How Bed Bugs Bite You

Bed bug bites: Have you been bitten? Five signs to look for and how to get rid of them

BED bugs bites can cause great irritation, but unless you spot an infestation and get rid of them, the problem will keep occurring. Because bed bugs are difficult to spot, the best way to identify you have a problem is by looking at your bites. There are five signs to look for.

Bed bug bites are small insects that live in the cracks and crevices in and around beds.

They can be difficult to spot for a number of reasons – one being that they crawl out at night and bite exposed skin.

Bed bugs are also very small, with adult bedbugs only growing up to 5mm long – a similar size to an apple seed.

One of the best indicators you have bed bugs is to distinguish the bites. The NHS lists five signs that show you’ve been bitten.

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Bed bug bites are small insects that live in the cracks and crevices in and around beds

The first, is the bites can cause itchy red bumps not he skin.

Secondly, they usually occur on exposed areas such as the face, neck, hands or arms.

Thirdly, they often occur in lines across the skin.

The fourth sign is they may cause a rash or fluid-filled blisters in more severe cases.

Finally, bed bug bites can become infected with bacteria if scratched. Signs of infection when this happens include pain, increasing redness and swelling.

The health body adds: “The bites usually fade in a few days. If they’re very itchy, you can buy a mild steroid cream (such as hydrocortisone) or antihistamine tablets to relieve the itch.

Bed bug bites: How do you know if you’ve been bitten? (Image: GETTY)

“See your GP if you develop signs of a skin infection, including pain, redness and swelling, as you may need antibiotics.”

You can try and spot the presence of bed bugs in your bed. You may be able to spot the small bugs or tiny white eggs. A bright torch can help with this.

Tiny black spots on your mattress may also be apparent – this could be their dried poo – or you may spot blood spots on your sheets if a bug has been squashed after it’s fed.

An unpleasant, musty smell in your bedroom can also indicate an infestation.

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Bed bug bites: Also look out for tiny white eggs on your mattress (Image: GETTY)

Bed bugs: How to spot them and how to get rid of them

Bed bugs: What are bed bugs? How to spot an infestation and how to get rid of them.

Bed bugs: How to spot them and how to get rid of them

First, wash infested clothes or bed linen at 60C or put them in a dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes.

Next, use a vacuum cleaner with a hose to suck up any bugs you can see. Proceed to dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner in a sealed bag.

Consider throwing away any mattress or furniture that’s heavily infested.

Use plastic mattress covers that encase the entire mattress – this will stop any bed bugs getting in or out.

If you’re looking to prevent bed bug infestations, make sure to inspect your mattress and bed regularly for signs of an infestation and get professional advice if you think you have bed bugs.

Avoid buying second-hand mattresses and carefully inspect second-hand furniture before bringing it in your home.

Finally, keep your bedroom tidy and remove clutter.

Horsefly bites have also been common this year. The bites are painful and itchy, but there are five other signs you may have been bitten.

How to Tell if You’ve Been Bitten by a Bed Bug

Bed bug bites usually appear as small red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters. Learn more about beg bugs and how to tell if you’ve been bitten.

Bed bugs are a notoriously sneaky nuisance. An infestation can happen to anyone, and it may take days before you even realize these pests have set up camp in your home. Here are some signs to tell if bed bugs have been using you as their midnight snack:

Are bed bug bites visible?

Like bed bugs themselves, their bites can be tricky to identify. Initially, the bites are completely painless, and it could take days to develop any reaction on the skin. Some people will have no physical reaction at all to bed bug bites. If no marks develop on the skin but you still suspect you may have an infestation, then the tiny blood stains the bugs leave behind on the bed after feeding could be the only sign you’ve been bitten. Be sure to take steps to check your room thoroughly.

What do bed bug bites look like?

When bites do show, they will most likely appear as small red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters. These bites can also be mistaken for the bites of other insects, like mosquitoes. Unlike flea bites, which are primarily around the ankles, bed bug bites can appear on any part of your exposed body. You will often find similar telltale signs in bed bug bites. The bites will cause localized itching, which in some cases can be severe. Over time, people may become increasingly sensitive to bed bug bites, so the red welts and itching can grow in intensity the more often you are bitten.

