What has six legs, is nearly invisible, loves to hitch rides on unsuspecting people and savors the taste of human blood?
This creepy creature is Cimex lectularius, the common bedbug.
In the past two decades, the rate of bedbug infestations has increased in many U.S. cities and worldwide.
Because it's not unusual for people to get nighttime insect bites from a range of little monsters, including mosquitoes, fleas or spiders, it can be hard to figure out if you have a bedbug problem from bites alone.
Here are more telltale signs you're the unlucky host to a colony of these blood-sucking parasites.
You have groupings of itchy bumps
Many common insect bites look red and circular, with slight swelling and varying degrees of itchiness. Bedbug bites, however, are often found in groups or straight lines, especially on exposed back skin.
Bedbugs don't need to feed every night, and it can take weeks for you to notice bites, which makes it difficult to diagnose bites as being from bedbugs.
“Awareness of the possibility of infestation is important because otherwise patients may be misdiagnosed as having scabies or other skin conditions or may be dismissed as being parasitophobic,” according to microbiologist John Paul.
If you have bites but aren't sure where they originated, other signs can narrow down the suspects.
You feel tired during the day
Even if your skin doesn't react enough for you to see evidence of bedbug bites, your sleep will be interrupted by the little bloodsuckers trying to make a meal of you.
The day after being bitten, you'll feel run-down.
If you often wake up in the night or have nightmares about creepy-crawly creatures, bedbugs might be to blame.
You've visited bedbugs' favorite cities
Singers may croon about their love for big cities in hits like “New York State of Mind,” but if you've recently strolled around Central Park or the Tower of London, you're more likely to have picked up a hitchhiking bedbug.
With more than half the world's population living in cities — and that percentage is increasing — bedbugs affect a lot of people
“Entomologists will be tasked with developing sustainable practices to effectively control the urban insect pests,” according to research about pest outbreaks in Insects journal.
Researchers credit the bedbug surge to increasing global travel and populations living closer together, giving bedbugs an easy time of hopping from one juicy person to the next.
If you live in or have recently visited a large city, your rash or welts could be evidence of a pest souvenir.
You stumbled into a bedbug meet-and-greet
Even if you haven't visited large cities, if you live in an apartment complex or have stayed in well-trafficked hotels, you may have unwittingly given a ride home to an invisible bloodsucker.
One case study showed that bedbug outbreak sites were "most commonly apartments (63 percent), shelters (15 percent), and rooming houses (11 percent)."
Neighbors or friends have had issues
Bedbugs are sociable creatures and love moving from one friend to the next.
If neighbors, relatives or friends you've been in contact with have discovered a bedbug outbreak, the critters might have stowed away in your clothing or bags.
When you suspect you or your family members have been exposed, try to discover the source of the bedbugs to warn about the potential outbreak.
Your doctor has ruled out other skin diseases
When you're unsure about whether you've been exposed to bedbugs or you're worried about a rash, it's time to talk to a doctor. A Board Certified Dermatologist can deduce the cause of skin problems and provide invaluable advice about treatments.
Source: http://cbs12.com/features/health-watch/gardens-dermatology/6-signs- you-have-a-bedbug-problem