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

Phantom bites!

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  1. lagirl31

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jun 14 2011 14:20:36
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    It's been 11 days since my last bite cluster, and I know that if we still have bugs, I'll be getting bitten again soon. I'm nervous about it (not so much because of the bites themselves, but because I'm feeling hopeful and I don't want to lose that).

    For the last few days, I've been feeling itchy on and off. I notice little spots that pop up and itch and then subside quickly. They aren't my imagination, because sometimes (not always) I'll look in the mirror and actually see a red mark that looks like a small bite. They disappear quickly, within 10 - 15 minutes and then leave no trace. They are frequently on areas of my skin that are covered.

    This is really different from either of the reactions I normally get to bedbug bites. Normally, I either get itchy white welts that start itching like crazy immediately, waking me up in the night when I get bitten. The itching lasts for 15 minutes or so and then subsides, I fall asleep and then see the bites in the morning - the marks usually disappear within a few days. The second type I get is not immediately itchy, but are bright red and they last for a long time, generally over a week. Sometimes they itch slightly after a few days, sometimes nothing.

    These phantom bites are driving me nuts! I suppose it's possible that I have a third reaction to bedbug bites, but I am having them in too many spots and never in clusters. My worst fear is that my bite reaction has changed completely, and I won't be able to identify the bites anymore.

    I don't remember having these sorts of itchy feelings before bbs, but maybe I'm just highly attuned and nervous at this point. My partner says he also feels vaguely itchy, but he's pretty sure it's just nerves.

    Could my bite response have changed over the course of a few weeks? Last night I woke up feeling sure I'd been bitten on my arm (it itched, I thought I felt a welt), but I can't find any trace of a mark this morning, which is not normal for me.

    Maybe the bugs have just made me crazy.

  2. bedbuggerTO

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Thu Jun 16 2011 8:21:02
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    I feel the same way lately. I have had 20 bites within the 2 weeks period. Then in the last 3-4 days, the bites stopped cuz I decided to sleep in the living room. My sister-in-law still sleeps in her bedroom (so a good bait.. .LOL).

    Anyway, I feel like I have "phantom bites" as well. the first thing I do when I wake up is look myself in the mirror and start examining itchy spots. But like the lagirl131 said, the itchy marks go away shortly afterwards. My previous bite marks are all very nasty. Some with bumps, some without bumps. The ones on the dorsal side of the wrist don't have bumps (except the biting mark), but have red veins underneath the skin.

    It's very frustrating because I couldn't find enough bed bugs to confirm the level of infestation. My first bite marks happened more than 2 weeks ago. So if the infestation was getting worst, then I would have seen more bed bugs. I have only saw and killed one bed bug. And now I see another one in the little sticky box for crawling insects on the floor by the baseboard.

    If it gets worse, I definitely need to contact PCO to take care of the situation. The sad part is we live in an apartment high-rise building. So we are not even sure where they are coming from!

  3. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Thu Jun 16 2011 9:25:30
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    I was worried that the small, slightly itchy spots behind my knees post heat treatment were proof that nymphs had survived the treatment.

    By keeping a log of when the "bites" appeared, I eventually realized that it was the stubble on my legs growing back in post shaving and irritating my legs. It happened behind my knees because that was where the stubble had the most chance at rubbing against--often sweaty--skin.

    You might try keeping a lot of when and where the skin irritations occur so that it'll be easier to help you figure out what's behind it. I figured mine out because it happened consistently a certain number of days after I'd shaved.

  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Thu Jun 16 2011 15:39:43
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    lagirl,

    A lot of people here seem to report some "mystery bites" or "lingering reactions" after bed bugs otherwise seem to be gone.

    Monitors such as the BBAlert Passive or Bed Bug Beacon can help you determine if problems really are ongoing or if your skin is just messed up post-bed bugs or post-pesticides (as seems to be possible).

    bedbuggerTo,

    In your case, if bites stop because you sleep in a new location, I would suspect your home may still have bed bugs. Moving to sleep in a new spot can mean they follow you to the new location, though this may not happen instantly.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  5. Dontbugme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Jan 7 2012 4:32:31
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    I was informed, as have most people been, that there were no after effects of the nasty Bed Big Bites.

