How Tell 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

5 ways to tell the difference between a bed bug or mosquito bite

Mosquito bites and bed bug bites have a lot of traits in common.

What makes it even more challenging to identify the two, is that not everyone has the same reaction (or reacts at all) to bed bug bites. (In fact, some people don’t even know what a bed bug bite looks like.) The bites might look like red welts on one person, rashes on another, and raised blisters on the next person. Due to the wide range of reactions, it’s not visually easy to determine if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug.

But nevertheless, you can use some context clues to decipher which insect is your culprit.

Here are five signs to look out for that will help you determine if you’re dealing with bed bugs or mosquitoes.

Bed bug bites occur in clusters.

One of the best ways to tell the difference between mosquito and bed bug bites is to look at where the bites are occurring on your body.

Mosquito bites usually occur one their own in random and isolated spots. Bed bug bites, on the other hand, pop up in clusters. The pattern of bed bug bites often appear as a line or zigzag, aligning with the edge of a sheet or mattress , according to the pest control company Terminix.

Mosquito bites don’t last as long.

As much as you might despise mosquito bites, the great thing to remember is that they will disappear soon enough if you leave them alone. The unsightly red bumps and itching sensation that come along with the bites can only last so long.

Compared to bed bug bites, mosquito bites typically subside and heal much faster , according to the pest control company Orkin.

Mosquito bites become itchy quicker.

If you’ve gotten even just one mosquito bite in your life, you know that they start itching almost immediately. Often, you’ll even feel an itching sensation before the red bump pops up.

When it comes to bed bug bite, however, you’ll typically see the bump or rash from the bite before it begins to itch, according to the blog pestseek.com.

The American Academy of Dermatology says that some people develop itchy welts within a few days of their first bites, but it can take up to 14 days for others to feel the areas itch .

Bed bugs may leave a surprise on your bed sheets.

One tell-tale sign that you’ve been bitten by a bed bug is when you find dark red or black stains on your bed sheets. If you discover stains and bite marks on your body, it’s a good indication you’re dealing with bed bugs and not mosquitoes, according to the blog pesthacks.com.

Disclaimer: Put down your lunch if you’re eating while reading this.

The dark black or red stains found on the sheets are actually digested blood. After bedbugs feast on their host (i.e. you), they may excrete some of the digested blood onto the sheets. Gross, yes. But the upside is that the stains offer you an easy way for you to tell what kind of bug you’re dealing with.

Bed bug bites may be accompanied by a rash.

Visually, it can be extremely difficult to distinguish between bed bug bites from mosquito bites – especially since everyone reacts to bed bug bites differently. Nonetheless, one difference you might find is that some bed bug bites are accompanied by rashes.

Depending on how allergic you are to the anticoagulant bed bugs inject into your skin, you may see a rash around the bite sites.

Experts recommend that if your skin does develop a rash, you should avoid scratching the affected area and contact a medical professional before it becomes infected.

Do You Have Bed Bugs? Know the Symptoms to Stay Safe

B ed bugs are the stuff of nightmares for a lot of renters and homeowners. Once you get them in your space, getting rid of them can be nearly impossible. Even professional treatment doesn’t take care of bed bugs the first time in some cases.

While you want to do everything you can to prevent getting bed bugs in the first place, knowing the signs and symptoms of bed bug bites and how to get rid of bed bug bites is important. Use this guide to learn more about spotting bed bugs and their bite.

Being aware of bed bug bite symptoms can help you get rid of them before they become a serious problem in your home.

Table of Contents

How to Tell if You Have Bites

Bed bugs tend to spread in certain areas like an outbreak or epidemic. However, even areas that aren’t known for bedbugs can still get them. Once they’re in your home they can be incredibly hard to get rid of.

