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

Could use a reality check regarding probability

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  1. NotParanoid

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    Posted 6 months ago
    Wed Jun 6 2018 22:46:32
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    As my username suggests, I'm trying to be realistic. The problem, as I'm sure some people can relate to, is that once you become concerned about the possibility of bed bugs, I think it's easy to start noticing things that you might not have paid much attention to before, which can make it hard to judge what's "normal" and what is really a sign of something new and worrisome happening.

    I've been "keeping an eye out" for about a year now (not obsessively, but in the sense of things like checking my mattress and sofa occasionally, trying to keep clutter under control, etc. I have not tried a passive monitor yet, but I know that I probably should to be safe) and have not found anything that I would consider strong evidence of bed bugs. All I've found is a couple small dark spots on my sheets that could have been there for years for all I know, and a very small blood stain on my pillow that I barely noticed. The only reason I'm concerned is because of bites, and I know that isn't a reliable way to tell if you have an infestation. But I don't know if I'm being realistic about how "normal" bug bites are, especially in the summer.

    I live in Virginia in the US. What first got me worried was that summer, I had a few very itchy bites on my leg that caused a severe reaction that required medical attention. I'd never had anything like that happen. Since then, I've had a few sporadic bites that were similar, but not quite that severe. I got one on my ankle a few weeks ago, and it was swollen and red for a few days and there's still a bit of a mark. This is new for me, so it does seem that I'm being exposed to something that I wasn't before, or that I've developed a sensitivity/allergy. But I've only had bites like these a few times over the past year, and mostly during summer months. In the winter, I got a couple itchy bite-like reactions on my abdomen, and that concerned me because bug bites are less common in winter. With one of them, I woke up with a rash on my side that started to look more like a couple bites as the day went on. Things like this have happened every few months or so, but not frequently. I don't know what causes them or if they're all caused by the same thing.

    More frequently, I'll notice little bumps and rashes that don't really itch and don't last long but that look like mosquito bites or something. These seem to be increasing in frequency now that it's summer, but it's never more than a few scattered here and there. I have one on my upper thigh now, and another on my arm. To be honest, I don't know how often I got things like this prior to last year because I didn't pay that close of attention.

    Obviously, the bites that cause worse reactions concern me because having to go to urgent care last year was scary. But I'm having some trouble keeping some perspective on what's "normal" and what's not. I spend most of my days indoors, wearing long pants. And when I go outside, it's usually in an urban environment. It's only at home that I'll wear shorts. To me, it makes more sense that I'd be bitten at home than when I'm sitting at my desk at work (though, my office is poorly insulted and I find various insects in there not infrequently). But I suspect that a couple years ago, I wouldn't have thought anything of a lot of these bumps and spots, especially since I have notoriously sensitive skin. And it's probably not realistic to hope to survive the summer bug bite-free.

    Seeing as I have not yet found any bugs or anything that looks like evidence to me, and I haven't had any known exposure, how concerned should I be just based on these bites? I do hope to get a passive monitor soon to put my mind at ease, but I also want to be realistic about the likelihood. I don't want to panic over nothing, but I also don't want to be in denial.

  2. LittleRin

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    Posted 6 months ago
    Wed Jun 6 2018 23:28:16
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    I don't think you have bed bugs based upon you saying that you only seem to get these strange, unique bites every few months or so. When an active infestation is going on, bed bugs will bite at least once a week or once every few days. I feel like you'd have bites more often.

    If you are still worried, you can do very thorough inspection of your bedding, mattress, box spring, bed frame, and you can't find any evidence - you are probably okay. If you're worried the bed bugs might simply be somewhere other than your bed, hot wash/hot dry your bedding (just to be sure), pull your bed away from the wall so that your sheets and mattress not touching the walls and your sheets never touch the floor. Then install ClimbUps at the feet of your bed. If you still can't find anything at all in the ClimbUps after a few weeks, I'd say your chances are pretty good that it's not bed bugs.

  3. NotParanoid

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    Posted 6 months ago
    Wed Jun 6 2018 23:35:45
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    Thank you for your perspective. I guess I worry about the possibility that I could be getting bit more frequently but not realizing it because I don' t get the same reaction every time, which is why I've been getting more nervous about random welts and bumps that I find. (And I'm already acne-prone, so random bumps are not uncommon.)