What are Issues Associated With Bed Bugs?

If the infestation persists, bed bugs bites can also disrupt your sleep schedule and lead to insomnia and anxiety. Ifsigns of an allergic reactionoccur, such as hives or severe itching, medical attention may be needed.

Bed bugs do not attach themselves to their host. Instead, they feed in brief intervals and then go back into hiding. Therefore, bite marks and telltale stains are powerful clues in identifying the presence of bed bugs. Pictures of bed bug bites are helpful in this process.

Bedbugs

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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.

Continued

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.

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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.

Sources

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."

How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites

How to prevent bed bug bites. that’s front and center in the mind of anyone dealing with the irritating little critters. Here are three strategies that work – and a few important warnings. While you may not be able to get rid of bed bug bites all together, there are certainly things you can do to reduce how often these buggers make a meal of you.

How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites by the Numbers

No calculator needed. The math is really simple.

Fewer Bed Bugs = Fewer Bites

Reducing your bed bug infestation is the most obvious way to prevent bed bug bites, even if it’s not the easiest. The more bed bugs you can get rid of (or contain), the more you will prevent the bites. It’s simple math.

Use the IPM (Integrated pest management) techniques laid out in the bed bug control section of this site. Follow the plan laid out by your exterminator. Or if you are going the DIY route (not recommended unless you have no choice), create your best IPM action plan using our step-by-step tutorial. All of the suggestions below are only effective as part of a coordinated plan to eliminate the bed bug infestation in your home.

How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites by Protecting the Bed

Regardless of whether you are working with an exterminator or not,the single best thing you can do to prevent bed bug bites is to protect your bed.

Encase your mattress, pillows and box spring in a good quality mattress encasement that is designed for bed bugs.The encasements trap the bedbugs that are living there and prevents them from biting you.It also makes it easy to spot (and kill) the ones that show up from other hiding places. Obviously, that also helps you accomplish bed bug bite prevention tactic #1 above. Nice how that works, right?

Also, use bed bug detectors/traps like the climb-up interceptors to catch ‘em on the way up to the bed and on the way down. These won’t eliminate your bed bug infestation on their own, but they will help protect you from being bitten.

Prevent Bed Bug Bites by Covering Up and Getting Tucked in Tight

Bed bugs typically bite on exposed skin, so wear pajamas with long pants and long sleeves if at all possible.Even if its late July and the heat index is 100. Crank up the A/C if necessary! The middle of a full-fledged bed bug infestation isnotthe time to be sleeping in your skivvies, or worse yet, your birthday suit!

Sleep under the covers and tuck them in tight.(Maybe that’s where the old saying “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” came from?) Again, bed bugs have difficulty biting through fabric and are looking for exposed skin. So not giving them any skin to feast on is a solid strategy to prevent bed bug bites.

Note:This will really only work if you have properly protected the bed with mattress and box spring encasements.

Things That Will NOT Prevent Bed Bug Bites

Many people’s first instinct is to move to another room to avoid getting bitten.BAD IDEA.They will follow you and you will just spread the infestation to other parts of the house. Bed Bugs are attracted to the heat of our bodies and the carbon dioxide we exhale, so they can find you – and they will – no matter where you go to try to avoid them.

Some people also believe that leaving the light on at night will prevent them from coming out.Unfortunately, this is a myth. While they are nocturnal and prefer the cover of darkness, they are blood thirsty and they will go to extremes if necessary to get their next meal. So leaving the lights on won’t go a long way to prevent bed bug bites. See more bed bug control "DOs and DON’Ts" here.

