How Bad Do Bed Bug Bites Itch

Why does bed bug bites itch and what to do with it?

This is the last post on the ultimate guide on how to get rid of bed bug bites.ВBed bug bites tend to be itchy and you are not supposed to scratch them because it can lead to an infection! But why does bed bug bites itch? The simple answer to this is in the saliva that the bed bug injects onto your skin before feeding!В That saliva is packed with anticoagulants and anesthetics that cause different reactions on different people’s skins.

Why does bed bug bites itch? Bed bug feeding habits

Bed bugs tend to feed at night, more so in the wee hours of the morning. They are drawn to warmth and the presence of carbon-dioxide. Just because bed bugs tend to feed at night however doesn’t mean that they won’t feed at any other time of the day. As long as they are hungry and there is blood to be drawn, they will come out and feed.

When a bed bug finds its host, it makes use of its mouth to perform two tasks simultaneously with the help of two hollow tubes. The first task will be to inject its saliva into the host’s body. This saliva contains anticoagulants and anesthetics. That’s the reason why you don’t feel the bed bug on your skin as it feeds.

The second task is to draw blood from the host with the help of the second hollow tube. When the feeding is done-this usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes, the bed bug will return to its hiding place. The bed bug can then take five or seven days without feeding then it repeats the same process. Bear in mind however that bed bugs are capable of staying over a year without feeding and still survive.

Why does bed bug bites itch? The reaction

When bed bugs are done with feeding, some hosts may not notice that they have been bitten until hours or days later. Other hosts may not even know they have been bitten because they don’t end up with bite marks. Those that end up with bite marks however may have different reactions. Some may end up with itchy red welts while others may get blisters.

No matter the reaction however, it is important not to scratch the bite mark as this can lead to secondary infections.

What can influence itching?

The level of itching depends on one’s skin and its reaction to the saliva left behind by the bed bug. Some people are more sensitive to this saliva than others which is why one person may experience serious itching from the bites while another may not.

For those that experience serious itching, there are a number of natural remedies that can help relive the itching. You can make use of Aloe Vera gel for example and apply to the affected area. You can also make use of pure witch hazel to help relieve the itching. If natural remedies fail however, there are creams or medications that can be used to help solve the problem.В For example, you can make use of hydrocortisone cream or oral antihistamines to help relieve the itching. In such cases however, you might need to seek medical attention in this case.

One of the first remedies to help relieve potential itching is to make use of soap and water. You should thoroughly wash the affected area with soap and water to not only help prevent a skin infection but to also reduce itchiness.

Why do bed bug bites itch so much?

Because of the saliva injected to the skin, the bed bug bites may itch. The skin reacts to the saliva and its anticoagulants which is why it may itch so much. In case itching becomes unbearable then it is very likely that you are hypersensitive to the bites. Instead of over-scratching the affected area, it is best to visit a dermatologist.

You should seriously consider seeking medical attention if the bite marks turn into blisters or if they end up with pus or discharge. You should also consider visiting a medical professional if the red welts on your skin turn into hives or if there are so many bites on your skin.

Get rid of the cause

When all is said and done, it doesn’t make sense to treat the bed bug bites and not get rid of the bed bugs. In order to kill bed bugs fast and easy, you should make use of powder named Diatomaceous earth. Whenever bed bugs come into contact with the powder, they dehydrate and die. The effectiveness of powder that contains diatomaceous earth is that it will continue working days or even weeks as long as it remains dry.

Another way to get rid of bed bugs fast and easily is to steam a given room, mattress, couch or furniture.В Be sure to thoroughly vacuum the room or furniture before introducing steam to the equation. You could also consider washing clothes and beddings in very hot water in order to kill majority of the bed bugs.

If you feel that Diatomaceous earth, steaming or vacuuming is not helping with the bed bug problem, then you could consider any number of chemicals on the market. Be sure to investigate the chemical you intend to use as you have to take care of your health and that of those around you. You could also consider hiring a professional bug exterminator to get rid of the problem.


