How To Identify Bed Bug Bites On Humans
Bad Bugs Slideshow: Identifying Bugs and Their Bites
Many bugs give us reason for pause, including spiders, chiggers, bees and lice. But few get under our skin — quite literally — like the tick. If you enjoy the outdoors, be careful of ticks — they can attach as you brush past grass and plants. Ticks don’t always carry diseases, and most bites are not serious. But they can carry diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Once a tick latches onto skin, it often moves to the warm, moist armpits and groin — feeding on blood and passing on any disease it carries. A tick bite can also trigger an allergic reaction. If you have a tick, it is important to remove it properly. To prevent tick bites, keep your arms, legs, and head covered when outdoors. Use tick repellant with DEET on skin or clothing, or products with permethrin on clothing. Check for ticks after spending time in grassy or wooded areas.
In the U.S., the Western blackвЂ“legged tick and the deer tick can carry Lyme disease bacteria. Infected ticks usually don’t spread the disease until they’ve been attached for at least 36 hours. The first sign of infection is often a circular skin rash. Early symptoms may also include fever, headache, and fatigue. Untreated Lyme disease may spread to other parts of the body, including the muscles, joints, heart, and nervous system. If you have symptoms or are worried, see your doctor.
Black Widow Spiders: Venomous!
Wood piles and tree stumps — that’s where venomous female black widows hide. She is long-legged and glossy black, with a distinctive orange, red, or yellow "hourglass" shape on her underside. These spiders are roughly 1/3 inch wide and 1.5 inches long, counting their long legs.
Black Widow Spider Bites
Black widow spider bites may cause stabbing pain in the bite area, but they can also be painless. Look for one or two red fang marks, redness, tenderness, and a nodule at the bite site. Severe muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, seizure, and a rise in blood pressure may follow soon after. Get medical care immediately. Anti-venom medicine is available. If possible, bring the spider with you for positive identification.
Brown Recluse Spiders Can Have a Nasty Bite
Hiding in attics and closets — in Midwestern and Southern states — that’s where you’ll find brown recluse spiders. The spiders range in color from yellowish-tan to dark brown, with darker legs. Their venom is toxic, and their bite can sometimes cause serious wounds and infection. Yet you may not even feel their bite until later.
Brown Recluse Spider Bites
When the brown recluse bites, it is often painless — then skin may redden, turn white, blister, and becomes painful. Sometimes an ulcer forms. These bites can be deadly in extremely rare cases. Get medical care if you have been bitten by a spider. If you can, bring the spider with you for positive identification.
Head Lice: Itchy!
In hair — that’s where you’ll find lice. They like to hide in the neck area of the scalp and behind the ears. If you have lice, you likely got it from sharing a hat, brush, or other item with a person who has lice. Lice are itchy, but scratching can lead to infection. In severe cases, hair may fall out.
Head Lice Remedies
To kill lice and their eggs (called nits), use lotions, creams, or shampoos from the drug store or prescribed by your doctor which are designed specifically for lice. You’ll also need to use a comb to get rid of the nits. In some areas, lice are resistant to permethrin; check with your doctor about which treatment is best.В Wash clothing, bedding, and brushes in hot water and dry in a hot dryer of dry clean to prevent the spread of lice. Check all household members, and treat everyone who has nits or lice.В
Fleas: Not for Pets Only
Fleas are small, wingless, agile insects that live off the blood of their host — and they don’t just bite pets. They dine on people, too.
Some people are very sensitive to flea bites — but scratching can cause a wound or infection. The best solution is to get rid of fleas on pets and in your home. Keep pets out of your bed and be sure to vacuum rugs daily. Spray insecticides according to directions on infested areas. Consider using a veterinary approved insecticide on your pet.
Bee, Wasp, Hornet, Yellow Jacket
When certain types of bees sting, they lose their stinger and die. But a wasp, hornet, or yellow jacket can inflict multiple stings because it does not lose the stinger. These stings can cause serious reactions in people who are allergic to them.
Bee, Wasp, Hornet, Yellow Jacket Stings
If you don’t have an allergic reaction, simply remove the stinger, clean the sting site, apply ice, take oral antihistamine for itching, and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain relief. If you have a severe anaphylactic reaction, use an epinephrine auto-injector if you have one. Call for emergency care. Lie down and carefully remove the stinger without squeezing the venom sac.В
Fire Ants: Ouch!
