Curious if bed bugs will make you sick?
Then you're in the right place.
In this guide you'll learn 3 main things:
- What exactly are bed bugs?
- Can be bugs cause physical sickness?
- What happens when bed bugs bite?
It's no surprise that people associate pests with illness. Diseases carried by common nuisances like fleas, rats, and mosquitoes have decimated entire populations.
During the Middle Ages, the Black Plague (driven by rats) killed over 1/3 of the European population in less than ten years. Malaria (driven my mosquitoes) used to wipe out entire groups, while dengue and yellow fever are still significant problems around the globe.
The culprits? Pests.
But what about bed bugs?
Can they make people sick? Let's find out.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are a small insect only 5-7 mm. long and 2-3 mm. wide. They live in hard to reach places like cracks in walls, behind door frames, and even under the fabrics of furniture like mattresses, behind outlet covers, and couches. Each one has a flat, oval body that ranges in color from muddy brown to rusty red.
Bed bugs are nocturnal and feed on human and animal blood. They leave their hideout at night and tend to eat from sleeping creatures less than 10 ft. away from their homes.
Signs of Bed Bugs
It's difficult for individuals to tell whether they have a bed bug infestation or not. The pests are not active during most people's schedules because they are nocturnal. Instead, people should look for these three signs:
- A musty odor
- Rust-colored stains on sheets and clothing
- Bite marks on the skin
The odor is self-explanatory. Bed bugs produce an unusual scent that some compare to moldering books or plants. The smell could come from alarm pheromones or feces. Alarm pheromones alert other bed bugs to potential danger.
The stains on fabrics are actually from squished bed bugs. Because they feed on sleeping humans, it's possible for them to be trapped and squashed when someone rolls over in the night.
Finally, the bites are from the bed bugs feeding. They look like small, red bumps and can be itchy. Some people experience allergic reactions and might have flaking skin, redness, or trouble breathing.
But, will they make you sick?
Bed Bugs and Their Bite
Before we get into actual sickness, let's talk about a bed bug's bite.
When a bed bug bites you, it'll inject its anticoagulant saliva into your blood to prevent clotting, which causes an inflammatory reaction (in most people) very similar to mosquitoes. Most people are allergic to the saliva, which causes the itchy red bumps.
Some people are actually NOT allergic to this bite, which leaves no indication that you have bed bugs. In this case, a bed bug infestation can go undetected for weeks and months, resulting in terrible infestations.
Fore most people, their bites won't do much of anything else except cause the itchy red spot.
In our experience, their bites tend to be A LOT more itchy than a mosquitoes, bite which could result in increased scratching and possibly an infection.
This would be a secondary effect of a bed bug bite and not something directly related.
Other Bed Bug Guides
Curious about other bed bug articles? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.
Do bed bugs make people sick?
Aside from the infection scenario mentioned above...
Bed bugs do not spread any known diseases and are unlikely to make a person physically ill from their bites.
However, some people might get sick from the allergic reaction mentioned above.
Individuals who start to experience mild symptoms should use a soothing, medicated cream and take an antihistamine.
Those who suffer from a severe reaction - including hives, a rash, and trouble breathing - should see a medical professional.
Despite spreading no physical illnesses, some people might experience a form of mental distraction or disorder because of bed bugs.
This isn't a new phenomenon but is getting more attention in scientific circles following an increased number of people suffering from psychological breakdowns or even committing suicide following bed bug infestations.
Bed bugs do not release a chemical or pheromone which causes this problem.
Instead, it's just a person's reaction to the idea that there are pests in their home that could be using their blood as food.
Frequently, residents of areas with bed bug infestations also report being unable to get to sleep or stay sleeping because of anxiety or disturbances caused by the pests.
Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator for your bed bug problem?
Bed bugs will likely not make you physically sick, but they can hurt you mentally. The best response to a bed bug infestation is locating the problem and eliminating it as soon as possible.
Many pesticides can be purchased over the counter at general and hardware stores, and professional pest control companies can fumigate a property or perform an all-encompassing, non-toxic heat treatment.
Remember to take care of yourself and bite back against bed bugs!
For more information, recommend checking out this article about the dangers of bed bugs.