bugs in bed that aren't bedbugs - help?
January 19, 2016 8:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm being bitten once or twice a night when I sleep by something that is not a bedbug. I can't find it, and no amount of washing my bedclothes helps. Advice please.

I've been waking up with one or two bug bites every morning for the past five days. It only happens at night when I sleep. The very first time it happened, I called for a bedbug inspection. They came out and found absolutely no trace or hint or examples of bedbugs. After four days, I called for a bedbug sniffing dog service, because maybe people missed something. The dog came out this morning and there are absolutely no bedbugs in my home

The bites are small and itchy, and I've washed my sheets and everything twice in five days in hot water. I don't see anything and can't find anything. I have pets, so I'm not keen on bombing my bedroom. (The pets do not have bugs either, and are not scratching.) What should I do next?
posted by chonus to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What do the bites look like? Are they in the same place every day? Could they be hives?

Sometimes I get very small patches of contact hives as a delayed response to an allergen. Friday night I spent some time around some cats and touched one of them with my bare forearm. Washed my hands but didn't wash my arms. Woke up the next day with a small patch of hives. It could even be a reaction to laundry soap if you've been going to town on the cleaning lately.

I think if a bug were responsible for this it would have been noticed/killed by now with all the steps you've taken.
posted by phunniemee at 8:53 AM on January 19, 2016

I was thinking the same thing as phunniemee: could be a reaction to the detergent you're using to wash your laundry. I sometimes get a similar thing when I go visit my mother because whatever she uses doesn't agree with my skin; it goes away when I come back home.
posted by holborne at 8:56 AM on January 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: They are not hives - they are quite clearly bites. I have three distinct bites on my right hand, one on my thigh, and one on my knee. They are small, round, and itchy and when I scratch they become somewhat larger and itchy and more pale and sort of flat round shape.
posted by chonus at 9:02 AM on January 19, 2016

Or, because it's winter, it could be eczema? Spots of dyshidrotic eczema often look like bug bites when they appear isolated from each other.

Other than that, I'd try sleeping on a different surface (like the couch or another mattress, if you have a 2nd bedroom) for a few nights and see if anything changes. Rotate out the variables, note any changes, and look for a pattern.
posted by witchen at 9:04 AM on January 19, 2016

Could you have carpet beetles? While they don't bite, their larvae do have little hairs that can irritate the skin in a way that looks like bites. Perhaps they are mostly living somewhere off the bed, but are managing to make their way under the covers in small, unnoticeable numbers?
posted by mittens at 9:09 AM on January 19, 2016

When I used to share a house, my housemate briefly dated a drummer (hey NOT ALL DRUMMERS) whose standard of hygiene was high on the scale of one to gross, and he brought fleas into our house. We freaked out about bedbugs, realised it wasn't them, and then the fleas just went away after a fortnight before we could get onto a pest controller, which apparently suggests they were animal fleas that couldn't survive on humans for very long.

Bites were, like yours, often in small groups, and omfg so itchy.
posted by greenish at 9:11 AM on January 19, 2016 [7 favorites]

Possibly spider bites? There are tiny ones that scamper away when disturbed.
posted by LaBellaStella at 9:40 AM on January 19, 2016

Seconding the possibility of spider bites. Do a thorough dusting/cleaning of your room, the floor, baseboards, behind furniture, ceiling, window sills, under furniture.
posted by bluesky43 at 9:47 AM on January 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Could be ringworm. It looks an awful lot like mysterious bug bites.
posted by deathpanels at 9:47 AM on January 19, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions of what it might be, but my question is what should I do next? How do I identify/get rid of whatever it is if I can't see it and repeated washings haven't done it?
posted by chonus at 10:09 AM on January 19, 2016

Response by poster: Also - definitely not ringworm. Looks nothing like it.
posted by chonus at 10:10 AM on January 19, 2016

Response by poster: Last thread-sit post - to answer phunnimee's question from way up - it looks like this once scratched, and like a much tinier version before it's scratched. And I literally got maybe one a night, and only have five. It's not hives and it's not ringworm. No clusters, no scales, just a very very boring standard bug bite,, but it only happens at night. SO weird and annoying.
posted by chonus at 10:16 AM on January 19, 2016

Best answer: The photo you linked is a mosquito bite. I'm not sure of your location, but I have found in my area, which is currently well below freezing and snow-covered, I still get house flies in my house because sometimes I need to bring things into the house that used to be outside (such as firewood) and the flies were sleeping on the firewood unbeknownst to me. They get warm in the house, and then buzz buzz buzz. It is possible that this has happened in your case with mosquitoes (which have also been present in my house this winter).
posted by tempestuoso at 10:34 AM on January 19, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: That does look like a mosquito bite, and fwiw -- in Wisconsin we have also had mosquitoes in the house in the winter. If it is a rogue mosquito or three overstaying their seasonal visit, there's not much you can do about the stragglers living in your house in the cold months; they'll eventually die off on their own unless you have a source of open water somewhere where they're breeding (check for puddles near leaky basement pipes, standing water in basement drains, pet water bowls that don't get regularly emptied, etc.) If it is mosquitoes, sleeping with a fan blowing on you will help because they won't be able to fly properly in the breeze.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 12:05 PM on January 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Is your bed near a window, or do you ever have a problem with rats/mice coming into the house? I once had a nearly identical problem, also in the winter, and it turned out to be bird mites, since my window opened out onto the roof near where birds landed (rat mites are very similar).

My solution was to spray a fairly serious pesticide around the outside of the window frame, close the window permanently, and dust the sill with diatomaceous earth. I also put some flashy tape on the roof to discourage the birds. If the issue is rat mites, it may take more sleuthing to find out where the rats/mice are getting in. I was lucky in the sense that birds are much easier to scare away.
posted by SamanthaK at 12:09 PM on January 19, 2016

I was going to suggest mosquito too. If you want, get sticky traps and lay them out under/near the bed and see what you catch. If it's a mosquito it'll die after a few days.
posted by Toddles at 5:58 PM on January 19, 2016

Indoor mosquitoes suck. You've got to cover all the drains in your sinks, tubs, showers, etc. and keep your toilet lids down to cut off their water supply so they don't breed. These covers are good and worked for me when I had indoor mosquitoes.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:48 PM on January 19, 2016

If it is a mosquito, you can try looking for it and killing it manually (as opposed to with an insect spray or similar). I get furious with mosquitoes in my three year-old's room so what I do is close the door and get a hand towel and hit everything with it: bed, curtains, the general bookcase area, corners, etc. (to "wake it up"). Then sit very still and look at the lighter surfaces until I spot it. Then I kill it with said hand towel. Just my method but it could work for you if you're patient and obsevant. Whole process usually takes me 3-10 minutes.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 1:46 AM on January 20, 2016

Just want to add to the good suggestions everyone else has had here about fleas or mosquitoes (I'd vote mosquitoes too, given where you describe the bites happening) that sometimes bites can take several hours to develop on your skin after when you're actually bitten. The visible bite that itches is a reaction that you develop, so you might not even be being bitten in bed.
posted by Lady Li at 1:19 PM on January 20, 2016

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