    A pair of bed bugs, one full size( dark reddish brown) and one quite small( pail brown), did all the damage, damage which was mostly located on my back and shoulders. The usual extreme redness and nasty itching occurred at all bite locations. It took months for these spots of skin irritation, some up to an inch in diameter, to fade away. I got rid of these two Bed Bugs that were in the Bed room, and I caught the few others that were in the living room, and so that was that as far as fresh new bed bug bites goes.

    Later on, to see the skin in these bed bug bite areas had fully healed, I took a few pills of Niacin. This for me triggers the so called Niacin Flush. The skin eventually turns a bright red, and does so from head to toe. It looks as though you have had a nasty sun burn.

    Despite the fact that the skin now looked normal to the eye, all of the locations where I had previously received the nasty bed bug bites, each had remained pure white. These areas of the skin did not react to the Niacin and thus remained to have a normal pale skin color. They stood out like light bulbs due to being surrounded by the bright red skin. It took several weeks for the skin in these areas to once again begin to react to the Niacin and thus be bright red just like all the skin located elsewhere.

    Then, 4 months later came the "Phantom Bites".

    To see if they really were "Phantom Bites" rather than being some late side effects, I once again took a few pills of Niacin. Now for the interesting part. Most of the locations where I had previously received the nasty bed bug bites, were now back to being circular white patches once again.

    These areas of the skin once again did not react to the Niacin and thus remained to have a normal pale skin color. Again, they stood out like light bulbs due to being surrounded by the bright red skin, and of course these were also the exact same locations where the so called "Phantom Bites" or "Phantom Itching" was now occurring.

    So despite the Doctors saying that it's all in your head, I now had proof that this was not the case at all.

    What to do next?

  6. newtactics

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Jan 7 2012 10:57:30
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    Hi,

    I have the utmost respect for some of the experts and senior contributors on this site, and when it comes to dealing with eradicating bed bug infestations some of them are simply superb. But..I don't think much is mentioned, even known, about the long term effects on the skin of bed bug exposure. Quite a few posts mention that 'anecdotally some people report heightened sensitivity post exposure'...but not much more than that is said.

    I had bed bugs, probably for about six months from September 2010 until March 2011 (if only I'd known the signs!!!), then I got a spray and pray PCO who soaked my place three times and then I got what I'd call an extremely knowledgeable, professional second PCO company that sparingly treated my place with pesiticides. I think the last bed bug in my place probably died around the last treatment I had, in September 2011.

    However I'm still itchy! Probably more so than I was before in matter of fact. And I get little red bumps where bites used to be. This leads me to stress all the time that I still have bed bugs, but I check and check and infact it's more likely that I don't have bed bugs, but just have problem skin. I've mentioned this before to one of the PCO's on this site (whose welcome to identify himself but I wont) who said I may have developed something which he terms 'post bed-bug hypersensitivity' which he has previously had reported to him by some of his other customers.

    This seems to fit with what some of the posters on this thread are saying. In terms of where to go from here...I use a cream to combat the itchiness (which helps), and take prescription strength antihistimine (don't know if this helps), and I'm hoping to simply 'outgrow' it.

  7. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sat Jan 7 2012 11:23:58
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    Dear Newtactics,

    A colleague once said; "Much of the basic bionomic bed bug research needs to be re-done."

    To this we should add; "and still needs to be done."

    Your queery on the long term affects of BB bite response is another area/question of interest that requires study.

    The good news is that just as today's athletes are bigger, stronger & faster, it may be said that our collective science abilities are superior to those of fifty years ago.

    We have better equipment, more researchers and superior capabilities.

    The bad news is that bed bugs have not been on the industry's radar screen since the fifties or sixties and it will take time to adequately address and answer many of the questions that arise.

    However, if we can put a man on the moon, if we can talk face to face on hand helds and other such technological breakthroughs, given time we can win the bed bug war.

    We just need to do the best we can with the tools we presently have !

    paul b.

  8. newtactics

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Jan 8 2012 10:19:17
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    Thanks for the input Paul - I agree, there really doesn't seem to be very much research on the effects of exposure to bed bugs at all. A respectable source theorized that it was because they could not deliberately expose people to bed bugs ethically, and that seems true (you'd have to pay me millions to have ended up like this!!!)

    Reading that other people have suffered similar experiences to me well after exposures has helped me I think, and I hope others with similar problems will see this thread and it will bring some solace.