Watch for these signs to see if you have bedbugs in your home:

  • Check your sheets for anything moving. Bed bugs are small, but if you watch for a few minutes and you do have them you should see them moving around.
  • Look for rust-colored or reddish stains on your bed sheets or mattress. These can occur when bed bugs get crushed while you are sleeping.
  • Check for small dark spots about the size of a dot made by a ball point pen on your sheets or mattress. These are typically bed bug excrement.
  • Try to find tiny eggs or eggshells that are about 1mm in size. These shells are the sign of bed bugs that have just been born or are waiting to be born.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Where to Look for Bed Bugs

Knowing what to look for when searching for bed bugs in your home is an important first step. You also need to know where they typically hide and can be found within your home if you want to stomp them out though.

Check for bed bugs around your home in these locations:

  • Under loose wallpaper, pieces of art or behind tapestries in your home.
  • Under the corners of rugs, particularly in your bedroom or bathroom area.
  • Where your walls and ceiling meet overhead. These junctions are common places for bedbugs to nest and hide for long periods of time.
  • In cushions, the seams of couches and loose fabric on chairs or other upholstered items. Bed bugs can even hide under throw blankets tossed on a bed, chair or couch if it isn’t routinely moved.
  • In the joints of drawers. Nightstands, dressers, closets and bathrooms are especially susceptible to bed bugs, though they can hide in areas like kitchen drawers as well.
  • In electrical receptacles around your home. Bed bug can also hide out in appliances within your home.

Bite Marks

Bedbugs bite humans and animals around them to feed on their blood. Like mosquitoes and other creatures of this type, they’re attracted to the skin for this reason.

Bite marks tend to look like small red bumps, not dissimilar to the bite of a mosquito. The area that forms is generally referred to as a papule and it can become inflamed and infected if you aren’t careful.

This is what bed bug bites can look like

Bites on My Skin

Bed bug bites on humans are typically found around the hands, arms, shoulders, neck and face. You’ll usually find that bed bug bites are grouped together as well since these small creatures don’t typically cover much ground at once. This is not always the case however, and bites do not have to come in clear clusters or groupings.

While these bugs are small, you will see their bite since inflammation of the bite area, along with redness and swelling are common. Bed bug bites on toddlers and small children are even easier to notice. They should be treated immediately to keep small kids from scratching and potentially spreading an infection.

Do Bites Itch or Hurt?

The bites typically cause minor discomfort to humans, though many people are bitten when they are asleep because these bugs commonly live within sheets and bedding.

After being bitten by bed bugs, humans are likely to experience a variety of symptoms:

  1. Burning at the bite site. Many people notice a little bit of discomfort and an initial burning sensation when bitten by bed bugs.
  2. Itching around the area where person was bitten. This is common, though scratching is not ideal since it can spread infection. The problem can be even worse if you’ve got a large bed bug infestation and a large wound area.
  3. Redness and swelling. For some people, being bitten by bed bugs can cause a reaction that’s a bit like an allergy. Anti-inflammation medication can help control swelling if it appears after being bitten by bed bugs.

Can the Bites Make Me Sick?

Bed bug bites typically do not make people sick if they take care of them properly. When a person does not clean the bite area regularly, or they scratch the skin and spread infection, there can be health problems associated with being bitten by bed bugs.

Like other small bugs that survive on blood, there’s also the chance that infection can be spread when a bed bug bites more than one person. The risk of getting a serious infection this way is not high, but it can happen, particularly in places like hotels.

In general, bites that are taken care of properly will not pose much risk to humans.

Take care of bed bug bites by:

  • Washing the bite area regularly. You need to keep bite sites clean, though they do not have to be covered with bandages or anything else.
  • Reduce inflammation with a cool compress or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Do not scratch the bite site even if it is itching. Use a cool compress, calamine lotion or colloidal oatmeal to reduce the feeling of itching.

It is also important that you quickly wash sheets and bedding around your home to minimize your exposure to bed bugs if you think you have been bitten. Many people don’t do this fast enough to stop the spread of bugs.

Unfortunately, bed bugs can lay up to 500 eggs in their relatively short lifespan, all of which could be in your home!

How Can I Know if a Bed Bug Bit Me?

The easiest way to tell if a bed bug has bitten you is to look for small, dot-like bite marks on your skin. These tend to get red a few hours after you are bitten and they can swell up like mosquito bites.

