How Can You Tell If You Have Bed Bug Bites

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Bed Bugs

How to Find Bed Bugs

If you have a bed bug infestation, it is best to find it early, before the infestation becomes established or spreads. Treating a minor infestation, while an inconvenience, is far less costly and easier than treating the same infestation after it becomes more widespread.

However, low-level infestations are also much more challenging to find and correctly identify. Other insects, such as carpet beetles, can be easily mistaken for bed bugs. If you misidentify a bed bug infestation, it gives the bugs more time to spread to other areas of the house or hitchhike a ride to someone else’s house to start a new infestation. Learn about identifying bed bugs.

Bites on the skin are a poor indicator of a bed bug infestation. Bed bug bites can look like bites from other insects (such as mosquitoes or chiggers), rashes (such as eczema or fungal infections), or even hives. Some people do not react to bed bug bites at all.

Looking for Signs of Bed Bugs

A more accurate way to identify a possible infestation is to look for physical signs of bed bugs. When cleaning, changing bedding, or staying away from home, look for:

  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.
  • Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.
  • Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
  • Live bed bugs.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard.

If the room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs:

  • In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains.
  • In drawer joints.
  • In electrical receptacles and appliances.
  • Under loose wall paper and wall hangings.
  • At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet.
  • Even in the head of a screw.

Bed Bug Bites and Pictures: How Can You Tell A Bed Bug Has Bitten You

It seems that that bed bug bites have become even more common in recent months than news reports last year predicted. There’s no doubt that these little menaces are taking over entire regions, especially in large cities but the question is why. Bed bug bites have been unheard of at most doctor’s offices and clinics since the 1950s for the most part unless you live in a developing country. Why the sudden boom?

The basic reason is simply the fact that we’ve overlooked them and they became a cute little thing we said to our children at night. “Don’t let the bed bugs bite”. We’ve all heard this and for the most part it was harmless. Today, it’s actually something to worry about and it’s time to startgetting rid of bed bugseverywhere.

A large factor in their return is actually a combination between overlooking them for years, a decline in the economy and booming tourism in many cities. People may come visit from places that do have bedbugs and all it takes is a couple stowaways in a piece of luggage and one room in a hotel becomes infested. From there, they creep around the whole building, and then new visitors take them to other areas and so on.

Identifying Bed Bugs

What’s that little bite on your arm? Flea? Mosquito? It could very well be a bed bug bite and you might not even know it, especially if you’ve done a bit of traveling lately. Unless you specifically look for signs of these little creatures, you’ll probably just write that bump off. Bed bugs are basically oval shaped and can be a shade of yellow, red, brown or a mix of them. They almost look like baby cockroaches. They are mostly active at night so it’s easy to miss them.

A good way to find out whether or not you have them isn’t to look for live ones but instead focus CSI style on evidence. Run a flashlight over your sheet when your ready to change your bedding and look for tiny brown specks (feces), translucent exoskeletons from growing, tiny blood spots, and maybe you’ll see a little critter or two tucked in a fold. Getting down to eye level with your bed can help spot anything uneven as well. Once you know you have them, you can start to take action.

Identifying Bed Bug Bites

Extreme Example Of Bed Bug Bites

This is actually extremely hard to do so using the technique above to search your bed (or couch, futon, etc..) is the best way to confirm it’s bed bugs. The bites will look very similar to a random spider or mosquito bite. It will be a small raised red bump, a red blotchy area or small rash in most cases. This is why it’s often overlooked. Many of us wake up with a tiny unknown “bug bite” here and there and think nothing of it. Bed bugs often bite in a line pattern. Here are some pictures of various bites to help you out.

Treating Bed Bug Bites

Like any bite, these can vary greatly depending on how many bites you have and your body’s reaction to them. In severe cases, this can be life-threatening and you will have to go to the ER. For most of us, it will be an irritating bump or rash. To help ease the pain and itchiness, you can use anything from aloe vera to Campo-Phenique to a Benadryl type cream. Whatever you prefer for other itchy bites should work well here. Some Tylenol or anti-inflammatory tablet or cream can also help if you feel you need it. Everyone has a particular remedy so use what you’re familiar with and comfortable with. Some people swear by tooth pain creams in addition to an allergy cream. Treating bites shouldn’t be something you need to do all the time so get rid of these pests quickly.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

As with any little critter that moves into your home, there are some steps you need to take to get rid of them successfully and permanently. Bed bugs are a little challenging as they are resistant to many types of bug spray you can buy on the shelf. That can of super powered roach killer smells and looks like it should wipe out anything with six legs but this isn’t always the case. Those sprays are formulated to work specifically on the insect on the can usually. Spider spray might just make cockroaches angry for instance. To truly tackle this problem your best options are:

Identification– Make sure this is actually the problem and you don’t have a spider nest hiding in your wall or floorboards. The bites can be similar and the method to get rid of them is very different. Triple check to make sure or call in a professional.