    I've inspected my bedding pretty thoroughly a few times. I don't have a box spring, so that makes things a little easier. I've been cautious about not letting my bedding drag on the floor. No evidence on my mattress or bed frame that I can tell. I am going to try ClimbUps for a bit.

  4. LittleRin

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    Posted 6 months ago
    Wed Jun 6 2018 23:54:07
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    Something that I've read often on these forums is that you shouldn't assume you have bed bugs based upon bites alone. (Something I'm trying desperately to remind myself after moving away from bed bugs.)

    Your bites could be the result of many other types of insects. Additionally, some PCO will do an inspection for free of your home for bed bugs. (At least that's how they did it in my area.) If they don't find anything, you are not charged. It might be worth a look to see if you have a PCO like that in your area as while they inspect, they might know of a different culprit than bed bugs when you tell them of the circumstances around your bites.

  5. Unsure0817

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    Posted 6 months ago
    Thu Jun 7 2018 11:24:51
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    I have bb anxiety, too. There are few things that I repeat to myself:

    1. killerqueen once told someone who was freaking out: “either you have bed bugs or you don’t.” There’s no grey in-between.

    2. Bigdummy reminds us all the time that jumping to bed bugs for every little thing is your brain trying to make order out of chaos. You can’t know the cause of everything. Skin is weird.

    3. If you do get bed bugs, you will also get rid of bed bugs. It might be tough, but MOST people just need a couple of professional treatments. Remember most of the stories you hear on here are dramatic because people who are efficiently solving their problem aren’t posting on here—it’s the people searching for help who are. They are probably the minority of people who get infested.

    4. You are hyper aware of the signs. You will catch it super early if you ever actually do get bed bugs. From what I’ve read on here (and I’ve probably read the whole site by now), it’s usually people who had no idea about bed bugs that don’t catch it until a few months in.

    It helps me a lot to filter for posts that KQ and BD are involved in because they are realistic and encouraging. It might help you, too. Also, not reading about bbs at all is probably even better (I should take my own advice, haha.)

  6. notmebutmaybe

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    Posted 6 months ago
    Thu Jun 7 2018 13:23:04
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    Unsure0817 - 1 hour ago  » 
    I have bb anxiety, too. There are few things that I repeat to myself:
    1. killerqueen once told someone who was freaking out: “either you have bed bugs or you don’t.” There’s no grey in-between.
    2. Bigdummy reminds us all the time that jumping to bed bugs for every little thing is your brain trying to make order out of chaos. You can’t know the cause of everything. Skin is weird.
    3. If you do get bed bugs, you will also get rid of bed bugs. It might be tough, but MOST people just need a couple of professional treatments. Remember most of the stories you hear on here are dramatic because people who are efficiently solving their problem aren’t posting on here—it’s the people searching for help who are. They are probably the minority of people who get infested.
    4. You are hyper aware of the signs. You will catch it super early if you ever actually do get bed bugs. From what I’ve read on here (and I’ve probably read the whole site by now), it’s usually people who had no idea about bed bugs that don’t catch it until a few months in.
    It helps me a lot to filter for posts that KQ and BD are involved in because they are realistic and encouraging. It might help you, too. Also, not reading about bbs at all is probably even better (I should take my own advice, haha.)

    This is probably the best thing I've read in months since realizing I moved into a building with a history of these little guys. Thank you for compiling this advice, Unsure.

    I inspect every bug in the hallway, every crevice in my bedroom or couch, every bite on my body and honestly it's so exhausting but coming on here and reading this perspective brings me back down to earth.

    A really nice PCO once told me, "don't let them win, live your life."

    May we all continue to stay level headed and realize we share the same earth!

  7. Unsure0817

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    Posted 6 months ago
    Fri Jun 8 2018 14:27:59
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    notmebutmaybe - 1 day ago  » 

    Unsure0817 - 1 hour ago  » 
    I have bb anxiety, too. There are few things that I repeat to myself:
    1. killerqueen once told someone who was freaking out: “either you have bed bugs or you don’t.” There’s no grey in-between.
    2. Bigdummy reminds us all the time that jumping to bed bugs for every little thing is your brain trying to make order out of chaos. You can’t know the cause of everything. Skin is weird.
    3. If you do get bed bugs, you will also get rid of bed bugs. It might be tough, but MOST people just need a couple of professional treatments. Remember most of the stories you hear on here are dramatic because people who are efficiently solving their problem aren’t posting on here—it’s the people searching for help who are. They are probably the minority of people who get infested.
    4. You are hyper aware of the signs. You will catch it super early if you ever actually do get bed bugs. From what I’ve read on here (and I’ve probably read the whole site by now), it’s usually people who had no idea about bed bugs that don’t catch it until a few months in.
    It helps me a lot to filter for posts that KQ and BD are involved in because they are realistic and encouraging. It might help you, too. Also, not reading about bbs at all is probably even better (I should take my own advice, haha.)

