How To Treat Bed Bug Bite Rash
Bed bugs: Six cheap and natural solutions to treat itchy bites at home
BED BUG bites can be extremely irritating, especially if you have a serious infestation and lots of bites, but there are ways to deal with them. David Cross, head of Technical Training at Rentokil Pest Control outlines six ways to treat the itch.
Bed bugs are small insects that live in the cracks and crevices in and around beds, and the recent heatwave has caused a reported increase in their numbers in the UK.
They crawl out at night and bite exposed skin, leaving small, red lumps. Bites can appear from a few minutes after being bitten up to a week or two later, according to the NHS.
Although bed bug bites are painless, they can be very itchy and irritating.
“Bedbugs aren’t dangerous and don’t spread any diseases, but some people experience a reaction to their bites and they can be stressful to live with,” the NHS said.
There are many natural remedies and ‘old wives tales’ on what you can use to help reduce the inflammation and itching associated with bed bug bites
David Cross, Rentokil Pest Control
So what’s the most effective method of treating bed bug bites?
“There are many natural remedies and ‘old wives tales’ on what you can use to help reduce the inflammation and itching associated with bed bug bites,” said Rentokil’s David Cross.
According to Cross, there are six treatments to try, which should be applied after washing the bites with soap and water, before drying them.
This relieves itching and also helps to dry rashes and protect the skin.
Baking soda and water
Make a paste with baking soda and water, and apply it directly to the skin. Let it dry before wiping away with a cotton pad.
Bed bug bites are painless but can be itchy and irritating (Image: Getty Images)
The menthol contained in toothpaste is said to be a good anti-itch remedy. Apply a generous amount to the bite to soothe the burning sensation and relieve the itching.
This provides a mild anaesthetic effect that helps to calm the itching caused by bites.
Both “fresh” Aloe Vera or gel works well against insect bites. The active substances and amino acids present in Aloe Vera help relieve itching and burning sensations.
This has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is also a natural astringent. Lemon juice can help dry rashes and itchiness while reducing redness and swelling.
As bed bugs are small and only come out at night, they can be difficult to spot and it is therefore not always easy to identify if you have an infestation.
Bed bug bites usually fade in a few days, but there are ways to treat the itch (Image: Getty Images)
Bed bugs often bite in lines or clusters on 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
However, one thing which distinguishes them from other biting insects is the pattern in which they bite.
Because they are crawling insects, as opposed to flying insects such as mosquitoes, bed bugs often bite in lines or clusters across the skin.
Bed bug bites also usually occur on exposed areas such as the face, neck, hands or arms.
In more severe cases, bed bug bites may cause a rash or fluid-filled blisters. They can also become infected with bacteria if scratched.
According to the NHS: “The bites usually fade in a few days. If they’re very itchy, you can buy a mild steroid cream (such as hydrocortisone) or antihistamine tablets to relieve the itch.”
“See your GP if you develop signs of a skin infection, including pain, redness and swelling, as you may need antibiotics,” the NHS said.
How to treat bed bug bite rash
What are the symptoms of a bed bug rash? Find out how to recognize bed bug bites rash and what remedies can help treat the itch and clear the skin rashes.
A person who is bitten by bed bugs may develop symptoms such as bed bug rashes that can be extremely itchy however the rash itself is not detrimental to anyone’s health.
While the reddness and swells does not clear easily, the discomfort and itchiness can be easily treated with remedies that include medications as well as natural remedies.
What Are the First Signs and Symptoms of a Bed Bug Bite Rash?
It is very common for a bed bug rash to be mistaken for common household insects bites rash since a bed bug rash can look almost identical to those caused by other parasitic blood feeding insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, ants and lice.
In fact, most people do not know that they are bitten by bed bugs and may assume the rash as skin allergy without further notice. However the bites of bed bugs can be easily recognizable once you know what are the symptoms to look for.
The first tell tale signs of bed bug bites are the multiple small or raised red bumps on the skin that will always appear in a clustered pattern or in a row because of the tendency of the bloodsucking bugs to feed on the same location more than once.
