Are bed bug bites dangerous? 4 harmful effects on human health

Although bed bugs have been a known issue forever, their appearance worldwide has been a rising problem in recent years. The infestation rates sit at their all-time peaks, causing an increasingly bigger problem for the well-being and health of people. Fortunately, the overall awareness of the problem is much bigger than it used to be. Bed bugs aren’t just a side problem being mentioned from time to time. They’re a real danger, and they are finally treated as such. But why is their abundance so alarming?

bed bugs on white cloth

Why are bed bugs bad?

There are multiple reasons why bed bugs are considered harmful. They might not directly transmit diseases, and infections like mosquitos and ticks do. However, there are still many health concerns related to them. There are four main areas of human life that get affected by bed bugs:

  • House damage- These insects live in your home, leaving everything there. It includes feces, blood and skin shed. If these creatures happen to live in your household, there’s a very high chance you’ll have to change your sheets soon, as they’ll be stained. 
  • Physical health concerns- The most obvious one. Even though they don’t transmit infections, they can still affect your physical health negatively in many ways. For example, you can develop an allergy to them. Additionally, their bites can transmit germs into your body, creating an infection. 
  • Mental health concerns- Not only do these creatures affect your physical health, but they worsen your mental health too. They can keep you sleep-deprived, resulting in various other problems, such as insomnia, stress, and even depression. In turn, it can weaken your immune system and open you up to being attacked by illnesses.
  • Social problems- It’s the least noticed and the most unappreciated form of negative impact done by bed bugs. It’s a result of the problems mentioned above and other aspects. If these insects infect your house, people will stop coming to you for fear of returning them to their homes. You will be associated with filth and bugs, further isolating you from human contact.
person looking for bed bugs

Are bed bugs dangerous?

Now that you know what these pesky invaders can do, let’s answer the question- how dangerous are they? For starters, they’re not as dangerous as other types of insects. A good example here is a mosquito. They transmit malaria- a deadly, hard-to-cure disease, and they do it just by having any sort of contact with your blood. It’s’ the same with ticks, as Lyme disease is one of the worst illnesses transmitted via insects. It poses a great danger to anyone infected with it. 

On the other hand, bed bugs don’t do any of that. They don’t carry any illnesses and can’t infect you with any. Nevertheless, they can make you sick in many ways. As we’ve mentioned, one of their biggest threats is inducing an allergic reaction. In best cases, it will only result in minor rashes or a runny nose. In the worst case, it might even lead to an anaphylactic shock. It is dangerous for human life. Additionally, their bites are very scratchy. It can make you scratch them in your sleep. It can cause a germ infection. 

If we start looking at the mental health damages they can inflict, it’s easy to see how they can be disruptive here too. Starting with the most obvious one, sleep problems. Their general annoyingness can surely make you lose sleep, which has many negative consequences. It can lead to:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Irritation
  • Depression

And in some cases, even psychosis. Sleep deprivation and constant scratching leading to skin irritation may weaken your immune system. It can lead to other illnesses attacking you or previous ones reemerging. 

Effects of bed bug bite on human health

These insects are most well-known for their bites. And as mentioned before, it’s also the part of them that is the most dangerous. Because of the nature of their life, most of the bites happen while you’re sleeping. It can cause you to subconsciously scratch the wounds and irritate them. It might result in infections and rashes. Other than that, these bites are just plain annoying. The constant scratching would be very irritating and stressful if you have lots of them. Bed bugs create so much anger and aggression in the people they affect. 

Perhaps the biggest danger in these attacks is that they’re persistent and long-lasting. Bed bugs won’t bite you once, but they’ll do it repeatedly each night. It also makes the effects long-lasting and creates a long-term danger rather than an unpleasant incident.

bed bugs

My friend has bed bugs. Am I at risk?

It is true that bed bugs travel easily with humans. They can be in your clothes, bags, and even your hair. It means that if your friend or a family member has been infected by bed bugs, being near them poses a risk of getting infected. For this reason, it’s best to avoid them until the problem is resolved. 

Additionally, take great caution when interacting with anything that has had contact with said person. Whether that’s something they sent you or something they left by mistake- it can already be infested. It also applies to touching the pets of an infected friend, as bed bugs can travel in their hair or fur too.

With that said, it’s important to note that your friend is probably under heavy stress and anxiety. Even though you shouldn’t be close to him physically, support him mentally. They need your support more than normal, especially considering how isolative bed bugs can be for a person. Make sure that they don’t face the problem alone and that they know there is someone that wishes them the best.

Do bed bugs transmit diseases?

As of today, there is no proof of bed bugs transmitting any diseases. Contact with them and being bitten by them will not result in any major diseases being injected into your body. The same goes for the less resistant targets, such as children and pets. Therefore, you don’t have to rush to a hospital if you find out a bed bug has bitten your kid. 

bed bug in petri dish

Knowing this, it is worth noting that these insects are dirty. They carry germs and dust, which can then evolve into various diseases with ranging consequences for your health. For this reason, it is best to clean and sanitize every bite you manage to find, at least by using water and soap.

What causes bed bugs

Before you even start treating a bed bug infection in your house, it’s always good to know how they can get in the first place. This way, you’ll know which actions to avoid and how to behave not to have this problem at all.

