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.
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our May 2010 issue, we turned to WebMD's Skin Care Expert, Karyn Grossman, MD, to get advice on dealing with those pesky little bumps that so many of us have on our upper arms.
Q. I have lots of little bumps on my upper arms -- I don't like going sleeveless. What are they? Can I get rid of them?
A. Those little bumps are caused by keratosis pilaris, a common skin condition...
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.