How Can You Tell If 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.

Bed Bugs FAQs

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

  • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
  • rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
  • a sweet musty odor.

How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

How did I get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.

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.

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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."

Bed bug bites: How to spot if your bites are from bed bugs

BED BUG bites are itchy and irritating, and look and feel similar to other insect bites. So how do you know if bites are from bed bugs or other critters? Here’s how you can spot a bed bug infestation and determine the cause of your bites.

Bed bugs are small blood-sucking insects that live in cracks and crevices in and around beds.

They crawl out at night and bite exposed skin to feed on blood.

Bed bugs don’t carry diseases, so their bites aren’t dangerous, but they can be extremely itchy and irritating.

If you’ve been bitten in your sleep, it could be a sign of a bed bug infestation in your home.

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Bedbugs tend to prefer fabric or wood over plastic and metal, and often hide near to where you sleep – for example, under the mattress or along the headboard

But how do you know if your bites are from bed bugs?

There are two main ways to determine whether bites are from bed bugs or not.

The first is to examine the bites themselves, and the second is to examine your bed.

Bites

Bed bug bites cause itchy red bumps on the skin. The most obvious way to distinguish between bed bug bites and bites from other insects is to to look at the pattern and area of the bites.

Bed bugs usually bite exposed areas of skin, such as the face, neck, hands, arms or feet.

Bed bug bites are itchy and irritating (Image: Getty Images)

If your bites are only on exposed areas, it could mean bed bugs are the culprits.

In addition, as bed bugs are crawling insects, they usually bite in lines across the skin, or in clusters.

Flying insects, such as mosquitos, are more like to bite in random places on the body, which don’t form any particular pattern.

Bed

If you notice bites like this, the next step is to check your bed for any evidence of bed bugs.

As bed bugs only come out at night and are very small, it might be difficult for you to spot the bugs themselves.

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

Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices on and around beds (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

However, they can leave evidence of their presence in the form of tiny brown or black spots on the mattress or bed sheets. This is their dried poo.

Similarly, blood spots may appear on the bed sheets if you have rolled over and squashed a bug in your sleep, after it has fed.

Bed bugs also shed their skin as they grow, so you may notice remains of their shells on the sheets or mattress.

“Bedbugs tend to prefer fabric or wood over plastic and metal, and often hide near to where you sleep – for example, under the mattress or along the headboard,” said the NHS.

If you think you may have a bed bug infestation in your home, you should seek professional help from your local council or pest control firm.

Do You Have Bed Bugs? Know the Symptoms to Stay Safe

B ed bugs are the stuff of nightmares for a lot of renters and homeowners. Once you get them in your space, getting rid of them can be nearly impossible. Even professional treatment doesn’t take care of bed bugs the first time in some cases.

While you want to do everything you can to prevent getting bed bugs in the first place, knowing the signs and symptoms of bed bug bites and how to get rid of bed bug bites is important. Use this guide to learn more about spotting bed bugs and their bite.

Being aware of bed bug bite symptoms can help you get rid of them before they become a serious problem in your home.

Table of Contents

How to Tell if You Have Bites

Bed bugs tend to spread in certain areas like an outbreak or epidemic. However, even areas that aren’t known for bedbugs can still get them. Once they’re in your home they can be incredibly hard to get rid of.

Watch for these signs to see if you have bedbugs in your home:

  • Check your sheets for anything moving. Bed bugs are small, but if you watch for a few minutes and you do have them you should see them moving around.
  • Look for rust-colored or reddish stains on your bed sheets or mattress. These can occur when bed bugs get crushed while you are sleeping.
  • Check for small dark spots about the size of a dot made by a ball point pen on your sheets or mattress. These are typically bed bug excrement.
  • Try to find tiny eggs or eggshells that are about 1mm in size. These shells are the sign of bed bugs that have just been born or are waiting to be born.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Where to Look for Bed Bugs

Knowing what to look for when searching for bed bugs in your home is an important first step. You also need to know where they typically hide and can be found within your home if you want to stomp them out though.

Check for bed bugs around your home in these locations:

  • Under loose wallpaper, pieces of art or behind tapestries in your home.
  • Under the corners of rugs, particularly in your bedroom or bathroom area.
  • Where your walls and ceiling meet overhead. These junctions are common places for bedbugs to nest and hide for long periods of time.
  • In cushions, the seams of couches and loose fabric on chairs or other upholstered items. Bed bugs can even hide under throw blankets tossed on a bed, chair or couch if it isn’t routinely moved.
  • In the joints of drawers. Nightstands, dressers, closets and bathrooms are especially susceptible to bed bugs, though they can hide in areas like kitchen drawers as well.
  • In electrical receptacles around your home. Bed bug can also hide out in appliances within your home.