Cleaning– Insects don’t like clean areas much. Use a mild bleach mixture to clean your linoleum and tile and vacuum your entire house multiple times using a bug repellant carpet powder if available. Multiple times per day for a week or so is a great idea. Wash all your bedding, drapes, couch cushions and clothes near your floor in hot water. Dry them for an extended time on HOT settings.

Elimination– This is the most important step of course. Get rid of them for good. You might be able to combine this with cleaning if you only have a few but keep in mind, where a couple are, more may be hiding. Large infestations will absolutely need the help of a professional exterminator.

Repellants– Consider an all-natural repellant device or two. These are often very cheap and double as air fresheners. You slide them under your mattress or couch or in areas you think critters may hide. These work for multiple insect types making them very versatile.

How to Know if You Have Bed Bug Bites

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs are a traveler’s nightmare. They can be picked up in hotel rooms, leaving red itchy bumps and possibly rashes to ruin your vacation. Or even worse: If you accidentally bring them back with you, they could infect your whole house. To prevent a plague of bed bugs, here are some tips ​on what to check while you’re on the road and how to determine the symptoms of bed bug bites.​

How to Check for Bed Bugs

To avoid getting bed bugs while traveling, make sure to inspect the mattress and sheets on the hotel beds, especially near the seams, mattress tags, and box spring. If you see any rust​ stains, dark spots, or pale yellow patches, this could be a sign of bed bugs. Also, never put your suitcase on the bed itself or you could bring them home after your vacation. Most hotels provide a luggage rack, which is much wiser to use.

Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites typically appear in groups of three, called the "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" pattern. Each victim’s reaction to bed bug bites is unique. Some may have a slight reddening of the skin. Others may have a more severe reaction, causing a raised, itchy rash. A raised rash may obscure the individual bites, making it challenging to identify. Sometimes, bites and lesions can throb and become very painful for days after the bugs bit you.

What to Do if You Bring Bed Bugs Home

As a precaution, you can steam, vacuum, and spray rubbing alcohol all over your mattress and box springs. It’s also recommended to steam, wash, and dry all the bed linens using hot water and bleach. To clean out your suitcase, spray rubbing alcohol over the luggage, both inside and out. Then, finish the job by vacuumed your bedroom thoroughly.

If you believe that you found traces of bed bugs, immediately cover the mattresses and box springs with plastic mattress covers. In worst case scenarios, you’ll need to hire an exterminator to come inspect your home.

When to Go to the Doctor

If you got bit by bed bugs, use ice packs to relieve the swelling and itchiness. Go to the doctor if symptoms persist. They will usually prescribe you a dose of antihistamines and antibiotics. Additionally, they may instruct you to bathe multiple times a day and apply a special cream to the rash.

How to Tell If You Have Bed Bugs

Where to check for bed bugs and how to spot signs of infestation

Knowing the type of pest problem, you have can help you clear an infestation more quickly. Since bed bugs are tiny, only about the size of an apple seed, and leave bite marks that can easily be mistaken for other insects, such as mosquitoes or spiders, you need to know where to look for these insects and how to tell them apart from other pests. Learn how to tell if you indeed have bed bugs.

Where to Look for Bed Bugs

Bed bugs love to make their home in cracks and crevices. When you are looking for an infestation, you must, therefore, examine every inch of the object so that you do not miss them. When examining any of these pieces, you should also look underneath the piece.

Search for bed bugs in any holes that may exist in the piece. Check-in any seams or other folds. You can use a credit card and glide it along seams to help unearth the presence of bed bugs or bed bug casings.

Check for Signs of Bed Bugs In:

  • Mattresses
  • Box Springs
  • Headboards
  • Sofas
  • Chairs

Inspect areas within 10 to 20 feet of mattresses, sofas, and chairs- including furniture, curtains, electrical outlets, picture frames, clusters of objects, door and window casings, moldings, wall cracks, as well as cracks in the flooring. You can extend this search from 20 feet to your entire home if you are concerned you may have a serious infestation.

When to Look for Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are most active at night, and in particular, about an hour before the sun rises. If you are looking for a live bed bug, this is the time you are most likely to see them.

5 Ways to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs

Although they are small in size, bed bugs do leave behind some distinct signs that they have made a home in your property. Some of these signs are more obvious than others, but they are all helpful in identifying the little pests. You should look for these signs in your actual property and on your actual person.

Live Bed Bugs

The most obvious sign that you have a problem is spotting an actual bed bug. These insects are not very large. Their eggs measure less than 0.1 inches, and full-size bed bugs come in at under 0.2 inches.

They have six legs and are oval in shape and rather flat unless they have just eaten, in which case they will become engorged. They range in color from a deep reddish to a brown.