Bed bug bites itch as a result of the saliva deposited by the bed bugs when they feed. Different people get different reactions to the bed bug bites. While some bites may be successfully treated at home with natural remedies, there are instances where medical assistance is called for. In case you are hypersensitive to the bites then it is important to seek medical assistance. Otherwise, you should not scratch the bites as this may lead to an infection.


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Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.

Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime.

Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year.

Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.

Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments.

Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.

When Bedbugs Bite

Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.

Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.

People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.


Signs of Infestation

If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:

  • Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
  • Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
  • Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
  • An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands

If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.

Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.

If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.

Bedbug Treatments

Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following:

  • Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
  • Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
  • Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
  • Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
  • Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
  • Get rid of clutter around the bed.

If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.


Bedbug Extermination

While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.

Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination.


University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: "Bed Bugs."

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: "Bed Bugs."

The New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene: "Stop Bed Bugs Safely."

University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Lancaster County: "Managing Bed Bugs."


Do bed bug bites itch? Not everyone reacts to a bed bug bite, but itching is one of the most common reactions for those who do. As with most insect bites that itch, it can be hard not to scratch where a bed bug has chomped down. But don’t scratch.

The following articles answer questions such as “Why do bed bug bites itch?”, “How do I treat them?” and “What should I do and not do if I’ve been bitten?”


The Centers for Disease Control’s FAQ sheet on bed bugs explains that as it bites, a bed bug transfers both an anesthetic and an anticoagulant through a straw-like mouth that it uses to feed.

The anesthetic prevents the bite from immediately itching. The anticoagulant stops the blood from clotting at the site of the bite, ensuring your blood flows freely for a quicker feeding. When the anesthetic wears off, a bite may begin to itch as the body reacts to the saliva left behind.

Scratching a bed bug bite can cause a secondary skin infection and should be avoided if possible.


The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends a simple treatment plan for most bed bug bites:

‟Wash the bites with soap and water. This will help prevent a skin infection and help reduce itchiness. If the bites itch, apply a corticosteroid cream to the bites. You can get a weak form of this medicine without a prescription at your local drugstore. Stronger corticosteroids require a prescription.”


If a person is hypersensitive to insect bites, or over-scratching causes an infection, the AAD recommends seeing a dermatologist to help treat the symptoms.

Some skin infections can be difficult to treat at home. Signs you should seek treatment include blistering, a lot of bites, bites that have pus or discharge, or welts that become hives.

So, do bed bug bites itch? Indeed, they can. Just try not to scratch them while you call Terminix®, and make sure the biting stops today.

Do Bed Bug Bites Itch or Hurt? Why, How to Relief & Stop

Bed bugs bites constitute the most annoying effect from these little creatures. Find out if the bites itch or hurt, reason they itch, how long and ways to stop and relief the pain.

Do Bed Bug Bites Itch or Hurt-Why & is it Always?

Bites from bed bugs are in most cases irritating and very itchy. The itchy welts form in a few days.

If the bed bugs bite you continuously, you may have the itchy welts develop in seconds. The itch may however take as long as two weeks before it is felt.

why do bites itch so bad?

Generally, the saliva from the bed bugs causes an allergic reaction on your skin. It is this allergic reaction which leaves your skin itchy and with a rash. The itching may last for hours or days. When a bed bug bites you, the skin is turned red and the itch begins.

Bed bug bites cause irritation on the skin. This as a result causes itchiness. The bumps forming on your skin as well as the inflammation are also a reason for the itching of your skin.

If you are lucky enough not to have a reaction on your skin after the bite, you will not experience any itchiness.

Is it always? Symptoms

Some people become resistant to bed bug bites and for that reason, they hardly experience any itching following bed bug bites.

In fact, only those people who experience an allergic reaction following the bed bug bite are reported to experience itching. Most people with a sensitive skin will however have to deal with the itchiness that comes with the bed bug bites.

Itching may be shown by inflammation of your skin as well as redness. Other symptoms associated with itchiness of your skin are oozing of a fluid and formation of blisters.

Do they itch immediately after biting or later

You may experience the itch from the bed bug either after a few hours of the bite or even after a week or two. There is no definite time after which you experience the itching. Different skin types will react differently to the bed bug bites.

Do the bites hurt?

