Help identify these bug bites.
May 9, 2014 6:15 AM   Subscribe

I've been bitten by an unknown bug throughout the week. What are these bites from? (pics inside)!

Timeline of the week:
Monday - went to laundromat, washed about 5 loads of laundry on permanent press setting. Did not change the sheets on my bed so they are not fresh sheets from the laundromat. However, I've been wearing freshly laundered clothes throughout the week. These clothes were kept in a basket in my car because I'm lazy.
Tuesday - two small bug bites on my upper arm, super itchy. Noticed when I was at work wearing freshly washed sweatshirt.
Wednesday- two small bug bites on wrist of my other arm. Also at work, another clean sweatshirt.
Thursday - three big bug bite on forearm, another clean sweatshirt at work.
This morning I woke up with a cluster of big bug bites on my foot. Remember these are not sheets that I had washed at the laundromat.
warning: bitten foot

If I had to describe the bites I would say "very itchy, not painful like blackfly but itchier than mosquito."

I also have an indoor only cat. I have inspected her for fleas and she doesn't seem to have any, also she hasn't been itching.

I of course just changed my sheets and inspected my mattress and bedding. I didn't see any bedbugs.

Also I am in maine.

1. Is it possible to pick up bugs at a laundromat? I did fold on their table, it was plastic.
2. Is it possible to track in fleas on dirt in my shoes who may have gotten onto my cat? And if they are biting me this much shouldn't I have noticed them on her?

Tldr- bug bites. Maybe from unwashed sheets, possibly from freshly washed clothes. Cat. Insight?
posted by pintapicasso to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Are you sure those are bug bites and not just hives and a rash? Clothes washed in a new laundry detergent can cause that sort of reaction, concentrated where the clothes are tightest.
posted by cardboard at 6:49 AM on May 9, 2014

Response by poster: Don't think it's a rash, no new soap or detergent and I don't wear socks to bed or anything.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:54 AM on May 9, 2014

Honestly, they look just like mosquito bites to me. Is it possible that this is what they are?
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 7:14 AM on May 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

IANAD, but I have been bitten by a lot of things over the years, often while sleeping, and those look like mosquito bites to me. There are a lot of mosquito species in Maine, and allergic reactions change over time. When sleeping, they have a lot more time to poke around, and what happens while they do that is not pleasant (previously). It sounds like it's your feet and wrists that are being bitten, which are the extremities generally exposed out of clothing and out from under sheets while sleeping, which is sort of mosquitoes' MO.

Spider bites tend to look different, and bedbugs, fleas, and other nasties leave smaller bites. Google image searches will reveal a lot of exemplars that are kind of gross to look at, but that don't look like your pic. The same Maine site linked to above has this page about how to minimize exposure to mosquitoes, and I'd recommend starting there.

It's also possible that, while you clothes were at the laundromat, they were exposed to a detergent, fabric softener, or other chemical residue from a previous customer that you are sensitive to, and that is exacerbating the problem.
posted by tempestuoso at 7:16 AM on May 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: You know, they feel and look a lot like mosquito bites but I didn't think Mosquitos would be out this early in the season. However, I've never lived this far south before so I could be wrong. Thanks!
posted by pintapicasso at 8:32 AM on May 9, 2014

One thing to keep in mind: A couple times in my life, I've gotten things that look like bites that I later concluded were not bites but hives, probably from stress. People think of hives as only coming out in large bunches, but I've had a couple at a time, sort of here and there, going away in one place and popping up in another for a period of a week or two. (This started with one GIANT thing that looked like a ten-times-bigger mosquito bite that I suddenly noticed on my arm and went to the ER for, and their official diagnosis was, "Huh." Told me to take Benadryl and come back if it didn't go away on its own, which it did.)

On one occasion, I'd been away on vacation and been super-relaxed, and I got home and started to think about work, and as soon as I started thinking about it, my hand started itching, and I scratched it, and in about an hour, I had two big bite-looking things on my hand.

They're probably bites, but pay attention to how they behave. Your skin can do weird stuff for many reasons.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:41 AM on May 9, 2014

They definitely look like mosquito bites to me. I live in upstate NY and it's been quite a cool spring, but I've seen mosquitoes already--starting a few weeks ago. Not a lot, but I don't spend much time outside at dusk either.
posted by Rach3l at 9:45 AM on May 9, 2014

I'm always one to bring up hives because I've suffered from chronic hives that started out looking like bug bites, even to my doctor. My hives started out smaller than your pic and grew larger over a few days, sometimes merging with the hives next door to become even larger hives. I discovered them one morning and assumed there were bugs biting me (but not my husband) at night. Any given hive would last about 3 days, but my body was constantly producing hives, so I was never without them. Mine started on my forearm below my elbow, I think.

But I ended up having them everywhere. Inches and inches of them. I had one once that was 12 inches long and three inches thick. And they buzzed and tingled from the inside. Topical treatments did nothing. I'd stuff ice packs down my clothes and try to go to work.

I hope your itches are from insect bites. You probably don't have hives, and if you do, you might find the cause of your hives - a new allergy, perhaps.

Chronic idiopathic (ie. of unknown origin) urticaria (hives) are really tough to treat and introduce a level of stress to your life that has been compared to how people feel after having a heart attack. They are of unknown origin, not brought on by stress or an allergen or anything other than, it seems, chance. (But is likely something immunological/hormonal/as yet unidentified.)

This next bit is if you haven't found relief within the next week:

If they turn out to be hives, last a long time, or spread - my advice is to not do more than one brief (3-5 days) course on prednisone -- which might be the only suggestion your primary care doc has. There's a chance the prednisone will "knock it out of your system" or make you comfortable and happy while the itchiness was leaving anyway. But if you take prednisone, go off it, and the itchiness comes roaring back -- memail me and look for either a dermatologist or allergist or immunologist who specializes in chronic hives.
posted by vitabellosi at 12:36 PM on May 9, 2014

Almost entirely positive those are mosquito bites, and yes, mosquitos are already out. I live in Wisconsin where the temperature was in the 20's just last week, and last night there was a mosquito flying around in my bathroom. A laundromat would have lots of nice warm damp places for mosquitos to breed even if it's chilly outside.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 12:44 PM on May 9, 2014

Nthing that those look like mosquito bites.

If you think you are getting bit by them at night, do this:

1) Sleep under a bednet:

2) Put stoppers over all your drains to cut off their water source:

3) Use an electric flyswatter to kill any you see:

I used to have indoor mosquitoes and those three things helped a LOT in cutting down on my bites. It was very gratifying to wake up in the morning to a couple of mosquitoes hovering on the other side of the bednet -- "We can SMELL her," I imagined them thinking, "Why can't we TASTE her?" Then it was zappin' time.

If you're still getting bit at night even after hanging up a bed net then it may be time to call an exterminator for bedbugs. But start with the anti-mosquito solutions first because they're a lot cheaper (and they really do look more like mosquito bites than bed bug bites -- I've had both).
posted by Jacqueline at 6:04 PM on May 9, 2014

Response by poster: Update:

Turns out I have bedbugs.

The bites kept coming so I began to suspect bedbugs. I called my landlord, who just purchased the property, and he brought in a pest control officer today. He took apart the slats on my bed and... bedbugs and eggs.

We are the only English speaking tenants in the building; turns out there was a bedbug infestation in the fall before we moved in which the previous owner/landlord tried to treat himself and did not disclose. Only found this out when my landlord looked up the Spanish word for bedbugs.

Upon further inspection another apartment is completely infested.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:19 PM on May 22, 2014

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