How Do Bedbug Bites Look On Babies
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? Here’s Exactly How to Spot the Symptoms
If you wake up with a line of three to four itchy, swollen bumps, it could be due to bed bugs.
Waking up with a fresh set of itchy bug bites can bring on its own set of worries. What, exactly, was biting you in the middle of the night? Was it a spider? Mosquito? Or—possibly theworstcase scenario—could it have been bed bugs?
Although bed bugs might not be the first thing we think of when we wake up with a bite, the crittersdoget their food source from our blood—and will leave a little red bump in their wake after getting their fill.
But the trouble with identifying a bed bug bite—as is true for a lot of insects, including mosquitoes—is that it can be hard to identify the source of the bite, as everyone reacts differently to being bitten based on what their body’s immune response is. “Everybody’s going to respond differently,” saysTimothy Gibb, PhD, a clinical professor of entomology at Purdue University. “Same thing’s true with a mosquito bite. Some people are going to swell up and it’s going to itch. That same mosquito could bite someone else and it’s hardly noticeable.”
In fact, Gibb says some people may have no response when being bitten by a bed bug at all, based solely on how their immune system handles the bite. That’s why it can be difficult to determine whether your bite is the result of a bed bug just by looking at it.
But therearea few things that can tip you off to the fact that bed bugs are the culprit of your bites. Here’s what to know, including bed bug bites pictures to help you visualize the symptoms.
What do bed bug bites look like?
The key bed bug bite symptom to look for is a red, raised bump, says Gibb, similar in appearance to what you would get when bitten by a spider or a mosquito. But what sets bed bugs apart from other insects is that oftentimes,their bites will present in a line on one part or side of your body. This is the result of what’s called “probing.”
⚠️ Bed bug bites show up in a line, most often in a cluster of 3 to 4 bites.
“They probe the skin in several different places, I think probably to find best access to draw blood,” says Gibb. In fact, if you have screens on your windows—thereby keeping out other insects that might bite—but are still waking up with aline of 3 or 4 bites on your arm, it’s safe to suspect that bed bugs might be to blame, saysEdwin Rajotte, PhD, a professor of entomology at Penn State University.
Another way to determine if your bites are a result from bed bugs is to look for the insects themselves. They naturally like to hide in on your mattress, especially in the corners, near the head end, and in the cord that goes around it. They also like to camp out behind the headboard, behind any pictures on the wall, and in any electrical sockets.
Adult bed bugs are about the the size of an apple seed and are very flat from top to bottom—almost as thin as a piece of paper—with a brownish color, says Rajotte. Baby bed bugs are also brownish in color, but pinhead-sized. Another key identifier? Look for black spots on your sheets, mattress, and mattress cover, which could be bed bug feces.
Where do bed bugs bite, exactly?
Bed bug bites willmost commonly occur on the arms, neck, or trunk of the body, says Gibb, although they’ll bite anywhere they can find exposed skin. And—as their name suggests—bed bugs will bite you at night while you’re sound asleep.
“We’ve found it’s most active when people are most sound asleep, and that’s usually from about 2:00 to 4:00 in the morning,” says Gibb. “That’s natural for a parasite like that to do that because it’s going to protect it. People won’t see it, they won’t feel it. It makes their survivorship much more probable.”
Are bed bug bites itchy? Do they hurt?
Although some people will say a bed bug bite hurts somewhat—though not as intensely as the sting of a bee, for example—most complaints are due to the itching the bites cause, says Gibb. And that itching is due to the chemicals the bed bug inserts into your body during the bite, adds Rajotte.
“They’ve become what I consider the perfect parasite, because their mouthparts are kind of interesting,” says Gibb. “They will inject an anesthetic prior to biting, so people won’t feel it. And then they inject an anticoagulant that allows the blood to run easier for them to suck that up.” So while that system works great for thebugs, those left-over chemicals will usually lead to some uncomfortable itching on your end.
How long do bed bug bites last?
Although the duration and intensity of a bed bug bite will hugely vary from person to person, you typically won’t feel the effects of a bed bug bite—like itching and those raised red bumps—until mid-morning after a bite due to the anesthetic the bug injects, says Gibb. “So they certainly don’t feel it when the bite is occurring, but shortly after, probably within a day, for sure,” he adds.