Bite Marks

Bedbugs bite humans and animals around them to feed on their blood. Like mosquitoes and other creatures of this type, they’re attracted to the skin for this reason.

Bite marks tend to look like small red bumps, not dissimilar to the bite of a mosquito. The area that forms is generally referred to as a papule and it can become inflamed and infected if you aren’t careful.

This is what bed bug bites can look like

Bites on My Skin

Bed bug bites on humans are typically found around the hands, arms, shoulders, neck and face. You’ll usually find that bed bug bites are grouped together as well since these small creatures don’t typically cover much ground at once. This is not always the case however, and bites do not have to come in clear clusters or groupings.

While these bugs are small, you will see their bite since inflammation of the bite area, along with redness and swelling are common. Bed bug bites on toddlers and small children are even easier to notice. They should be treated immediately to keep small kids from scratching and potentially spreading an infection.

Do Bites Itch or Hurt?

The bites typically cause minor discomfort to humans, though many people are bitten when they are asleep because these bugs commonly live within sheets and bedding.

After being bitten by bed bugs, humans are likely to experience a variety of symptoms:

  1. Burning at the bite site. Many people notice a little bit of discomfort and an initial burning sensation when bitten by bed bugs.
  2. Itching around the area where person was bitten. This is common, though scratching is not ideal since it can spread infection. The problem can be even worse if you’ve got a large bed bug infestation and a large wound area.
  3. Redness and swelling. For some people, being bitten by bed bugs can cause a reaction that’s a bit like an allergy. Anti-inflammation medication can help control swelling if it appears after being bitten by bed bugs.

Can the Bites Make Me Sick?

Bed bug bites typically do not make people sick if they take care of them properly. When a person does not clean the bite area regularly, or they scratch the skin and spread infection, there can be health problems associated with being bitten by bed bugs.

Like other small bugs that survive on blood, there’s also the chance that infection can be spread when a bed bug bites more than one person. The risk of getting a serious infection this way is not high, but it can happen, particularly in places like hotels.

In general, bites that are taken care of properly will not pose much risk to humans.

Take care of bed bug bites by:

  • Washing the bite area regularly. You need to keep bite sites clean, though they do not have to be covered with bandages or anything else.
  • Reduce inflammation with a cool compress or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Do not scratch the bite site even if it is itching. Use a cool compress, calamine lotion or colloidal oatmeal to reduce the feeling of itching.

It is also important that you quickly wash sheets and bedding around your home to minimize your exposure to bed bugs if you think you have been bitten. Many people don’t do this fast enough to stop the spread of bugs.

Unfortunately, bed bugs can lay up to 500 eggs in their relatively short lifespan, all of which could be in your home!

How Can I Know if a Bed Bug Bit Me?

The easiest way to tell if a bed bug has bitten you is to look for small, dot-like bite marks on your skin. These tend to get red a few hours after you are bitten and they can swell up like mosquito bites.

Bed bug bites typically form in clusters as well, which can differentiate them from flea bites and mosquito bites. If you haven’t been outside, it’s the wrong season for mosquitoes or you don’t have pets, bed bugs are also a much more likely choice for what has bitten you.

How Do You Know If Bedbugs Are Present?

It’s also important to remember that bed bug bites typically cause a small, yet sharp pain at the time of the attack. If you’re awake when bitten by bed bugs you should immediately stop and look for them, related eggshells and eggs in the area.

Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites

Bed bug bites typically occur in a straight, cluster-like line, which can help differentiate them from flea bites. You’ll usually find three or four bed bug bites in a row, though this isn’t always the case.

Flea bites are also more likely to cause swelling faster than bed bug bites. If you notice swelling after an hour or less, or the bite is more like an open sore or blister after a day or two, you probably have flea bites instead of bed bug bites.

Are They Bed Bugs Bites or Flea Bites?

Bed Bug Bites vs Mosquito Bites

Mosquito bites are felt immediately and show a swollen area within minutes when most people are bitten. This is not always the case with bed bug bites since many people have only a very mild reaction to them. For these people, bites will look more like a reddish dot on the skin than a large, swollen bite.

Mosquito bites also itch immediately while it takes some time for bed bug bites to begin itching in most cases.

Bed bugs can be incredibly annoying for renters and homeowners since they’re so small that finding them is often difficult. Their bites can also cause a great deal of irritation and discomfort. Worst of all, they breed at an alarming rate, and if you have a few in your home now, you could have an infestation soon if it’s not caught quickly.

The good news is that bed bug bites generally don’t cause much harm to children, adults or even pets. They can create some discomfort, itching and swelling with their bite, but the spread of infection is rare if bites are dealt with properly.

Use the tips above to find beg bugs quickly and get them out of your home. The longer you let them live in your home or bed, the more likely you are to face a serious infestation down the line.

You can find further details of Bed Bugs Control here.

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