A Few Words About Bed Bug Repellents

While it mayseemlike bed bug repellents are a logical way to prevent bed bug bites, in reality they do more harm than good.Repellents can be a bad idea for a number of reasons:

  1. Many repellents you spray on your skin are not intended to be applied to skin that will be covered or left on for long periods of time (Read the label!)
  2. You can’t wear bug repellent 24 hrs a day. They’ll just find you in the daytime in another part of the house (same logic as sleeping in another room applies here too)
  3. Repellents that you spray on the bed may not be safe for you to sleep on (again, always read the label first)

Some people have recommended using a number of essential oils as a natural bed bug repellents. They may be a safer option and may work at preventing bed bug bites in the short-term. But again, that’s not really going to solve your problem.

Notwithstanding the health and safety concerns, repellents are just going to drive bed bugs further into their hiding places – and they can live there for up to 18 months without a blood meal – so in reality, you are not really preventing bed bug bites. You are just prolonging your agony.

There’s also one reason why it would be a good idea to just go ahead and "let the bed bugs bite". Ormore accurately(if you’ve protected the bed correctly), let themtryto bite.

You Need to Bait Them to Get Rid of Them

What? Let the bedbugs try to bite me?!That’s right, and here’s the reason why.

If you want to get rid bed bugs, you’re going to have to draw them out and so they can meet their death on their way to you. Unfortunately, that meansyouare the bait. If you’re using residual spray insecticides or bed bug dust (DE) they have to come in contact with it for it to kill them.

The bottom line is this. in most cases you are going to have to endure at leastsomebites for at leasta little whileto effectively get rid of the bed bugs. The trick is to make it as few bites as possible, for little time as possible.

There’s no doubt about it – bed bug bites are a pain! So to ease your mind (and soothe your itch), here are some treatment tips for making your bed bug bites a little more bearable.

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Bed bugs: How to identify if your bites are from bed bugs

BED BUGS feed off human blood by biting the skin of their victims while they’re sleeping. But how do you know if your bites are from bed bugs or from other insects? Here’s how to tell.

Bed bugs are small insects that live in and around beds and furniture. They crawl out at night and bite exposed skin to feed of blood. Bed bugs are not dangerous and don’t carry diseases, but their bites can be itchy and irritating to live with. If you are getting bitten at night and don’t know why, how can you tell if your bites are from bed bugs or from other insects? Bed bug bites look similar to bites from other insects, in that they appear as itchy, red bumps on the skin.

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Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling

While this may make it seem difficult to distinguish between the potential culprits, there are a number of ways to detect where your bites are coming from.

Firstly, you may be able to tell if your bites are from bed bugs by looking at the pattern in which the bites appear on your skin.

Bites usually occur on exposed areas like the face, neck, hands or arms, and are less likely to occur under clothing.

As bed bugs are crawling insects, they typically bite in lines or clusters along the skin while they are crawling.

Flying insects like mosquitoes are more likely to bite in random places on the body while they are flying.

Bed bugs are crawling insects that bite exposed skin during the night (Image: Getty Images)

Secondly, you may be able to detect the source of the bites by checking for evidence of bed bugs in your bedroom.

Bed bugs are small, but are still visible to the human eye. Adults can grow up to 5mm long.

They usually hide away in cracks in the bed and surrounding furniture so you could try to find them by searching the mattress and bed frame, and shining a torch into the crevices of the furniture.

You may also be able to spot evidence of bed bugs by checking for markings on the bed sheets and mattress.

In homes with bed bugs infestations, the bed sheets and mattresses will often be covered in brown or black or red spots.

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Bed bugs live in beds and surrounding furniture (Image: Getty Images)

Bed bugs bite in clusters or lines along the skin (Image: Getty Images)

Bed bugs: How to spot them and how to get rid of them

Bed bugs: What are bed bugs? How to spot an infestation and how to get rid of them.

Bed bugs: How to spot them and how to get rid of them

The brown or black spots are dried poo from the bed bugs, while the red spots are blood stains which occur if you squash a bug while sleeping after it has fed.

Bed bugs shed their skin as they grow, so you might also notice mottled bed bug shells on and around the bed.

In addition, you may be able to detect the presence of bed bugs by the tiny white eggs they lay.

“Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper,” said the NHS.

“Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling.”

If you think you have a bed bug infestation in your home, you may need to call in pest control to get rid of them.

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