Bed bug bites do not actually hurt. However, the irritation they cause can be very disturbing. Most people with bed bug bites report that no pain was experienced either during or after the bite.

When the itching that comes with the bites is too much, you may find yourself scratching your skin.

Excessive scratching of the skin leaves it exposed to infections which may actually result to the bites being painful. Pain following infection of the bites is taken to be an indicator that your bites are pus filled.

How long does bed bug bites itch?

The duration for which the bed bugs itch varies from one person to another. For some people, it will last up to the time the bites are fully recovered.

If you seek treatment, however, whether by application of creams or making your own home remedies, itchiness may take a relatively short period.

There are so many remedies out there that are soothing to your skin and will hence relieve you of itchiness soonest possible.

All the same, if your bites become infected, the itchiness becomes more severe and it may last for a very long time. Scratching your skin as well increases the period that the itchiness takes before healing.

How to make bed bug bites stop itching-Creams & Relief

What to put on bed bug bites to stop itching

You can either use anti-itch cream for bed bug bites, or even some home remedies. There are some oral drugs that may be helpful as well. This is as discussed below.

Anti-itch creams when applied as soon as the itch starts or as soon as the bites are spotted offer excellent results. The most commonly used over the counter cream is hydrocortisone cream. It relieves you of any skin irritation

It is found to work like most home remedies as will be discussed below. Other anti-itch creams include; calamine lotion, Benadryl cream, and cortisone 10.

You can also try oral drugs. Oral anti-histamine like Benadryl or any other oral antihistamine gives an immediate relief from the itchiness. Even that, you are advised to always try home remedies before opting for other manufactured drugs.

Bed bug bites itch & pain relief remedies

Cold compress using tea bags

To treat the itchiness or any other form of irritation that comes with bed bug bites, you are advised to apply a cold tea bag compress on the affected area. This cold compress works in two ways.

First of all, the cold calms the irritated nerve endings. In addition to that, the tea contains astringents which help reduce any itchiness or swelling.

The journal of pharmacognosy and phytochemistry advise that you use either black or green tea bags since they have tannins which play the role of astringents.

  1. Into a cup of boiling water, add a tea bag. Leave it for a few minutes then allow it to cool.
  2. For approximately 15 minutes, hold the tea bag against the itchy skin.
  3. For faster relief of the symptoms, repeat the procedure two to three times.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV)

Raw but diluted apple cider vinegar has been found to be an anti-itch remedy. ACV contains acetic acid. When applied on the skin, this acid lowers the pH levels of your skin and as such reliefs you of the itchiness.

This acid also kills any bacteria and germs that come into contact with your skin and are likely to worsen the itchiness by causing infections.

In summary, ACV not only relieves you of itchiness but also prevents possibility of bacterial infections.

  1. Make a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar in a ratio of 1:1.
  2. Apply this solution on the parts of your skin which have been bitten by the bed bugs.
  3. Leave the skin to dry then later rinse it with warm water.
  4. You are advised to repeat this procedure two to three times a day.

Where you cannot access apple cider vinegar, you can use lemon juice in its place. Like ACV, lemon juice is acidic and will equally relief you of the skin itchiness.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is praised in the skin pharmacology and physiology journal as being better than hydrocortisone gel in relieving skin irritation.

Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory properties. It nourishes the skin and stops the itching. You can either use fresh juice squeezed from Aloe vera plant or an aloe vera gel containing other ingredients.

  1. Massage the aloe vera gel gently on the areas with bed bug bites.
  2. Allow the gel to dry up so that it makes full effect in relieving you of the itchiness
  3. You may or may not rinse it off.
  4. To make the healing process faster, repeat the procedure several times in a day.


Oatmeal is another powerful natural remedy which comes to your rescue when you are bitten by bed bugs.

Oatmeal has healing properties and hence relieves your skin from itchiness, inflammation and any other form of irritation.

You can either make a paste using oatmeal or simply add it to your bath to enjoy its anti-inflammatory properties.

A study in 2005 revealed that oatmeal has antioxidant properties in addition to anti-inflammatory properties.

