How Dangerous Are Bed Bug Bites

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.

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What Are the Dangers of Bed Bugs?

Until recent years, bed bugs were no longer considered much of a problem in the U.S. — and the saying "Don’t let the bed bugs bite" was just an old-fashioned phrase whose meaning was almost forgotten — but then bed bugs made a comeback.The bed bug, or Cimex lectularius, gets its nickname from the fact that it often makes its home in people’s beds. Although bed bugs bite and feed on human blood, according to research published in JAMA in 2009, they are not known transmit blood-borne diseases, including HIV or the hepatitis B virus. However, they do pose other dangers to people. If you suspect you have bed bugs, see your doctor for advice and treatment.

Allergic Reaction

The Michigan Department of Community Health notes that the physical manifestations of bed bug bites can vary widely 2.You may not even notice bed bug bites at all. If you do notice bites, you may dismiss them as mosquito bites because the localized redness and swelling may look much like that the mosquito leaves behind.However, if you are sensitive to insect bites of any kind, you may experience an allergic reaction to bed bug bites.This allergic reaction can be mild, only causing itching, skin reddening and irritation.More severe allergic reactions are possible and may require you to treat them with anti-itch ointments or oral corticosteroids and antihistamines.


Bedbug bites alone do not cause infection. However, if you are unable to avoid scratching the bites, infection may result. Scratching bedbug bites can cause openings or breaks in the skin. Bacteria can enter through these breaks and begin to multiply, leading to infection. Your doctor can prescribe creams to apply directly to the bites to prevent infection or advise you to use over-the-counter antiseptic ointments instead.

Respiratory Problems

If you or a member of your household suffers from respiratory problems, the presence of bedbugs can worsen these conditions. Bed bugs shed their outer skins, or casings, as they grow.These casings, along with the bed bugs’ feces, can dry out and become airborne.The Rhode Island Department of Health warns that breathing the cast-off material from bed bugs can aggravate asthma and other respiratory ailments 2.


A case study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2009 describes the case of a 60-year-old man who presented to his doctor with symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia 1. The patient had no physical causes of this anemia but upon examination of his home, the patient’s doctor found an infestation of thousands of bed bugs. Although most people with bed bug bites are unlikely to suffer anemia as a result, it could occur in extreme cases, especially if you have other risk factors for anemia.

Doctors Explain the Dangers of Bed Bugs and How to Identify Bed Bug Bites

Human beings have co-excited with bed bugs for a many millennia. The survival of these human parasites entirely relies on humans. They solely feed on blood as their primary source of nutrition. They feed on human blood, primarily.

Although these bloodsuckers have not yet shown any sign of transmitting diseases through their feeding, doctors pose a concern on other health risks associated with bedbug bites. They can cause both mild and severe health effects depending on how much your home is infested.

Most people are familiar with bedbugs’ bites. If you have seen the bite in a photo, you must have been scared or even thought they were like a series of skin rashes. If you have had the experience of sleeping in an infested bed, you can attest to the fact that the bites are itchy and frustrating. However, doctors confirm that the bites only rarely cause medical harm to your body. We share those possible effects, also.

Here are doctors’ explanations on how to identify the bite of this bloodsucking insect.

Doctors Explainthe Dangers of Bed BugsandHow to Identify Bed Bug Bites

Bedbug bites are often visible and easy to distinguish from other nocturnal bites. The blood-sucking bugs have elongated beaks to pierce your skin and suck blood. They inject you with an anesthetic, and you will not notice the three to ten minutes they spend sucking up your blood. Doctors recommend that you follow the following steps before you can conclude that pierce on your skin is a bedbug bite.

1 – Noticing A Bite That You Did Not Feel Before You Retired to Bed Could BeA Bed Bug Bite

The likelihood of you feeling a bite from this insect is minimal because once they pierce your skin, they hit you with an anesthetic. If you have no allergic reaction as they feed on your blood, you might be having this insect nibble on you without your knowledge.

They use their ability to go unnoticed to feed on you for as many times as possible.

2 – Presence of New Marks on Your Skin When You Wake Up

These insects mostly feed at night. They can stay in their hiding places and wait for the perfect time to feed. Doctors say that the nocturnal timing is also another sign to tell that a bite came from a bed bug.

