Bed Bug Bites vs Mosquito Bites

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Illustration of bed bugs

Overview

Bed bug bites and mosquito bites can be mistaken for one another because of the similarities in their appearance, symptoms, and other manifestations. But each bite can have distinct effects on the human body. Bed bug bites, for one, may not require immediate medical attention because it can heal on their own or by using home remedies. Also, bed bug bites do not transmit communicable diseases.

Mosquito bites, on the other hand, can also heal on their own and may not require immediate medical attention. However, mosquito bites can transmit life-threatening infections and diseases like malaria, dengue, and Zika virus. This is why it is crucial to differentiate the causes, effects, and implications of mosquito bites and bed bug bites.

Bed Bug and Mosquito: Their Foraging Behavior

Mosquitos and bed bugs have distinct blood feeding habits. Mosquito’s feeding pattern can be both random and aggregated. They can attack any time of the day, but usually in the afternoon and at night time. Bed bugs, on the other hand, have a sporadic feeding pattern. They usually attack at night but they can adjust their feeding pattern to their host’s sleeping pattern. At daytime, they usually hide near where the hosts sleep. But they can also feed on-demand or go on several days without feeding.

Like mosquitos, bed bugs pierce the skin to suck blood. But they do not fly and jump like mosquitoes and fleas. Instead, bed bugs crawl rapidly toward the host. They commonly bite humans and other warm-blooded animals like dogs, cats, and rodents.

Signs and Symptoms

Mosquito bites and bed bug bites share some symptoms including itch, redness, swelling, hives, rashes, irritations, and inflammations. Symptoms of bed bug bites, however, may not manifest on the skin at all or immediately after the bite. It may take a few days for the symptoms to appear.

Bed bug bites usually do not itch because of the anesthesia that bugs excrete into the skin while feeding. The mosquito does not have this mechanism. What penetrates the skin during mosquito bite is its saliva that causes itch and transmits infections, parasites, and viruses.

Effects on Human Health

Aside from skin irritations, mosquito bites can also contract more serious complications. Mosquito bites can lead to epidemics like malaria because vector mosquitoes are carriers of communicable diseases.

Mosquito bites are likely to develop into a mosquito-borne disease if the host experience headache, fever, and fatigue after the bite. Depending on the communicated infection or disease, additional symptoms manifest. For one, the host might have acquired chikungunya if he also has rashes, severe joint pain, and joint swelling. It can be malaria if the host also experiences chills, discomforts, uneasiness, sweating, and a drop in his body temperature.

Unlike mosquito, bed bugs are nonvectors. They also harbor pathogens like Hepa B and plague but they cannot transmit these diseases to their host. Bed bug bites, however, can cause severe skin allergies, irritations, and infections. They can also have a psychological toll on the host. The host infested by bed bugs (Cimex lectularius L.) may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or long-lasting anxiety associated with paranoia, depression, and hypervigilance.

Treatment and Remedies

Mosquito bites can be treated using home remedies such as applying vinegar on the affected area. Raw honey, essential oils, toothpaste, onion, baking soda, lemons, and salt paste can also be used. Using anti-itch or calamine ointment/cream can also help alleviate itch and rash. But when symptoms of mosquito-borne diseases manifest, immediately consult a doctor to get apt treatment and diagnosis.

The same practice should be done for bed bug bites. If there are no signs of infections, home remedies may suffice. To treat bed bug bites at home, wash the bitten area with soap and water to prevent infection and alleviate itchiness. Use mild corticosteroids that can be bought over the counter to reduce the itch.

Immediately consult a dermatologist if there are many bites, blisters, and signs of allergic reaction and infection. Your dermatologist may prescribe antihistamine, corticosteroid, or epinephrine (adrenaline) to relieve allergies. For infection, your doctor may advise you to take antibiotics and antiseptic. For itch, doctors usually prescribe antihistamine pill or liquid and corticosteroid. Note that any use of a medicine must be with an advice of a doctor.

Prevention

To avoid mosquito and bed bug bites, minimize mosquito and bed bug infestation. Insect attack or infestation can be prevented through regular cleaning, physical control, and chemical control.

Clean all the places where mosquitos and bed bugs can hide and thrive. Vacuum your bed, scrub the mattress, and repair any cracks where bed insects may build up. Prevent bed bugs from crawling up the bed using petroleum jelly or double-sided tapes. For mosquitos, get rid of containers with stagnant water to prevent female mosquitos from laying their eggs in those containers. Wearing long and thick clothes and using insect repellent can also prevent mosquito and bed bug bites.