Reactions to bed bug bites vary from person-to-person, but bites generally induce an allergic response to some degree. A small number of people are completely immune to bed bug bites, while others experience a serious allergic reaction to them. Most people experience local itchiness and swelling from bed bug bites, and unlike most bloodsucking insects, bed bugs are not known for transmitting disease to humans. While serious allergic reactions to bed bug bites is rare, public health studies show that the stress of living in bed bug infested conditions frequently leads to lasting mental health consequences, including post traumatic stress disorder. The common swelling and itchiness that result from bed bug bites are caused by certain proteins in bed bug saliva.

Each bed bug within an infested home generally spends between five to ten minutes collecting human blood-meals shortly before dawn when humans are in their deepest state of sleep. Bed bugs suck blood with needle-like mouthparts that are injected into the skin, and these mouthparts also inject salivary proteins that work to promote blood flow and numb the skin. For example, some proteins in bed bug saliva work as anticoagulants and vasodilators, which promote increased blood flow, allowing bed bugs to collect their needed blood meals within a short amount of time.

A recent study revealed that bed bugs inject more than 45 different salivary proteins into the human bloodstream. Some of these compounds inhibit platelet formation, widen blood vessels, delay clotting, and anesthetize the skin. Surprisingly, some salivary proteins are antimicrobial, which protects human blood-hosts from developing secondary infections from bed bug bites. Since bed bugs inject anticoagulant compounds into the bloodstream, bleeding often continues after bed bugs remove their mouthparts from the skin. This is why people living within infested homes often notice tiny dots of blood on their sheets. If bed bugs are suspected as being present within a home, a pest control professional should be contacted as soon as possible so that proper pest inspection can be carried out.

Have you ever woken up in the morning to find fresh bug bites on your arms, neck, legs or face?