Fire ants look much like ordinary ants — and are found in most of the Southern states. They produce large mounds in open areas and are aggressive when disturbed. During an attack, the fire ant latches onto the skin with its jaw, then stings from its abdomen. It may inject venom many times.
Fire Ant Stings
The fire ant sting typically causes red lesions that burn and itch. Painful pus-filled lesions can also occur. Cold packs, pain relievers, and antihistamines can help relieve the discomfort. A large number of stings may trigger a toxic or severe life-threatening allergic reaction. Get emergency care immediately if needed.
Contrary to popular belief, chiggers are not insects; they are arachnids. Specifically, chiggers are the juvenile (or larval) form of a family of mites called Trombiculidae. They only dine on humans in their juvenile form. Their bites are painless, but lesions are very itchy. Itching usually peaks a day or two after the bite occurs.
After a few days of being attached to the skin, chiggers fall off — leaving itchy red welts. Over-the-counter products can help relieve itching. See your doctor if the skin appears infected or the welts appear to be spreading.
Scabies: Stealthy Pests
When scabies mites get into the skin, they can cause a big skin problem. The mites spread through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person — or by sharing towels, bed linens, and other objects.
Intense itching and skin sores don’t appear until several weeks after mites get into skin. The itching is very severe and usually worse at night. The rash typically is seen on the sides and webs of the fingers, the wrist, elbows, genitals, and buttock. You’ll need prescription lotion or pills to get rid of scabies. Wash all clothes, towels, and bedding in hot water and dry in a hot dryer or dry clean.
Bedbugs: Hitching a Ride
Their name tells the tale, as these tiny insects tend to hide in bedding. They are often found in hotels, shelters, and apartment complexes — and can hitch a ride into your home aboard luggage, pets, and boxes.
Bedbugs leave itchy, red bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. More of a nuisance than a health hazard, it is possible to develop an infection from scratching. If you have an allergic skin reaction, use creams with corticosteroids and take oral antihistamines — and see your doctor.
Puss Caterpillar: Southern Stinger!
The most poisonous caterpillar in the U.S., puss caterpillars can be found in Southern states where they feed on shade trees like elm, oak, and sycamore. The poison is hidden in hollow spines among the hairs.
Puss Caterpillar Stings
When a puss caterpillar stings, you may get waves of intense pain, rash, fever, vomiting, and muscle cramps. Remove the broken-off spines by using cellophane tape or a commercial facial peel — and call your doctor.
All scorpions are venomous, but only a few species are dangerous to people. Scorpions are found mostly in the Southern and Western states. Symptoms of a sting include pain, swelling, itching, vomiting, increased sweating, and vision problems. Get medical care immediately.
These biting flies live in wetlands, forests, and other damp environs. Keep these painful bites clean and avoid scratching to help prevent infection. Some types of deerflies spread Tularemia, an infectious bacterial disease that requires medical attention. Insect repellant and protective clothing help prevent deerfly bites.
Mosquitoes: More Than Irritating!
Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying, they rank anong the world’s deadliest animals.В Scratching a bite can cause a skin infection. Also, mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus, dengue fever virus, and other diseases including malaria. To protect yourself from mosquitoes, apply insect repellent and cover up when you go outdoors. Use window screens, and get rid of standing water in your yard.
Houseflies: Dirty, Hairy!
A housefly is a dirty insect — carrying more than 1 million bacteria on its body. It can spread intestinal infections by contaminating food. To control flies, keep food and garbage in closed containers and use window screens on your home.
Cockroaches: Ugly Trouble
They’re not just ugly. Cockroaches carry diseases like salmonella. They can trigger allergic reactions and asthma. If you live in a warm climate, getting rid of cockroaches can be difficult. It helps to use pesticides (or an exterminator), keep a clean kitchen, and repair cracks and holes in floors and walls.
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National Institutes of Health web site.
Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, University of Iowa web site.
Tennessee Department of Agriculture web site.
The University of Minnesota web site.
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources web site.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site.
Texas A&M University Department of Entomology web site.
Missouri Department of Conservation: "Chiggers!"
Ohio State University, Extension Fact Sheet: "Chiggers."
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, "Horse Flies and Deer Flies."
