How Do You Avoid Bed Bugs Bite

How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites

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

How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites by the Numbers

No calculator needed. The math is really simple.

Fewer Bed Bugs = Fewer Bites

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

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

How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites by Protecting the Bed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things That Will NOT Prevent Bed Bug Bites

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

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

A Few Words About Bed Bug Repellents

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

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

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

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

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

You Need to Bait Them to Get Rid of Them

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

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

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

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

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Bed Bugs 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.

How to Avoid Bug Bites While Sleeping

Bed bug bites are quite common. Getting bug bites when sleeping can affect the quality of your sleep and lead to health problems. Fortunately, it is possible to take some steps to keep bugs away from your bedroom.

How to Avoid Bug Bites While Sleeping

1. Replace Your Sheets

It is important to wash or replace your sheets regularly to keep bugs and insects from biting you at night. Generally, it is good enough to wash your sheets at least once a week. While washing your sheets, use hot, soapy water and then put them in the dryer for some time.

2. Change Your Bed Frame

This may help in case you have a wooden bed frame and are dealing with a bad case of bites. Simply switching to a metal frame will help resolve the issue. If possible, avoid a bed with a headboard because it serves as a perfect breeding ground for insects. Use a metal headboard if you really need one.

3. Use Vacuum Cleaners Regularly

You should be vacuuming the area around your bed thoroughly to avoid bed bug bites while sleeping. Vacuum your mattress, carpets, and everything else in your room to get rid of bed bugs. Be sure to use special attachments for the vacuum to get bugs out of hard-to-reach areas.

4. Keep Your Sheets Tucked Under the Mattress

Bugs can scurry into any opening in your bed, which is why it makes great sense to keep your sheets tucked between the box spring and the mattress. It works because bed bugs cannot jump or fly.

5. Sleep Under the Covers

One way to avoid getting bitten at night is to sleep under the covers. It helps because bed bugs cannot bite you through the thick layer of fabric. They usually attack your exposed skin only. By covering your skin, you will be denying them a blood meal.

6. Do Not Let Water Pool Near Your House

No matter what you do to get rid of bugs, they will return when you do nothing to eliminate standing water from your home. You should take steps to avoid accumulation of water in your house.

Do not let water pool in trashcans – simply drill holes in these containers. Be sure to change your pets’ water bowls and birdbaths often. Also, it is important to avoid leaving pans, pots, or full glasses of water out.

7. Seal Your Home Properly

To avoid getting bed bug bites while sleeping, you should take steps to keep bed bugs from entering your home. This may involve taking several steps to seal your home well.

Start by closing all cracks and crevices near wiring or bare plumbing. Use silicon or acrylic latex caulk to fill holes around your windows or doors. Moreover, it will really help keep bugs away when you improve your general sanitation.

8. Use Bug Repellents

Using a repellent really helps lower the chances of getting bitten while sleeping. Be sure to use products that are safe – certain repellents can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. Ideally, you should be going for products that contain picaridin or DEET.

Repellents should only be applied to exposed areas to avoid any problems; don’t spray under your clothes. Apply it to your hands and then rub on the face – do not let it touch your eyes. Ask a professional if you do not know which repellent is safe for you and is effective against the types of bugs you are dealing with.

9. Work with Professional Exterminators

When you have taken all the steps and have failed to stop the bug bites while sleeping, you may consider hiring a professional exterminator.

Be sure to take your time to select the best service provider. Ask for references and look for exterminators who can offer eco-friendly treatment options. You may also want to talk to your landlord before using any professional services – they may agree to share the cost of clearing an infestation.

How to Prevent Bed Bugs

Updated: April 11, 2019

This article was co-authored by Jurdy Dugdale, RN. Jurdy Dugdale is a Registered Nurse in Florida. She received her Nursing License from the Florida Board of Nursing in 1989.