These properties explain why it reduces both mild and moderate itching on your skin after a bed bug bites you. You can use oatmeal alone or mix it with yoghurt for more fulfilling results. This is as discussed below.

  1. Make a paste using oatmeal and plain yoghurt
  2. Apply the paste on your skin that has the bed bug bites.
  3. To allow for soothing of the skin, leave the paste for twenty minutes.
  4. For long lasting relief from bed bugs, repeat the procedure twice a day.[1]

Witch hazel

This is another natural astringent which will quickly relief you of the itchiness and inflammation caused by bed bug bites.

Like the green and black tea, witch hazel has tannins as well. As stated in thejournal of inflammation, witch hazel has both antioxidant and antiseptic properties. It reduces the irritation after bed bug bites.

  1. Take a fresh cotton ball and dip it into witch hazel. It is best when pure.
  2. Hold the cotton ball against the irritated skin.
  3. Let it remain in contact with your skin for about ten minutes. This allows the astringents to work and hence reduce the itching and inflammation.
  4. To speed up the healing process, you are advised to use the witch hazel twice a day.

Baking soda

Baking soda has soothing effects. Dr. David Derrer on WebMD explains that baking soda has anti-inflammatory properties and hence it soothes itchiness, swellings and redness caused by bed bug bites. Baking soda the bump size as well.

  1. Make a thick paste using baking soda and water.
  2. Apply this paste on the area of your skin where you have been bitten.
  3. For effective reduction of the itchiness and inflammation, leave the paste for fifteen minutes on your skin.
  4. Rinse your skin with warm water. Repeat the procedure two times a day.


Honey has strong antibiotic properties. It the best in the cases where your bug bites have been attacked by bacterial infections.

Honey has soothing effect and will hence calm skin itchiness consequently preventing the likelihood of scratching. As stated by Mayo clinic doctors, honey is an excellent topical anti-itch treatment.

  1. Apply a small amount of honey, preferably Manuka honey, on the irritated skin.
  2. To help relieve your skin from itching and inflammation, massage the honey gently on the affected skin.

Bed bug bites: What you need to know

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Most people who are bitten by bed bugs experience symptoms that include irritation, sores, or itchiness. But how should bed bug bites be treated and can they be prevented?

There are several ways of reducing the chances of getting bites, while the treatment options include good hygiene and antihistamines.

This article explores bed bug bite treatment and prevention methods in detail.

Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood.

While they are a public health concern, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease through their bites.

Bed bugs use a small tube-like structure called a proboscis to pierce the skin and drink a person’s blood. The pests are most active when humans are asleep, during the night and early morning.

An estimated one in five Americans have personally dealt with a bed bug infestation or knows someone who has encountered the pests.

Bed bugs can bite anywhere on the body where there is skin. Typically, bites tend to occur on areas exposed during sleeping, such as:

Many people do not feel the bite itself or develop clear symptoms other than the dots where the bug bit and some minor, surrounding inflammation and irritation. Others are considered hypersensitive to bites and develop more severe symptoms.

In most cases symptoms occur more or less immediately after the bite, but they can develop or progress over the following days as well. Without further irritation, symptoms typically resolve after a week or so.

Almost all bed bug bites will produce some degree of discomfort, typically itchiness and inflammation. Other signs and symptoms of bed bug bites include:

  • a burning painful sensation
  • a raised itchy bump with a clear center
  • a red itchy bump with a dark center and lighter swollen surrounding area
  • small red bumps or welts in a zigzag pattern or a line
  • small red bumps surrounded by blisters or hives
  • papular eruptions or areas of skin with raised or flat patches that may be inflamed
  • small spots of blood from bites often dried or stained onto sheets or bed clothing
  • reddish or reddish-brown dried stains on fabrics due to bed bug droppings
  • white or clear skins, shed by the nymphs as they mature

Individual characteristics of the bug’s bite and the person who is bitten also influence the resulting sore.