3 – Presence of Clear or Dark Center Bites indicate a Bed Bug Bite

Commonly when you get a bug bite its easy to differentiate it a typical bug bite from a bedbug. The best way to do it is by examining the center of the bite. For the normal insect bite, you will see a visible hot red bite. The center for their bites is often red and swollen because of your reaction with the toxins from the bug.

On the other hand, the bite of this little blood sucker is unique. In most cases, it is has a clear center. The center may also be darker with bright red fading at the center. The center is always clear because this particular insect has a long beak for sucking your blood. The long beak prevents any reaction between your blood and that of the insect.

4 – Presence of Dried Blood Spots on Your Pajamas or Sheets Is an Indication of a Bed Bug Bite

Bedbugs often leave a large hole after piercing your skin with their big beaks. You should examine your body for bed bug bites if you wake up and find dried blood on your skin or pajamas. In most cases, you can also inspect your bed sheets for blood and physical presence of bedbugs.

5 – If the Bites Are in Line, it May Indicate the Presence of These Insects

Doctors say that you can identify bed bug bite by examining the pattern of their bites. They say that multiple bites that are in a zigzagged or straight line, then such are bed bug bites.

Multiple bites in a straight line are a clear sign of bed bug bites in most cases.

6 – The Presence of Multiple Bites Lines in Three Indicate an Issue

You should also seek help if you notice multiple bites that are often in threes. They refer this tendency as a bedbug triangle. They often move in groups of three and like leaving behind multiple groups of three swollen bites.

7 – Swollen Bites Indicate the Presence of Bed Bugs

Doctors believe that swollen bite may not be a common infestation sign because most people react differently. However, you will get constant irritations if you have swollen bites on your body. For those whose bodies don’t swell after a bed bug bite, you will notice flat red dots that depict typical bed bug bites.

Other people also check for a mosquito-like bite that is a little bite raise or swollen. Be keen to check how your family members react to bed bug bites to prevent life-threatening reactions. For instance, although rare, some people might experience anaphylactic shock due to bed bug bites.

If You See Bed Bugs, Then the Bites on Your Exposed Skin Are from Bed Bugs

Human beings are the primary source of food for bed bugs. Therefore, if you notice them in your house, you can absolutely be sure they are feasting on you. Be sure to check your body for any bites to be sure that they are not just from elsewhere.

Checking cannot be difficult because bed bugs rarely bite in secluded areas. Unlike other bugs you can see bed bug bites on any exposed part of your body.

Now that you know how to identify bed bug bites, your worry should shift to if your life is in real danger. Fortunately, doctors say that bed bugs cannot transmit diseases to humans. Your concern should be on the different physical and mental health effects associated with bed bugs bite. Having shone light on all that, here are the effects doctors explain about the dangers of bed bugs

The Hidden Dangers of Bed Bugs

1 – Bed Bugs Can Cause Allergic Reactions

Many people get these bites each day, but they don’t even notice. Others who quickly see the bite dismiss them as the normal mosquito’s’ bites because the swelling and readiness of both bites look somewhat alike.

Unless you experience allergic reactions upon being bitten, life will continue as usual. However,that if your body undergoes allergic reactions to insects bite, then you should seek attention right away, just like for any other allergen.

The effects of reactions range from no reaction to anaphylaxis that is also known as severe or whole-body reaction. You can treat mild allergic reactions after noticing small bite mark at home. Use your favorite OTC anti-itch ointments or allergic antihistamines or oral corticosteroids to get the relief you need.

2 – Bed Bug Bites Can Cause Secondary Infection

Although these specific bites don’t cause direct infection, they can result in constant scratching and itchy feelings. If you continue scratching your itchy bites, you might break and open your skin, allowing bacterial infections to form. Doctors recommend creams that can be applied directly on the bites to prevent secondary skin infections such as ecthyma, lymphangitis or even impetigo. You can also contact your doctor for a prescription on over-the-counter creams or even antiseptic drugs and ointments.

3 – Bed Bug Bites Can Cause Respiratory Problems

Bed bug bites can be life-threatening for a person suffering from respiratory problems. The presence of bed bugs in your home can cause anxiety or aggravate asthmatic attacks. If a member of your loved one has respiratory problems you should ensure that they are not exposed to bed bug dirt.