  9. nycfighter

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Jan 9 2012 12:14:24
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    i am experiencing this same (or similar) phenomenon

    you can see my thread under "bite confusion" subject header.

    i wasn't showing reactions during my infestation, but here i am 7 weeks later with mysterious half-hour mosquito-like bites showing up (never in lines or clusters)

    i'm almost positive the bugs have been gone for 7 weeks. i've been VERY thorough, have a small space & not many belongings, and was treated several times by a professional.

    it's quite irritating. makes it harder to move on.

  10. newtactics

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Jan 10 2012 13:13:10
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    hey fighter,

    yep - most days I have 'moved on' but on the days I'm really itchy it puts me right back.

    I continue checking for bugs thoroughly as I said. Good luck - let me know if you find anything that helps

  11. bugonbrain

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Jan 10 2012 20:47:44
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    i too have this happening, it's been now over 5 months since i was originally bitten wile away on vacation, those initial bites seem to heal and are completely gone only to flare up again from time to time, then fade away again, this i find so confusing because if a bite has healed how can it return, i am sure they are the original bites and some faded into brown spots only to flare up weeks later and then subside, i can't think of any other bug bite that acts this way, also 5 months and still not healed, this should be looked into, due to my job i have had cuts nicks and even a mild burn all healed within a week or so, i have been bitten by mosquitoes before and those bites heal in a few days then gone forever but these seem to just not heal, anyway aside from that i am experiencing these smaller bites one or two every few days they itch a bit but only for a short time and heal very quickly, basically what everyone else is describing i have read all the faqs i have watched many videos and have inspected thoroughly many times and absolutely know what to look for and even had a PCO in but found nothing i am using David Cain's passive monitor and there is nothing on it and I have seen no other signs of BB i have used flea traps and they caught nothing, i read these forums often looking for a solution or at least a cause and know there are a lot of people on here in the same situation, so my question is what should we do next? these bites keep occurring and they never did before my encounter with bed bugs, i as most others worry i may have bed bugs but have done enough research (hours and hours) to know that i should have seen some signs after 5 months, i am at my wits end, i am sure they are an insect bite of some sort but only one or two every couple of days? i vacuum and clean often, also i get pin prick type marks that don't itch but I have noticed some in a line of two or three these don't seem like bites but more like tiny punctures in the skin with no reaction , I hope we can figure out what is going on.

  12. newtactics

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 11 2012 13:19:19
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    hey brain,

    five months of itching after such limited exposure - these pests are horrendous!!!

    i feel for you mate. have you found anything that helps or anything you recommend to avoid? i know different people are different but any suggestions you have may help others...

  13. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 11 2012 13:50:32
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    Hi,

    As Paul and others have said with some areas we just either don't have data or doing the experiments are not considered ethical and will never have the data to answer the questions you have.

    I once employed someone with such a severe reaction to bedbugs that she had the ability to sense even a single one in the room. This was not smell but an actual "itch" that she had identified as being associated with exposure to bedbugs. It made her a great screening tool for the time that she worked with us but the effectiveness dropped after a few hours and certainly after screening 130 rooms a day which she used to do for us as part of a 4,000 room screening project we conducted each year.

    As far as the long term effects of bites themselves I think the people who can answer this best as the long term colony feeders, Harold Harlem, Lou Sorkin and myself. I currently maintain about 1,500 samples which are fed once or twice a week through the inverted jar method. I have kept them localised to the same patch of skin for several years now and apart from some localised discolouration and a rough texture there does not seem to be any long term damage.

    I am also not noticing an increased bite response which immunology would indicate is likley to happen. The fear has always been and some of the well known entomologists have requested I stopped doing it because they feared the reaction would increase and eventually become anaphalactic.

    I strongly suspect that the main reason why we see more of this discussed on the forum than in the wider arena of the bedbug world is because those with ongoing issues tend to find this forum and interact with it more than the "average" infestation.

    As such it is important to keep this somewhat in perspective and to understand that it does not happen to everyone which I appreciate adds to some of the frustration but unless someone has assess to either differential display (a molecular biology technique) or an Affymatrix chip scanner (another very expensive molecular tool) and a lot of willing volunteers to provide tissue samples we will not get to the bottom on this. Even if the genetic basis of it was worked out it would still take 7 - 8 years for a therapy to be available.

    Hope that explains a little.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

    I am happy to answer questions in public but will not reply to message sent directly or via my company / social media. I am here to help everyone and not just one case at a time.