From there, a bed bug bite will stay with you for typically at least 24 hours, though theycould last three to five days after the initial bite, says Gibb. At that point, the bite will then start to slowly dissipate.
How to treat bed bug bites
If you’ve received a bed bug bite (and the itching that comes along with it), chances are, you’re going to want to speed up the treatment process. But unfortunately, the best way to do that is also thehardestway to do it: not scratching the bite, says Gibb, which will just further irritate the area.
If you’re having trouble keeping your fingers away from the bite, you can also try using an antihistamine—think Benadryl or Allegra, which are meant to curb allergy symptoms—to help mute that itchy feeling.
And if bed bugsarethe cause of your bites, realize there’s no urgent need to panic. Yes, they might cost you a pretty penny and can be a pain to get rid of, but bed bugs can’t do any serious damage to your body.“They don’t kill people,” says Gibb. “A parasite would have a hard time surviving if it killed its host, and these do not.”
In fact, they don’t even transmit anything dangerous to you.“They’ve never been shown to transmit any diseases,”says Rajotte. “Unlike mosquitoes and ticks and things, which can transmit some pretty bad diseases, bed bugs do not. And so while they’re annoying and all that, they’re not going to harm your children or anything like that. They’re just annoying and you need to get rid of them.”
Ready to banish them from your home? Here’s our expert-approved, step-by-step guide to getting rid of bed bugs for good.
Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.
Check if it’s bedbugs
Jeff March / Alamy Stock Photo
Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.
Signs of bedbugs include:
- bites – often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
- spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
- small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)
Bedbug bites can be red and itchy. They’re often in a line or cluster.
Otto Pleska / Alamy Stock Photo
Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling.
How you can treat bedbug bites
Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so.
Things you can do include:
- putting something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling
- keeping the affected area clean
- not scratching the bites to avoid getting an infection
You can ask a pharmacist about:
- using a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone cream to ease bedbug bites (children under 10 and pregnant women should get advice from a doctor before using hydrocortisone cream)
- antihistamines – these may help if the bites are very itchy and you’re unable to sleep
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- the bites are still very painful, swollen or itchy after trying treatments from a pharmacist
- the redness around the bites is spreading
You may have an infection and need treatment with antibiotics.
Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP
It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:
- visit their website
- use the NHS App
- call them
How to get rid of bedbugs
contact your local council or pest control service – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be resistant to some insecticides
wash affected bedding and clothing – use a hot wash (60C) or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes
put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer (-16C) for 4 days (alternative to hot washing)
clean and vacuum regularly – bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early
do not keep clutter around your bed
do not bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first
do not take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if you have come from somewhere where you know there were bedbugs
Page last reviewed: 21 January 2019
Next review due: 21 January 2022
The BedBug Life Cycle
Understanding the bedbug life cycle is vital if you want to get rid of bed bugs! Get quick facts about bed bug eggs, nymphs and adults; watch the video to see what they look like in real life; and learn what you need to know about all life stages to successfully identify and kill them.
Where do you want to start?
These links will take you directly to specific sections of this page:
There’s a link back up to this menu at the end of each section for easy navigation. Of course, you can just read the whole page!
BedBug Life Cycle Quick Facts
While you may not be all that interested in their biology and behavior, here are 8 quick facts about the bedbug life cycle you should know:
- You can see all stages of bed bugs (even eggs) with the naked eye
- An adult female can lay 200-500 bed bug eggs in her lifetime
- Bed bug eggs are harder to kill than nymphs (baby bed bugs) and adults
- Bedbugs can grow from a hatched egg to a full adult in about a month
- Baby bed bugs cast their вЂњskinsвЂќ (exoskeletons, technically) as they grow
- Bed bugs need a blood meal to live, to grow, and to reproduce
- Baby bed bugs may feed as much as one time per day
- Adult bed bugs can live up to 18 months without feeding!
For a look at live bed bugs in all stages of their life cycle, click on the video below. You can jump down to the full discussion of the key things you should know about the bedbug life cycle in order to get rid annoying little buggers successfully by clicking here.
