It’s a common question in households struggling with a bed bug infestation. Sometimes it seems like these pests will target certain family members, singling them out for special attention. While some people in the household may escape relatively unscathed, others will suffer repeated attacks from these blood-sucking pests.
It’s an all too common scenario, and it can leave some family members asking “why do bed bugs only seem to bite me?”.
When Bed Bugs Bite
Bed bugs feed on the blood of mammals. Preferably humans, but when they’re desperate they will also feed on smaller animals. While bed bugs can survive for quite some time between feedings without blood they will ultimately perish.
When a bed bug bites they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant. The anesthetic numbs the victim to prevent them from realizing they’re being bitten. The anticoagulant allows the victim’s blood to flow more freely. This makes it easier to feed and prevents blood from clotting before the bed bug has drunk it’s fill.
Most people don’t realize they’ve been bitten until the tell-tale bite marks appear. This can take anywhere from one to several days following the bed bug’s bite. The bite marks typically appear as slightly swollen bumps. These welts may be itchy or irritating depending on the victim.
Bed bug bites affect people differently. Some people may have little or no reaction to the bites and may never develop any of the welts or rashes commonly associated with bed bug bites. Others may have a more severe allergic reaction to the bites resulting in large welts, excessive irritation and painful swelling around the affected area.
Do Bed Bugs Bite Specific People?
While it may sometimes seem like bed bugs are target some people more than others the truth is much less mysterious. The fact of the matter is bed bugs bite just about everyone. If you’re living with an infestation there is little chance you’re being ignored by these blood-sucking pests. It’s simply that everyone reacts differently to a bed bug’s bite.
How you react to a bed bug bite depends on a variety of factors. Skin sensitivity, age, immune response, and allergies all contribute to how someone’s body will respond to being bitten. The most common response is the raised welts and itchiness that is normally associated with bed bug bites. But for a small percentage of people a bed bug bite will illicit little to no response at all. While they may be bitten several times in the course of a day they’ll show no outward signs of the attack.
What Attracts Bed Bugs to their Victims?
There are a few theories as to what attracts bed bugs to their human prey. Some have suggested it’s related to blood type. Other theories suggest it’s simply a matter of scent. Both ideas have some merit and both have their champions. So far the jury is still out. But ongoing research will ultimately prove or disprove these theories.
What we do know is that bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide and body heat. As mammals we expel carbon dioxide when we breath. This lures bed bugs to potential victims. Humans also tend to experience a rise in body temperature while we sleep. This perfectly plays into the bed bugs’ feeding habits. The rise in body temperature makes us an interesting target and the bed bug can take advantage of us while we’re asleep and unaware or our surroundings.
How to Treat Bed Bug Bites
In most cases bed bug bites can be easily treated at home. Only rarely do they demand professional medical care.
The most important thing is to keep the affected area clean. Wash any bites or rashes with soap and water. If the bites are irritated or itchy you can use calamine lotion or an over-the-counter steroid cream to relieve the irritation. Oral antihistamines, such as Benadryl or Zyrtec, can also be taken to relieve any itching or burning.
In extreme cases bed bug bites may become infected. This is typically due to the person scratching at their rash and breaking the skin. Any signs of infection or, in rare cases, severe allergic reactions it is always good policy to consult your local physician.
Protect Yourself and Your Family
Bed bug bites are often the first tip off that you have an infestation brewing. That’s why it’s so important to take immediate action at the first signs of attack. If you are someone in your family is being bitten by bed bugs contact a professional inspection and removal service as soon as you can.
Remember, if one of you is being bitten chances are all of you are being bitten. They’re just more sensitive to the bed bugs’ bite. The sooner you act the sooner you can sleep soundly in your beds once again. Free from bed bugs and their bite.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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