What bit me?
January 16, 2010 8:20 AM   Subscribe

The other day, I developed 3 itchy red marks (they look like bug bites) on my elbow. They're in a triangle formation, and everything I look up online indicates that they could be bed bugs. However, I got them while I was sitting at my desk at work, 6 hours after I'd left my house, and wearing a long-sleeved shirt. Is there anything else that would cause marks like these?

When I first got them, they were red in the center with a raised circular welt around them, and about the size of a chick pea. The welt went away after a few hours and now they are just flat red dots. I definitely think something bit me because there are pin prick marks in the middle. I'm worried that it's bed bugs, but I don't see any signs and no one else in my house has been bit, including my boyfriend who sleeps in the same bed.

Any ideas?
posted by cottonswab to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
It doesn't sound like bed bugs because you would find evidence of such. Spiders, on the other hand, always seem to bite a few (in your case three) times..
posted by marimeko at 8:25 AM on January 16, 2010

Offices can also be infested with bed bugs. It's happened the last two places I've worked.
posted by Jahaza at 8:46 AM on January 16, 2010

After a recent bedbug scare (that turned out to be chicken pox, because my life is stupid) I did horribly extensive research on all things bedbug. Apparently the bites often behave differently for different people, even those sleeping in the same bed. The welts also sometimes do not show up immediately after the bite, but a few hours later instead, just to fuck with you.

Despite that, these sound like spider bites to me. Big welts that disappear quickly, visible fangy bite marks in the centre, only a few bites? Very spidery.
posted by elizardbits at 8:47 AM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

seconding spider bites. I'd wait and see if more appear before the weekend is out. I have worked in homeless shelters and encountered and combated my fair share of bed bug infestations in that environment. They feed in your bed but they actually live in wood. One way I learned to check for infestation from an exterminator was to pry the floor board away from the wall. If bed bugs have invaded, you'll see little trails of brown blood. They will also leave brownish blood trails on your sheets and pillow. Keep in mind that if you do have bed bugs, you'll have to treat the wood in your house in addition to your bed. If you have a wooden bed frame, that will need to be treated too. Good luck and I hope it was a spider who munched on you and not bed bugs. By the way, bed bugs are hard to see but they look like little tiny apple seeds.
posted by dchrssyr at 10:10 AM on January 16, 2010

Research bird mite bites, too. It's bird mite season, they bite in small groups as you describe, and favor flat areas like desktops to crawl across.
posted by effluvia at 10:15 AM on January 16, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments. You may be on to something with the spider bites...I work in a basement and my house does have lots of spiders. Generally I don't bother trying to get rid of them as I figure they will eat all the other bugs.

I don't actually have a bed frame; I just sleep on a mattress on the floor. I checked the seams of the mattress and around the bed and my sheets and pillowcases and didn't see anything. But I will have a closer look at the walls and baseboards next to my bed. I really hope it's not bed bugs though...exterminators are expensive. :(
posted by cottonswab at 11:06 AM on January 16, 2010

Could you be resting on that elbow a lot while at your desk?
posted by jpcooper at 11:46 AM on January 16, 2010

Could be like anything. (Probably nothing worth thinking about.) You need to see what develops.
posted by grobstein at 1:33 PM on January 16, 2010

Could be fleas.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 2:14 PM on January 16, 2010

I'm not saying it isn't spider bites... could be. Just an alternate theory: Are they from rubbing the hair follicles on the elbow, either causing them to become ingrown, clogged, or yanking them out? Just a theory.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 2:42 PM on January 16, 2010

Does anyone bring their dog to the office? If so, definitely could be fleas.
posted by np312 at 2:46 PM on January 16, 2010

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