Avatar universal

Bug Bites or Stress-Induced Reaction?

I am a twenty-two-year-old black female with a history of stress / "light" anxiety. I have always been healthy; have never had the chicken pox, measles, shingles, or smallpox (but have been vaccinated for each of these illnesses); and, with a BMI of 18.5, would be considered within a very healthy weight range, if not a bit low.

With that said, over the past six months, I have noticed the sporadic appearance of itchy, red bumps on random parts of my body -- usually, my neck and fingers. They actually don't start out as bumps. First, I'll feel an itch somewhere on my skin, and over the course of an hour or two, if/when I rub or scratch it (I know scratching is the worst), the skin swells into an intensely itchy bump. I usually manage these bumps with hydrocortisone cream (2.5%) and triple antibiotic ointment (I am prone to allergic reactions to bug bites and the like), but it takes 2-3 days before the itching subsides and up to four days before the bumps disappear completely.

My most recent "attacks" began this past Saturday (three days ago): I developed a cluster of three bumps and two more neighboring bumps, about three inches apart each, on my butt cheek of all places. (As you can imagine, it's very embarrassing to admit this.) A day or so later, I had another bump -- one that I am almost certain is from a mosquito that was flying around my house -- on the underside of my upper arm. Today, I woke up with three new bumps: one on the left side of my upper chest, one on the right side of my neck, and one on the tip of my index finger that isn't terribly itchy (yet).

I haven't been able to figure out the cause of these bumps. At my house, we have had fleas (three times, in fact) and, therefore, are very good at identifying them and their bites. These don't look anything like the flea bites I've received in the past. Those were always more like pimples that only grew in size when scratched. I've been wondering whether they're bedbug bites; but I have checked (the "flashlight in the dark" trick) and vacuumed the mattress, checked and changed the bedding, and vacuumed all areas of the bedroom carpet multiple times since these bumps first emerged. No luck. And save for the one that likely bit my arm, we haven't had any other mosquitoes.

Now, I wonder if these are from bugs at all. These bumps are flatter, almost like welts, and vary in shape -- sometimes more circular, sometimes ovular. And -- I believe this is key! -- none of them, except for the one on my arm, have puncture wounds!

I have a history of stress, which -- though it's never resulted in a rash -- has manifested in a variety of ways over the course of my life, including through eczema and seborrheic dermatitis, gastritis, excess sweating, chronic headaches, etc. So, it seems likely to me that the bumps are stress-induced, but I'm not sure.

I'd really appreciate it if someone could help me identify the source of these bumps. Currently, I don't have health insurance (I am a recent college grad and have been freelancing; I'm still saving up money and shopping for an insurance plan), so I can't just "ask a doctor." Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
1 Responses
Sort by: Helpful Oldest Newest
Avatar universal
Is there no one who can help me? I've received eleven more itchy red bumps since I last posted. Eleven in the span of nine days!
Helpful - 0
I hope u found out what it is  But for that to bed bugs there would have to be a lot of bugs Good Luck
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Dermatology Community

Top Dermatology Answerers
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Learn to identify and prevent bites from summer’s most common pests.
Doctors argue for legislation to curb this dangerous teen trend in the latest Missouri Medicine report.
10 ways to keep your skin healthy all winter long
How to get rid of lumpy fat on your arms, hips, thighs and bottom
Diet “do’s” and “don’ts” for healthy, radiant skin.
Images of rashes caused by common skin conditions