Bed bugs bite to feed. The only thing bed bugs eat is blood and although they prefer the blood of a human host, bed bugs will bite animals to feed on their blood in the absence of a human.
Bed bugs feed by ‘biting’ the host (you) every seven to nine days by inserting their specially adapted ‘mouth part’ – a syringe type needle much the same as you would find on a mosquito – into the skin and withdrawing blood for consumption. Although they will feed on animals such as the household pet, bed bugs much prefer the blood of a human when given the choice. Bed bug bites manifest themselves in a number of different ways depending on a number of factors.
A bed bug bites by inserting its ‘mouth part’ into the skin as it injects a substance into the host (you) before actually drawing the blood. This substance consists of a mixture two things – one, an analgesic to temporarily numb the area so as not to alert the host (you) that the feeding is taking place, and – two, an anticoagulant that thins the blood at the surface of the skin to facilitate ease in drawing the blood that is being taken.
The most common symptoms that bed bug bites produce in humans is a welted reddish area at the site of the bite that is often itchy to the extreme. The bed bug bites are often so itchy that repeated scratching of the site results in open wounds being produced that are subject to infection. It is for this reason that one who suffers with bed bug bites should try to avoid excessive scratching. The site of the bite could be treated with over the counter anti-itch products but for severe itching your family doctor can prescribe a cortisone cream for added relief.
A bed bug bite can be become infected due to excessive scratching. Particularly vulnerable are young children and the elderly. Scratching a bed bug bite causes excessive breakage to the skin and secondary infection may result which may necessitate a visit to the doctor. If you are living with someone either very young or elderly make sure to monitor any bed bug bites they may have for infection and tend to it right away.