Firstly, let’s talk about the most often way these creatures spread in traveling. It’s pretty much the only method of relocating they have, as they do not tend to appear randomly in colonies on their own. If you’re a person that travels a lot- be careful. These insects can hide in your luggage, clothes, and such. They love staying in places such as hotel rooms. Especially if you’re changing your location frequently, you’re extra prone to getting at least one of these pesky creatures back home with you.

The sudden appearance of these animals can also be linked to changes in pesticide practices. Whether lowering the time you spend on pest control or using a different insecticide, they can use it as an opportunity to begin their attack on your house. They tend to be resistant to lower-quality pesticides, and even a tiny bit of time in which your home is unprotected will be enough for them to move in.

Contrary to what people might believe, bed bugs are NOT a sign of uncleanliness. They don’t see a difference between a tidy and a dirty house. They only care about a warm place to stay and lots of spots to hide.

adult bed bug

How to check for & know if you have bed bugs? What are the early signs?

Once you have any suspicions about these insects being in your house, it’s advised to check for them right away. The sooner you confirm those suspicions, the sooner you’ll be able to start taking measures to get rid of them. As bed bug colonies rise in size quickly, time is crucial to dealing with them as effortlessly as possible. 

Seven main signs will tell you whether bed bugs have invaded your home:

  1. Smell- these creatures emit a specific odor. It’s a musty smell, often associated with the scent of raspberries or almonds. The infestation might smell like rust or wet towels if the infestation is severe. If you can’t locate the source of this odor, it’s safe to assume bed bugs are creating it.
  2. Bites- They are well known for their biting at night. If you wake up with any new bites, they might cause it. These bruises tend to be small, itchy, red bumps. You should look for them on your arms, legs, and hands. A very distinguishable sign of them is a pattern of 3-4 bites in a line called the breakfast-lunch-dinner pattern.
  3. Bloodstains: these insects tend to get squashed by us subconsciously. As a result, they often leave small, rust-colored splashes of blood on our bedsheets and pillows. It might be bed bugs if you can’t find any other cause for these splashes.
  4. Fecal marks- as they defecate, bed bugs leave tiny, dark-brown spots on your bed or other furniture. It leaves a specific dark smear after being washed, making it even easier to spot them.
  5. Eggs are small, white, oval-shaped eggs about 1mm in length. They’re usually found near furniture and might be loosely attached to it. They appear in clusters.
  6. Shells- as these insects shed their husks, they leave them behind as small, brown exoskeletons. They’re a very good sign that you have an infestation growing. They frequently appear, as bed bugs regularly go through the shedding cycle throughout their lives.
  7. Live bed bugs- if you’re a bit lucky, you might even find a live bed bug roaming your household. They’re small, brown insects round in shape. They tend to hide in cracks and holes, making them hard to catch.

How to get rid of bed bugs

There aren’t many methods of fighting bed bug infestations. The only reliable solution is using pesticides along with physical measures together. These physical measures might include steaming, washing, and even throwing out certain items you think are infected. Do this to parts of furniture and clothing that might provide the best place to stay and grow for these insects. 

As for insecticide, there isn’t much you can do without carefully studying various options. Firstly, most countries have certain regulations regarding pest control products, so make sure your pesticide goes by them. Also, different chemicals work better against different insects. Always read the label and recommendations online.

bed bug bites

Do roaches eat bed bugs?

It has been known since the 20th century that cockroaches feed on bed bugs and their eggs. They’re significantly larger than them and pose a natural danger to them. Because of this, you might begin to think that this can be a useful way of getting rid of the bugs

Unfortunately, that’s not true for two main reasons. The first one is that even though roaches eat the smaller creatures regularly, bed bugs breed much faster. Therefore, leaving them to the cockroaches to deal with would only result in the expansion rate slowing down a bit. 

Secondly, a roach infestation is just as unpleasant and hard to control as a bed bug infestation. It’s much better not to have insects in your house than to have two opposing types endangering each other. If you have both at the same time, take them out with pesticides instead of leaving them to eliminate bed bugs. 

Should you stop worrying about bed bugs?

With all of the information above, we can conclude that bed bugs are nothing to be treated lightly. Even though they won’t pose any immediate risk to your or your family’s health, their infestations will be very negative and even devastating in results. If you have any suspicions that you or a friend you know is infected with them, keep calm and assess the situation objectively. Try not to panic, take emotional measures, and approach the problem properly. 

Do bed bugs bite cats & dogs?

Unfortunately, pets aren’t safe either in a household infested by bed bugs. They can feed on anything from a hamster to a cat or a dog, and their bites will be just as dangerous to their health as they are to yours. For this reason, always take thorough care of any of your pets you think are infected. Make sure to wash them frequently and deeply.

bed bug hanging on to paper

FAQ

Can bed bugs make you tired?

They make sleeping very difficult. In turn, they’ll make you tired.

Can you pop a bed bug bite?

Bites from these insects cannot and should not be popped, as they resemble a rash.

What should you do if you have slept in a bed with bed bugs?

Wash the bedsheets and your sleeping clothes thoroughly, and check for any bites.

What happens if bed bugs go untreated?

The infestations can grow to horrible sizes and may even make a living in a household unbearable.

Can bed bugs kill you?

Bed bugs aren’t known to be able to kill anyone, although the consequences of them can be long-lasting and severe.