Bed Bug Casings

Another sign that you have a bed bug problem is that you discover bed bug casings. These are the shells that the bed bugs shed when they are going through their life cycle, from nymph to adult.

Bed bugs go through five life cycles and will shed their casing at the end of each cycle. The casing will be reddish or brown in color, will be hollow and the size will vary based on the age of the bed bug. The larger the size, the older the bed bug.

Bed Bug Droppings

The third sign of a bed bug infestation is seeing bed bug droppings. Bed bug droppings will look like little black pen marks. The bed bugs will release these droppings after feeding. They are easiest to see on cloth, such as on bedding or mattresses.

Reddish/Brown Stains

Another sign you may notice, are reddish or brown stains on the fabric. It is dried blood where the bed bugs have been crushed.

Bed Bug Bites

A final way you can tell if you have bed bugs is, you have bites. It can be difficult because bed bug bites resemble bites of other insects, such as mosquitoes and spiders. Also, some people have no reaction when they are bitten by a bed bug, or it looks more like a rash than a bite.

A typical bed bug bite will appear as an itchy red welt on your body. These bites will often occur on your upper body, usually on your arms and shoulders. The bites are often in a straight line.

You Can Have Bed Bugs And Not Know It—Here’s What To Look Out For

It’s no secret that bed bugs are seriously freaky creatures. After all, they like to live in your bed and feed on your bloodwhile you’re sleeping. Now, scientists at Rutgers University are trying to determine where bed bug outbreaks happen, and how to prevent and control them.

In a new study published in theJournal of Medical Entomology, Rutgers researchers examined more than 2,000 low-income apartments in New Jersey for the presence of bed bugs. What they discovered: 12 percent of apartments had bed bug infestations.

Researchers also found that beds were “significantly” more likely to contain bed bugs than sofas or upholstered chairs, and women were more likely to report bed bug bite symptoms than men (although they didn’t specify whether women had worse reactions or were simply more sensitive to the bites).

And, perhaps the most disturbing finding: While 68 percent of people with bed bug infestations had symptoms, nearly 50 percent of the bed bug infestations happened in apartments where residents didn’t know they had the critters.

So, how are you supposed to know if you have bed bugs or just some skin condition? Experts say there are a few telling signs.

One of the most common symptoms is waking up with bites or finding bites on your body that you can’t explain, bed bug expert Jeffrey White, technical director for BedBug Central, tells SELF. But there’s a caveat: Everyone reacts differently to being bitten by a bed bug. “For some people, it can take up to two weeks for them to react,” White says.

The bites themselves don’t look unique to bed bugs, White says, but they do tend to show up on the arms, shoulders, neck, and face—all of which are exposed while you’re sleeping, and therefore easier to reach. Bites that show up in rows or clusters are also concerning, he says.

If you suspect that you have bed bugs, it’s time to look for them. Michael Potter, Ph.D., a professor of entomology at University of Kentucky, tells SELF that it’s a good idea to inspect your mattress and box spring, paying special attention to the area near the headboard. “Look in the seams—bed bugs love edges—and folds,” he says. If you have a box spring, flip your mattress off and look at the top part, all the way around the edge. (Adult bed bugs will be about the size of a tick, Potter says, while babies can be the size of a speck of dust.)

Found some? Experts agree that it’s a good idea to call in a professional to help, if you can afford it. But, you don’t have to twiddle your thumbs while you wait. “Any professional that tells you not to touch anything until they get there is setting an unrealistic expectation,” White says.

There are a few things you can do while waiting for help to arrive, Ron Harrison, Ph.D., an entomologist with Orkin, tells SELF. The first is to reduce clutter around your bed. “Clutter means there are hiding places for bed bugs,” he says. But, he notes, it’s important to bag clutter in your bedroom and throw it away outside your house so you don’t accidentally scatter bed bugs around your place.

You can also purchase a mattress encasement, i.e. a cover that goes over your mattress and box spring, to contain the bed bugs, Harrison says.

Potter recommends purchasing bed bug monitors. While they’re designed to help you figure out if you have bed bugs, they can be placed under your bed and catch the critters, reducing the number of bites you’ll get.

Contrary to what you may have heard, you don’t need to throw all of your stuff away. White says putting your bedding (and clothes, if you suspect they’re infested) through a hot/dry cycle in your dryer will kill off bed bugs that may be living there.

And finally, you can use a vacuum to suck some of them up. “They can live in the bag or filter, so dispose of both in an outdoor trash can afterward,” says White.

While freaky, experts say it’s completely possible to get rid of a bed bug infestation.

“If you don’t allow it to get out of control, solving bedbugs is fairly straightforward,” White says. “It’s nothing to lose your mind over.”

Photo Credit: Matto Mechekour / Getty Images

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