Bed bugs are one of the most common (and most despised) pests in the world. These tiny bloodsuckers live primarily in and around beds, emerging at night to feed on the people sleeping there.
Usually, they disappear by morning time, leaving nothing but trails of itchy bites in their wake. Very occasionally, however, they can find their way inside the recesses of people’s ears, and may even live there for short periods of time.
Before you start freaking out, however, you should remember that this happens very rarely. Bed bugs are attracted to humans but prefer not to live on our bodies.
In the event that a bed bug does find its way into your ear, don’t panic! Bed bugs are not known to transmit any infectious diseases and are fairly easy to remove. Read on to find out how to detect and remove bed bugs (and other insects) from your ears!
Do bed bugs crawl inside people’s ears?
Bed bugs are attracted to humans, as we are their primary source of food. However, they do not usually live on the human body, preferring to make their nests in the mattresses, frames, and headboards of beds. They typically lay low during the day, emerging at night to feast on your sleeping body and disappearing back into the cracks and crevices around your bed once morning comes.
It is very rare for bed bugs to hang around after daybreak but, very occasionally, they may become lost on their way home and find their way into your ear.
Can bed bugs live in your ear?
Once inside your ear, it is possible for bed bugs to live there for a short period of time by feeding on blood from the ear canal.
One case study described the case of a 23-year-old man who went to the doctor complaining of “odd sensations” in his right ear, including the feeling of something moving around and of his ear being “blocked.” Upon examination, doctors found a bed bug lodged in his ear canal, where it had been apparently living for two or three days. The bug was swiftly removed, and the patient experienced no further problems, but the question remains: how long could a bed bug, theoretically, live inside your ear?
Bed bugs can live for months, but they are unlikely to stick around in your ear canal for that long. Bed bugs prefer to feed while a person is resting or sitting (hence their nocturnal attacks). After feeding, their instinct is to return to hiding in their nests. This means that, though bed bugs may nibble on your ears while you sleep, they will almost always return to their nests afterward.
In the unlikely event that a bed bug does become lodged in your ear, the fine hairs inside your ear canal would pick up on the intruder and make it impossible for it to go undetected. Ear bugs are, therefore, usually discovered and evicted within a day of moving in.
Can bed bugs lay eggs in your ear?
As nesting insects, bed bugs are driven to lay their eggs in their nests, and nowhere else. Laying eggs inside your ear would go against every natural instinct they have. As mentioned earlier, they would be unlikely to live, undetected, inside your ear canal for long enough to reproduce, anyway.
So, will bed bugs lay eggs in your ears? Relax, almost certainly not.
What happens if a bed bug goes in your ear?
If a bed bug (or any other kind of bug) sets up residence in your ear, you need to get rid of it right away. Bugs in the ear are usually harmless and easily dealt with, but they also can be irritating, painful and distressing. Sometimes, the movement or bites from the bug can cause inflammation, swelling or infection in the ear, which can lead to further complications.
If a bed bug goes in your ear, stay calm and take the following steps to remove it:
Try to gently dislodge the bug
First, try stretching out your ear canal (by pulling the back of the affected ear towards to back of your head) while tilting and gently shaking your head. With any luck, the bug will fall straight out! If it doesn’t proceed to the next step.
Flush it out
Try flushing the bug out of your ear using warm, clean water and a syringe. This technique works better if the bug is already dead. If you think the bug is still alive, you can kill it by pouring vegetable oil or baby oil into your ear canal.
But, if all else fails…
Visit your doctor
If you can’t remove the bug by yourself, pay a visit to your local ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor. They will be able to kill and remove the bug for you using specialist instruments that are designed to navigate the delicate insides of your ear.
Don’t use a Q-tip, swap or any other kind of foreign object to get the bug out
Poking around in your ear with a variety of objects can push the bug further into your ear canal and may even cause damage to the middle ear or eardrum. Keep Q-tips and fingers out of there!
It may be rare, but it is possible for bed bugs to end up in your ear. Luckily, these insects are not known to transmit diseases and are easy to remove from the ear canal. But the very idea that it may happen is very unsettling!
The only way to prevent bed bugs from going in your ear is to make 100% sure there are no bed bugs in your sleeping area. Regularly inspect your bed frame, mattress, pillows, sheets and headboard for signs of the bugs, their eggs, and their droppings. If you notice the smallest hint of bed bug activity, take immediate action to eradicate them!