Bed Bug Life Cycle Video
I love this video because it show all stages of bed bugs (including eggs) in real life so you can get a better idea of what they look like. It also shows what cast skins look like which is important because they are one of the 9 symptoms you should look for to figure out if you have a bed bug infestation. One note though, the nymphs (baby bed bugs) in this video still have remnants of a blood meal in them so they look darker that they would if they had not been fed. For more photos of baby bed bugs, check out our bed bug picture gallery.
The video does start out a little goofy and may not seem that serious at first, but entomologist Mark вЂњShepвЂќ Sheperdigian knows his stuff. Its actually jam packed with useful information about what bed bugs look like in all stages of their life cycle. Definitely worth the2 minutesit takes to watch!
This video is shared via the Bed Bug Answers Channel on YouTube. For more helpful videos, visit (and like!) us on YouTube 🙂
Keep reading for a more detailed look at each stage of the bedbug life cycle.
Bed Bug Eggs
What do bed bug eggs look like? Believe it or not, even bed bug eggs are visible to the human eye although they can be hard to see.
Personally, I think bed bug eggs look like little pieces of rice. But they can be compared in size to a large grain of salt as shown in the video above. They are tiny (about 1mm long) and are very light in color вЂ“ ranging from translucent (almost clear) to a milky sort of white color.
This is why a magnifying glass can be helpful when you are looking for signs of bed bugs. They have a sticky film which gives them a kind of shiny appearance and helps them stick to surfaces until they hatch. More photos of bed bug eggs.
It takes about 6-10 days for a bed bug egg to hatch. The hatched egg looks clearer in color and kind of like tiny deflated balloon. Once an egg has been hatched is not shiny any more and has a dried out appearance.
Its important to note that many of the treatments that will kill bed bugs will not kill their eggs. The only things that are known to effectively kill eggs are heat and gas fumigation. This is something to keep in mind when choosing bed bug pest control options.
Fear not. If you can kill the babies before they reach adulthood and reproduce. you can stop the bedbug life cycle in its tracks!
Baby Bed Bugs (Nymphs)
The first thing a newly hatched baby bed bug does is search for a blood meal. Baby bed bugs (technically called вЂњnymphsвЂќ) go through 5 stages of development instars. So a 1st instar nymph is a вЂњnewbornвЂќ and a 5th instar nymph is a вЂњbedbug teenвЂќ, so to speak.
What do baby bed bugs look like?Well, basically they look like mini versions of adult bed bugs, but they are very light in color вЂ“ almost clear.
Like the eggs, they start out very tiny (approx. 1mm), about the size and color of a sesame seed and grow to about 5mm (Вј inch) as adults.
The blood is clearly visible in a nymph that has just fed.They look like tiny swollen purple balloons!
As baby bed bugs develop toward adulthood, they do get darker in color.
They can feed as often as once every day and they have to have a blood meal to grow from one stage to the next. They can also survive months without feeding, but they basically get stuck at whatever developmental stage of the bedbug life cycle they’re in until they get their next meal.
They develop through a process called molting. Baby bed bugs literally вЂњcrawl out of their skinsвЂќ as they move from one stage to the next. Cast skins (some people call them bed bug shells) are one of the key symptoms of a bed bug infestation. You can also see more pictures of cast skins here in the bed bug picture gallery.
Adult Bed Bugs
Adult bed bugs are about Вј inch long, about the size and shape of an apple seed. They are extremely flat like a business card or a credit card, which allows them to hide in very surprising places.
They are brown to reddish-brown in color and become more shiny and purple-ish red after they’ve fed. As they feed, they swell up into a capsule like shape вЂ“ kind of like little blood balloons. (Okay, I know that’s gross вЂ“ but its an accurate description). See more adult bedbug photos here.
On average, they feed about every 3-10 days. Again the estimates vary, but it most experts agree that it takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes for an adult bed bug to fill up on blood at one feeding. They must have a blood meal to reproduce.
Female bed bugs can lay an average of 3-5 eggs per day. The jury seems to be out on exactly how many bed bug eggs an adult female can lay in her lifetime, but the estimates range from 200 вЂ“ 500!
Bedbug Life Cycle & Life Span Factors
The full growth cycle from egg to reproducing adult can range from 1 month to 4 months. Two factors that affect the time-table of the bedbug’s life cycle aretemperatureand theavailability of food(blood).
