At one time thought to be practically nonexistent in the United States, bed bugs have made their return, appearing in hotels, dormitories, and even hospitals across the country. They are small blood-sucking insects, which look a little like a small beetle, but live on bed mattresses, upholstery, and in carpeting. They feed at night, especially in the pre-dawn hours, and their meal is your sleeping body. Bed bug bites are not serious but they are certainly annoying.
Bed bug bites will appear anywhere on your body the morning after the little thieves bite you to suck your blood. They appear as raised red bumps, sometimes with a visible center, and usually in rows or groupings. The bugs inject a chemical under the skin as they bite that act as an anesthetic, so the bite is not felt until morning. The primary symptom will be itching and a rash may appear around the bitten area if a person is highly sensitive to them.
The treatment for bed bug bites is usually just an over the counter remedy for itching, such as hydrocortisone cream, or benadryl ointment. For more severe itching, an antihistamine such as a benedryl capsule might be indicated. Refrain from scratching the bites, as this can cause infection and even scarring. Many apply an antiseptic to the bites to prevent such secondary infection as they heal. If a more serious allergic-type reaction occurs, a doctor may be needed to prescribe a more potent prescription medication. Most bed bug bites heal within 3 days to 2 weeks.
Preventing bed bug bites is done by thoroughly checking the room you are about to sleep in for evidence of bed bugs. Look for them in the seams of the mattress and crevices of the upholstered furniture. They may also leave fecal residue on the sheets, which appears as small droppings. Upon finding bed bugs in your room, seek for expert advice immediately so that the situation can be dealt with appropriately. Keep your luggage and clothes off of the carpeted floor, furniture, and bedding to prevent taking them home with you. Washing clothes and bedding in hot soapy water will kill any residual bugs or larvae.