There are 22 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

Bed bugs are a growing concern since they’ve become more common in recent years and are extremely difficult to exterminate. While hotels are high on the list of bed bug concerns, any public place can be a haven for bed bugs. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent a bed bug infestation in your home. By avoiding contaminated materials, avoiding bed bugs while traveling, and protecting your home, you can prevent bed bugs.

Related wikiHows

About this article

To prevent bed bugs, use protective plastic covers on your mattress and box springs so bed bugs will not be able to infect your bed even if you accidentally bring them home. When you’re staying in a hotel, check the sheets, mattress, and headboard for small brownish bugs, and contact management if you find any. Wash your travel clothes separately from your regular laundry and dry them on the highest possible heat setting. To learn how using essential oils can help repel bed bugs, read on!

How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites

Each of us needs a good night’s rest to function properly the next morning. Naturally, the last thing one wants is to wake up with bed bug bites. In this guide, we shall discuss a few ways to prevent bed bug bites at home or when traveling or sleeping in infested hotels. We will also discuss a few natural ways to prevent bed bug bites and stop further scarring.

How to prevent bed bug bites at home

The best way to prevent bed bug bites at home is to eliminate these pests completely. To do so, one can use a number of methods and techniques. There are many efficient ways of killing bed bugs ranging from DIY (do-it-yourself) treatments to professional ones.

  • The natural DIY techniques include application of diatomaceous earth powders, CO2 traps, borax, and steam or heat treatments. These can get rid of the larvae, eggs and adult bed bugs slowly yet effectively.
  • One can also make a natural bed bug trap using sticky tapes to catch and eliminate the bugs.
  • It is important to vacuum the entire home and wash all bedding material and clothing in hot water laundry to kill all the larvae, eggs and adult bed bugs. This is an important step to prevent bed bug bites.
  • When using chemical treatments like sprays and powders, care must be taken not to spray them on electrical outlets or other electronic goods etc.
  • It is necessary to avoid picking up furniture from the curbside or garage sales etc as this is one of the most common ways of bringing in these unwanted pests into the homes.

How to prevent bed bug bites when traveling or staying in hotels

The last thing you want is an uncomfortable night due to bed bug bites when staying in a hotel. Experts recommend several tips to prevent bed bug bites when spending a night or two away from home.

  • As soon as you check into the hotel, stash the luggage in the bathroom (as this is the only place where bed bugs will not hide in).
  • Next, you must check the bedding by pulling back the linen and inspecting all areas behind the headboard.
  • Look out for red/brown stains which are the fecal matter or discarded exoskeletons of the bed bugs.
  • It is also important to check furniture, art frames and cushion seams in the hotels order to prevent bed bug bites when staying away from home.

Naturally, if you do see these tell-tale signs, you must call the hotel management and ask for another room or, better yet, move to another hotel.

How to prevent bed bug bites naturally and prevent further scarring

  • There are many natural, essential oils that can help relieve itching and pain associated with bed bug bites.
  • To prevent bed bug bites in the first place, you can even use certain organic soaps and lotions that help repel these pests. Bathing with chamomile soap or applying calendula lotion to the body can help prevent bed bug bites. These products are also gentle enough for use on baby’s skin.
  • Witch hazel lotion and organic apple cider vinegar can also help prevent itching and pain on the affected region.
  • Lavender, rosemary, and eucalyptus oils can also be added to rubbing alcohol for spraying on headboards, mattresses and the legs of the bed to prevent bed bug bites.
  • If the bed bug bite marks are already present, ensure washing the skin with hot water to dry them out. Apply aloe vera gel or an anesthetic lotion immediately to prevent scarring.
  • Rubbing an ice cube on the skin can also numb the area to prevent pain and scarring.
  • If needed, take an antihistamine like Benadryl to prevent itching caused by the bed bug bites.

Bed bug infestation can be a pesky problem that can ruin a good night’s rest. The best way to prevent bed bug bites is to ensure taking care of the infestation by using one of the bed bug elimination methods described on this blog.

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