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Scarred for Life: Healing Embarrassing Bedbug Scars

Posted: September 29th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

BedBug bites both arms (24 May 2009)

As if bedbug bites aren’t itchy and uncomfortable enough, they also serve as very public advertisements that you are suffering from an infestation. Although actually being infested says nothing about your health or hygiene status, people still don’t want to take any chances. You may find yourself a victim of social isolation, shunned by friends and romantic partners.

Definitely forget the romance. A recent highly unscientific but probably passably realistic poll stated “56% of responders would leave their date if they noticed bed bug bites on his/her skin.

“They’re just mosquito bites,” you say gamely. “I must have gotten eaten alive in the Catskills.” But people just aren’t having it. Even once you get rid of the bugs in your life, you may find yourself with lingering scars.

People have sued hotels over receiving scarring bites.

“According to DeRoche’s attorney, Steven Igou, the bedbug bites have left DeRoche with approximately 35 permanent scares, mostly on her legs and midsection. He says the scars and damage are so bad that DeRoche no longer wears shorts.”

The scars are a reminder of a very traumatic experience and can forever link you in some people’s minds to a nasty problem. You are even worse off if you work in a profession with emphasis on appearance, such as modeling, acting, magazines, sales, or, oh, hell, most everything you could possibly do. Our face is our fortune!

The catch-22 is that the best way to be free of scars is never to get bitten at all. See our advice about avoiding bedbugs in a hotel. You must keep your eye trained on potential threats, since they can pop up in offices, schools, and even on park benches.

Let’s say you get noshed on one night.  The initial bites may go unnoticed at first because the sneaky little buggers inject an anesthetic as they feed. But you will suffer a:

“localized allergic reaction to antigens/proteins that the bed bug releases into the skin. This is mediated through IgE antibody pathway, causing a wheal-flare response. The bites vary greatly between people, as there are differences in the immune status in individuals. The more bed bug bites you get through your life, the stronger the reaction/redness of the bite.”

That wheal-flare response accounts for the unsightly swelling and redness. That part about reactions getting stronger is bad news, and it underscores the importance of preventing or rapidly treating an infestation.

Audrey Kunin, M.D., points out that “Scratching can easily be complicated by a secondary bacterial infection, particularly in less than sanitary environments.” Cut nails short and frequently wash hands to prevent damage during scratching. Some people wear gloves to bed to avoid scratching unconsciously. Keep any open sores clean to avoid infection.

Most bites can be initially treated by:

  • Washing the area with soap & water, then applying ice
  • Internal itch relief products like Zyrtec
  • External relief products like Caladryl, Aveeno, and baking soda baths
  • Prescription medications in severe cases, including topical steroids and antihistamines, oral antihistamines, and very rarely, systemic steroids
  • See your doctor if you feel a bite is infected. Further treatment may be required

Properly cleaning and treating the bite’s itch is your best chance to prevent scarring. There are a number of natural bite treatments out there as well. While they may not reduce scarring that has already occurred, they may be able to prevent it by treating the bite so you don’t claw yourself to pieces.

If you have suffered scars already, your options include:

  • Scar treatment ointment or cream such as Mederma, which can be purchased at a drugstore
  • Vitamin E application can be helpful
  • Silicone scar treatment sheets, which can be purchased at a drugstore
  • Massage the scar with a circular motion several times a day to promote healing

In extreme cases, seeing a dermatologist may be in order. A dermatologist can supervise methods like

  • Skin bleaching
  • Chemical peels
  • Laser treatments

Obviously some of these methods are potentially painful and very costly. One scar-specific natural treatment involves applying a paste of turmeric and coconut oil to a cleaned area, then letting the paste sit for 8 hours.

Phew. I think I’ll just start wearing a full body suit. That looks comfy.

Disclaimer: always consult your own doctor as part of your health decision-making process. The authors of this site are not doctors, although they sometimes play one with the consent of an informed partner.

8 Comments on “Scarred for Life: Healing Embarrassing Bedbug Scars”

  1. 1 S.B. said at 7:11 pm on September 29th, 2010:

    My legs have been covered with itchy scabs all summer. I thought it was just mosquitos, but they are taking FOREVER to heal. Just today I got a couple nasty bites at work. I didn’t see anything on my chair or in my area, and no one else is complaining. It is causing me a bit of distress. It is very plausible though, that it is still just mosquitos, considering the dampness and high humidity of the last few days. Like Guam in NYC.

  2. 2 Pavel, Janek said at 8:41 pm on September 29th, 2010:

    I have notice this, with my girlfriend. She says she does not have these bugs anymore. I worry I will get them. I look for pictures for if I get them but it does not look like what I have. I love her but I do not want to get them. It is a hard

  3. 3 HBK said at 8:51 pm on September 29th, 2010:

    S.B., send us a photo! They may not be bedbug bites at all. You could ease your mind by performing a check of your bedding and mattress. I know it is stressful imagining those little suckers crawling on you! BTDT. If it is bedbugs, it is not the end of the world. You can beat them. Check back and let us know.

    Pavel, you certainly aren’t alone in worrying about catching them from a partner. I hope whatever is bothering you goes away. If you think you might have been bitten, you’ll want to do a thorough check of your room and hers if you live separately. Who knows, you could be blaming her for something you accidentally picked up while out.

  4. 4 S.B. said at 10:49 pm on September 29th, 2010:

    I have checked my mattress multiple times. Nothing. I have been sleeping fine, also. Today I definitely got bit by *something* while I was sitting at my desk at work. Will send pics!

  5. 5 Nix Bedbugs » Blog Archive » Diagnosis: Delicious – Are you being eaten up by bedbugs? said at 9:56 pm on October 1st, 2010:

    […] recent commenter on our post about healing bedbug bite scars brought up the difficulty in finding the true source of an insect bite. I asked her to send in a […]

  6. 6 fenderbirds said at 1:12 pm on October 18th, 2010:

    nice article, keep the posts coming

  7. 7 Nix Bedbugs » Blog Archive » Why Me, Bedbugs? said at 10:48 am on October 29th, 2010:

    […] to the bites while the other is not. The non-bitten party could be bitten, but if there is no allergic reaction, he or she will not end up with swollen, itchy […]

  8. 8 Nix Bedbugs » Blog Archive » Can Bedbugs be Deadly? said at 1:32 pm on November 8th, 2010:

    […] your nails short and your hands clean.  Also keep the bite area clean and alert your doctor.  Click here for more info on treating bedbug bites.  […]