    In accordance with the AUP and FTC I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bed bug infestations. I also have a professional relationship with PackTite in that they distribute my product under their own branding. I do not however receive any financial remuneration for any comments I make about pro
  14. Bedbug_Undertaker

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 11 2012 15:03:57
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    I'm quite happy to share the knowledge I have gained regarding the long term effect being bitten during many hosting sessions over the last 3 years.
    I do have a tendency to react as if been bitten when I am working in a bed bug infested environment even though I am not actually being bitten. I also find old bites will reappear at odd times but never as fully fledged bites, more as tiny pin prick type scars. I know they are old bites as I photograph and record a lot of the bites during hosting sessions for my own future reference.
    As odd as it sounds the effects do fascinate me and have taught me a lot about my own body and reactions.
    This is obviously not conclusive to every human being as we all react differently as a lot of us have said many times in previous postings.
    I'm also quite happy to do some experiments ( although considered unethical) with David Cain ( the only person I'd trust to use me as a guinea pig in this instance) but, as he has said this won't give the specific data you're after.
    The data would change frequently with the changes in my body and it's immunology and bite response as it has on numerous occasions during hosting sessions.

  15. newtactics

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 11 2012 16:56:18
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    @ undertaker - thanks for your input about the pin prick marks - there are quite a few threads (going back years) about these marks, and as they involve a break of the skin itself it is hard to imagine that they are anything other than fresh bites - so thanks, your post is particularly re-assuring

    @ undertaker and david - I don't think we're going to come up with a solution to the 'phantom bites' on this post, but there is a lot of interest in the subject by people who have what look for all the world like bites and are still itchy after infestation. given there are seven people reporting this phenomenon on this post and there are other recent posts 'mystery bites' and 'bite confusion' along the same vein, I think it's worthwhile users having a thread where they can exchange experiences and ideas , even if they can't 'solve' the problem and only make up a small proportion of bed bug sufferers worldwide

    i for one don't need any tests to tell me that exposure to bed bugs can result in some people becoming itchy or having 'bites' re-appear - I believe that is the case from reading about other people's experiences. what I would really love to read now is about someone who developed 'post bed bug hypersensitivity' and then became normal again

  16. Bedbug_Undertaker

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 11 2012 17:44:56
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    @newtactics yes I think it would be worthwhile having a thread on this topic too. As you say it may not 'solve' the problem. But, it may give some folks peace of mind to read others have similar post bed bug reactions.
    As for becoming normal again after post hypersensitivity I very much doubt that's going to happen to me, as David can vouch I was never normal to start with .
    But on a serious note I hadn't given much thought to me ever being none hypersensitive in the future. I have just accepted that it's something I may always have.
    Given my line of work though, it's not such a bad thing to have.
    I think it may also be handy to have a thread on the post bed bug psychological effects too. I tend to spend my first three nights home from a hosting session waking up at regular intervals thinking I have just been bitten, I search the bed thoroughly to find nothing, and only then once I am fully awake from the search does it dawn on me to check the skin where I 'felt' the bite that woke me up, only to find it was psychosomatic and not real.
    Strange thing about that is, during hosting, once asleep I actually sleep soundly through all bites and wake up to find them on my body in the morning

  17. bugonbrain

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 11 2012 18:14:52
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    I'm glad this thread is getting some interest, and i do find it comforting to see others have had smiler reactions, a little more detail from me, i ended up seeing a doctor initially after a few weeks (after my initial bites that i reacted strongly to not the mystery bites i now get from time to time), he prescribed prenesone which is a steroid to help the immune system that did not work so i was referred to a dermatologist who did a biopsy and the result was i was having a reaction to a bug bite, the derm. said it was taking my body a little longer to heal but i would eventually heal, she prescribed some cream and away i went, that was in late Oct/11 since then the majority of bites have disappeared but flare up from time to time some will be gone for weeks then flare up, one on my neck flared up for the first time in maybe three months and was gone again in about two days, i will be going to the dermatologist next week and I'll report back how that goes but quite frankly she has no clue whats going on, the thing that has me puzzled is, i get that it can take along time for a bite to heal what i don't get and will be pressing the doctor about is how can a bite heal be completely gone and then return again? i have done the research and i understand the anatomy of a bug bite, it pierces the skin injects a anesthetic then an anti coagulant,the body reacts to these foreign substances and eventually clears them, so what is with the bite flaring up again, anyway i won't make this too long i will post again soon and for sure after i see my dermatologist and I'll mention the mystery bites and pin prick marks to her for what it's worth, meanwhile the experts here may find this interesting, Google "insight into the sialome of the bed bug"

