How To Treat Bed Bug Bites On Babies

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Baby and Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs live in warm and dry places, like mattresses, and feed on blood. A person of any age is at risk for getting bed bug bites and the treatment is the same for every age. If your baby gets bitten by bed bugs, you can handle it by controlling the itching and discomfort and eliminating the bed bugs.

Bite Description

According to Skin Sight, bed bug bites appear as red or pink bumps in lines or clusters on your baby’s skin 1. If your baby has sensitive skin, the bites can be large welts. Bed bug bites are typically painless, but they can itch and cause your baby to try and scratch them.

Treatment

There is no evidence that bed bugs can transmit blood-borne diseases, according to MayoClinic.com 2. However, the itching may be uncomfortable for your baby. Talk to his doctor if you are concerned. He may recommend or prescribe a topical corticosteroid to help with the itching. An oatmeal bath may help with the itching as well. You can buy an oatmeal bath preparation at the drugstore or just add powdered oatmeal to lukewarm water. Be sure to supervise your baby carefully while he is in the bath, and only use a small amount of water to prevent drowning.

Managing Bites

Keep your baby’s nails trimmed short while her bites are healing. Scratching her bites can cause them to bleed, which can lead to a bacterial infection in her skin. If she develops a bacterial infection from scratching her bed bug bites, she may need antibiotics.

Eliminating Bed Bugs

To get rid of bed bugs, wash linens, bedding and curtains in hot water and dry them in the dryer on a high-heat setting. Fix any furniture cracks and vacuum the room and mattress. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services recommends covering the mattress with a plastic cover. In extreme infestation cases, bed bugs can live under the carpet or under wallpaper and peeling paint. You may need to call a professional exterminator if you cannot get rid of the bed bugs yourself.

Warnings

Bed bugs are common in places with high turnover, such as apartment complexes and hotels. If your baby spends time in these places, be sure to wash his bedding frequently and to check his body for bites. Do not use any chemicals to get rid of bed bugs before checking to make sure they are safe for use around children.

Bed bugs live in warm and dry places, like mattresses, and feed on blood. Bed bug bites are typically painless, but they can itch and cause your baby to try and scratch them. He may recommend or prescribe a topical corticosteroid to help with the itching. If your baby spends time in these places, be sure to wash his bedding frequently and to check his body for bites. Do not use any chemicals to get rid of bed bugs before checking to make sure they are safe for use around children.

Bedbugs

Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.

Check if it’s bedbugs

Jeff March / Alamy Stock Photo

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

Signs of bedbugs include:

  • bites – often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
  • spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
  • small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)

Bedbug bites can be red and itchy. They’re often in a line or cluster.

Otto Pleska / Alamy Stock Photo

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

How you can treat bedbug bites

Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so.

Things you can do include:

  • putting something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling
  • keeping the affected area clean
  • not scratching the bites to avoid getting an infection

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • using a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone cream to ease bedbug bites (children under 10 and pregnant women should get advice from a doctor before using hydrocortisone cream)
  • antihistamines – these may help if the bites are very itchy and you’re unable to sleep

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • the bites are still very painful, swollen or itchy after trying treatments from a pharmacist
  • the redness around the bites is spreading

You may have an infection and need treatment with antibiotics.

Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP

It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

How to get rid of bedbugs

contact your local council or pest control service – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be resistant to some insecticides

wash affected bedding and clothing – use a hot wash (60C) or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes

put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer (-16C) for 4 days (alternative to hot washing)

clean and vacuum regularly – bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early

do not keep clutter around your bed

do not bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first

do not take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if you have come from somewhere where you know there were bedbugs

Page last reviewed: 21 January 2019
Next review due: 21 January 2022

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.

Continued

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."

Treating Bed Bug Bites on Babies

There are lots of insects and parasites that you don’t want your baby to come into contact with. Bed bugs are one of the most difficult and uncomfortable pests to encounter for you and your baby. They are difficult to detect and can be very difficult to get rid of. The worst part of bed bug bites on babies is that they can cause them pain and discomfort. In addition, development of rashes, skin bacterial infection and a bad flare-up of allergies.

The Evidence of Bed Bug bites on Babies

How to identify Bed bug bites on babies? It depends on how these bites look like. In fact, bed bug bites show up virtually indistinguishable, especially as adults. On kids, these bites start to become a bit more pronounced, you may at first mistake them for ant bites. Moreover, it looks like some type of allergic reaction, depending on the severity of the infestation. Your baby will become more agitated when it comes time for bed, which will also be hard to catch as a parent who is used to cranky bedtimes.

If you are suspicious at all about any red welts on your baby, you should start by doing a thorough inspection. Examine their bedding, mattress, and crevices of their crib. Bedbugs are only active at night, so they will be hiding in any crack or crevice that they can find nearby.