Bed bug bites typically form in clusters as well, which can differentiate them from flea bites and mosquito bites. If you haven’t been outside, it’s the wrong season for mosquitoes or you don’t have pets, bed bugs are also a much more likely choice for what has bitten you.

How Do You Know If Bedbugs Are Present?

It’s also important to remember that bed bug bites typically cause a small, yet sharp pain at the time of the attack. If you’re awake when bitten by bed bugs you should immediately stop and look for them, related eggshells and eggs in the area.

Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites

Bed bug bites typically occur in a straight, cluster-like line, which can help differentiate them from flea bites. You’ll usually find three or four bed bug bites in a row, though this isn’t always the case.

Flea bites are also more likely to cause swelling faster than bed bug bites. If you notice swelling after an hour or less, or the bite is more like an open sore or blister after a day or two, you probably have flea bites instead of bed bug bites.

Are They Bed Bugs Bites or Flea Bites?

Bed Bug Bites vs Mosquito Bites

Mosquito bites are felt immediately and show a swollen area within minutes when most people are bitten. This is not always the case with bed bug bites since many people have only a very mild reaction to them. For these people, bites will look more like a reddish dot on the skin than a large, swollen bite.

Mosquito bites also itch immediately while it takes some time for bed bug bites to begin itching in most cases.

Bed bugs can be incredibly annoying for renters and homeowners since they’re so small that finding them is often difficult. Their bites can also cause a great deal of irritation and discomfort. Worst of all, they breed at an alarming rate, and if you have a few in your home now, you could have an infestation soon if it’s not caught quickly.

The good news is that bed bug bites generally don’t cause much harm to children, adults or even pets. They can create some discomfort, itching and swelling with their bite, but the spread of infection is rare if bites are dealt with properly.

Use the tips above to find beg bugs quickly and get them out of your home. The longer you let them live in your home or bed, the more likely you are to face a serious infestation down the line.

You can find further details of Bed Bugs Control here.

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9 SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF BED BUGS

Bed bugs are a nasty and uncomfortable problem. Signs and symptoms of bed bugs can be hard to detect at first, and even trickier to treat. To the untrained eye, bed bug bites can be confused with those of other biting insects.

Here are nine easy signs help you know if you have a bed bug problem.

RED, ITCHY BITES

People don’t often consider bed bugs until they’ve left their mark. The appearance of flat, red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters is a key sign of bed bugs on humans. Bed bugs can also leave their bites in straight rows and, while they don’t spread diseases to humans, their bites are quite irritating and scratching them can lead to bleeding and infection.

UNCOMFORTABLE NIGHTS

Bed bugs are most often found in the bed, where humans spend most of their nights. It makes logical sense for bed bugs to be most active at night while humans are in bed with them. Should you find yourself developing those itchy welts while laying in bed sleeping (or trying to sleep), it’s likely bed bugs are the problem.

MARKED ARMS AND SHOULDERS

Bed bugs tend to feed on exposed skin such as that on your arms and shoulders, which you may tend to leave uncovered while sleeping. This is different from, say, fleas and chiggers, which tend to bite around the ankles.

A BUGGY BED

The first sign of a bed bug problem is obvious: the bed. After bed bugs feed on humans, they’ll leave behind blood stains resembling small rust spots. These will usually be found near the corners and edges of the bed. Bed bugs also shed their skin, or molt, several times as they mature, so you may find their oval brown exoskeletons during your search.

THE NOSE HAS IT

A strong, unpleasant, musty odor like that of a wet towel is another common bed bug symptom. Bed bugs release pheromones, and when in large numbers, the smell can be quite strong. Should you find your bedroom smelling like a dirty locker room, you may want to perform an inspection.

Remember, bed bugs aren’t confined to your home. They can be found wherever you sleep, including hotel rooms.

Here are some quick inspection tips to help you avoid a serious problem, whether on the road or at home:

INSPECT THE BED

Strip the mattress and box spring and thoroughly inspect the corners and seams. Use a magnifying glass and a flashlight. You’re looking for rust-colored, reddish-brown blood stains and/or small brown ovals (molted bed bug skin).

