About a month ago, my partner began finding (what look like) insect bites scattered all over her body. They itch intensely but intermittently. We checked for bedbugs and found no evidence, but keep finding carpet beetles in our bedroom. My partner continues to find new bites, and it seems like she's getting them at night.
Have you had any experience with "carpet beetle dermatitis?" Any telltale signs to help differentiate this from bedbug bites, ezcema, fleas, etc? Most importantly, what did you do to get rid of them?
We've basically been running a differential diagnosis on our apartment. Here are the things we've considered - please feel free to suggest things we may have overlooked.
We inspected every inch of the box-spring (including peeling back the fabric on the underside and checking behind the corner padding), bed frame, and mattress. We never found any evidence of bedbugs. We washed and dried our sheets, mattress covers, blankets, pillows, and pillow cases in hot water and dried them for a long time. We also got a bedbug mattress cover. I haven't seen any sign of bedbugs on the mattress cover.
My partner went to see our family physician, who said that she has seen many cases of bedbugs and that these bites/marks and patterns don't look the same. She suggested that it might be eczema. She also prescribed topical steroids which have helped (far more so than topical Benadryl, which didn't help very much).
I may still set up a bedbug trap
just to be certain that it's not bedbugs.
We also considered fleas as a possibility. We did not come across any signs of fleas during our bedbug inspection. Our cat was shaved and groomed (by our vet) after my partner started finding the bites. (He had been scheduled for this before my partner started seeing the bites, FWIW.) I called our vet and double-checked that she did not see any indication of fleas on our cat. He has not been scratching or showing any signs of fleas.
While inspecting our apartment for bedbugs, we came across 2 (of the same) small black and white speckled insect. I put them in a plastic bag to identify later. I've found a few more since then, virtually all on or within a few feet of our bed. (I found one on our mattress this morning.)
After some time with image galleries on various Cooperative Extension sites, I'm reasonably confident that we have some carpet beetles
in our apartment.
While trying to identify this insect, I came across some case reports of "carpet beetle dermatitis,"
and I'm wondering if this is what my partner is experiencing. She has also been experiencing some symptoms of seasonal allergies (sneezing, runny eyes, a persistent cough), which hasn't been an issue for her during previous spring and summer seasons.
Have you had any experience with "carpet beetle dermatitis?" Any telltale signs to help differentiate this from bedbug bites, ezcema, fleas, delusional parasitosis, etc? Most importantly, what did you do to minimize the reaction? Eliminate the beetles?
The information I've found
on dealing with carpet beetles suggests a cleaning regimen that would basically require frequent and extensive dusting, mopping, and washing (after work and commuting) of every crevice in our apartment. (Since it's in a late 19th century building with beautiful hardwood floors w/ abundant small gaps and crevices, extensive cleaning is a tall order.)
We'll do what we have to in order to stop the bites and my partner's accompanying itching and discomfort, but we'd prefer to not spend the rest of our lives with the dust-buster in hand.
I feel like I should point out that an anxiety-induced reaction of some kind is not out of the question. My partner has some anxiety issues and has had a hard time not scratching the bites/spots, thereby potentially compounding the problem.
All of this said, we're really hoping that it's eczema, and that the beetles are just a coincidence.
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