How Long Bed Bug Bites

Bedbugs

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

How Long Do Bed Bug Bites Last (Updated for 2019)?

Bed bugs are the nastiest and most stubborn type of household parasites that you can find. Not only are these insects very adept at hiding but they have now become immune to certain chemicals that once were very effective at killing them.

Bed bugs also tend to bite a lot. Although they are not known to carry any dangerous diseases, their bites can result in relatively large welts that can be very itchy and irritating for many days.

In this guide, we shall study the effect of bed bug bites and how to treat them. To do that, however, we first need to find out how bed bugs feed and how long does it take for a bed bug infestation to manifest.

Table of Contents

How Do Bed Bugs Feed

Bed bugs are parasites and feed on blood. Although they can feed on any animal, human blood is their most favored diet. Bed bugs feed on humans by piercing their skin with their sharp and long beak-like proboscis to draw blood from their victim. In order to not make their prey aware of them, bed bugs excrete saliva at the same time. The saliva contains anesthesia that numbs the wound and an anticoagulant that keeps the blood from clotting. This allows the bed bugs to drink from the host as long as they want without waking us up.

The bed bug saliva is the reason why a large majority of bed bug bites become red and inflamed.

When Do Bed Bug Bite?

Like most blood-feeding animals, bed bugs are nocturnal and usually come out during the night. While it is still possible to see an errant bug crawling on your bed sheet in early mornings, during the day, bed bugs prefer to hide inside cracks, crevices, nooks and crannies, cracks in the walls, the seams and inside of your mattress, your pillows, and your box springs. One of their most favorite places is hiding inside mattresses and cracks in the bed as it allows them easy access to their victims.

When people go to sleep at night, these bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide that humans breathe out. They follow their lure and bite their victims. If a bed bug is especially hungry, it may even venture out in the day time and bite any humans reclining on the bed. Under these circumstances, it may also feed on any animal that is occupying the bed.

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

Bed bug bites can easily be mistaken for other small insect bites like mosquitoes and fleas. All of these insects can cause small round bumps on human skin. However, bed bug bites have a few characteristics that can help tell them apart.

The first step in identifying a bed bug bite is to make sure that you are looking at a bite and not just a scratch or a puncture wound from some object. Bed bug bites appear in the form of inflamed and red welts, which are circular with irregularly shaped boundaries. It usually has a darker spot in the center, which marks the site where the bed bug’s proboscis entered your skin. The outer circle is a lighter red compared to the middle.

Bed bug bites are usually clustered together in straight or zigzag lines along the exposed surface of your arms, legs, and face but these insects can also crawl beneath your clothes and bite your back and abdomen.

Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites

Almost all bed bug bite results in severe itchiness and a slight burning sensation. People who are allergic to insect bites may have more severe reactions. The bites may look more enlarged and inflamed. They may also experience hives and blisters around the affected areas.

In some cases, if the rash is severe enough, it can develop into popular eruptions or pustules which are filled with fluid. There have been a tiny number of reports of people suffering from breathing problems, slight fever, flu-like symptoms, swollen mouth and tongue, and irregular heartbeats. Fortunately, these kinds of reactions are extremely rare.

People may also find dead bed bugs flattened by their bodies when they turn over during the night or small spots of blood on their clothing form the bite. There may also be reddish brown spots on the bedding that may indicate bed bug droppings.

How Long Does it Take For Bed Bug Bites to Appear?

Interestingly, unlike many other bites, many people may not feel the effects of a bed bug bite for several days. Some people may not notice they have been bitten at all, while others may notice a burning sensation within a few hours of the bite. A bed bug bite can take up to 14 days to appear, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That makes it even more difficult to diagnose as there is no way of knowing if, when, or where you were bitten.

As mentioned above, many people do not feel the bite at all, while some people who are hypersensitive may develop severe reactions. But the vast majority of the population experiences the relatively mild reaction of the welt with a slight burning sensation and itchiness. In this case, the symptoms usually occur a few hours after the bite and can progress over the next few days.

How Long Do Bed Bug Bite Last?

The time it takes for a bed bug bite to go away varies from person to person. Usually, a bed bug bite may take one or two weeks to heal and will not cause any serious, long term issues. With some home remedies or over-the-counter drugs, you can easily speed up the healing process. However, for some people, a bed bug bite can last for around a month.