    This is probably the best thing I've read in months since realizing I moved into a building with a history of these little guys. Thank you for compiling this advice, Unsure.
    I inspect every bug in the hallway, every crevice in my bedroom or couch, every bite on my body and honestly it's so exhausting but coming on here and reading this perspective brings me back down to earth.
    A really nice PCO once told me, "don't let them win, live your life."
    May we all continue to stay level headed and realize we share the same earth!

    Glad I could help! I know it’s tough.

  8. thirdusername

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    Posted 6 months ago
    Sat Jun 9 2018 12:15:13
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    Unsure0817 - 2 days ago  » 
    3. If you do get bed bugs, you will also get rid of bed bugs. It might be tough, but MOST people just need a couple of professional treatments. Remember most of the stories you hear on here are dramatic because people who are efficiently solving their problem aren’t posting on here—it’s the people searching for help who are. They are probably the minority of people who get infested.

    I agree.
    My problem is probably solved but everytime I decide to write a success story, I convince myself that I'll be jinxing it.

    Maybe carpet beetles.
    An allergy to something in your environment.
    It is always good to be vigilant about bed bugs but look for other causes too.

    I am NOT an expert.
    My opinions are just opinions, they may NOT apply to yours or any situation.
    My advice is to always do a LOT of research.
    A lot of what I read contradicts other stuff on the Interweb.
  9. NotParanoid

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Oct 5 2018 13:01:19
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    Hi everyone. I'm returning to this topic a little late, but I wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts. I appreciate the support.

    I'm still pretty frustrated. I went a while without any bites. I had one or two in July, but was hoping that some repairs at work to seal one of my office windows better would help.

    The past couple weeks have been more bite-y, however. Over the past few weeks, I've gotten a few bites in my legs, one on my stomach, one on my hand while I was watching TV (don't know how that happened as I was awake and didn't feel anything), and one on my finger that I woke up with last week. For the most part, they've been isolated. But yesterday I found a few mosquito bite like marks on my ankles. I can rationalize it--I was walking around outside, and I was wearing looser socks than usual. I only noticed it at the end of the day, so it could have happened during the afternoon, when I was at work. But still. And then today, I found an itchy welt on my stomach. I caught a mosquito in my office yesterday, so I know there are biting bugs around, but I never feel it when I'm being bitten.

    I just feel very helpless. I still haven't found any convincing signs of bed bugs, but I feel like there are probably places they could hide where I wouldn't see them easily. I feel guilty for taking public transportation because I feel like it's a risk. I've been walking more, which is great exercise but probably worse for attracting mosquitoes. I also feel guilty because I live with my mother and I hate to think of her being affected by an infestation. She's a weaver and has valuable wooden looms and a lot of hand-made rugs and towels.

    I put some DIY climb-up interceptors with tape under my bed legs in homes that the tape would catch any bugs, but I haven't found anything except carpet beetles.

    It's stressful because I certainly don't want to find evidence of an infestation but I feel like there's never going to be any resolution if I just keep getting bug bites occasionally forever. If I were frequently waking up with bites or I regularly had several bites at once, that would be more of a clear warning sign, but most of the time I can't even tell if I'm getting bitten at home. I get anxious when I feel like I can't prove or disprove something either way. I don't want to obsess over it, but sometimes I feel guilty if I feel like I'm not doing enough.

  10. BigDummy

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Oct 5 2018 13:12:14
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    You don't have bed bugs, stop it.

  11. NotParanoid

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Oct 5 2018 13:41:12
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    BigDummy - 24 minutes ago  » 
    You don't have bed bugs, stop it.

    I'm honestly eager to think that I don't. It'd just be easier not to worry if bugs hadn't taken a liking to me. The number of bites I get isn't enough to think that I'm dealing with a serious infestation of anything, but it's a noticeable increase for me. It's annoying that I can't stop it or identify the biters.

  12. BigDummy

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    Posted 2 months ago
    Fri Oct 5 2018 14:03:02
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    Infestations don't work like that, they grow, within weeks.


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