Show Pictures Of What Bedbug Bites Look Like
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? Here’s Exactly How to Spot the Symptoms
If you wake up with a line of three to four itchy, swollen bumps, it could be due to bed bugs.
Waking up with a fresh set of itchy bug bites can bring on its own set of worries. What, exactly, was biting you in the middle of the night? Was it a spider? Mosquito? Or—possibly theworstcase scenario—could it have been bed bugs?
Although bed bugs might not be the first thing we think of when we wake up with a bite, the crittersdoget their food source from our blood—and will leave a little red bump in their wake after getting their fill.
But the trouble with identifying a bed bug bite—as is true for a lot of insects, including mosquitoes—is that it can be hard to identify the source of the bite, as everyone reacts differently to being bitten based on what their body’s immune response is. “Everybody’s going to respond differently,” saysTimothy Gibb, PhD, a clinical professor of entomology at Purdue University. “Same thing’s true with a mosquito bite. Some people are going to swell up and it’s going to itch. That same mosquito could bite someone else and it’s hardly noticeable.”
In fact, Gibb says some people may have no response when being bitten by a bed bug at all, based solely on how their immune system handles the bite. That’s why it can be difficult to determine whether your bite is the result of a bed bug just by looking at it.
But therearea few things that can tip you off to the fact that bed bugs are the culprit of your bites. Here’s what to know, including bed bug bites pictures to help you visualize the symptoms.
What do bed bug bites look like?
The key bed bug bite symptom to look for is a red, raised bump, says Gibb, similar in appearance to what you would get when bitten by a spider or a mosquito. But what sets bed bugs apart from other insects is that oftentimes,their bites will present in a line on one part or side of your body. This is the result of what’s called “probing.”
⚠️ Bed bug bites show up in a line, most often in a cluster of 3 to 4 bites.
“They probe the skin in several different places, I think probably to find best access to draw blood,” says Gibb. In fact, if you have screens on your windows—thereby keeping out other insects that might bite—but are still waking up with aline of 3 or 4 bites on your arm, it’s safe to suspect that bed bugs might be to blame, saysEdwin Rajotte, PhD, a professor of entomology at Penn State University.
Another way to determine if your bites are a result from bed bugs is to look for the insects themselves. They naturally like to hide in on your mattress, especially in the corners, near the head end, and in the cord that goes around it. They also like to camp out behind the headboard, behind any pictures on the wall, and in any electrical sockets.
Adult bed bugs are about the the size of an apple seed and are very flat from top to bottom—almost as thin as a piece of paper—with a brownish color, says Rajotte. Baby bed bugs are also brownish in color, but pinhead-sized. Another key identifier? Look for black spots on your sheets, mattress, and mattress cover, which could be bed bug feces.
Where do bed bugs bite, exactly?
Bed bug bites willmost commonly occur on the arms, neck, or trunk of the body, says Gibb, although they’ll bite anywhere they can find exposed skin. And—as their name suggests—bed bugs will bite you at night while you’re sound asleep.
“We’ve found it’s most active when people are most sound asleep, and that’s usually from about 2:00 to 4:00 in the morning,” says Gibb. “That’s natural for a parasite like that to do that because it’s going to protect it. People won’t see it, they won’t feel it. It makes their survivorship much more probable.”
Are bed bug bites itchy? Do they hurt?
Although some people will say a bed bug bite hurts somewhat—though not as intensely as the sting of a bee, for example—most complaints are due to the itching the bites cause, says Gibb. And that itching is due to the chemicals the bed bug inserts into your body during the bite, adds Rajotte.
“They’ve become what I consider the perfect parasite, because their mouthparts are kind of interesting,” says Gibb. “They will inject an anesthetic prior to biting, so people won’t feel it. And then they inject an anticoagulant that allows the blood to run easier for them to suck that up.” So while that system works great for thebugs, those left-over chemicals will usually lead to some uncomfortable itching on your end.
How long do bed bug bites last?
Although the duration and intensity of a bed bug bite will hugely vary from person to person, you typically won’t feel the effects of a bed bug bite—like itching and those raised red bumps—until mid-morning after a bite due to the anesthetic the bug injects, says Gibb. “So they certainly don’t feel it when the bite is occurring, but shortly after, probably within a day, for sure,” he adds.
From there, a bed bug bite will stay with you for typically at least 24 hours, though theycould last three to five days after the initial bite, says Gibb. At that point, the bite will then start to slowly dissipate.