Since bed bug bites are extremely itchy, people often tend to scratch them. Although this may give them temporary relief, scratching can damage the affected area and may cause bleeding. If the wound opens, bacteria may spread, posing risk for secondary infections. It will also make it longer for the bed bug bite to heal.

Similarly, people who have an allergic reaction may find that a bed bug bite takes longer to go away since it is larger and more inflamed.

In short, there are many things that you can do to make the bite heal quicker (explained in detail below). On the other hand, other things, like scratching, can make the bed bug bite worse!

Can Bed Bug Bites Result in Scar?

One good thing about bed bug bites is that they do not leave any scar if not aggravated. Usually, bed bug bites heal within a couple of weeks, even without the use of medication or home remedies. Scarring is extremely rare.

How to Alleviate Symptoms and Get Rid of Bed Bug Bites Quickly?

Fortunately, there are many ways to lessen the symptoms of bed bug bites and help your skin heal faster. Naturally, you cannot expect the bite mark to fade within a day but these home remedies and over-the-counter medications can help accelerate the healing process.

Clean the Area

As with all bites, make sure you wash the affected area with antibacterial soap and some warm water. Just keeping the bite clean may hasten the recovery process and make your bite mark fade quickly.

Icing

Even if you experience intense itching, refrain from scratching! Instead, put a cold compress on it. You can make a cold compress by taking some ice cubes, wrapping them up in a thin towel and applying it to the site of the bite. Keep the pressure on the bite for periods of 30 seconds. The cold will numb the area, making it less inflamed. Whenever you get the urge to itch, apply ice to the bite instead.

Lemon Juice and Honey

Lemon juice is a natural astringent and has anti-inflammatory properties. Mix some lemon juice in honey and apply the paste to the bite. It can limit itching and promote healing. Do not apply lemon juice to open sores as it can worsen the situation.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and anti-itching properties, which can help lessen the irritation. Pour some apple cider vinegar onto a ball of cotton wool and apply it to the affected area to promote healing.

Oatmeal

When it comes to insect bites, one wouldn’t think oatmeal would make the list of things that can help treat bed bug bites. However, oatmeal is actually a wonderful remedy to treat the itchy, inflamed, and irritating bed bug bites. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, oatmeal is an effective skin protectant as it contains a high amount of phenols that are responsible for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Add a few drops of water to oatmeal and make it into a smooth mixture. Apply the paste to the bed bug bite for 10-15 minutes and then rinse it off with cool water.

Toothpaste

Since toothpaste contains menthols, a cooling agent, it is quite effective for soothing inflamed and itchy bites. Apply some toothpaste to the bite and wash it off after 10 minutes.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel contains a high percentage of pectic acids and glucomannans as well as essential vitamins and amino acids, which make it one of the best remedies to soothe a bed bug bite. Take an aloe vera leaf, cut off the spines on its sides and split it into upper and lower halves. Take out the aloe vera gel with the help of a knife and apply it to the bed bug bite. Once you apply the gel, it will sting on the application; however, it will soon provide relief.

Herbal Tea

Tea contains polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can help you reduce inflammation and pain. Once you have made a tea, keep the used tea bags in the fridge. If you get bitten by a bed bug, apply the cool tea bags to the affected area for 15 minutes a few times a day.

Corticosteroids

You can buy corticosteroid ointments and creams which can help reduce itching and irritation from bed bug bites. These creams can prevent the urge to scratch at bites. This will help decrease the time it takes the bite to heal. For severe cases, a doctor may prescribe you a stronger dose of corticosteroid or inject you with the hormone.

Antihistamine

For people who are especially sensitive to bed bug bites, use of antihistamine is a good option. You can buy antihistamine creams and pills easily from any drug store or pharmacy to help alleviate the symptoms of a bed bug bite. For those with severe adverse reactions, a doctor can prescribe a stronger dose.

How Long Does It Take for a Bed Bug Infestation to Manifest?

If you have a long-term infestation in your house, it is very difficult to determine when the bed bugs first came to your house. Usually, a large outbreak means the insects have been living in your home for several months or even years without you noticing. However, if you have a small infestation, it is fairly easy to gauge when it manifested.

In case of small infestations at warm room temperatures (72° F), with lots of bloodmeals nearby, it takes bed bugs about a week to grow out of each phase of their nymph stage with molting. With every molting, the nymph will shed their exoskeleton also known as exuviae or bed bug casings. These casings can be used to determine the approximate time of a bed bug infestation. For example, if a nymph in its fourth stage is found inside a mattress with excuviae of three different sizes, it is reasonable to assume that it has been using your bed as a home for about three weeks.

