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The Ultimate Guide to Bed Bug Bites

Published May 12th, 2022 by Erik Rivera
Fact Checked by
Chris Riley

Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed on your blood and also the blood of animals.

They are reddish-brown in color, oval in shape, and about a quarter-inch long.

Bed bugs are not capable of flying, but they can move quickly across floors, walls, and ceilings. Bed bug bites can cause a number of different symptoms, including redness, swelling, and itching.

In some cases, bed bug bites can also lead to more serious health problems like skin infections.

In this article, we will teach you everything you need to know about bed bug bites, including how to identify them and how to treat bed bug bites.

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small insects that feed off of your blood or the blood of animals although they are not known to spread diseases like ticks, mosquitos, or other parasites.

They are often found in mattresses, bedding, and furniture and can cause a variety of symptoms, including itching, redness, and swelling. Due to you itching the bites, they may also lead to infections.

Their appearance can vary depending on their stage of life, but they are typically small, oval-shaped, brown in color, with flat bodies and look similar to an apple seed.

Despite the itchiness, bed bug bites are usually harmless.

bed bug image

What are the symptoms of a bed bug bite?

Bed bug bites are often itchy and can cause redness, burning, swelling, and irritation. As noted above, bed bug bites may also lead to infections due to scratching.

The symptoms depend on your individual reaction to bed bug bites as you may not even experience any symptoms at all while others may have severe reactions.

The site of the bite may look red and swollen with a dark spot in the middle. They usually occur in clusters or in a line and may become a fluid-filled blister.

Sometimes you may notice blood on your sheets from excessive scratching of the site of the bite.

Bite marks do not always show up immediately and may take several days to form.

Bed bugs can bite anywhere on your body; however, the bites are usually on areas of your skin that are exposed when you sleep.

What causes bed bugs?

Bed bugs are often found in mattresses, bedding, clothing, luggage, box springs, and furniture.

They can also be found in other places where people sleep and come and go frequently such as hotels, dormitories, barracks, hospitals, cruise ships, shelters, and even your own apartment building if you live in one.

These insects are most active at night when they come out to feed on your blood.

Bed bugs are not known to transmit any infectious diseases but their bites can be very itchy and uncomfortable.

Bed bugs do not have wings and can not fly and they usually ride from one place to another on your clothing or skin and can be brought back in your luggage when your travel and stay at a place that has an infestation.

Bed Bug TV - Where do bed bugs come from

How do I know if I have a bed bug infestation?

Besides finding a bed bug bite or a bed bug, there are several common signs of bed bugs to tell if you have a bed bug infestation and these include:

Dark specks on your mattress

One obvious sign you may find are dark specks on your mattress or the mattress seams which is the excrement of the bed bug

Small yellow specks

Bed bugs molt 5 times in different life stages so you may find small yellow specks which are skin castings and are another physical sign of their presence

Small blood spots on your sheets

These blood stains are caused by itching the bite sites and causing them to bleed

How do you treat a bed bug bite?

If you have bed bug bites, the best thing to do is to leave them alone and let them heal on their own, which can be one or two weeks.

Resist the urge to scratch as this can cause the bites to become infected.

You can also try using a cold compress or taking an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Benadryl, to help with the itchiness.

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone topical creams may also help with the itching.

If the bites are causing you a lot of discomfort, you can see your doctor or dermatologist for further treatment.

How do you get rid of bed bugs?

If you think you have bed bugs, it is important to contact a professional pest control company for help as bedbugs are difficult to get rid of and most likely will not go away without one.

The exterminator will likely need to use a combination of pest control technology including chemical and non-chemical treatments such as vacuuming, steam treatments, and using pesticides.

They may also use liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill the bugs too.

Any clothes, bedding, linens, or drapes that are infested need to be laundered in the hottest water possible.

If you are in a hot area, you can even put these items in a sealed bag in a parked car in the sun for a day with the goal being to get the inside of the car to 115°F or 46°C.

If you can't launder certain items and are not in a warm area, you can also kill bed bugs by freezing the items for a few days at 0°F or -17°C.

If you have a severe infestation, you may need to throw away a mattress, box spring, or certain pieces of furniture, but make sure to clearly mark them and not leave them where someone else may take them.

Lastly, you can also seal any holes in your floorboards around the infestation as bed bugs could be hiding there too. The pest control professional will also be able to tell you how to prevent bed bugs from returning in the future.

From around the web: bed bug bites

Reddit - Woke up this morning with bed bug bites

Reddit - BedBugs

Pinterest - Bed Bugs

How can you prevent bed bugs?

There are several things you can do to prevent bed bugs including:

  • Wash your bedding in hot water and dry on high heat
  • Inspect secondhand furniture before bringing it into your home
  • Seal cracks and crevices in your home
  • If you are exposed a bed bug infestation while traveling, decontaminate any clothes from the trip when you get home
  • Check for bed bugs when you travel and before you bring any luggage back into your home
  • Use vacuum-sealed bags when you travel
  • Place any clothes from your luggage in one hot dryer cycle or wash them on the hottest setting of the washer before putting them away
  • If you are concerned about having been exposed to bed bugs during a trip, don't forget to also decontaminate your suitcase or travel bag which can be done by placing it in a sealed plastic bag for several weeks
  • When traveling, use a luggage rack to keep your suitcase away from any hotel furniture, and do not store your luggage near your bed
  • If you launder your clothes outside your own home, fold your laundry in your own home instead of at the laundromat or shared laundry room

Summary

Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed on human blood or animal blood which can cause itchy and painful bites, and they're notoriously difficult to get rid of.

The symptoms of a bed bug bite are a red mark they may be swollen with a dark mark in the center of it that often appears on skin that is exposed while sleeping and are usually in a line or in clusters.

These initial bite marks will usually go away in a week or two and if they become itchy you can use over-the-counter medicines to combat the itchiness.

If you think you have bed bugs, the best thing to do is contact a pest control professional for help.

There are also several things you can do to prevent future infestations of bed bugs which we listed above.

If you have an allergic reaction to bed bug bites or if a bite becomes infected due to scratching, please see your doctor, dermatologist, or health care provider.

References and Sources:

Bed Bugs: How to Identify Bedbugs and How to Get Rid of Them- WebMD

Bedbug Bites: Pictures, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Bedbugs - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

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