How to treat bed bug bites
If you’ve received a bed bug bite (and the itching that comes along with it), chances are, you’re going to want to speed up the treatment process. But unfortunately, the best way to do that is also thehardestway to do it: not scratching the bite, says Gibb, which will just further irritate the area.
If you’re having trouble keeping your fingers away from the bite, you can also try using an antihistamine—think Benadryl or Allegra, which are meant to curb allergy symptoms—to help mute that itchy feeling.
And if bed bugsarethe cause of your bites, realize there’s no urgent need to panic. Yes, they might cost you a pretty penny and can be a pain to get rid of, but bed bugs can’t do any serious damage to your body.“They don’t kill people,” says Gibb. “A parasite would have a hard time surviving if it killed its host, and these do not.”
In fact, they don’t even transmit anything dangerous to you.“They’ve never been shown to transmit any diseases,”says Rajotte. “Unlike mosquitoes and ticks and things, which can transmit some pretty bad diseases, bed bugs do not. And so while they’re annoying and all that, they’re not going to harm your children or anything like that. They’re just annoying and you need to get rid of them.”
Ready to banish them from your home? Here’s our expert-approved, step-by-step guide to getting rid of bed bugs for good.
Bed Bug Bite Pictures
Here you will find a large collection of bed bug bite pictures showing the wide range of symptoms people experience in reaction to bed bug bites. There’s even a series of bed bug bite photos that demonstrate the stages of reaction over time – from the first appearance of bed bug bites to when they are nearly healed.
This page is pretty long. So if you are looking for something in particular, these links will take you to just the right section:
- Bed Bug Bite Pictures – the basics of where they bite and what bites look like
- Bed Bug Bite Complications – knowing proper bite care prevents more serious problems
- Transition of Bite Reactions – time lapse photo series of symptoms
Pictures of Bed Bug Bites
Bed bug bites often appear first on the head, face and neck.
Bed bugs search out exposed skin on which to take their next meal. That makes your head, face, and neck prime targets.
Bed bug bite symptoms vary from person to person.
The bed bug bite picture above shows a minimal reaction, while the bites in the picture below caused a more serious allergic reaction with swollen red welts.
The symptoms of bed bug bites mimic many other insect bites and allergic reactions.
Hands, arms and legs are also favorite targets.
The picture above shows minimal reaction to bed bug bites on the hand, while the photo of bed bug bites below demonstrates clearer signs of allergic reaction.
They will also feast on your shoulders, back and any other body part that’s left uncovered.
Bed bugs cannot bite through clothing so they are always going to look for exposed skin.
These two bed bug bite pictures show what can happen if you don’t cover up. More about how to prevent bed bug bites here.
Bed Bug bite symptoms often mimic other things.
The photo below shows how bed bugs bites can cause a rash type of reaction with red raised blistery bumps.
It even looks a little like poison ivy.
The photo below shows bedbug rash type symptoms as well. but this time it look a little more like chicken pox.
Bites alone are not enough to determine whether or not you have bed bugs.
Bed Bug Bite Complications
Bed bug bites can get infected without proper treatment.
Bed bug bites can be annoyingly itchy, but scratching them only makes the itch worse and opens the door to infection. The pair of photos below shows the original appearance of bed bug bites.
. and then the complications with infection just one day later.
Properlytreating bed bug bitesis simple if you know what to do.Read more about bed bug bite treatment and whatreallystops the itch here.
Bed Bug Bite Reactions – A Transition
In this photo collage, Lou Sorkin, Entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History shows the series of reaction he has to bites after feeding individual nymphs and adult bed bugs in the lab.
The entire sequence lasted just one hour from the initial appearance of bed bug bite symptoms to almost no visible sign of bite marks at all.
Note:The dark red blotches on his hand that look a like wine-colored stain are a birthmark, not the result of bedbugs.
More examples of the sequence of bite symptoms
The bed bug bite picture below shows the first appearance of bed bug bite reaction shortly after feeding a number of bed bugs in the lab.
Almost immediately the bites cause general redness, inflammation, and raised welts much like mosquito bites typically do.
The photo below depicts the symptoms of the same bed bug bites 6 hours later. The swollen itchy welts have been replaced by red bumps – looking more like a bed bug rash of sorts.
Note:The dark red stain-like marks on Lou’s hand and arm at the bottom of the photo above arenotfrom bed bugs. They are birthmarks.
Hours later the swelling is completely gone and only red bed bug bite marks remain.