KidsHealth.Org, ""Bug Bites and Stings."
Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 07, 2020
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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What Bit Me? Spot These 11 Bug Bites
Bug bites are irritating, and some can be harmful. Learn to identify the type of bug bite and when to seek emergency medical care.
Getting a bug bite can be a creepy experience, especially if you don’t know what tiny creature left you with that red, throbbing welt on your skin. Don’t panic. Most bug bites and stings from common insects are harmless and heal quickly. But some bug bites and stings, like those from fire ants, wasps, hornets, and bees, may cause intense pain or even a serious allergic reaction. Others, like poisonous spider bites, require immediate emergency medical care.
Symptoms of bug bites provide clues to the cause and severity. For example, most bug bites cause red bumps with pain, itching, or burning. Some bug bites also feature blisters or welts. Here are some common bug bite clues:
- Bedbugs leave a small bite mark on the skin that is red and itchy or causes a serious allergic reaction.
- Bee stings cause a red skin bump with white around it.
- Flea bites leave an itchy welt on the skin, often on the ankles and legs.
- Mosquitoes leave a raised, itchy pink skin bump or in rare cases a severe allergic reaction.
- Spider bites cause minor symptoms like red skin, swelling, and pain at the site or very serious symptoms that need emergency care.
- Ticks can carry Lyme disease and their bite leaves a rash that looks like an expanding bull’s-eye.
Most bug bites are transmitted directly from the insect and occur outdoors. Two exceptions are bedbugs (tiny mites that live in and near beds) and lice, which spread through contact with an infected person, a comb, or clothing.
Certain bug bites can also spread illnesses, such as the Zika virus and West Nile virus (both transmitted by mosquitoes), Lyme disease (from a black-legged tick), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (from a dog or wood tick), or Chagas disease (from kissing bugs).
In fact, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautioned Americans that diseases from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have soared in recent years.
How can you prevent bug bites? Here are some tips:
- Avoid insects.
- Don’t eat foods or wear fragrances that attract bugs.
- Know your own personal risk for having an allergic reaction to a bug bite.
- Use pesticide.
- Wear protective clothing.
No matter what type of bug bite you have, it is good to know what bit you. Learning to identify a bug bite by how it looks and feels will help you know whether to treat the bug bite at home or seek immediate medical care.
If you have known allergies to bug bites, talk with your physician about emergency care. Some people with severe allergies to bug bites need to have allergy medicine, including an EpiPen, with them always.
Mosquito Bites Can Cause a Serious Illness
A mosquito bite appears as an itchy, round red or pink skin bump. It’s usually a harmless bug bite but can sometimes cause a serious illness, such as the Zika virus (particularly harmful in pregnant women), the West Nile virus, or malaria. For most people, Zika causes a brief, flulike illness. But newborns of pregnant women infected with Zika have an alarming rate of microcephaly birth defects, a debilitatingly small head and brain size. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a 2016 travel alert advising pregnant women to delay travel to 50 areas where Zika is active, including Latin America and the Caribbean.
About 2,000 cases of the West Nile virus were reported in the United States to the CDC in 2014. Symptoms appear 2 to 14 days after the bite and can include headaches, body aches, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and a skin rash. People with a more severe West Nile infection may develop meningitis or encephalitis, and have symptoms including neck stiffness, severe headache, disorientation, high fever, and convulsions.
The bite of a parasite-infected mosquito can cause malaria, a rare occurrence in the United States, with only about 1,500 cases reported by the CDC each year. Symptoms are similar to the flu and can include fever, headache, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting from 10 days to 4 weeks after the bite. Malaria is serious, but it’s good to know it is preventable and treatable, according to the CDC.
What do Bedbug Bites Look Like?
You probably won’t feel pain when a bedbug bites, but you may see three or more clustered red marks, often forming a line. Some people develop a mild or severe allergic reaction to the bug’s saliva between 24 hours and 3 days later. This can result in a raised, red skin bump or welt that’s intensely itchy and inflamed for several days.
How to get rid of bedbug bites? If your bedbug bites cause hives, it may mean a trip to your healthcare provider for treatment, notes the American Academy of Dermatology. Bedbug bites can occur anywhere on your body but typically show up on uncovered areas, such as your neck, face, arms, and hands. It’s good to know that although they’re common, bedbugs do not carry disease, according to the CDC.
