Friday, June 01, 2007

Gender, Not Race?

In a previous post I theorized that people with fairer skin have more severe reactions to bed bug bites than people with darker skin. I based this theory on the fact that M who has very fair skin has had a far more severe reaction to bed bug bites than I, who is a shade or two darker. I also gave the example of my black neighbor who had his own infestation and had almost no visible sign of any bites, although he did complain about the itching.

In the Comments area for this post, Nobugs suggested that it may very well be gender, and not race or more specifically, one's presence of pigmentation in their skin. It changed my view and made me consider that females may indeed have a more severe reaction to bed bug bites than males.

Interesting--I don't have any data about race, but that's partly because most of the sufferers I know are known to me on the internet so I have no idea of their race :-)

My hunch is that men are less likely to react to bites, or be allergic to bites (and possibly even less likely to be bitten) than women. Of the people who come on Bedbugger, women often say the men they live with aren't bitten. Men are more likely to say they aren't reacting to bites and their female partners/relatives are. -NoBugs
Other posters stepped in to offer their own stories to support Nobugs' theory.

I would agree with Nobugs.

I am darker skinned than my boyfriend. I have visible bites but he doesn't.

I think he's being bitten but isn't reacting. -Anonymous

Could anyone lend any additional personal accounts to support this theory? It sounds far more plausible than the one I supported in my previous post.


nobugs said...

Great follow-up!

I just posted on this with a link to you, for people to join in.

Anonymous said...

I too, am the only one being bitten by bedbugs. My partner is fairer than I. I read they tend to feed on women because there is less hair to maneuver through

gabriel said...

I wonder about this myself. I, a male, am either not getting bit or not reacting whereas my girlfriend gets bit and has severe reactions. We're both pretty fair skinned.

e said...


first of all, blacks/latinos have more NATURAL, GENETIC RESISTANCE TO MALARIA, and are often bitten by mosquitoes less. SICKLE CELL ANEMIA, a disease that only effects BLACKS (there are many diseases linked to certain genetic groups), IS CAUSED BY A CELL IN THEIR BODY THAT HELPS PROTECT THEM FROM MALARIA.

In the 17th-19th century, the south, LOUSIANA, was noted for having a much higher black/slave population, as the WHITE POPULATION WOULD DIE OUT DUE TO MALARIA, while slaves would survive more... THIS IS A KNOWN FACT.

so, certain groups resistant to malaria/mosquitoes (more but not always of course- millions of black africans die of malaria every year)., =

BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR CERTAIN groups more resistant to bed bugs.

ps... I AM HALF RUSSIAN JEWISH... (hence, "darker" though u wouldn't notice...jews are, essentially, mixed euro-middle easterners)...

my ROOMMATE WHO FLED was a "wasp", half english DESCENDED FROM PILGRIMS... though she had dark hair.

SHE REACTED MUCH worse than i, and was bit more, in a room 10 times cleaner, tidier, etc... even after cleaning up, getting rid of mattress.

Anonymous said...

It's not a theory it's a fact. I was just at the exterminators office. Men are getting bit but they don't have the same allergic reaction as women do.

Anonymous said...

Darker skinned people may not show skin reactions more readily than, say, a really fair person who freckles and sunburns, etc.
But who really knows the inner workings of these little pests....
As for men and women, isn't it possible that bed bugs would be attracted more to a woman during certain times of her cycle, thus biting her more?

Anonymous said...

My daughter and I have both been bitten. My husband, not at all. This drives me crazy because he doesn't seem to have the same level of concern as I do. We share a wooden platform bed with wooden slats and I would love to get rid of it...but as I said, he feels this is "over reacting". I'm quite sure if he were bitten nightly, he would feel differently. He says he'll let me handle this, but don't call an exterminator, and don't throw out our bed. By the way, last summer my daughter and I battled lice and guess what - they never touched my husband. There must be something about men having too much body hair for lice OR bed bugs to bother with. Perhaps when given the choice, the little monsters will attack a nice smooth skinned child and mother and leave the hairy one alone. Signed, Wishing for more support from the unbitten one.

Anonymous said...

I am brown. The color of Sepia with a hint of cinnamon. Although I'm brown I have skin that bruises easily. Not regular bruises, the big ugly purple and green bruises. With that being said, the bed bug bites on my arms look like a war zone. Huge red mounds of bitten flesh that turn dark brown when the bumps go down. Just ugly. My boyfriend on the other hand has no visible bites on his skin. I hate him right now.

Anonymous said...

Was recently at a conference. Started getting bitten one aft. while sitting in conference room - at first not sure what it was. Next day noticed two others in our group also bitten. Both very fair-skinned like me. Didn't notice bites on others, all darker skinned both genders