Bed bug bites

By Content Providers(s): CDC/ Harvard University, Dr. Gary Alpert; Dr. Harold Harlan; Richard Pollack. Photo Credit: Piotr Naskrecki [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bed bugs belong to a group of insects that feed on blood throughout their lives and have been doing so successfully for at least 250 million years.

Bed bug bites itch only when the bed bug is safely back in its harbourage. They accomplish this thanks to a sialome – the saliva proteins that are the secret to the bed bugs ability to make the blood vessels dilate (for better blood flow) and inhibit clotting allowing them to suck blood from its human victims and escape without being squished while its busy.

Many people do not react to bed bug bites or only have the odd spot, so treatment may not be needed. If and when you are bitten by bed bugs you may develop bumps that are very itchy, your GP may prescribe some mild steroid cream to apply to your skin, or your pharmacist should be able to give antihistamine tablets to relieve the itch. Your skin should clear up within a week.