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Exhausted and paranoid--why am I itching?

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  1. halp_halp_halp

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Wed Jun 18 2008 23:33:54
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    I have something very itchy, but I don't know what. I've got big itchy welts on the backs of my knees & along underwear line, on torso, on my back, on the fronts and backs of my arms. The only welt-free place is my face! I've been doing a fair amount of panicking so far. Maybe you folks can help me think this through? Here is my timeline:

    I'm living in a summer sublet in Baltimore that I just moved into at the end of May. For the first week, no unusual itching. Then I went to the Berkshires for a wedding and stayed in a rental with my partner and four friends. Got lots of mosquito bites over that weekend. Within a few days of coming home I was really suffering from way more mosquito bites. My partner and I were noticing welts all over, on our torsos and legs and arms, and we felt like the number was increasing over the week we were back in our sublet. It's been so hot we've been sleeping naked with no sheet, so we kind of thought mosquitoes at first, but to get that many bites there would have had to be an army of mosquitos, and actually none have appeared, yet we seem to get more welts. I've checked with the four people who stayed in the rental, and they don't report anything like what we're experiencing.

    Yesterday I started thinking bed bugs, read a bunch here, cried myself to sleep last night in between twitching and slapping at probably imagined critters, and this morning scrutinized the bed. Against white sheets, I thought I might find something, but there were no blood spots or anything suspicious. Nothing under the air mattress. We both feel like we're getting bitten when we sit on the couch, but not sure if it's paranoia now.

    I've had fleas when I was a kid and I haven't seen them here. I've read the what-could-it-be FAQ, but I haven't been in any hot tubs lately and we don't have bats in the sublet rowhouse. That I know of. What are these MITES I've seen mentioned? Could it be mites?

    I laid down a strip of double sided scotch tape from the drugstore in hopes that something sinister will crawl across it and then at least I'll know. If that doesn't work, what do I do next?

    To make it all fun, I'm leaving tomorrow to stay at my friends' home for their wedding this weekend. I don't know if I'll be putting them at risk of something or not!

    Thanks for any advice you all can send my way.

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Wed Jun 18 2008 23:38:24
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    They spread easily. Read the faqs on avoiding spreading bed bugs: http://bedbugger.com/faqs/travel/

    And get a professional in there to inspect and treat if they find you have bed bugs.

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

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Wed Jun 18 2008 23:58:03
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    i agree. the best thing to do for now is assume that you do have bedbugs when you go to visit a new place. it's always possible that you don't, but you definitely don't want to spread them if there is even a small chance that you do. if you read the FAQ nbom provided above, it will give you lots of information on laundry protocols and things that you can to to minimize the risk of spreading them when you visit people. this is very very important.

    then when you get back from this trip, you can deal with trying to get a proper inspection and figure out what's going on.

    good luck!

  4. heartattackhelpme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Jun 19 2008 2:14:23
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    My friend had something like that and it was a fungal thing that she picked up. It can be cleared up with a cream.

  5. performance

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Jun 19 2008 2:28:05
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    double sided tape doesn't work. Atleast it didn't for me. I tested it by catching a few live bugs and then getting them to walk over it. It slowed them down but didn't stop em.

  6. halp_halp_halp

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Jun 19 2008 6:45:52
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    Thanks people. I'm detailing the fella with laundromat duty today and we got a bunch of ziplocs. I'm evolving a sort of plan where we treat his car as a hot area, and therefore arrive, remove shoes outside, scurry to showers and deposit our clothing in ziplocs, then put on clean-bagged items after showering. Of course this means we can't go back in his car for the whole four days without going through that again.

    What about decon showering? This may seem dumb but I am a person who just washes the parts most likely to smell, and then daydreams for a while. Do I need to alertly wash every square inch of skin? With soap?

    He is bringing his laptop because of work. From what I've read, it's not impossible bugs or nymphs could already be in our laptops and phones, is it? We are not the most tidy of folks and tend to leave these items on or in the couch or floor. So can we isolate the laptop he is using? Do we need to??