As you can see, there were many bed bugs feeding on this one small stretch of skin. Not only is he one of my favorite entomologists (insect scientists).Lou Sorkin is a very brave man indeed!
Immediate and delayed reactions to a bed bug "feeding frenzy".
This pair of bed bug bite photos below show the immediate (left) and next day (right) reaction after feeding a colony of bedbugs from a container in the lab. (That’s why they are contained in a small circular area). The hive-like immediate symptoms are replace by dark red rash type reaction the following day with inflammation and less severe redness radiating out to a larger area.
The bites in these pictures above are the result of anentire colonyof bed bugs feeding in one spot and the larger area of reaction the next day is likely due to the high concentration of bites in one small area – it is not the spread of venom that is common with spider bites.
Hopefully, this bed bug bug bite picture collection has given you a better idea of what common symptoms of bed bug bites look like. Here are links to other helpful pages in the Bed Bug Picture Gallery.
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Childhood Skin Problems
Photo courtesy of Phil Pellitteri, University of Wisconsin
The first sign of bedbugs may be red, itchy bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. Bedbugs tend to leave straight rows of bites, unlike some other insects that leave bites here and there.
Bedbugs do not seem to spread disease to people. But itching from the bites can be so bad that some people will scratch enough to cause breaks in the skin that get infected easily. The bites can also cause an allergic reaction in some people. Read more about bedbug bites – symptoms, treatments and prevention.
Image: Photo courtesy of Phil Pellitteri, University of Wisconsin
Text: "Bedbugs – Overview", WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like (And How To Get Rid of Them Faster)
It can be difficult to identify bed bug bites because the red itchy bumps caused by bed bug bites look like flea bites or mosquito bites. Bed bugs usually come out at night and feed on the blood of humans. The tiny nasty pests can leave a cluster of bite marks on your face, arms, stomach, and legs. Some people only have a mild reaction to the bed bug bites and may only have a few small red dots. However, others have more severe reactions and are plagued by large red bite marks and an irresistible urge to scratch them.
Pictures of bed bug bites show groups of red bite marks on the body. Very often, the bite marks left by bed bugs are in straight lines or in a zig-zag and very rarely is there just one solitary red bite mark.
There are many effective natural home remedies to quickly get rid of the signs of bed bug bites. You can make your own natural treatments for insect bites with ingredients like witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, and aloe vera. The natural anti-inflammatory ingredients in those home remedies help to quickly relieve itching and promote healing.
In this article, you will learn how to identify bed bug bites and find out how to get rid of them quickly. You will also see images of bed bug bites to help you to spot the tell-tale signs that you have been bitten.
What do Bed Bugs Look Like?
The Latin name for bed bugs isCimex lectularius, or common bed bug. If you’ve ever seen a close-up picture of a bed bug you will see that they look quite scary. However, in reality, bed bugs are tiny pests that lurk in corners and crevices of beds, mattresses, and furniture. They are about the size of a small apple seed and many can be seen crawling around if you have an infestation.
Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that bed bugs have flat, brown, oval bodies. They don’t have wings but can quickly scurry over floors, ceilings, and walls. The parasitic insects live in groups and love to hide in dark places. If you have a bed bug problem in your home, you should check for signs of bed bugs in corners of your bed frame, along the seams of mattresses, along baseboards, and behind pictures. In fact, they will live in any crevice that is large enough to slide a credit card into. 1
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that bed bug eggs look like tiny white pinheads. As they go through their nymph stages they shed skins and these yellowish shells are a common sign to look for when checking for an infestation of bugs. 2
Pictures of bed bugs
How to Identify Bed Bug Bites
On most people, bed bug bites look like itchy red bumps on their body. However, it can be difficult to know if the bite marks have been caused by bed bugs or not.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms of bed bug bites may not appear for a few days. Also, each person reacts differently to being bitten by these irritating pests. Some people show no signs of being bitten whereas other people have a severe reaction to the bite, and large bumps appear on the skin that itch severely. 3
However, Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that the only way to know for sure if the red bite marks have been caused by bed bugs is to look for signs of a bug infestation. That will confirm if the red spots that look like bed bug bites are in fact the result of bed bugs.
Bed Bug Bites – Signs and Symptoms
Images of bed bug bites generally show clusters of itchy red bumps on a person’s arms, neck, face, legs, and other areas of their body. Depending on the number of bed bugs that have infested your sleeping area and your reaction to them, bed bug bites also have other signs.
