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Cimex lectularius are bugs of temperate regions that infest beds and feeds on human blood. Thus, they are commonly known as bed bugs. Bed bugs are small wingless insects, they are nocturnal and feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals including humans. These bugs unlike fleas, mosquitoes, ticks and lice do not carry or transfer any type of infectious disease. Their bites cause skin irritation, infection or adverse immune reactions. Adult bed bugs are small, reddish-brown or brown in color. They are about 1/4 of an inch and the hatchings are the size of poppy seeds.
When feeding the bed bug injects a tiny amount of saliva into the skin. With several weeks of exposure to bites many people become sensitized to the saliva. Bed bugs have elongated beaks that pierces the human skin and extracts blood. The initial bed bug bite is not painful and the tiny blood sucking insect withdraws after 10 minutes of uninterrupted blood meal. The usual areas of the bites is the upper body, neck, arms, shoulders and legs.
Appearance
It is similar to a bad mosquito bite. The area becomes inflamed with swelling. There is a raised red bump on the skin that is very itchy. These bumps are due to the allergic reaction to the anesthetic in the saliva of the bed bug. These bites though similar to mosquito bites, can remain visible for up to 9 days. These bumps also appear after several days of bite in some individuals. And few people have no reaction to the bed bug bite!
Initially, the bite appears as a small red dot on your skin. You may even find it appears like a red rash. These red bumps are accompanied with swellings and intense itching. These bites are usually limited to a particular area of the body. But, many times you will find bite marks all over your body, even your face and forehead. These bugs tend to feed on your blood for about minimum 2 minutes to up to 10 minutes, if left undisturbed. When it pierces the skin to suck the blood, it will introduce a little saliva. This causes the feeling of itchiness and severe allergic reactions in some people.
Symptoms
The itchy, red bumps are the most common symptoms. The bites appear in a tight line of multiple, small, red marks on the body. Bed bugs are mostly solitary insects and many bites in one region probably indicates one hungry bed bug. It may cause burning sensation initially that develops into red bumps known as papules or wheals. There are few bites that have large wheals that disappear in a few days. There are many bites that have no visible mark and remain unnoticed by the victim.
Allergy
There are very rare cases reporting a bed bug bite allergy. It can include nausea and illness. Scratching may lead to an infection that contain yellow, white or greenish pus. These conditions may require an immediate visit to the hospital. In certain extreme cases, the papules may turn into blister-like skin inflammations.
Bed bugs infest homes, hotels, luggage, furniture, boxes, bed frames, mattresses, etc. Bed bugs are excellent travelers and can hide in your luggage for a trip around the world. They can survive for many months without a blood feed and can live happily in a vacant apartment. They crawl into crevices and holes in the walls and stay there till the feeding time. The bed bugs leave a characteristic black or dark brown fecal mark on the walls, bed linens, mattresses, furniture or any place where they hide. This is a major proof of their presence in your home. You may also detect a rotten raspberry odor or almond-like odor in a bed bug infested home.