The next tell tale sign to look for will be that you will get bitten every night while you are sleeping and develop large amount of these rashes every day, especially on the back, legs and arms which are common sites for bed bug bites.
Either way, for many people, these red bumps will often manifest hours or days after the actual biting. The bitten spots may soon begin to itch and if scratched, the bite area can become severly infected and inflammed.
How Long Does the Bite Rash Last?
How long a bed bug rash last is really dependent on the individuals being bitten. Some people will not have any reaction at all while for others who are skin sensitive to allergies, they may develop a skin rash together with the bite welts that can become extremely itchy as they get bitten repeatedly.
Image credit: unforth
|Do you have bed bug photos? Get paid for it. Find out how here.|
Typically bed bug rashes will show up a few hours after the actual biting but there are some cases whereby the skin rash does not appear until a few days or even two weeks later since this is dependent on the allergy reaction to the person that is being bitten.
Image credit: afpmb
Generally, the rash of bed bugs will last for two or three days and then slowly fade away. However the rashes can last much longer if the person is more allergic prone. Often it will require some medical intervention to finally clear up the skin rash completely.
Click here to see more photos of bites from bed bugs.
How to Treat & Stop the Itch?
Typically, steroid creams or oral antihistamines can be use to treat the bed bug rash to help alleviate the itchy feeling.
Topical steroid creams such as hydro-cortisone Cortaid Intensive Therapy can be very effective in helping to stop the itch and resolve the rash quickly.
Other oral steroids like Prednisone can also be use to treat the itch of a beg bug rash. Oral antihistamines like Benadryl can also be effective but may cause drowsiness so they should be use only at night. Other oral antihistamines that can be use during the day are Zyrtec and Claritin.
There are also other topical lotions and creams that can be applied to the rash to stop the itch. The best ones contain a mix of diphendrydramine to stop the itch and pramoxine to help with the pain. Similarly, creams and lotions that have benzyl alcohol can be use to treat pain and itching too.
Other natural remedies you can try to treat the rash include:
- Applying lukewarm water (preferably over 120 degrees F or 50 В°C) immediately to the bites area is also known to provide relief to some people.
Simply washing it regularly with antibacterial soap to keep bacteria from growing and causing infection.
Calamine lotion will help protect the skin as it heals. It will also speed up the drying of the rash and help the area heal faster.
Powdered oatmeal can be added to a lukewarm bath that is soaked in. It will provide relief from not only itching but reduce inflammations and irritation as well. It can also be made into paste and applied directly to the affect areas.
A mixture of salt and baking soda can also be applied to the affected areas to relieve inflammation.
Bed Bug Proof Mattress Covers
Protect your bed and prevent bites with bed bug proof mattress covers & encasements.
Pictures of Bed Bugs
See and identify what do bed bugs and their bites look like.
This website’s mission is to provide comprehensive information about bed bugs .
Popular topics include how to kill bed bugs , bed bug rash , bed bugs treatment and what do bed bugs look like .
How to Treat and Cure Bed Bug Bites and Rash – Treatment
Bed bug are attracted to warmth, so they bite as we sleep. They are also happy with carbon dioxide. They live in dark areas of their host. Bed bug feed on blood and blood from their host is the only food for them. All poultry, pigs, cats, dogs, nice, bats and even man becomes host for them. Bed bug securely hold the skin using claws and insert beak with two tubes, one to suck hosts blood while other tube injects saliva to keep blood diluted. It is because of this saliva we have itching feel. Nymphs feed 3-5 minutes but an adult feed on the hosts blood for 10-15 minutes.
Bed bug bite symptoms
When we have a bed bug bite, it gives rashes. The rashes developed gives an extremely irritating itching sensation. It is mostly misunderstood that the bites caused are due to some other insects. When we find tiny raised skin bumps in a row or clustered pattern, it is bed bug bite because they often feed more than once at same place.we can even check for red spots on our bed sheets.
