Q. I'm waking up every morning with little bites on my arms. Could these be from bedbugs?
A. They certainly could be. Bedbugs -- small, oval-shaped, wingless insects that feed on the blood of mammals (including humans) -- are making a big comeback all over the country. Bedbugs get their name from the fact that they often hide in mattresses during the day -- after feasting on sleeping people at night.
For Crystal Barry, excessive sweating wasn't just a nuisance. It shaped her daily activities, even her personality.
Barry, 24, a student from St. Louis, avoided team sports and crowded events. She never wore tank tops or sheer fabrics and often had to bring extra shirts to school after her first shirt was soaked through with sweat. She shied away from social situations, especially ones involving the opposite sex. "I don't like to be around people if I stink," she tells WebMD. "I get real quiet."
Unlike ticks and fleas, bedbugs don't carry diseases. But the itching can be severe, the bites can become infected, and some people develop allergic reactions.
Other bugs bite in the night, of course, including fleas, mites, and lice. But there are several telltale signs of bedbug infestation: They leave lines of red, itchy bites on your skin; they deposit tiny blood and feces stains on your sheets and mattress; and you find the actual bugs in small crevices, such as mattress seams, baseboards, picture frames, and floorboard cracks.
If you find a bug, put it in a plastic bag and take it to your local vector control agency for identification. Then call a pest control company for advice: Getting rid of bedbugs is no picnic, and you'll want a professional handling the insecticides.