Besides the actual bites themselves, related pollutants such as sheddings, dry outer skins, casting, egg shells, and bug feces can trigger respiratory ailments.

4 – These Insects Can Impact the Mental Health of Some People

Those who sleep in bedbug-infested homes can tell how much discomfort they get from bed bug bites. A report Center for Disease Control and Prevention, tasked with devising new ways of controlling bed bugs, shows that American living in infested homes suffer from anxiety.

Some people often find it challenging to relax and sleep at night. Although sleep is important for a person’s health, those affected by bed bugs rarely sleep. They eventually end up to suffer from insomnia and systemic reactions.

Doctors encourage you to have your bites inspected to determine if they are real bed bug bites. Once ascertained it can be easy to protect yourself and family members from mental problems related to lack of sleep and anxiety.

5 – Bed Bug Bites Can Cause Anaemia in Extreme Cases

If a person lives in a home infested with thousands of these creepy pests, he or she can suffer anemia. However, such cases are only possible if the person has prior symptoms and risk factors of iron-deficiency. The fact is that bed bugs cannot cause anemia unless a person has a history of iron deficiency anemia. They can only worsen the symptoms.

Final Thoughts: Bedbugs Are More Creepy Than Dangerous, But May Still Pose a Threat

The possibility that you have encountered bed bugs in your life and failed to notice their bite is very high. Be aware that bed bug bites can cause you extreme distress in the night. Remember to keep in mind that bedbug bites do not cause direct health problems.

Instead, you will suffer indirect mental and health problems related to a bedbug bite. You should examine your body. You should also read on how to identify their bites and remember this explanation on the dangers of bed bugs.

Bedbug Bites: Not Dangerous but Painful

If you’ve seen bedbug bites in person or a photo, they can be scary—with the worst cases looking like a series of angry rashes from head to toe. Those sleeping in the same room with bedbugs will quickly find that they can add more bites to your collection every night.

Bedbug bites are itchy, ugly, and frustrating. But are they dangerous?

When bedbugs bite a person, they inject a chemical that acts as an anesthesia in the area of the bedbug’s bites; as a result, you likely won’t feel a thing while the bugs are feasting on blood, which explains why you can have multiple, even hundreds of bedbug bites and not wake up.

However, unlike mosquitos, bedbugs do not carry and spread diseases through their bites, so there is not the risk of getting a serious illness from being bitten. Of course, these bites are beyond annoying, and an infestation should be taken care of as soon as possible.

Varying Chemical Sensitivity

People vary in sensitivity to the chemical injected when bedbugs bite, and the amount you suffer is unique depending on your body’s reaction.

Some people are very allergic to the chemical, and break out in a rash. The rash—and possibly raised welts that might appear in each spot that received bites—may last as long as a few weeks before completely clearing up.

Most people will only get the raised welts that disappear after a few days. It’s important not to scratch these bites, which can expose your skin to infection and, in turn, lead to complications like scarring.

Treat the bedbug bites by washing with soap and water and then applying ice, or use a topical cream or oral antihistamine to relieve the itching. If symptoms appear like tender skin, the bite feels hot or starts oozing yellow, white or greenish goo then see a doctor for something prescription-strength.

Bedbug bites and the accompanying rash are not contagious, although you may get a lot of strange looks from people. Victims of bedbug bites report the reaction from friends and family to their appearance and their subsequent paranoia about bedbugs is the worst part of the ordeal.

Finding Bedbugs

Bedbugs do not spread disease by their bites, and you can also be assured that a bedbug infestation, whether in your house or a hotel, is not caused by dirt. Bedbugs can live in perfectly clean environments, as long as they have a live host to bite.

Bedbug bites usually happen in groups of three, and you’ll rarely find a single bite. However, since bites look different on everyone, it’s generally hard to pinpoint a bug bite as from a bedbug unless you see groups of bites.

If you’re staying in a hotel or concerned that there might be a bedbug in your house because you’ve woken up with several bites on your body, check your bites against some images online then check your bedding for small, red bugs.

The bugs may be found in a bed—look for reddish or black streaks on sheets—but they can also live in carpets, floorboards, wallpaper, and within the tiny cracks and crevices throughout a room.

If found when traveling, change rooms immediately. At home, it is best to call in a professional exterminator.

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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