How and when rashes occur for bed bug bites
We can see the bite often caused in the night during sleep and the rashes increases. The rashes are seen in legs, arms ,face, neck and back, which are exposed in the night. For many people this bites cause bumps after hours or a day after the bite and they start itching. If they are scratched it will burn out of infection. Mostly they are misunderstood to a bite by mosquito, flea or even as scabies. Many find it as bed bug bite later sometimes ten days after too.
How long do bed bug rashes last
The rashes appearance is based on the individual allergic reaction to the bite. For some of lasts for many days and for others rash appears after a day.
Even some people don’t get rashes even after so many days. If rashes occurred it fades away slowly after some days. If the individual has more intense allergic reaction to the bites the rashes lasts long, Medical help is needed for such persons.
Home remedies for bed bug bites
- Bed bugs can be treated with the paste made by adding baking soda and water. Wash the rashes before applying this paste with soap and water. After applying baking soda paste for about an hour wash with water.
- Use a tub full of warm water and half cup of peppermint oil can also be used to wash the rashes which stops itching.
- We can also apply gel from aloe vera plant leaf, applying it heals all wounds including bed bug bites.
- Witch hazel solution used for cleansing face also can be used for cleaning rashes.
- Lemon juice also helps cleaning the rashes to reduce itching and infection.
- We can also apply benzoyl peroxide or rub alcohol on the rash to decrease infection.
- Natural Lotions and creams containing calendula can also be used.
- Applying a mixture of baking soda and salt will help relieve from inflammation.
- Washing the affected area with antibacterial soap often helps in controlling the infection.
- We can make a paste with the powdered oatmeal and water and apply on affected area.
- Add some powdered oatmeal in lukewarm water and have a bath. It gives relief and reduces the infection.
- We can wash the affected area with soap and water and apply some anesthetic lotion to reduce infection and ice cubes can also be privileged and to reduce the swelling.
Medications used for bed bug bites
- Consulting our family doctor who can help find and suggest the severity of rashes and its treatment.
- We can also crush some aspirin and mix it with water to make paste and apply it over the affected areas to reduce swelling.
- Applying steroid creams, calamine lotion, cortisone cream or using hydrocortisone creams will reduce allergic reaction and swelling.
- Anaesthetic containing pramoxine will remove the pain or reduce the infection.
- Antihistamine like benadryl will reduce the swelling.
- Painkillers like ibuprofen or naproxen can also be used to reduce pain.
Bed bug bites – How to prevent
We have to first clean our bedding and bed clothes often either by vacuuming, washing, steaming or putting in sun. Whenever we see a first bite, we must start our prevention. Through cleaning of the ingested room using stiff brush is good. Always wash the infected garments with hot water. Seal all the unwanted holes and cracks in wall and furniture. When we go for hotels to stay, theaters to watch movie and some common places it is better to put our clothes in laundry before going to bed. We can even have a shower to avoid bringing infestation from there.
Bed Bug Rash: Symptoms and Natural Treatments for a Quick Relief
Bed bug bites can cause a very itchy rash and an irresistible urge to scratch the clusters of red bumps. Many people develop a bed bug rash after being bitten multiple times by these parasitic insects. The bed bug rash may be just a patch of itchy red skin around the bite mark or it could be a large number of welts that itch and may even blister.
Getting rid of the rash that develops after bed bug bites can be a challenge. Very often, scratching the red itchy rash just makes the itching even worse. Also, you may suffer from some embarrassment if the bed bug rash is on your face, arms, or legs. The good news is that there are many effective home remedies for bed bug rashes that will stop the itching and help your skin heal faster.
To naturally treat a rash that has been caused by bed bug bites, it’s important to reduce inflammation, swelling, and itching on your skin. However, natural remedies need to include antimicrobial properties to prevent skin infections getting worse. That is why ingredients like tea tree oil, witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, and aloe vera are excellent home remedies for bed bug rashes.
In this article, you will learn how to effectively treat the symptoms and visible signs of a bed bug rash. You will also find out how to identify bed bug bites and what you should do if you have an infestation of bed bugs.