In warmer conditions bed bugs bed bugs mature more rapidly and are likely to feed more frequently if there is a source of blood. In cooler temperatures, bed bugs can go into semi-hibernation allowing them to live much longer – even without feeding.
In the absence of a host on which to feed, bed bug nymphs can still live for a few months. But they can’t develop from one stage to the next. Basically their growth is вЂњstuntedвЂќ until they can get another meal.
Adult bed bugs can be surprisingly hardy. Under the right conditions, they can survive up to 18 months without feeding. T hat’s right, a year-and-a-half!
This is why sleeping somewhere else, like a friend or relative’s house, will not solve your problem . When you return, they will still be there waiting. and hungry.
Hopefully, this overview has made you better prepared to identify and get rid of bed bugs.
Want to explore the bedbug life cycle further?This fact sheet from the Medical Entomology Department of the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research has lots of useful info includinga greatphoto infographicof the the bed bug life cycle by Dr. Stephen Doggett.
You are here:
Get the 10-Minute Bed Bug Crash Course for FREE!
Enter your email address below, and I’ll send you the link to download it for free right away! Want to know more about it first? click here
You can also find the most recent content and news updates on the Bed Bug Answers blog.
Find what you’re looking for fast using one of the search boxes below.
Search this site:
Search the web via Google:
FTC Disclosure:This site contains some advertising and affiliate links. That means if you click and/or buy through those links, the merchant may pay a small commission to support this site– at no extra cost to you.
Thanks!! Your support of this site is really appreciated 🙂 (See more details in the Disclosure Policy )
Shop for Bed Bug Products
Bed Bugs Pest Control: You Must Plan for Success вЂ“ Here’s How
To get rid of bed bugs, pest control planning is a must. It’s not a one-shot deal. No worries, making a bed bug pest control action plan is easier than you think! Just follow simple these steps.
Bed Bug Symptoms вЂ“ 8 Signs of Bed Bugs You Need to Know
The first bed bug symptoms people often notice are bites, but they’re not proof thatвЂ™s what you have. Learn the tell-tale signs of bed bugs and how to check for them.
Why I Love Bedbugger.com
Let me tell you why I love bedbugger.com so much and how you can get the most out of what it has to offer.
Bed Bug Fogger Alert: Don’t Grab that Can Till You Read This!
A bed bug fogger (bug bomb) seems like a quick-fix for those nasty little suckers, right? WRONG! Here are 3 reasons they don’t work and 5 ways they make things worse and prolong your agony.
FREE!Get the10-MinuteBed Bug Crash Coursee-book.absolutely free.J ust enter your details below and I’ll send the link to your inbox right now.
Images of Bedbug Bite
Bedbugs are very small insects (Cimex lectularius). Their food source is the blood of humans and other mammals. Bedbugs tend to live in warm, dry places such as mattress, upholstered furniture, and rugs, and they come out at dawn to feed. Their bite is painless, so your baby will likely not wake up when bitten, but the bite produces a very itchy rash. Your baby will wake up with itchy red or pink bumps, usually in lines or clusters. The bite itself is harmless, and bedbugs are not known to spread any blood-borne diseases, but babies and children are prone to scratching at bites, potentially causing secondary skin infections.
Who’s at risk?
Anyone of any age can be bitten by bedbugs. Because bedbugs only feed on humans and other warm-blooded animals, they tend to be found in places where there are many people, such as dorms and prisons. They are also common in places where travelers pass through, such as hotels and shelters. Because bedbugs do not feed on trash or dirt, there is no association between poor hygiene and untidiness to bedbug infestations. However, babies who sleep in multiple different environments are probably more prone to bedbugs because they are exposed to multiple potential bedbug habitats. It is probably not possible to look at a couch or mattress and see if it contains bedbugs; a bedbug egg is about the size of a large grain of salt, and an adult bedbug is about the size of a small apple seed. They do not have wings, but can move very quickly.
