Early Detection, Topical Steroids, and Antihistamines, Could Be Useful for Combatting Mattress Bug Manifestations


Researchers from Europe describe a case report of a patient who had skin lesions associated with bed bug infestation and who received effective treatment with topical steroids and antihistamines, as published in Dermatologic Therapy.

Bed bugs, brownish insects often found in dark places, bite sleeping people to get blood. In the past 30 years, bed bugs have re-emerged worldwide, leading to increased health care costs for patients. Patients bitten by bed bugs quickly develop highly polymorphic, and often linear, skin lesions on exposed areas that are not covered with blankets. Some patients may experience morning itching, erythematous macules and papules between 2 and 5 mm, vesicles, and sometimes purplish or bullous lesions.

Symptomatic treatment for bed bugs and the manifestations associated with their bites, including itching, includes the use of topical steroids and antihistamines. Removing bed bugs from the home or apartment where they are infected is another effective add-on strategy to bed bug control. However, things like insect foggers and “bed bug bombs” are usually not effective. In some cases, even insecticides may not be enough. Mechanical means, including vacuuming, freezing, and washing, can help improve the effectiveness of chemical eradication strategies.

The case reported in Dermatological Therapy described a 32-year-old man who presented with itchy erythematous papules and vesicles affecting the neck, forearms, and hands. The patient was seen several times over a period of 12 months.

According to the patient, the recurrence of symptoms was often seen when he stayed in his parents’ home. This house was later found to be infested with Cimex lectularius, a common bed bug. Bed bug eradication and symptomatic treatment with topical steroids and antihistamines have been effective in treating the disease.

The researchers who reported the case study concluded that bed bug eradication “relies on early detection, and doctors should initiate this process by thinking [of] Bed bugs in patients with recurrent and linear skin lesions. ”


Delaunay P, Benzaquen M, Berenger JM, Parola P. Bed bug bites. Published online 25 September 2020. Dermatol Ther. doi: 10.1111 / dth.14341