If your child has become naughty and anxious, he or she sleeps not well at night and has some type of skin rash, you are likely to suspect of pesky bed bugs in mattresses. In fact, these bugs are almost invisible and suck our blood at night, though you can detect bed bug bites on babies. On child’s sensitive skin, these bites may be taken for some irritation or allergic reaction at first. They also resemble the bites of ants. If you know for sure that there is nothing that could cause the skin allergy, there is no evidence of ants’ and mosquitoes’ presence at home, inspect the bedsites for the signs of bed bugs (droppings, groups of bugs that resemble apple seeds). Be specially careful if your baby becomes more agitated before going to bed and you find more itchy red welts on your baby’s skin in the morning after. Freeimages.com/Ben Earwicker

How to Treat bed bug Bites on Babies

If your baby hasn’t already begun to itch the bites, your first step should be to clean them with soapy water. To reduce the itchiness, try using calamine lotion or fresh aloe vera. Both provide immediate relief, but the aloe is perfect for bites that have already been scratched, as well. In extreme cases of scratching that has broken the skin, you may need to go see a pediatrician. You will get a prescription cream to avoid infection and stop the itching.

Most bed bug bites on babies are painless at first, but later they turn into itchy red welts on any area of skin exposed while sleeping.The bites of bedbugs do not have a red spot in the center. To reduce the itchiness of the welts, try applying some home remedies (calamine lotion, fresh aloe vera, tea tree oil) to provide immediate relief. In fact, bed bugs are not disease vectors, though their bites can cause severe allergy and irritation that is likely to result in skin bacterial infection due to scratching the welts. In extreme cases, you must call a pediatrician to get a prescription cream to avoid infection and stop the itching. Freeimages.com/Kurhan

What you absolutely do not want to do, however, is let this infestation persist longer than it should, as your baby can develop heightened allergic skin reactions when he/she grows up and it can also start to affect their psychological welfare, as well.

Treating the Bed Bugs

Simply throwing out the mattress and getting a new crib is not going to be a favorable solution to getting rid of the bed bugs. You will need to call a pest control professional if you want to avoid seeing them again. Make sure you enlist a company that uses safe, non-toxic treatments, such as heat-treating or steam-treating the room.

If you’re thinking of just relocated your baby into a different room as a temporary solution, you should be aware that you cannot starve bed bugs and the likelihood of bed bugs living in other areas of your house is very high. Bed bugs can go without a meal for up to a year, so as soon as a warm body is reintroduced to that room, they will be back.

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Even the cleanest environment; your home, a hotel even a close relative you’re visiting can end up with an infestation of bedbugs. They travel around on people’s luggage, clothing or other surfaces and can move into just about any home. This means you can be at risk of receiving bedbug bites just about anywhere.

The bedbug bite varies from person to person in severity. Some people do not even know they’ve been bitten, while others are so allergic they develop a rash and extreme itching. There are ways to treat bedbug bites but first, be sure that is what you are treating.

Inspect the Bed Bug Bite First

The bedbug bite resembles other insect bites, especially the mosquito. They are generally a raised, red bump that can look much like a blister. Often even a doctor will have trouble telling if it is definitely a bedbug you are suffering from. They do have some characteristics that are theirs alone:

  • They have a unique pattern in their bites.They are sometimes singular but most often occur in a “breakfast, lunch and dinner” pattern. This is a pattern of three to five bites appearing in a row.
  • The bedbug generally bite exposed areasof your body like the; neck, face, feet and arms. They will seldom be found on the back of your knees or in the folds of your skin.
  • The bit marks will typically go away by themselves within one or two weeks.To ensure you don’t get more bites, you will have to take care of the infestation. If you are still sleeping with bedbugs, you will get bitten again.

When Did the Bite Occur?

If you can find out where you were bitten; you can treat the area and eliminate the bedbugs. It may not be easy as not all people react at the same rate. It can take anywhere from a couple of hours to more than a week for a bite mark to appear.

Bedbug bites have a long incubation period and the red bump can take up to ten days to appear on some people.

Check your Home for Signs of Bedbugs

Starting with your bed which is where the bedbug will want to be to get their source of human blood; look for red spots on your sheets. These will either be the squashed bug that bit you, or from the bites marks they left when they were finished eating.

Other signs to look for on your mattress are; the bugs themselves either alive or dead and feces. The feces they leave are little black spots like black pepper. Check entire bed including sheets, pillows and pillow cases.

The bedbug is hard to find as it is very tiny and brownish in color. You need to find the bedbug or signs of one to know if you are truly treating bedbug bites.

How to Treat a Bedbug Bite

Washing the bite with soap and water is your first step. Use a bar soap and enough water to completely wet your hands. Work the soap in your hands until you have a thick soapy lather and spread that over the bite area. Leave the soap on the area to dry. This should ease the itching. This method not only eases the itching it will also help prevent a skin infection.

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