Identifying Features of a Bed Bug Rash
Bed bug rashes on your face, arms, hands, and legs are an allergic reaction to being bitten by bed bugs. These are tiny insects that grow to about 5-7 mm and feed on the blood of humans and animals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that it can take up to several days for bed bug bite marks or a rash to appear. It can also be difficult to tell the difference between clusters of bed bug bites and other insect bites. For example, bed bug rashes can look similar to flea bites or mosquito bites. 1
According to doctors from the National Health Service, bed bug bites are painless at first. As the body reacts to the bed bug bite, red itchy bumps will appear. Sometimes, you may notice a rash around the bed bug bites or the clusters of red itchy welts could appear to be a rash-like patch of skin. 2
However, Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that the only way to really tell if the rash is due to bed bug bites is to look for signs of an infestation of bed bugs. 3
For more information, read the article on what do bed bug bites look like.
How Long Does a Bed Bug Rash Last?
The length of time a bed bug rash lasts depends on the severity of your body’s reaction. Dr. Steven Doerr on eMedicineHealth states that a rash can appear anywhere from a few minutes after the bite to a few days. If the bite turns into a red swollen bump then the rash can last up to two weeks.
However, if you scratch the itchy rash a lot and an infection gets into the wound, then the healing time for a bed bug rash will be longer than two weeks. 4
How to Spot Signs of Bed Bugs
If you notice signs of a bed bug rash, you should immediately inspect your bed and bedding for the little critters.
Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that bed bugs live in tiny crevices in furniture, in the seams of mattresses, in box springs, and along baseboards. Some of the tell-tale signs that your rash has been caused by a bed bug infestation are:
- Brown or dark specks on bed linen that are from dried blood or bed bug feces.
- Shed skins that are yellowish.
- Small tiny eggs about the size of a pinhead.
- A distinctive musty odor from the bed bugs.
If you notice signs of bed bug activity or even see live bed bugs crawling around your bed frame, you need to take immediate action to get rid of the bugs for good. To find out how to exterminate bed bugs completely using homemade sprays and bed bug powders, please read my article on the top 10 home remedies for bed bugs.
The Best Home Remedies for Bed Bug Rash
There are many wonderful home remedies to soothe itching and prevent infection of bed bug rashes and blisters. Applying these natural treatments regularly will help you to resist the urge to scratch which can cause the itching to become even more intense.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to take the itch out of a bed bug allergy rash fast is to apply a cold compress. The coldness helps to soothe irritated nerve endings and reduce itching.
Dr. Charles Patrick Davis on eMedicineHealth recommends an ice pack placed on itchy insect bite rashes to calm inflammation and get rid of itching. 5
How to use it:
To quickly calm the symptoms of a bed bug skin rash using a cold compress, this is what you should do:
- Put some ice in a sealed plastic bag and wrap in a thin towel.
- Hold on the rash for 10 minutes at a time.
- Repeat for a few times to help calm your itchy skin.
- Use the cold compress any time that your bed bug rash starts getting itchy.
Alternatively, you could use a cooled tea bag for the cold compress. Just place a black tea bags, green tea bag, or chamomile tea bag in a cup of boiling water for a few minutes. Remove, and cool in the refrigerator and use in place of the ice pack to treat your bed bug skin rashes.
Apple cider vinegar
Another easy remedy for bed bug rashes that you can make at home is an apple cider vinegar solution. The anti-itch properties of apple cider vinegar are due to the acetic acid in the vinegar. This acidic property of apple cider vinegar also acts as an antiseptic to kill germs and prevent secondary bacterial infections.
According to a report from 2010, topical treatments that lower the skin’s pH levels help to soothe itching. 6 Diluted apple cider vinegar is gentle enough for most people’s skin to balance pH levels and reduce inflammation. Also, the journalPLoS Onereported that acetic acid acts as a natural antibacterial treatment and can treat infections in skin wounds. 7
How to use it:
To calm an itchy rash caused by an allergic reaction to bed bug bites, you can use an apple cider vinegar solution this way:
- Dilute raw apple cider vinegar with equal parts of water.
