How To Recognise Bed Bug Bites

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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.

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.

Bed bugs: How to identify if your bites are from bed bugs

BED BUGS feed off human blood by biting the skin of their victims while they’re sleeping. But how do you know if your bites are from bed bugs or from other insects? Here’s how to tell.

Bed bugs are small insects that live in and around beds and furniture. They crawl out at night and bite exposed skin to feed of blood. Bed bugs are not dangerous and don’t carry diseases, but their bites can be itchy and irritating to live with. If you are getting bitten at night and don’t know why, how can you tell if your bites are from bed bugs or from other insects? Bed bug bites look similar to bites from other insects, in that they appear as itchy, red bumps on the skin.

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Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling

While this may make it seem difficult to distinguish between the potential culprits, there are a number of ways to detect where your bites are coming from.

Firstly, you may be able to tell if your bites are from bed bugs by looking at the pattern in which the bites appear on your skin.

Bites usually occur on exposed areas like the face, neck, hands or arms, and are less likely to occur under clothing.

As bed bugs are crawling insects, they typically bite in lines or clusters along the skin while they are crawling.

Flying insects like mosquitoes are more likely to bite in random places on the body while they are flying.

Bed bugs are crawling insects that bite exposed skin during the night (Image: Getty Images)

Secondly, you may be able to detect the source of the bites by checking for evidence of bed bugs in your bedroom.

Bed bugs are small, but are still visible to the human eye. Adults can grow up to 5mm long.

They usually hide away in cracks in the bed and surrounding furniture so you could try to find them by searching the mattress and bed frame, and shining a torch into the crevices of the furniture.

You may also be able to spot evidence of bed bugs by checking for markings on the bed sheets and mattress.

In homes with bed bugs infestations, the bed sheets and mattresses will often be covered in brown or black or red spots.

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Bed bugs live in beds and surrounding furniture (Image: Getty Images)

Bed bugs bite in clusters or lines along the skin (Image: Getty Images)

Bed bugs: How to spot them and how to get rid of them

Bed bugs: What are bed bugs? How to spot an infestation and how to get rid of them.

Bed bugs: How to spot them and how to get rid of them

The brown or black spots are dried poo from the bed bugs, while the red spots are blood stains which occur if you squash a bug while sleeping after it has fed.

Bed bugs shed their skin as they grow, so you might also notice mottled bed bug shells on and around the bed.

In addition, you may be able to detect the presence of bed bugs by the tiny white eggs they lay.

“Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper,” said the NHS.

“Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling.”

If you think you have a bed bug infestation in your home, you may need to call in pest control to get rid of them.

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."

How to Identify Bed Bug Bites

It is difficult to identify bed bugs just from their bites. In fact it is hard to recognise a bed bug bite from any other insect bite. You should look at the overall pattern and timing of bites and other common bed bug signs to confirm if you have a problem.

The good news is that bed bugs have not been shown to transmit any disease and their actual bites do not hurt. However, getting bites can still be very distressing and in some cases they can become sore and itchy and lead to a painful skin rash and potentially secondary infection.

Bed Bug Bite Symptoms

Where do bites occur?

Bed bug bites can occur anywhere on the body but are often close to blood vessels near the skins surface. Check for signs of bites on your:

Pattern of bed bug bites

When do bites happen?

Bites often occur at night when we are sleeping, but they can also occur if you are sat or resting for a sustained period of time. Bed bug bites are unlikely to wake the victim, as bed bugs inject an anaesthetic whilst drawing blood from the host (victim).

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