INSPECT THE ROOM

After searching the bed, it’s time to move to the rest of the room. Check anything upholstered, including chairs, couches, curtains and the edges of the carpet. Look in and behind dressers, underneath the bed and if possible, behind the headboard. Always be on the lookout for the signature reddish-brown spots.

OPEN THE CLOSET

Bed bugs can also cling to clothing, which is how they can travel and spread so adeptly. Be sure to look in your closets and check your clothing thoroughly. Bed bugs on clothes means bed bugs on humans.

USE YOUR NOSE

As stated above, one way detect bed bugs is their smell. The scent of their pheromones can be quite strong. It’s often described as a musty odor.

Since it’s possible for people to go for long periods without being aware they have a bed bug infestation, knowing the key bed bug symptoms and how to find these pests will go a long way in combating them.

How To Tell Bed Bug Bites From Other Insect Bites

There are a lot of insects in the world. It is estimated that insects outnumber humans 200 million to one. 200 million! That’s a lot of bugs. Fortunately, not all insects bite humans. If they did, we’d all be covered in bites. All the time. From head to toe. But, there are enough insects that do want to bite us–enough to make it difficult to figure out which bites are from which insect. This is especially troublesome if you’re trying to figure out if you have bed bugs. Hopefully, this article will shed some much-needed light on the issue, and help you square things away.

Characteristics Of A Bed Bug Bite

Bed bugs are interior insects. They live almost exclusively with humans. This fact is helpful to know if you want to figure out whether or not you’re being bitten by bed bugs. If you haven’t been out camping recently and spent any time in wet, outdoor areas, all of those insect bites are probably from an interior bug.

Bed bugs are mostly nocturnal. If you wake up in the morning and you have two dozen more bites than you had when you went to bed, it is likely that you have bed bugs. It is important to note, however, that some individuals are more resistant to bed bug bites than others, and bites may not become noticeable for a day or two.

Bed bugs feed multiple times. If you’re being fed on by bed bugs, it is likely that you are going to find numerous bites on your skin. But, what is unique about bed bugs is that each individual bug will feed more than once during the night. Some entomologists, who fancy themselves comedians, refer to bed bug bites as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But, if you’re being feasted on by these blood-eating pests, you know that there is nothing funny about it. This is a good fact to know, however. If you have bites that come in sets of threes, or look as if they follow a trail up your body, it is more likely that those bites came from bed bugs rather than several individual, single-biting, insects.

Bites worsen over time. When an infestation of bed bugs takes root in a home, bites start off fewer in number. But, there is another, more interesting characteristic of new bites. They are usually less noticeable. Immature bed bug nymphs inject less anticoagulant into a bite wound than adult bed bugs. This leads to less irritation, less swelling, and less of a rash. Over time, bites get worse. When adult bed bugs bite, they inject more anticoagulant. And, over the course of several exposures to this anticoagulant, the allergic reaction increases. Bites that start out as tiny dots that can become painful, itchy, swollen welts.

There Are Several Bugs That Can Bite You In Your Home

Here are some traits that help to distinguish them from bed bug bites:

Flea bites often happen around the ankles and on the lower legs. They are also associated with a terrible itch. This can cause a flea bite to have a scab in the center of an inflamed bite wound.

While mosquitoes are an outdoor pest, they are also a flying pest, which makes it possible for them to get inside our homes. But inside bites from mosquitoes will be limited. If you’re being bitten by a mosquito, or two, you’ll have one or two bites that will probably have a puffy look to them. This depends on your skin type, and your age.

Mite bites can be numerous, just like those bed bug bites. They can also look like bed bug bites. The important difference is the pattern mentioned above. Mite bites will be random, not in a trail or series of three bite marks, like bed bug bites.

The best way to know if the bites you’re finding on your skin were caused by bed bugs is to actually see a bed bug. If you have bed bugs in your South Portland home, they are definitely biting you. For assistance with a bed bug infestation in New England, contact Big Blue Bug Solutions. When it comes to protecting homes and businesses from bed bugs, you can trust Big Blue Bug Solutions.

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