In similar circumstances, it takes eggs about 10 days to hatch. Therefore, if you find tiny milky-white eggs attached to your furniture, it means your bed has been infested for that long. Some eggs can also be collected and you can estimate the time of when they were laid, once they hatch.

A big indicator of when a bed bug infestation manifested is the number of adult biting insects in the bed. Generally, it takes about seven weeks for a bed bug to complete its lifecycle and turn from an egg into a fully-grown adult, so there shouldn’t be any new adults from eggs during that period. This is assumed under the circumstances that the outbreak started from a few adults and no new bed bugs were introduced to your home during that time.

In essence, there is no surefire way you can estimate when a bed bug infestation started, but you can prescribe some limits and use them to determine an estimate. This type of task is best left to professional exterminators who can determine the age of the infestation by studying bed bug fecal matter, the number of eggs and excuviae, and adult biting insects.

Dealing with bed bugs can be a complete headache. Unfortunately, bed bug infestations have grown quite common and no one really knows why. Although bed bugs bites are quite irritating and unsightly, most people will heal from them in a couple of weeks at most. People who are extra-sensitive to bed bug bites should consider the home remedies mentioned above as well as visit a doctor if their symptoms worsen.

The tips given above can help you deal with bed bug bites without any long-term side effects. Meanwhile, you can hire the services of a professional exterminator or try some bed bug powders and sprays to get rid of these pests from your house.

How Long Do Bed Bug Bites Last?

Ever wondered how long bed bug bites last? Bed bug bites look like small red welts and can last up to two weeks or more. Learn more about bed bug bites.

For most people, the idea of a bed bug feeding on them while they sleep is enough to make their skin crawl. Here are some facts about bed bug bites and what to expect if you think you’ve been bitten.

Q: How long do bed bug bites last?

A: Most bites will heal withinone to two weeks of appearingand not cause any long-term problems. Those with stronger sensitivities to insect bites may take up to three weeks or longer to heal.

Q: When do bites first appear?

A: According to theCenters for Disease Control,it can take up to 14 days for a bite to appear. Some people may not notice bites at all, while others may see signs of a bite within hours.

Q: What does a bed bug bite look like?

A: Bed bug bites are often mistaken for mosquito or flea bites. All three insects can cause small red bumps or welts in those they’ve bitten. However, bites from a bed bug are usually clustered or form a line in a zigzag pattern, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Q: Could it be another insect bite?

A: Many other skin reactions can look very similar to bed bug bites. If the bed bug was not actually caught in the act, bites and reactions to bites should be combined with other evidence such as blood spots, fecal staining, shed skins and bed bug eggs. This will help you correctly identify the culprit for proper elimination.

Q: How are bed bug bites treated?

A: There are ways to treat bed bug bites, including over-the-counter solutions. For specific details on how to treat a bed bug bite, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Don’t worry about questions like "how long do bed bug bites last?" Make this bite the last one, and call Terminix today for a free bed bug inspection.

Do Earwigs Bite?

If you shudder a little when you think about earwigs, you’re probably not alone. They’ve developed quite a nasty reputation, thanks to urban legends (mostly false) that have been circulating for years. But are they harmful?

The Lifespans of Insects With Short Lives

Many insects, such as butterflies, have a lifespan that occurs in four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Other insects, such as grasshoppers, do not have a pupal stage and instead go through three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The length of each stage can vary based on many things, from the insect species to the temperature outside—but what some insects share in common is a very short adult stage. Keep reading to learn about five insects with some of the shortest adult stages in their lifespan.

The Return of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

The change of seasons from summer to fall means many things: leaves changing colors, dropping temperatures, and—depending on where you live—stink bugs sneaking into your home. Stink bugs were named for their distinct ability to emit an unpleasant odor when they are threatened or disturbed by predators like lizards or birds. This also means that if stink bugs enter your home and feel threatened, you’ll be faced with dealing with their strong smell in your house. As we head into fall, you might find yourself with more active stink bugs than usual, so it’s important to know the basics about these smelly insects.

What are Earwigs?

Most people have probably heard of earwigs at some point or another. These creepy-looking insects are associated with some urban myths. Learn the truth about earwigs, including what attracts them and how to help get rid of them.

ARE TICKS DANGEROUS?