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
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:
- box springs
- bed frames
- pillows and bedding
- cracks or seams of furniture
- carpeting around baseboards
- spaces behind light switches and electrical outlet plates
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:
- 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
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:
- 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.
Bed bug bites: What you need to know
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Most people who are bitten by bed bugs experience symptoms that include irritation, sores, or itchiness. But how should bed bug bites be treated and can they be prevented?
There are several ways of reducing the chances of getting bites, while the treatment options include good hygiene and antihistamines.
This article explores bed bug bite treatment and prevention methods in detail.
Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood.
While they are a public health concern, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease through their bites.
Bed bugs use a small tube-like structure called a proboscis to pierce the skin and drink a person’s blood. The pests are most active when humans are asleep, during the night and early morning.
An estimated one in five Americans have personally dealt with a bed bug infestation or knows someone who has encountered the pests.
Bed bugs can bite anywhere on the body where there is skin. Typically, bites tend to occur on areas exposed during sleeping, such as:
Many people do not feel the bite itself or develop clear symptoms other than the dots where the bug bit and some minor, surrounding inflammation and irritation. Others are considered hypersensitive to bites and develop more severe symptoms.
In most cases symptoms occur more or less immediately after the bite, but they can develop or progress over the following days as well. Without further irritation, symptoms typically resolve after a week or so.
Almost all bed bug bites will produce some degree of discomfort, typically itchiness and inflammation. Other signs and symptoms of bed bug bites include:
- a burning painful sensation
- a raised itchy bump with a clear center
- a red itchy bump with a dark center and lighter swollen surrounding area
- small red bumps or welts in a zigzag pattern or a line
- small red bumps surrounded by blisters or hives
- papular eruptions or areas of skin with raised or flat patches that may be inflamed
- small spots of blood from bites often dried or stained onto sheets or bed clothing
- reddish or reddish-brown dried stains on fabrics due to bed bug droppings
- white or clear skins, shed by the nymphs as they mature
Individual characteristics of the bug’s bite and the person who is bitten also influence the resulting sore.
While fairly rare, some people have or develop severe reactions and symptoms from bed bug bites. Serious symptoms that require medical attention include:
- difficulty breathing
- feeling nauseous or flu-like
- swollen tongue
- irregular heartbeat
Living with bed bugs can cause additional health complications:
- Increased likelihood of infection: Due to the skin’s surface being compromised.
- Sleep deprivation: The idea of being fed on can be extremely stressful. Given that the bugs only feed at night, some people will avoid sleep or will only get fitful or restless sleep.
- Decreased wellbeing: A continual lack of sleep has been linked to feelings of depression, anxiety, general fatigue, and lowered immune function. The misconceptions surrounding bed bugs, especially the mistaken association with lack of cleanliness, can add to feelings of depression and low self-esteem.
There are relatively few treatments options when it comes to uncomplicated bed bug bites.
The first recommended line of treatment involves cleaning the wound, ideally with soap and water.
For itchy bites, the following may relieve minor symptoms:
- over-the-counter hydrocortisone, which can be purchased online.
- anti-itch creams
Most wounds heal on their own within a week, sometimes two.
If severe swelling, inflammation, or itchiness occurs or persists, a person should seek medical attention.
A dramatic immune response may be a sign of an allergic reaction. If this is the case, one of the following may need to be administered:
- an injectable corticosteroid
- epinephrine medication
If infection occurs, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Severe itchiness may result in further complications, such as infection or scarring. If severe itching is experienced, people may be prescribed corticosteroid creams and antihistamine pills or liquid.
One way to help prevent exposure and potential infestations by bed bugs is to be able to recognize bed bugs and distinguish them from other pests.
In a 2017 study, some 35 percent of polled American business travellers and 28 percent of leisure travellers were unable to tell a bed bug apart from other household pests.
Common characteristics of nymphs (young bed bugs) include:
- being less than than 5 mm in length
- whitish-yellow and or clear-colored
- invisible without a microscope or magnifying glass
The nymphs are easier to see if they have just feed when the blood fills their abdomen, giving it a reddish brown color.