  18. bugonbrain

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 11 2012 18:19:07
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    sorry here is the link for the bed bug bite research i recommended in my earlier post
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917537/

  19. bugonbrain

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Jan 17 2012 14:36:00
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    i promised a follow up after i saw my dermatologist which was today,this was regarding my initial bites i got while on vacation six months ago that have not fully healed and still flare up from time to time, well it went as i expected first she said they had to be new bites to which i assured her they were not, so her explanation was that it may be that my body can't fully heal from them and they are just "simmering" so she prescribed a very strong steroid creme and told me if they are not completely gone in four weeks to go back and see her again, It's not her fault she just has not seen this type of reaction to a bug bite before. I hope this helps people going through the same thing and the cremes i was prescribed do seem to help so if your bites are lasting a long time like mine you should go see a doctor just know what to expect when you explain your situation, again i hope this helps

  20. newtactics

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Jan 17 2012 22:42:39
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    hey bugon brain, be interested to hear how it goes... good luck!

  21. random-name

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 18 2012 19:23:29
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    Me too am interested to know about your news... I'm still getting bites, don't know why!

  22. bugonbrain

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Jan 23 2012 18:56:32
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    well i think i have had it with the creams i am going to make an appointment with my dermatologist and insist she refers me to and allergist or someone else that can get to the bottom of this, six months and these bites are not fully healed, that's just ridicules plus this thread has inspired me to get to the bottom of this, one bite on my leg blistered a bit today (nothing too serious) but I'm now gonna take this to the next level, i will post back on here if and when i find something out though it may be a while with setting up appointments and such. by the way sorry i know this is not a medical site but i think this subject does relate to some on here.

  23. BugsSkeeveMe

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Mar 22 2012 23:39:56
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    I have very similar issues. I had my thermal mid feb. and I am still getting bites. Some disappear quickly, some stick arround. Unfortunatly some cause very severe reactions that ended me up in an emergency room recently. Today they biopsyed a bunch to see if they are insect bites or hyper sensative reactions. I am hoping for the later. They gave me a treatment cream used for scabies because she said it can't hurt to try it. I put it all over my body and am supposed to wash it off in the am. I will admit that I feel a little less crawly toinght, but I am not at home, I am at my Mom's, sore from being cut open. The dr. suggested that I AGAIN wash everything on HOT and dry on HOT. My washing maching broke after my thermal treatment so doing about 20 loads of laundry while here at Mom's. Have you been checked for scabies? Are scabies in anyway associated with BB's? I know I had bb's because I had caught a live one myself between chemical and thermal treatment. My PCO offered to come do some DNA testing on my couches but I am planning to just toss them over the weekend. Amazing how little I really need to survive! Is it actually possible to get bbs and scabies within a month or two? Could I have gotten them both from the same gross casino I stayed at in Atlantic City...yuck? One week until I get the test results. Will post!

  24. donna51

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri Mar 23 2012 22:33:30
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    I am hoping mine are just phantom bites too. I discovered I had bed bugs a month ago. Most likely my infestation dates back to November. I immediately called an exterminator who found the infestation in my box spring and couch next to the bed. I threw the box spring and mattess away, probably labeled after treatment. I removed all of my clothes from the closet and dresser bf the exterminator came and dried every ounce of clothes. I washed, rewashed and rewashed the pillows in hot water and all of the bedding and dried it twice in the dryer. I got a new bed with an encasing. I was fine for 2 weeks and now, I started itching again. then today, a belt developed n my jawline. I had a pretty severe reaction before on my arms with welts the size of hives. So this is different. It was large though on my jaw which disappeared in about 20 minutes. Today, while sitting in my couch 2 very small bumps appear don my hand. I know i was not bit sitting in there. I checked my couch nothing. my entire place was treated but he only found bugs in the master bedroom. I then came into my room inspected the mattress, box spring, frame, no evidence of bugs. I tore out the bottom cover on the box springs, and nothing. I turned the couch over and inspect the area nothing. I cannot find one piece of evidence of any bugs. Yet, I still have bumps.

    they are coming back to spray next weekend. it cannot come soon enough.


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