When the Bedbugs Do Bite …

“Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Isn’t that what we all want, whether we are snug in our beds at home or on the road in a hotel? Unfortunately, the incidence of bedbug infestations nationwide is growing, and along with the bugs, are their bites.

Bedbug bites mimic bites from other insects, but fortunately their bites are nothing more than an uncomfortable nuisance. They should be treated and monitored all the same to avoid complications.

A bedbug is a small (about the size of a pencil eraser), flat, reddish-brown bug that feeds on human and animal blood.  Bedbugs are active at night and bite any areas of exposed skin.  If you suspect that bedbugs have invaded your home, your first step should be to focus on eradicating them: launder clothes on high heat or dry clean them, vacuum well and hire a licensed exterminator who is experienced in completely eliminating bedbugs. Sometimes, using a plastic mattress cover over both the mattress and boxspring may help stop infestation if its origination is from that site.

However, all of your efforts to keep bedbugs out of your home may still result in bites. The good news is that while it is hard to control and eliminate bedbugs, these insects do not appear to transmit disease. You won’t get hepatitis B or C, malaria or HIV from a bedbug, but their bites can be annoying and if you scratch them, you may end up with an infection or scar that requires further treatment.

A bedbug bite feels itchy and looks like little red bumps (similar to mosquito bites) which often occur in a line on the body. The bites often come in groups of three; breakfast, lunch and supper. Most insect bites cause a stinging sensation along with itching and mild swelling that disappears within a day or two. But if you experience soreness, redness, swelling and warmth beyond the immediate bug bite, or see pus, these are warning signs that a bug bite may be infected and you should see a dermatologist.

To reduce itching, follow these steps:

  • Wash the bites with soap and water and apply calamine lotion, a topical hydrocortisone cream (0.5 or 1 percent), Aveeno powder or a baking soda paste (3 teaspoons baking soda to 1 teaspoon water) to the bite several times a day until symptoms subside.
  • Use a cold pack or baggie filled with ice to reduce swelling and itching.
  • For stronger bug bite reactions, take an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Tylenol Severe Allergy), chlorpheniramine maleate (Chlor-Trimeton, Actifed) or loratadine (Claritin) to reduce the body’s response and itch.
  • Products with camphor and menthol often alleviate the severe itching.

Still Itchy? Contact Us Today!

For some people, the above steps may not be enough to reduce the itchiness associated with bedbug  bites. If you are experiencing redness, soreness, swelling, or extreme itchiness, contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss treatment options. At Advanced Dermatology, PC, our board-certified dermatologists are experts at treating adverse reactions to insect bites and other skin conditions. Our conveniently located offices welcome patients from Queens (Bayside, Flushing), Long Island – Nassau/Suffolk (Roslyn/Albertson, West Islip, Commack, East Setauket), New York City, Westchester County (Ossining), Bergen County, NJ, Union County, NJ, and all surrounding areas.

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