Adult bed bugs are typically far easier to spot than nymphs. Identifiable characteristics of most adult bed bugs include:
- an oval-shaped body
- apple seed in size
- a body that is fairly flat unless recently fed and inflated
- reddish-brown to light-brown or tan color of shell, depending on how recently it fed
- a length of 5-7 millimeters (mm)
- three segments, an antenna with four parts, short yellow hairs, and unusable wings
- a musty or stale-sweet scent released by glands on the underbelly
Controlling bed bugs needs the identification and complete removal or destruction of the pest’s eggs.
On average, one female can produce at least 345 eggs over her lifetime. Egg-laying females often increase the volume and frequency of feeding to support their brood.
Common characteristics and signs of bed bug eggs include:
- they are often laid in the same places where the female choses to rest
- they resemble tiny barrel-shaped, pearl-colored specks, no bigger than the head of a pin
- they develop a noticeable eye spot after a few days
The key to preventing bed bug bites is to stop the insects entering, feeding, and breeding in human environments.
In the daytime, bed bugs often seek refuge in the cracks and crevices of furniture, flooring, walls, and mattresses.
The seams and folds of upholstered furniture can also offer an ideal hiding place. Bed bugs have been known to persist in vacuum canisters or units.
The insects tend to pick hiding spots near human sleeping quarters, including bedrooms. Bed bugs found in other rooms are usually a sign of a severe infestation.
Areas where bed bug infestations commonly occur include:
- apartment or condominium buildings
- large office spaces
- vacation rentals
- cruise ships
- nursing homes
- college dormitories or housing units
- public transportation, including airplanes
- shopping malls
- furniture or second hand stores
- urban areas
- rented homes
Items commonly responsible for spreading bed bugs include:
- used or secondhand furniture
- new furniture or textiles exposed to bed bugs during transit
- items of luggage
- chairs or loungers where people fall asleep
- bedding or bed clothes
- moving or storage boxes
- shipped items, especially if held at several locations or warehouses
Bed bugs do not have a preference between sanitary, messy, or unsanitary conditions.
They can, however, be found at higher rates in places, such as hotels, if infestations are not properly cleared.
Bug Bites and Stings
Whether you’re in the water, on a mountain trail, or in your backyard, the wildlife you encounter have ways of protecting themselves and their territory.
Insects such as bees, ants, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, wasps, and arachnids may bite or sting.
The initial contact of a bite may be painful. It’s often followed by an allergic reaction to venom deposited into your skin through the insect’s mouth or stinger.
Most bites and stings trigger nothing more than minor discomfort, but some encounters can be deadly, especially if you have severe allergies to the insect venom.
Prevention is the best medicine, so knowing how to recognize and avoid biting and stinging animals or insects is the best way to stay safe.
The animals you should recognize and understand depend very much on where you live or where you’re visiting. Different regions of the United States are home to many of these creatures.
The season also matters. For example, mosquitoes, stinging bees, and wasps tend to come out in full force during the summer.
The form an insect bite takes depends on what type of bug bit you. Take a look at the photos below to help identify which insect may have caused your bug bite.
Warning: Graphic images ahead.
- A mosquito bite is a small, round, puffy bump that appears soon after you’ve been bitten.
- The bump will become red, hard, swollen, and itchy.
- You may have multiple bites in the same area.
Fire ant bites
This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.
- Fire ants are small, aggressive, red or black venomous ants with a painful, stinging bite.
- Bites appear as swollen red spots that develop a blister on top.
- Stings burn, itch, and last up to a week.
- They may cause a dangerous, severe allergic reaction in some people, resulting in swelling, generalized itching, and difficulty breathing
- Flea bites are usually located in clusters on the lower legs and feet.
- The itchy, red bumps are surrounded by a red halo.
- Symptoms begin immediately after you’re bitten.
- The itchy rash is caused by an allergic reaction to the bite of a bedbug.
- The small rashes have red, swollen areas and dark-red centers.
- Bites may appear in a line or grouped together, usually on areas of the body not covered by clothing, such as the hands, neck, or feet.
- There may be very itchy blisters or hives at the bite site.
- Painful, itchy rashes are caused by an inflammatory reaction at the site of the fly bite.
- Though usually harmless, they may lead to severe allergic reactions or spread insect-borne diseases.
- Take precautions when traveling to endemic countries by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and using bug spray.
- Head lice, pubic lice (“crabs”), and body lice are different species of parasitic lice that affect humans.
