Multiple bites/welts over grandmother's body (~75 yrs). What could it be?

Patient

Q: My grandmother (~75 yrs) suddenly has a lot of red bites/welts all over her body: arms, neck, back, stomach, etc. What could this be?

Symptoms:  The bites/welts are red and look like insect bites. They are approximately half an inch or a little over 1 cm in diameter.
Doctor

A:   Thank you for your question. These swellings look like an inflammatory response to being bitten by an insect such as fleas or bed bugs. These insects in particular can infest the bedding in which your grandmother sleeps in resulting in this bites. We recommend that you apply some topical anti-itch cream containing hydrocortisone to treat the itching and inflammation. Furthermore, we recommend that you thoroughly wash her bed linens, pillows and comforters in hot water and dry them on the highest setting on your dryer to kill any fleas or bed bugs. You can also add a powder containing diatomaceous earth to the mattress and around the bed at the corners to prevent the recurrence of bed bugs in the future.

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