While fairly rare, some people have or develop severe reactions and symptoms from bed bug bites. Serious symptoms that require medical attention include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • blisters
  • fever
  • feeling nauseous or flu-like
  • swollen tongue
  • irregular heartbeat

Living with bed bugs can cause additional health complications:

  • Increased likelihood of infection: Due to the skin’s surface being compromised.
  • Sleep deprivation: The idea of being fed on can be extremely stressful. Given that the bugs only feed at night, some people will avoid sleep or will only get fitful or restless sleep.
  • Decreased wellbeing: A continual lack of sleep has been linked to feelings of depression, anxiety, general fatigue, and lowered immune function. The misconceptions surrounding bed bugs, especially the mistaken association with lack of cleanliness, can add to feelings of depression and low self-esteem.

There are relatively few treatments options when it comes to uncomplicated bed bug bites.

The first recommended line of treatment involves cleaning the wound, ideally with soap and water.

For itchy bites, the following may relieve minor symptoms:

  • over-the-counter hydrocortisone, which can be purchased online.
  • anti-itch creams
  • antihistamines

Most wounds heal on their own within a week, sometimes two.

If severe swelling, inflammation, or itchiness occurs or persists, a person should seek medical attention.

A dramatic immune response may be a sign of an allergic reaction. If this is the case, one of the following may need to be administered:

  • an injectable corticosteroid
  • antihistamine
  • epinephrine medication

If infection occurs, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Severe itchiness may result in further complications, such as infection or scarring. If severe itching is experienced, people may be prescribed corticosteroid creams and antihistamine pills or liquid.

One way to help prevent exposure and potential infestations by bed bugs is to be able to recognize bed bugs and distinguish them from other pests.

In a 2017 study, some 35 percent of polled American business travellers and 28 percent of leisure travellers were unable to tell a bed bug apart from other household pests.

Common characteristics of nymphs (young bed bugs) include:

  • being less than than 5 mm in length
  • whitish-yellow and or clear-colored
  • invisible without a microscope or magnifying glass

The nymphs are easier to see if they have just feed when the blood fills their abdomen, giving it a reddish brown color.

Adult bed bugs are typically far easier to spot than nymphs. Identifiable characteristics of most adult bed bugs include:

  • an oval-shaped body
  • apple seed in size
  • a body that is fairly flat unless recently fed and inflated
  • reddish-brown to light-brown or tan color of shell, depending on how recently it fed
  • a length of 5-7 millimeters (mm)
  • three segments, an antenna with four parts, short yellow hairs, and unusable wings
  • a musty or stale-sweet scent released by glands on the underbelly

Controlling bed bugs needs the identification and complete removal or destruction of the pest’s eggs.

On average, one female can produce at least 345 eggs over her lifetime. Egg-laying females often increase the volume and frequency of feeding to support their brood.

Common characteristics and signs of bed bug eggs include:

  • they are often laid in the same places where the female choses to rest
  • they resemble tiny barrel-shaped, pearl-colored specks, no bigger than the head of a pin
  • they develop a noticeable eye spot after a few days

The key to preventing bed bug bites is to stop the insects entering, feeding, and breeding in human environments.

In the daytime, bed bugs often seek refuge in the cracks and crevices of furniture, flooring, walls, and mattresses.

The seams and folds of upholstered furniture can also offer an ideal hiding place. Bed bugs have been known to persist in vacuum canisters or units.

The insects tend to pick hiding spots near human sleeping quarters, including bedrooms. Bed bugs found in other rooms are usually a sign of a severe infestation.

Areas where bed bug infestations commonly occur include:

  • apartment or condominium buildings
  • large office spaces
  • hotels
  • vacation rentals
  • cruise ships
  • daycares
  • nursing homes
  • hospitals
  • college dormitories or housing units
  • public transportation, including airplanes
  • shopping malls
  • furniture or second hand stores
  • urban areas
  • rented homes

Items commonly responsible for spreading bed bugs include:

  • used or secondhand furniture
  • new furniture or textiles exposed to bed bugs during transit
  • items of luggage
  • chairs or loungers where people fall asleep
  • bedding or bed clothes
  • moving or storage boxes
  • shipped items, especially if held at several locations or warehouses

Bed bugs do not have a preference between sanitary, messy, or unsanitary conditions.

They can, however, be found at higher rates in places, such as hotels, if infestations are not properly cleared.

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