- Dip a cotton ball in the solution and apply to the red bed bug rash to soothe itching and kill off germs.
- Leave to dry then rinse off with warm water.
- Apply the apple cider vinegar solution 2-3 times a day to your rash to help speed up the healing process.
The skin-soothing properties of aloe vera have been well researched and you can apply the gel directly to itchy bed bug bite rashes. You can buy aloe vera gel that has very few added ingredients or you can squeeze the gel straight from the plant leaf.
Many doctors recommend using a hydrocortisone ointment to reduce itching in insect bites. However, you can use aloe vera gel as a natural anti-itch ointment. The journalSkin Pharmacology and Physiologyreported that the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera were just as effective as 1% hydrocortisone gel in getting rid of itching. 8
How to use it:
It couldn’t be easier to use aloe vera gel to treat bed bug rashes. This is what you should do:
- Apply aloe vera gel to your irritated bed bug rash and allow to dry.
- Repeat 3 times a day to promote healing and get rid of the itchy rash quickly.
- Continue using until all rash-like symptoms of your bed bug bites have gone for good.
Witch hazel is another natural remedy that will take the itch out of bed bug bites or a rash. The reason that witch hazel is so effective in soothing itchy skin is that it contains tannins which are a natural astringent.
According to many doctors, witch hazel is a natural remedy for itching and pain. By applying witch hazel to irritated skin and insect bites, you can also help to reduce swelling and inflammation. Its healing properties are also useful if scratching the bed bug rash has caused the skin to break. 9
How to use it:
To promote healing of a rash caused by annoying bed bugs, you can use witch hazel this way:
- Soak a cotton pad or ball in pure witch hazel.
- Hold the cotton ball on the itchy bed bug rash for about 10 minutes to relieve itching and kill off any germs.
- Repeat applying the natural witch hazel remedy 3 times a day to treat your allergic skin rash.
Apply witch hazel to a bed bug rash any time you feel discomfort or a strong urge to scratch the cluster of bites. You can also use witch hazel to get rid of clusters of flea bites.
If you need fast relief from a bed bug skin rash that is causing irritation, you can apply a baking soda paste. The anti-inflammatory properties of baking soda along with its antibacterial activity is a quick and cheap way to treat bed bug rashes.
According to Dr. David Derrer on WebMD, baking soda will calm redness, soothe itching, and generally help treat symptoms of an allergic reaction to an insect bite. 10
How to use it:
To help cure a bed bug rash using baking soda, you just need to make a paste this way:
- Take a tablespoon of baking soda (or a little more if you have a large rash) and mix with water to form a smooth paste.
- Apply to the itchy bed bug rash and any red bumps that are causing irritation.
- Leave for 15 minutes then rinse off with warm water.
- Use 2 times a day and continue using until your bed bug rash is healed.
Baking soda can also be used as a cheap home remedy to reduce blemishes on your skin and keep your skin looking healthy.
Oatmeal is a great way to treat large rashes caused by bed bugs that are on your back or in hard-to-reach locations. Oatmeal contains anti-inflammatory properties to reduce inflammation in insect bites that have caused an allergic reaction.
TheJournal of Drugs and Dermatologyreported that ground oatmeal helps to reduce skin rashes, itching, and other symptoms of irritated skin reactions. 11 Oatmeal is so effective for treating insect bites that it is registered with the U.S. FDA to relieve “itching and irritation caused by insect bites.” 12
How to use it:
For treating bed bug rashes that cover a large area, you can make a relaxing bath with ground oatmeal. This is what you should do:
- Run a bath with warm water and sprinkle 2 cups of ground oatmeal in the water running from the faucet.
- Relax in the bath for 20 minutes to relieve itching from all over your body.
- You can also take a handful of oatmeal and mix it into a smooth paste and press on itchy bed bug rashes.
- Rinse off in the shower and pat yourself dry.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times a week to help cure the irritating rash caused by bed bug bites.