The majority of ticks will deliver painless bites without any noticeable symptoms. However, some ticks can carry a variety of bacteria and pathogens for disease. Although not all ticks are dangerous, you don’t want to risk coming into contact with these blood-sucking insects.

ARE TICKS DANGEROUS?

The majority of ticks will deliver painless bites without any noticeable symptoms. However, some ticks can carry a variety of bacteria and pathogens for disease. Although not all ticks are dangerous, you don’t want to risk coming into contact with these blood-sucking insects.

Are Bed Bugs Contagious?

Bed bugs are not too picky about where and when they catch a ride and don’t necessarily have a preferred mode of transportation, so it’s no surprise how many people wonder, are bed bugs contagious?

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Cluster Flies In Your Home

If you’re like many homeowners, you’ve dealt with annoying flies ruining your summer barbecues and outdoor dinner parties. You may have even become accustomed to whipping out the flypaper and heavy-duty bug zappers the minute you hear the familiar buzz of a fly. These annoying pests are likely house flies, which can pose significant health risks to you and your family. But have you ever seen large, sluggish flies loitering inside your home in the autumn and winter? They may be cluster flies.

Tips to Get Rid of Stink Bugs in Your House

Now that it’s fall, it’s officially indoor stink bug season. Before it becomes winter, brown marmorated stink bugs are looking for comfortable overwintering sites to spend the cold months—and that can often mean that they may find a way to sneak into your house. While the odor that a stink bug releases is not dangerous, they are definitely a nuisance. Luckily, there are steps you can take to get rid of stink bugs in your house—without having to deal with the unpleasant smell.

What are Sand Fleas?

Many people love going to the beach to spend time in the sun, sand, and water. But they might not love some of the nuisances that live at the beach or in the ocean, such as gnats or jellyfish. But, what about the sand flea, a small critter that can be found in moist areas such as under rocks or debris. Keep reading to learn exactly what sand fleas are and if you need to worry about them.

The Lifespans of Insects With Short Lives

Many insects, such as butterflies, have a lifespan that occurs in four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Other insects, such as grasshoppers, do not have a pupal stage and instead go through three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The length of each stage can vary based on many things, from the insect species to the temperature outside—but what some insects share in common is a very short adult stage. Keep reading to learn about five insects with some of the shortest adult stages in their lifespan.

The Return of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

The change of seasons from summer to fall means many things: leaves changing colors, dropping temperatures, and—depending on where you live—stink bugs sneaking into your home. Stink bugs were named for their distinct ability to emit an unpleasant odor when they are threatened or disturbed by predators like lizards or birds. This also means that if stink bugs enter your home and feel threatened, you’ll be faced with dealing with their strong smell in your house. As we head into fall, you might find yourself with more active stink bugs than usual, so it’s important to know the basics about these smelly insects.

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Length Of Time For Bedbug Bites To Show

What is the Length of Time for Bedbug Bites to Show?

A bed bug bite is more and more becoming to be a fairly occurrence in hotel rooms and homes. A bed bug bite or succession of bites create small hives that is typically in an orderly row or an aggregated pattern. Itching and skin redness are also very likely to occur and these typically fade over a period of a few days.

These blood sucking parasites are active and bite during the night, and they will bite all over your body, more in particular on those areas around the face, the arms and hands, upper torso and the neck. Any exposed skin when sleeping is a target location.

During the day time, these bugs will tend to hide themselves in a variety of isolated and dark areas in your house. The behinds of a loose wall paper or paint, cracks, mattress and box spring as well as the bed frame, are the favorite hiding spots of these bed bugs.

If you suspect that you are harboring bed bugs into your home, you should start to watch out for some bedbug bite marks all over your body. By now, you should be wondering about the length of time for bedbug bites to show. This information can really come in handy if you want to detect the presence of bed bugs into your home.

According to experts, not everyone responds to bed bug bites, so you won’t really be so sure if you would react to it. A recent research study has reported that majority of people do respond to it, more in particular those who has been bitten repeatedly over time, which is the case when these bugs have already infested your house. In addition to this, the study has also suggested that the length of time for bedbug bites to show may vary from person to person. Majority of bed bug bites do not show up right away, more in particular when an individual is bitten for the very first time. Along with repeated bites, the time delay will tend to get shorter and shorter.

In general, the length of time for bedbug bites to show may be divided into 4 different phases:

Stage 1: this is from day 2 to 3. The primary response was just as like having a mosquito bite. Each bite mark had a tiny, elevated light-colored bump at the center. The bites would feel only just slightly itchy.

