Bed bug bites: What you need to know

Kreethi Yadav

Unlike other common pests such as rodents and cockroaches, bed bugs need blood to survive, relying heavily on it to complete their life cycle. This makes us the perfect midnight snack for these blood sucking creatures whilst we sleep.

One of the most common signs of bed bugs is finding bed bug bites littered over your body. You may be wondering:

  • What do bed bug bites look like?
  • How can I treat bed bug bites?
  • How can I prevent bed bug bites?

Find out everything you need to know about bed bug bites below.

What do bed bug bites look like?

how to spot bed bug bites

Like most insect bites, bed bug bites come in the form of red bumps on your skin. However, there are a handful of differences which separate bed bug bites from mosquito and/or flea bites.

Bed bug bites are distinctive in their appearance in a few ways. They are usually small and flat. In cases where the bed bug bite has become inflamed then the bite will be raised slightly.

Bed bug bites usually appear in small groups in a single place and are usually found in a line. If there are multiple bite locations on your persons, this can often mean that multiple bed bugs have feasted on you during the night.

Where do bed bug bites appear?

Bed bug bites usually occur on parts of the body not covered by bedding. They can usually be found on:

  • Head and face
  • Neck
  • Arms
  • Legs

Do bed bug bites itch?

One of the common symptoms of bed bug bites, along with other insect bites, is swelling. This can also lead to the bite becoming very itchy and irritating. In some cases red welts can also develop. However, it’s important to know that for some individuals, bed bug bites do not leave a mark, or even itch.

What do bed bug bites feel like?

Initially, the victim of a bed bug bite might feel a slight burning sensation around the area (although this is quite rare). This occurs before the bites develop the red colouring as well as swelling and itchiness.

Bed bug bite rashes

In some extreme cases the victim might develop a reaction to the bed bug bite. This causes a rash to develop (also know as papules or wheals), and can sometimes result in dramatic swelling and blister like skin inflammations to occur.

What happens when a bed bug bites you?

The reason why your body reacts to bed bug bites in a certain way is down to how the bed bug delivers a bite.

When a bed bug bites you it pierces the skin with its elongated beaks. These are used to suck the blood from your body, this is usually done between 3 and 10 minutes until they have fully engorged themselves on you.

A bed bug will also inject an anaesthetic and an anticoagulant through its beak during the initial piercing. This helps prevent the bite from itching immediately, allowing the bed bug to eat without being disturbed. The anticoagulant stops the blood from clotting, allowing for the blood to flow freefly. It is only when the anesthetic wears off that the itchiness is felt.

Bed bug bites Vs flea bites

Although both similar in size, there are a few differences between bed bug bites and flea bites. Compared to bed bug bites, flea bites are tiny dark spots surrounded by a reddened area.

Flea bites are usually found around the ankles and lower leg and are often felt immediately.

Bed bug bites Vs mosquito bites

Just like with flea bites, bed bug bites can often be mistaken for ones from mosquitoes but there are some differences between the two. Mosquito bites are often random and isolated, which differs from the aligned and grouped bed bug bites. Mosquito bites are instantly visible and begin to itch immediately. They will often appear first in a raised white welt before reducing to a red bump.

How to treat bed bug bites

how to treat bed bug bites

Treating bed bug bites is a relatively simple task. Bed bug bites can often be treated by applying an ice pack to the infected area, this will help reduce the swelling, and taking an antihistamine to help combat the itchiness.

Home remedies for bed bug bites

There are a few home remedies for bed bug bites available to help reduce the swelling and itchiness. These remedies often consist of items you can find in your home.

  • Calamine lotion: Calamine lotion is great for treating bed bug bites. It provides relief from the itching and also helps to dry any rashes and protect the skin as it heals.
  • Baking soda and water: Making a paste out of baking soda and water is a great home remedy for bed bug bites. Applying the paste directly to the bite and leaving it to dry before removing helps with swelling.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Like with insect stings, apple cider vinegar works well as a home remedy for bed bug bites. It helps relieve the itching. White vinegar also works well.
  • Toothpaste: The menthol attributes of toothpaste make it a good home remedy for bed bug bites. Applying a generous amount to the bite will help soothe any burning sensation and relieve the itching.
  • Witch Hazel: Being a liquid astringent, witch hazel is great for treating bed bug bites as it contains a mild anesthetic effect which helps calm the itching caused by these bites.

Natural remedies for bed bug bites

On top of the home remedies, there are also a handful of natural remedies for bed bug bites available. The majority of these methods can be used by utilising items found around your home, or that can be purchased from your local supermarket.

  • Aloe vera: Either fresh aloe vera or aloe vera gel works well for this natural remedy for bed bug bites. The active compounds and amino acids found in aloe vera help ease the itching and burning sensations caused by bed bug bites.
  • Lemon juice: The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and the fact that it is a natural astringent makes lemon juice a great natural home remedy for bed bug bites. Lemon juice can help dry out rashes and keep itching at bay whilst also reducing redness and swelling.
  • Banana peel: Like mosquito bites, banana peel is a great natural remedy for bed bug bites. The natural oils found in the peel can help reduce itching and redness.
  • Peppermint oil: Like toothpaste the menthol attributes of peppermint oil makes it a perfect natural remedy for bed bug bites. The best course of treatment is to add a couple drops of peppermint oil to a hot bath.

How to get rid of bed bugs

get rid of bed bugs

The best way to successfully prevent bedbugs from biting you is to eliminate them from your home. There are a handful of options available to help get rid of bed bugs, these can range from simple home DIY techniques to enlisting the help of a pest control professional.

If you have spotted bed bug bites on yourself and think you might have a bed bug problem, follow these steps to help get rid of them from your home (or watch the video further down):

  • Wash: Remove the bedding from your bed and wash them on a high heat of at least 60ƒ (and for ideally 90mins). If possible, tumble dry the bedding afterwards too, for min. 30minutes.
  • Vacuum: Vacuum your house thoroughly and empty the contents in an outside bin.
  • Contact a professional: The best way to get rid of bed bugs is to enlist the help of a pest control professional with specialist solutions, like heat treatment, targeting bed bugs at every stage of their life cycle.

Preventing bed bugs

One of the main ways in which bed bugs find their way into your home is through travelling. During your holidays/travels bed bugs can easily hitch a ride in your suitcases from infested hotel rooms, youth hostels, B&Bs and furniture. Checking your hotel room for bed bugs can help prevent bed bugs from grabbing a free ride to your home.

How to check your hotel room for bed bugs

We have come up with a free guide to checking your hotel room for bed bugs in 5 easy steps to help limit the possibility of inviting bed bugs to your home.

Just returned from holiday and worried about bed bugs?

  • We recommend you store your suitcase and luggage in your garage or utility room, or an area furthest from your bedroom and main living areas.
  • Place the contents of your luggage into a bin bag and transfer them to your washing machine and wash on a high heat.

This will help deal with any bed bugs which have stolen a ride in your suitcase.

Get more information on bed bugs.

Kreethi Yadav
Kreethi Yadav

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