- They feed on blood and cause an itchy immune reaction at the site of their bites.
- Adult lice are gray/tan six-legged insects about the size of a tiny sesame seed.
- Nits (eggs) and nymphs (baby lice) can only be seen as very tiny specks that may look like dandruff.
- Painful, itchy rashes may be caused by an immune response to the bites of tiny mite larva.
- Bites appear as welts, blisters, pimples, or hives.
- Bites will generally appear in groups and be extremely itchy.
- Chiggers bites may be grouped in skin folds or near areas where clothing fits tightly.
Share on Pinterest Image by: James Gathany Content Providers(s): CDC/ James Gathany [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Bites can cause pain or swelling at the bite area.
- They may also lead to a rash, burning sensation, blisters, or difficulty breathing.
- The tick often remains attached to the skin for a long time.
- Bites rarely appear in groups.
- Symptoms may take four to six weeks to appear.
- The extremely itchy rash may be pimply, made up of tiny blisters, or scaly.
- The may cause raised, white, or flesh-toned lines.
Share on Pinterest Image by: White_tailed_spider.jpg: Ezytyper WhiteTailedSpiderBite.jpg:Ezytyper at en.wikipedia derivative work: B kimmel (White_tailed_spider.jpg WhiteTailedSpiderBite.jpg) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons
This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.
- Most spiders don’t pose a threat to humans, and their bites are harmless or mildly irritating, like a bee sting.
- Dangerous spiders include brown recluse, black widow, hobo spider, funnel web spider (Australia), wandering spider (South America), tarantula, wolf spider.
- A single raised papule, pustule, or wheal may appear at the site of the bite followed by redness and tenderness.
- The bite will appear as two small puncture marks.
- Severe allergic reactions to a spider bite may require medical attention.
Brown recluse spider
- This is a shy, brown- or tan-colored spider with a violin-shaped patch and six paired eyes: two in the front and two sets of two on either side of the head.
- It likes to hide in quiet, dark places like closets and bookshelves and is native to the South and South Central regions of the United States.
- Nonaggressive, it will only bite humans if it’s being crushed between skin and a hard surface.
- Redness appears with a central, white blister at the site of the bite.
- Moderate to severe pain and itching at the site of the bite occurs 2 to 8 hours after the spider has injected its venom.
- Rare complications include fever, body aches, nausea, vomiting, hemolytic anemia, rhabdomyolysis, kidney failure.
Black widow spider
This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.
- This spider is plump, black, and shiny, with an hourglass-shaped red mark on its abdomen.
- It’s nonaggressive and will only bite if it’s being crushed.
- Bites cause muscle pain and spasms in the arms, legs, abdomen, and back.
- Tremor, sweating, weakness, chills, nausea, vomiting, headache are other symptoms.
- The bite area is red with a white center.
- The venom of this common household spider isn’t considered toxic to humans.
- Bites are generally harmless and cause only minor pain and swelling.
- A single, red area appears with a tender central nodule.
- Itching, burning, or stinging may occur at the site of the bite.
- This large (up to 2 inches long) fuzzy, gray/brown spider is native to many parts of the United States.
- Nonaggressive, it will bite if it feels threatened.
- A tender, itchy red bump appears that heals in 7 to 10 days.
- These large (1-inch long) blood-sucking flies are most active in the daylight hours.
- An instant, sharp burning sensation occurs when a horsefly bites.
- Itchiness, redness, swelling, and bruising may also occur at the bite location.
- Pain, redness, swelling, or itching occurs at the site of the sting.
- A white spot appears where the stinger punctured the skin.
- A bee can only sting one time.
- These thin wasps have black-and-yellow stripes and long dark wings.
- Aggressive, a yellowjacket may sting multiple times.
- Swelling, tenderness, itchiness, or redness may occur near the area that’s been stung.
- Sharp pain, redness, swelling, and itching or burning occurs at the sting site.
- A raised welt appears around the sting site.
- Wasps can be aggressive and are capable of stinging multiple times.
- These are eight-legged arachnids with large pincers and long, segmented, stinger-tipped tails carried in a forward curve over their backs.
- Many species with variable levels of toxicity can be found all over the world.
- Intense pain, tingling, numbness, and swelling occurs around the sting.