If you want to know how to make an oatmeal and yogurt paste to relieve itching from clusters of bed bug bites, then please read my article on how to get rid of bed bug bites naturally.
A dab of honey on a bed bug rash can do wonders to heal the irritated skin quickly. Honey is commonly used to treat many types of skin infections, blisters, and wounds and can relieve itchy insect bites. Honey has powerful antibacterial properties; therefore, by applying honey to bed bug bites, you can prevent bacterial infections causing pus to form in the bite marks.
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic stated that honey can be used as a topical itch treatment and it forms a protective barrier on the skin. 13 TheEuropean Journal of Medical Researchreported that applying honey to the skin helps reduce itching in some skin infections. 14
How to use:
If you want to use honey to get rid of bed bug rash symptoms, it is best to use Manuka honey for its healing power. However, you can use any raw, unprocessed honey on the itchy rash.
- Apply a little honey to the irritating bed bug rash and gently massage into the skin to kill off any germs.
- Repeat regularly throughout the day to stop the strong urge to scratch.
- Continue using daily until all the signs of skin irritation and itching have disappeared.
One easy way to quickly remove the symptoms of a bed bug rash is to apply slices of cooled cucumber to the red patch of skin.
It is not just the cold from a chilled cucumber that relieves itching from a bed bug rash. According to the journalFitoterapia, the seeds of cucumber have a cooling effect. Research has also shown that cucumbers relieve irritated skin and reduce dermal swelling. 15
How to use it:
Here is the best way to use a chilled cucumber to treat bed bug rashes on your face, arms, or legs:
- Take a fresh cucumber straight from the fridge and cut it into thick slices.
- Place the cucumber slices on the patches of irritated skin for instant relief from discomfort.
- Use anytime your bed bug rash creates a strong urge to scratch the itch.
The anti-inflammatory properties of cucumber are also great for puffy eyes and you can also make your own cucumber gel for soothing tired eyes.
Essential Oils for Bed Bug Rash Treatment
Many essential oils can be used to make a topical ointment for relieving itchy and inflamed bed bug rashes. Two of the best essential oils for insect bites are tea tree oil and lavender oil.
When using these oils to treat a bed bug rash, you should mix them with a carrier oil. For this, the best oil to use is coconut oil because it has antibacterial properties as well as helping to moisturize the skin and promoting skin healing. For the recipe, you should use 2-3 drops of essential oil in 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Apply the natural ointment to your bed bug rash 2-3 times a day until all symptoms of bed bug bites have gone.
Tea tree oilis anti-inflammatory and helps to reduce itching and swelling in irritated patches of skin. A review of the medicinal properties of tea tree oil found that it helps reduce histamine-induced inflammation in the skin. This means that tea tree oil is an important ingredient in treating bed bug allergy rashes. 16
Lavender essential oilhelps to relieve pain, soothe itching, and relax the skin and mind. One scientific study published in 2015 found that lavender oil helps to lessen itching just as good as some popular pharmaceutical drugs for swelling and allergic reactions. 17
Calendula oilcan help to treat a skin rash caused by bed bugs. The University of Maryland reports that calendula treats skin inflammation and itchiness. 18 You can add a few drops of calendula oil to a tablespoon coconut oil to reduce redness in a bed bug rash.
There are many other essential oils that can help you treat the allergic reaction caused by bed bug bites – read about them in my article about the best essential oils for allergies.
Bed Bug Rashes – When to See a Doctor
In most cases of bed bug rashes, the home remedies are all you need to speedily reduce itching, redness, irritation, and blisters. Natural remedies should help to heal the bed bug rash within one week.
If you have a severe allergic reaction to bed bug bites or you notice signs of a bacterial infection, you should see your doctor. Dr. Steven Doerr on eMedicineHealth says that signs you should seek medical advice for bed bug bites are as follows: 19
- You have shortness of breath
- You have chest pain
- You have difficulty swallowing because your throat feels tight
- An itchy rash appears over all the body
- Redness spreads from the site of the bed bug bite
- You have signs of an infection like fever
Bed bug bites: What you need to know
If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works.
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.