How To Know If Have Bed Bug Bites

How to Know if You Have Bed Bug Bites

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs are a traveler’s nightmare. They can be picked up in hotel rooms, leaving red itchy bumps and possibly rashes to ruin your vacation. Or even worse: If you accidentally bring them back with you, they could infect your whole house. To prevent a plague of bed bugs, here are some tips ​on what to check while you’re on the road and how to determine the symptoms of bed bug bites.​

How to Check for Bed Bugs

To avoid getting bed bugs while traveling, make sure to inspect the mattress and sheets on the hotel beds, especially near the seams, mattress tags, and box spring. If you see any rust​ stains, dark spots, or pale yellow patches, this could be a sign of bed bugs. Also, never put your suitcase on the bed itself or you could bring them home after your vacation. Most hotels provide a luggage rack, which is much wiser to use.

Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites typically appear in groups of three, called the "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" pattern. Each victim’s reaction to bed bug bites is unique. Some may have a slight reddening of the skin. Others may have a more severe reaction, causing a raised, itchy rash. A raised rash may obscure the individual bites, making it challenging to identify. Sometimes, bites and lesions can throb and become very painful for days after the bugs bit you.

What to Do if You Bring Bed Bugs Home

As a precaution, you can steam, vacuum, and spray rubbing alcohol all over your mattress and box springs. It’s also recommended to steam, wash, and dry all the bed linens using hot water and bleach. To clean out your suitcase, spray rubbing alcohol over the luggage, both inside and out. Then, finish the job by vacuumed your bedroom thoroughly.

If you believe that you found traces of bed bugs, immediately cover the mattresses and box springs with plastic mattress covers. In worst case scenarios, you’ll need to hire an exterminator to come inspect your home.

When to Go to the Doctor

If you got bit by bed bugs, use ice packs to relieve the swelling and itchiness. Go to the doctor if symptoms persist. They will usually prescribe you a dose of antihistamines and antibiotics. Additionally, they may instruct you to bathe multiple times a day and apply a special cream to the rash.

US EPA

Bed Bugs

How to Find Bed Bugs

If you have a bed bug infestation, it is best to find it early, before the infestation becomes established or spreads. Treating a minor infestation, while an inconvenience, is far less costly and easier than treating the same infestation after it becomes more widespread.

However, low-level infestations are also much more challenging to find and correctly identify. Other insects, such as carpet beetles, can be easily mistaken for bed bugs. If you misidentify a bed bug infestation, it gives the bugs more time to spread to other areas of the house or hitchhike a ride to someone else’s house to start a new infestation. Learn about identifying bed bugs.

Bites on the skin are a poor indicator of a bed bug infestation. Bed bug bites can look like bites from other insects (such as mosquitoes or chiggers), rashes (such as eczema or fungal infections), or even hives. Some people do not react to bed bug bites at all.

Looking for Signs of Bed Bugs

A more accurate way to identify a possible infestation is to look for physical signs of bed bugs. When cleaning, changing bedding, or staying away from home, look for:

  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.
  • Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.
  • Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
  • Live bed bugs.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

When not feeding, bed bugs hide in a variety of places. Around the bed, they can be found near the piping, seams and tags of the mattress and box spring, and in cracks on the bed frame and headboard.

If the room is heavily infested, you may find bed bugs:

  • In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, in the folds of curtains.
  • In drawer joints.
  • In electrical receptacles and appliances.
  • Under loose wall paper and wall hangings.
  • At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet.
  • Even in the head of a screw.

Bedbugs

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Bedbugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bedbugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed. After feeding, however, their bodies swell and are a reddish color.

Bedbugs do not fly, but they can move quickly over floors, walls, and ceilings. Female bedbugs may lay hundreds of eggs, each of which is about the size of a speck of dust, over a lifetime.

Immature bedbugs, called nymphs, shed their skins five times before reaching maturity and require a meal of blood before each shedding. Under favorable conditions the bugs can develop fully in as little as a month and produce three or more generations per year.

Although they are a nuisance, they are not thought to transmit diseases.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.

Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments.

Because bedbugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.

When Bedbugs Bite

Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while they are sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed from three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.

Most bedbug bites are painless at first, but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the center like flea bites do.

People who don’t realize they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.

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Signs of Infestation

If you wake up with itchy areas you didn’t have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture around the time the bites started. Other signs that you have bedbugs include:

  • Blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases
  • Dark or rusty spots of bedbug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
  • Bedbug fecal spots, egg shells, or shed skins in areas where bedbugs hide
  • An offensive, musty odor from the bugs’ scent glands

If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.

Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet, because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.

If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.

Bedbug Treatments

Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up the places where bedbugs live. This should include the following:

  • Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can’t be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
  • Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and their eggs before vacuuming.
  • Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place in garbage can outdoors.
  • Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bedbugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
  • Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to get rid of places bedbugs can hide.
  • Get rid of clutter around the bed.

If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs or they will infest your new mattress.

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Bedbug Extermination

While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.

Generally it is safest and most effective to hire an experienced pest control professional for bedbug extermination.

Sources

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: "Bed Bugs."

Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: "Bed Bugs."

The New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene: "Stop Bed Bugs Safely."

University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Lancaster County: "Managing Bed Bugs."

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.

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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.

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