Stage 2: This is from day 4 to 8 wherein the bite marks will appear swollen, bright red and feels painful burning itch. They now feel a little similar to chigger bites but only worse.

Stage 3: This is during the 9th day. By now, the swelling should have gone down and the itching reduced. If observed very closely, tiny blood vessel and capillaries may be seen around the middle of each bed bug bite mark.

Stage 4: This is about the 12th day. The portion around each bed bug bite mark should now appear like it has been bruised.

Everything You Need to Know About Bed Bug Bites

Bedbugs are small insects that feed on blood from humans or animals. They can live in your bed, furniture, carpet, clothing, and other belongings. They’re most active at night, feeding on people while they sleep.

Bedbugs can be 1 to 7 millimeters long. They’re flat, oval-shaped, and reddish-brown in color. They don’t have wings, so they rely on animals or humans to carry them from one place to another.

Although bedbug bites are rarely dangerous, they can be very itchy. In some cases, they become infected or cause an allergic reaction.

If you suspect there are bedbugs living in your home, it’s important to get rid of them.

Some people don’t develop noticeable symptoms from bedbug bites. When symptoms do develop, the bites tend to be:

  • red and swollen, with a dark spot at the center of each bite
  • arranged in lines or clusters, with multiple bites grouped together
  • itchy

Bedbugs can bite any part of your body. But they’ll usually bite areas of skin that are exposed while you sleep, such as your face, neck, arms, and hands. In some cases, the bites may develop into fluid-filled blisters.

If a bedbug bites your skin, you won’t feel it right away because the bugs excrete a tiny amount of anesthetic before feeding on people. It can sometimes take a few days for symptoms of bed bug bites to develop.

Bedbug bites often become noticeably red and swollen. Multiple bites may appear in a line or cluster in a small area of your body. The bites tend to be itchy. They may cause a burning sensation.

If you have bedbugs living in your home, they may not feed every single night. In fact, they can go multiple days without eating. It might take a few weeks to realize that the bites are part of a larger pattern.

Scratching bug bites can cause them to bleed or become infected. Learn more about the symptoms of an infected bug bite.

If you suspect there are bedbugs in your home, look for signs of them in your bed and other areas. For example, they often hide in:

  • mattresses
  • box springs
  • bed frames
  • headboards
  • pillows and bedding
  • cracks or seams of furniture
  • carpeting around baseboards
  • spaces behind light switches and electrical outlet plates
  • curtains
  • clothes

You may see the bugs themselves. You may also find drops of blood or small black dots of bug droppings in your bed. If you find bedbugs, call your landlord or a pest control company.

To contain and eliminate the infestation, it helps to:

  • Vacuum and steam-clean your floors, mattresses, furniture, and appliances.
  • Launder your linens, drapes, and clothing using the hottest settings of your washing machine and dryer.
  • Seal items that can’t be laundered in plastic bags and store them for several days at 0°F (-17°C) or for several months at warmer temperatures.
  • Heat items that can be safely heated to 115°F (46°C).
  • Fill gaps around your baseboards and cracks in furniture with caulking.

Several insecticides are also available to kill bedbugs. A pest control company may have access to insecticides or equipment that might be difficult for you to buy, rent, or use on your own. Find more tips for managing bedbug infestations and learn when to call a professional.

In most cases, bedbug bites get better within one to two weeks. To relieve symptoms, it may help to:

  • Apply anti-itch cream or calamine lotion to bites.
  • Take an oral antihistamine to reduce itching and burning.
  • Use an over-the-counter pain reliever to relieve swelling and pain.

In rare cases, bedbug bites can cause allergic reactions. If you develop signs or symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, call 911.

Sometimes, bedbug bites can cause an infection known as cellulitis. To reduce the risk of infection, wash the bites with soap and water and try not to scratch them. Learn when it’s time to visit your doctor for treatment.

In addition to over-the-counter medications, there are several home remedies that may help relieve the symptoms of bedbug bites.

To soothe bitten areas, it may help to apply one or more of the following:

  • a cold cloth or an ice pack wrapped in a towel
  • a thin paste of baking soda and water
  • certain types of essential oils

Although more research is needed, some studies suggest that camphor oil, chamomile oil, or some other types of essential oil may help relieve bug bites. Take a moment to learn more about seven essential oils that might help treat bites.