Signs and Symptoms
You may see a bug bite or notice your child scratching or rubbing their arms or legs against something. What start as small bruise-like areas turn into red bumps on the exposed parts of the body (arms, legs, chest, and sometimes the face). There may be a clustered configuration of 3 bites in a line (commonly known as "breakfast, lunch, and dinner"). Resolution takes about 2 weeks and may leave some darker areas of skin (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
Infants who are prone to eczema may develop a generalized bumpy redness in large areas with severe itching, and they may vigorously scratch the area, which puts infants at risk for bacterial infection if the scratching causes breaks in the skin. Make sure to keep infants’ nails trimmed short.
You may see tell-tale signs of bedbug infestation, such as blood stains on the sheets, flecks of bedbug dung on or around the bed, or smell a sweet odor that results from large numbers of bedbugs. You may be able to spot a moving bedbug if you are searching at night.
Management of bedbug bites includes removing the bedbugs themselves and controlling the child’s itching.
Wash all linens in hot water, and dry them in a hot dryer. You may also need to wash the curtains. Scrub furniture to remove eggs, and fix any cracks that may be in the furniture; you may need to take the furniture apart to do this well. Vacuum the room, including the mattress (concentrating on the seams) and any surrounding crevices. You may want to fill and seal any cracks around the room and paste down any rolling wallpaper seams. Check the adjoining rooms for bedbugs as well, even if the occupants do not complain of itching.
Sometimes, in cases of severe infestation, it may be best to have a licensed pest control agent inspect and eradicate the bedbugs. Remember that some insect repellants can be toxic to children, so make sure to find out exactly what chemicals the agent will be using and what the chemical’s risk profile is.
A low-strength topical corticosteroid cream or ointment, such as hydrocortisone, can be purchased over the counter to help with itching. It should not be applied to the face or in skin folds. Make sure to keep children’s nails trimmed short to prevent creating breaks in the skin from scratching.
When you travel and stay in hotels, keep your suitcase and clothing away from the bed or other furniture. Upon returning home, wash the clothing you took with you and place your suitcase in an attic, basement, or garage, where there is little chance of the bugs encountering humans for prolonged periods at night.
When to Seek Medical Care
Your baby may need a prescription-strength topical steroid to help intensely itchy bites. Infants have an especially hard time refraining from scratching, especially at night, and will attempt to rub the affected area on anything nearby. Consult with your child’s doctor before trying an antihistamine such as Benadryl®. Because scratching can lead to infection, if there is pus, redness, swelling, fever, or if the reaction blisters or is otherwise severe, call your child’s doctor. There have been rare cases of severe allergic reaction that affect breathing (anaphylaxis). If this is the case in your child, seek emergency medical care.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
Your child’s doctor may give him/her a topical corticosteroid to help reduce the itching and inflammation. These are especially helpful at night, to help prevent infection. In rare cases of blistering skin reaction, oral corticosteroids may be necessary. If your child has a bacterial infection of the skin from scratching, he/she may need oral antibiotics. Rarely, anaphylaxis has occurred and is treated with emergency care.
Ter Poorten, M, et al. The Return of the Common Bedbug.Pediatric Dermatology 22 (3), 183–187, 2005 May.
What’s the Difference Between Flea Bites and Bedbug Bites?
If you notice a group of small dots on your skin, they could be either bedbug bites or flea bites. It can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Flea bites are usually found on the lower half of your body or in warm, moist areas like the bends of elbows and knees. Bedbug bites are often on the upper half of your body, around the face, neck, and arms.
Keep reading to learn about the symptoms, risk factors, and treatments of each type of bite.
Fleas are tiny, blood-sucking insects. Five percent of the flea population lives on pets, which is generally how humans get flea bites. Fleas can’t fly, but they can jump up to 18 centimeters. As soon as they latch on to a host, they begin biting.
Common symptoms of flea bites include small red marks on your skin and intense itching. The bites are sometimes grouped together in threes.
Flea bites generally occur on or near the:
- feet and lower legs
- elbows and knees (in the bend)
- other skin folds
If you’re allergic to fleas, you may develop hives or a rash. The affected area may also swell and blister. If a blister appears and breaks, it may lead to an infection. If you scratch the affected area and break open the skin, you may also get a secondary infection from the bites.
Fleas can infest your skin. For example, burrowing fleas can cause an infestation called tungiasis. It almost always occurs around the feet and toes. This tropical or subtropical flea can dig under your skin to feed. The flea will die after two weeks, but it often causes a complicated skin infection afterward.