- Rare symptoms include breathing difficulties, muscle twitching, drooling, sweating, nausea, vomiting, increased heartrate, restlessness, excitability, and inconsolable crying.
- Severe symptoms are more likely in infants and children than adults.
Here are some bugs that can be dangerous.
Biting insects, arachnids, and other bugs
Many bugs bite, but only a few do so intentionally. Most bites are relatively harmless, leaving just an itchy patch of skin behind. But some bites can carry disease: Deer ticks, for example, typically carry Lyme disease.
Intentional biters include:
Many larger insects and other bugs won’t seek you out but will bite if handled.
Some spiders have poisonous fangs. Poisonous spiders found in the United States include:
Insects will sting humans only to defend against a perceived threat. Typically, a bee or stinging ant’s stinger will be accompanied by a small amount of venom.
When injected into your skin, the venom causes most of the itching and pain associated with the sting. It can also cause an allergic reaction.
Common stinging insects in the United States include:
Scorpions have a reputation for stinging. Many species have barbed tails equipped with poison — 25 species worldwide have poison capable of killing a human being. The most venomous species of scorpion native to the United States is the Arizona bark scorpion.
The venom injected into your body from the bite or sting of an insect will cause your immune system to respond. Often, your body’s immediate response will include redness and swelling at the site of the bite or sting. Minor delayed reactions include itching and soreness.
If you’re very sensitive to an insect’s venom, bites and stings can cause a potentially fatal condition called anaphylactic shock. This can cause the throat to tighten and make breathing difficult.
Some bites and stings may cause illnesses when venom contains infectious agents.
Anyone can be bitten or stung by an insect, and bites and stings are very common. You’re at greater risk if you spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural or wooded locations. Children and older adults may have more severe reactions to bites and stings.
If you’re bitten or stung, you may see or feel the insect on your skin during the attack. Some people don’t notice the insect and may not be aware of a bite or sting until one or more of the following symptoms emerge:
- redness or rash
- pain in the affected area or in the muscles
- heat on and around the site of the bite or sting
- numbness or tingling in the affected area
Symptoms of a severe reaction requiring immediate medical treatment include:
- difficulty breathing
- nausea or vomiting
- muscle spasms
- rapid heartbeat
- swelling of the lips and throat
- loss of consciousness
If you feel ill or experience flu-like symptoms in the days following an insect bite, see your doctor for tests to rule out infections or diseases you may have contracted from the insect.
Many people are aware they’ve been bitten or stung because they see the insect shortly after the attack.
Although you shouldn’t further provoke an attacking insect, try to preserve the insect if it dies following the bite or sting. Its identity may help your doctor to properly diagnose your symptoms. This is especially important for a spider bite, as some species have dangerously potent venom.
The majority of bites and stings can be treated at home, especially if your reaction is mild. Remove the stinger if it’s lodged in your skin, wash the affected area, and apply an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling.
Topical anti-itch creams, oral pain relievers, and antihistamines may be used to combat uncomfortable symptoms. You may also want to consider applying a thin paste of baking soda and water to the sting to calm the itching.
Contact emergency services immediately if symptoms of a severe reaction are present. First aid instructions while waiting for paramedics to arrive include loosening the victim’s clothing, laying them on their side, and performing CPR if breathing stops.
If you believe a spider of the black widow or brown recluse variety has bitten you, seek emergency medical treatment even if symptoms seem minor or haven’t emerged. Scorpion bites also should be treated in the emergency room, regardless of symptoms.
Most bites and stings heal by themselves after several days of mild discomfort. Monitor the affected site for signs of infection. Contact your doctor if the wound appears to be getting worse or hasn’t healed after several weeks.
Bites and stings that cause severe reactions can be fatal if they aren’t treated immediately.
Once you’ve experienced a severe reaction, your doctor will likely prescribe an auto-injector of epinephrine, a hormone that can prevent anaphylactic shock. Carry it with you at all times to relieve the reaction immediately following a bite or sting.
Use caution when near nests or hives containing aggressive insects. Hire professionals who have the proper safety equipment to remove a nest or hive.
When spending time outside, you can take preventive measures, such as:
- wearing hats and clothing that provide full coverage
- wearing neutral colors and avoiding floral patterns
- avoiding perfume and scented lotion
- keeping food and drinks covered
- using citronella candles or insect repellent