If you suspect that your baby or child has been bitten by bedbugs, check their sheets, mattress, bed frame, and nearby baseboards for signs of the bugs.

To treat bedbug bites on your baby or child, wash the bites with soap and water. Consider applying a cold compress or calamine lotion.

Talk to your child’s doctor or pharmacist before using topical steroid creams or oral antihistamines to treat the bites. Some medications may not be safe for babies or young children.

If your child is old enough to understand your instructions, ask them not to scratch the bites. To prevent scratching, it may also help to trim your child’s nails and cover the bites with a bandage.

Bedbug bites and fleabites are quite similar in appearance. Both can cause red bumps to form on your skin. Both can be very itchy.

When fleas bite you, they typically bite the lower half or your body or warm, moist areas around joints. For example, they may bite:

  • your feet
  • your legs
  • your armpits
  • the inside of your elbows or knees

Bedbugs are more likely to bite upper parts of your body, such as your:

If you suspect that bedbugs or fleas have bitten you, check for signs of the bugs in your home. Bedbugs often hide in the seams of mattresses, cracks of bed frames and headboards, and baseboards around beds. Fleas tend to live on family pets and in carpet or upholstered furniture.

If you find bedbugs or fleas, it’s important to treat your home or pet to get rid of them. Get the information you need to identify and treat infestations of these pests.

Bedbug bites and mosquito bites can both be red, swollen, and itchy. If you have a line of bites that appear in a small area of your body, they’re more likely to be bedbug bites. Bites that appear in no apparent pattern are more likely to be mosquito bites.

Both bedbug bites and mosquito bites tend to get better on their own, within a week or two. To relieve itching and other symptoms, it may help to apply a cold compress, calamine lotion, or other topical treatments. Taking an oral antihistamine can help as well.

It’s also possible to confuse bedbug bites with spider bites, ant bites, or other insect bites. Find out more about the differences between these types of bites.

Sometimes, people mistake hives for bedbug bites. Hives are red bumps that can develop on your skin as a result of an allergic reaction or other cause. Like bedbug bites, they’re often itchy.

If you develop red bumps on your skin that get larger, change shape, or spread from one part of your body to another in a short period of time, they’re more likely to be hives.

A small group or line of bumps that appear on one part of your body without changing shape or location are more likely to be bedbug bites.

If you develop hives along with breathing difficulties, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting, get medical help right away. You might be experiencing anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Learn more about anaphylaxis and other potential causes of hives.

Spider bites can be red and itchy, much like bedbug bites. But unlike bedbugs, spiders rarely bite more than once. If you only have one bite on your body, it’s probably not from bedbugs.

Spider bites often take longer to heal than other types of bug bites. Some spider bites can cause serious damage to your skin, especially if they get infected. To reduce the risk of infection, wash any bug bites with soap and water.

Some spiders are poisonous. If you suspect a poisonous spider has bitten you, get medical help right away.

Bedbugs can live in any home or public area. But they’re common in places that have a lot of people, a lot of turnover, and close quarters. You may be at increased risk for encountering bedbugs if you live or work in a:

  • hotel
  • hospital
  • homeless shelter
  • military barrack
  • college dorm
  • apartment complex
  • business office

Unlike some types of bugs, bedbugs don’t transmit diseases when they bite. But in some cases, bedbug bites can become infected. Potential signs and symptoms of an infection include:

  • pain and tenderness radiating from the bite
  • redness, swelling, or warmth around the bite
  • red streaks or spots near the bite
  • pus or drainage from the bite
  • dimpling of your skin
  • fever
  • chills

If have a bedbug allergy, you may also develop an allergic reaction after being bitten. This may cause painful swelling or intense itching around the bite. In some cases, it can also trigger a potentially life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.

If you suspect that you’ve developed an infection or allergic reaction to a bedbug bite, contact your doctor. Get emergency medical care if you develop any of the following after being bitten:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • chills
  • dizziness
  • trouble breathing

Bedbugs don’t just bite humans. They can also feed on family pets.

If you have a pet who’s been bitten by bedbugs, the bites will likely get better on their own. But in some cases, they might become infected. Make an appointment with a veterinarian if you suspect your pet has an infected bite.

If you hire a pest control expert to get rid of bedbugs in your home, let them know if you have a pet. Some insecticides may be safer for your pet than others. It’s also important to wash your pet’s bed, stuffed toys, and other accessories where bedbugs may be living.

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