    The tape, by the way, appears to have caught nothing whatsoever, as predicted. I hear you on the idea that we need competent diagnoses pronto, but I had the idea that you had to already have a bug to show the PCO--is that right? I am in Baltimore and have no idea how I would select the PCO.

    And, in closing, blurgh!!!

  7. pleasenotme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Jun 19 2008 18:56:53
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    Could it be chiggers?

  8. halp_halp_halp

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Tue Jun 24 2008 12:35:42
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    I don't know, but I think probably not. We spent some time on wooded paths a couple weeks ago, but we checked all our friends who accompanied us and none of them had the same reaction. i can't think of a reason just we two would get chiggers. I went to the dermatologist today and after two minutes and barely looking at me she was entirely dismissive of the possibility that it could be bedbugs (or scabies) and prescribed anti-itch cream. I'm going to my regular dermatologist tomorrow. Meanwhile we're circling existing bumps to try to see if new ones are still coming.

  9. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Tue Jun 24 2008 15:39:57
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    My advice on the upcoming Dermatologist appointment. Do not leave without an explanation even if the explanation is "I don't know." Many people are experiencing this and no bugs are found. My suspicion is inside walls and floors, it is impossible to inspect these areas unless one guts the house.

  10. halp_halp_halp

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Tue Jun 24 2008 17:08:00
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    Thanks for the advice. The one today said "you have excema" and said bed bug bites don't look so red and bumpy. She didn't seem to know a lot about bed bugs. She didn't let me ask more and wouldn't explain how me, my partner, and, now, his mom (who lives with us in our permanent, non-baltimore home) would all have excema at exactly the same time. I was in tears of frustration at the end of it. I know my home dermatologist will be more patient.

  11. bedbugvictimperthaustralia

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Tue Jun 24 2008 17:57:31
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    To be fair, bed bugs bites look a LOT like eczema that has been scratched by the person in the night. Fooled me for 4 months :'(

  12. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Tue Jun 24 2008 23:02:46
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    A doctor should rule out folliculitis and scabies.

    A PCO who knows bed bugs should be able to do a careful inspection and find samples more easily than you would. See the FAQs for advice on choosing a PCO who really knows bed bugs (they don't all).

  13. heartattackhelpme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Wed Jun 25 2008 0:17:39
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    I have been trying to figure it out for months with hardly a bug in site, finally some droppings to see around my bed and then at the 5 month mark bugs and nymphs. At that point I was so paranoid that I started looking and dusting and caulking everywhere.
    If you have the chance right now to hire a dog you will save yourself hours, days and maybe even months of frustration. Everyone believes a dog, but they may never believe you unless you actually find one soon enough to get them to believe that you are not nuts.

  14. halp_halp_halp

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Wed Jun 25 2008 9:56:19
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    I wish I could get a dog but as far as I know there are none in Baltimore. One person brought Cesar and Tre down from New York, but I'm not sure how expensive that was. My main concern is just diagnosis and not treatment, since in a rowhouse treatment (if warranted) will need to involve all the neighbors and the person whose apartment this actually is, and I don't want to identify myself as the paranoid freak until I have something concrete to talk about.

    I'm calling PCOs in my spare moments and trying to figure out who will be good for an inspection (that we can afford). I'm also planning to isolate the bed for peace of mind, though I think plenty of chomping can still occur since we spend lots of time on the couch which is like three feet from the bed.

  15. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Wed Jun 25 2008 20:53:32
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    It is impossible for dermatologists to diagnose bed bug bites based on appearance. The photos here and linked from here give some idea of the range of appearance which makes this not possible:

    http://bedbugger.com/bed-bug-bites-photos/

  16. halp_halp_halp

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Thu Jun 26 2008 6:49:55
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    My (2nd) dermatologist said pretty much the same. She gave me something for the itching plus scabies medicine so we can rule that one out, though she doesn't think it's really very much like scabies. Meanwhile I'm going to continue researching PCOs and watching for new itchies.


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