I Woke up with Bites; Do I Have Bed Bugs?

Couple sleeping peacefully in bed

Fair warning: the following hypothetical scenario may make your skin crawl a bit. Let’s suppose you woke up one Saturday morning, feeling well-rested because you actually slept in for a bit. You stretch your arms and suddenly notice a red spot on your forearm… and then another… and another. There’s actually dozens of tiny little red spots all over your arms that look like this (image not for the faint of heart). Is it hives? Did you develop a sudden rash? Actually, it’s most likely the work of those insidious bed bugs.

Cases of bed bugs have been on the rise in recent years, and unfortunately even the cleanest house can end up with a bed bug problem. Because unlike other pests, such as cockroaches and ants, cleanliness has nothing to do with a bed bug invasion. So how can you be sure you’re dealing with bed bugs? Here’s how to make the determination:

Be sure the red marks are bed bug bites

Bed bugs will usually only attack exposed skin, and that’s where the majority of their bites will be. If the red marks are all over your body, or there’s a large concentration of bites on parts of your body that are covered during sleep (like your back), then it might not be bed bugs.

Another possibility: flea bites. If you have pets in the house and they spend any time outside, they may have picked up fleas and brought them indoors. It’s not common, but it does happen.

Consider your recent activity

Have you been on vacation recently? This is the most common way for bed bugs to move into your house, as they hitchhike on personal belongings or luggage. Unfortunately, many hotels face bed bug problems, and some don’t even know about it. High traffic public areas are also notorious for bed bug transfer. Do you or anyone in your family use public transportation regularly? Have you been to a theme park, apartment complex or movie theater lately? These are all possible locations for picking up bed bugs.

Inspect your bedding

Bed bugs are very small, but still visible to the naked eye. Take a look at your linens, your mattress and even your box spring. If you don’t see the small, brown, oval-shaped bugs themselves, you can still find signs of their presence: their rust-colored droppings, egg shells or discarded old skin remnants.

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