out and itching everywhere. I think it was probably all in my head; or partially in my head, my brain sending some chemical stress signal that reactivated the bites, who knows? Was weird, but I kind of expected it, very much like formication(sp?) in my opinion.
just an update--I've started reacting to bites again, but the reaction is MUCH more mild than it was when I first got the bugs. Don't ask me why it's playing out like this. This thread has been extremely interesting, anyway, so I'm glad some "good" came out of it, if you could call it that.
My bites are starting to be the pin prick type and it terrifies me at the thought of these things continuing to lurk and the possiblity of not knowing it. I am not suprised though really. I am the type of person that becomes immune to everything at some point...Advil, Tylenol, antibiotics, I even had to have natural childbirth because the anesthetic wouldn't work. My fourteen year old told me last night that he feels like bugs are crawling on him (great now my son is loosing it too). I think I am going to get some Phantom and spray this place myself. I will keep everyone posted as to my reactions or non reactions, but it is good to know I am not alone.
whenever I feel bugs crawling on me, and I look, there's never anything there. So I'm learning to ignore that sensation for the most part. I still look, but I dont' have an emotional reaction to it. LOL.
This is an extremely interesting subject.
It is clear that people who are mosquito-bite reactors can become desensitized to mosquito bites after longterm exposure. So why not also with bed bugs?
And with the numbers of homes infested with bed bugs growing, yet little progress apparently being made in more effectively killing the insects, I wonder whether there may not soon be a need for a protocol for doctors to be able to desensitize people who experience very strong reactions.
i hope i won't become de-sensitised. i have extreme and instant reaction to bb bites, i hope and hope that that won't go away. it has been my only weapon (ok, besides the treatment from the PCO), that allows me to catch the bugs right after feeding!
I was wondering the same thing. When I first started getting bites a couple months ago I had a terrible reaction - welts with the diameter of a baseball and blisters. I actually had to go on antibiotics because my doctor thought they were getting infected. I still suspect I'm getting bitten because my stomach in particular is really itchy. However, I don't see any visible bites. The itching is too localized to be anything other than a bite of some sort. I've been thinking that maybe I've developed a tolerance of some sort.
i'm experiencing something similar... when i first started getting bit - or becoming suspicious of the mystery bites, i should say... - i would get these gigantic welts, just so huge, and ridiculously itchy... that was in my old place. in my new apartment, i have only experienced a couple of itchy bites but nowhere near as welt-y... i've now begun to notice these pin-prick looking bites on my body.. i have been wondering about them as well... are they from nymphs? am i not reacting as dramatically due to presence or lack of stress or other factors? are these things not even bed bug related at all?
its frustrating to have things be so inconsistant.... i mean i obviously hated the huge welts but i think i hate the idea of them crawling all over me and biting me without me knowing even more...
I think I've almost become a non-reactor - I used to have red swollen welts with definate large holes in the center that itched & itched and sometimes bled. Now if I get bitten it is mildly itchy for half a day and I can see the little holes but it disappears over night without leaving a mark. Scarey! If I stop reacting at all it's going to be hard to monitor the little devils. I still have red scars from bites a few months ago. I thought it was because the major bites were from full grown bugs and now they are smaller
I am just following up. I found a bug again just a week ago. It was only after a spring cleaning in my apartment I found a live adult that had fed recently. I have not been suffering bites. I seriously doubt I just happened to catch the first pioneer who came into my apartment. We all know that if you find one, there are many you haven't found. So here is more confirmation that bite reactivity can change over time. Interestingly, I went to a mosquito-laden place last week and am covered in mosquito bites which are swelling, then seeming to go away, then flaring up again--but the people who grew up in the area don't have any problem with mosquitos. I wonder if bite desensitization is something that happens regularly.
Sorry to hear that you found a bug again. That's really too bad. Hope you caught this one early and get to nip them all in the bud.
I'd just like to chime in and say that I've become desensitized to bites as well. And I've only have BBs for two months.
Now most of my bites go away in less an hour. Before they were mean-looking welts for two weeks. Though the adult bites (I suspect) stay for a two days with a nasty hole/bite mark in the middle.
Researchers really ought to use us as samples. I'd like to volunteer for a related experiment to prove and find out why some people get desensitized so quickly.
mangycur - 11 hours ago »
I am just following up. I found a bug again just a week ago. It was only after a spring cleaning in my apartment I found a live adult that had fed recently.
Sorry, Mangy. That stinks.
Thanks No BB and Nobugs! BBs stink but I'm having a hard time getting to freaked out about it anymore. It's just a lot of work. It's annoying but it's not the end of the world. At least I get to catch up with you all.
I have lived for more than a year with literally thousands of bed bugs and I never noticed any bite marks or itching. But when I knew the bed bugs were there, the marks suddenly started to show up. I have to cover the bites, because it is very clear that those are bed bug bites because of the characteristic pattern. They leave ugly scars BTW.
Not only bite marks are itching: yesterday I trimmed some shrubs and my arms were full of large red itchy scratches. So the strange reaction is not only limited to bed bugs.
mangycur - 1 week ago »
Thanks No BB and Nobugs! BBs stink but I'm having a hard time getting to freaked out about it anymore. It's just a lot of work. It's annoying but it's not the end of the world. At least I get to catch up with you all.
Give 'em heck, mangy!
Wow - you're sure lucky. In my own case, I'm reacting worse and worse to these bites
till now when I am bitten? I almost feel like it's going to take my breath away. It's a horrible
feeling and it scares me.
wow, that is my worst nightmare. i don't know what i would do if i stopped reacting to bites, my huge welts were my most reliable identification method so long. very interesting topic.
hope you are having success this time around!
You must log in to post.