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that more often than not, bed bug bites will be in either a rough line or in a cluster of red marks. If they cause a severe skin reaction, the itching can be very intense. In rare cases, a person who has many bites and a severe allergic reaction should visit a doctor. 4
Doctors from the National Health Service say that, in some cases, the itchy red bumps on the skin can cause a rash or start to blister and fill with fluid. 5
However, it can be difficult to tell if the bites have been caused by bed bugs or another insect. Therefore, it’s important to know how to identify the difference between bed bug bites, flea bites and mosquito bites.
Bed bug bite vs flea bite
Flea bites and bed bug bites look very similar and cause itchy red marks on the skin. Even in pictures, it is hard to tell bed bug bites and flea bites apart. However, there are some differences.
The symptoms of flea bites generally appear on the ankles, feet and around the abdomen. As with bed bug bites, flea bite symptoms can also appear in small clusters. Dr. Carol DerSarkissian says that if you look closely at a bed bug bite you won’t see a small red dot in the middle as is characteristic of flea bites. 1
Bed bug bite vs mosquito bite
Both mosquito bites and bed bug bites can leave itchy welts on the skin. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that the symptoms of mosquito bites show up very soon after the bite; in fact, in only a few minutes, a puffy red bump usually appears. 6
Unlike bed bug bites that are painless, you may feel the mosquito bite and it might start to itch immediately. It is also more likely that the mosquito bite will blister and ooze a small amount of fluid.
Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites – Complications
Bed bug bite marks usually heal within 2 weeks and won’t leave any permanent mark on the skin. In some cases, there are complications associated with bed bug bites.
Of course, for many people, the appearance of red itchy welts on visible areas of skin like their face or arms is an unwanted complication of bed bug bites.
One of the most common, and potentially serious, complications that is seen with bed bug bite is a secondary skin infection. Dr. Stephanie S. Gardner on WebMD says that itching from bed bug bites can be so severe that constant scratching breaks the skin and germs get it. This can cause a bacterial infection in the bite mark. 7
Dr. Steven Doerr on eMedicnineHealth warns that some people experience severe allergic reactions to bed bug bites. Some of the signs of a serious allergic reaction include itching all over the body, tightness in the throat, chest pain, red bed bug rash that spreads from the bite area. 8
At least the good news with bed bug bites is that they don’t spread disease. The CDC states that bed bugs don’t spread disease and the most serious health threat is a lack of sleep from scratching and secondary skin infections. 3
Signs of Bed Bug Infestation
If you suspect that clusters of itchy red spots on your body are the result of pesky bed bugs, you should check for signs of an infestation.
First, you don’t have to worry that having bed bugs is a sign of uncleanliness or dirtiness. The CDC says that bed bugs only feed on blood and aren’t attracted to dirt. Bed bugs have been found in the cleanest of 5-star hotels. 3
To check for signs of bed bugs, you should look in areas where they tend to live. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that tell-tale signs of bed bug activity are tiny rusty-colored stains on bed linen from bug feces or dried blood. You may also notice tiny yellow shed skins around your bed and sleeping area. 9
The next step to confirm if itchy red marks on your skin are from bed bugs is to find where the critters are hiding. You should check all joints and screw holes in your bed frame, around mattresses and box springs, and around the headboard. Other places where you might find evidence of a bed bug infestation are in the folds of drapes, in drawer joints, behind loose wallpaper, and at baseboards.
If you find feces, dead bed bugs, or bed bugs crawling around, it is time to take drastic action to get rid of the bed bugs quickly. This is the only way to prevent getting more bed bug bites in the future. Some effective ways to kill off infestation of irritating insects include using bed bug powders that destroy populations of bed bugs as well as bed bug sprays.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bug Bites Fast
Fortunately, there are many great home remedies to get rid of bed bug bites quickly. Here are a few of the best ways of treating bed bug bites at home.
To quickly get rid of an intense itch in a swollen bump caused by a bed bug bite, you can use a cold compress. One excellent way to make a compress is by using a cold tea bag. Cold helps to relieve irritation from your skin by calming nerve endings, and tea helps to relieve itching and promotes healing.
A study from 2012 into the healing effects of tea found that compounds in black and green tea have an astringent effect. This helps to reduce itching in irritated, inflamed skin. 9 However, you don’t just have to use black or green tea bags. Research has also found that chamomile has soothing properties and is just as effective as hydrocortisone creams (often prescribed by doctors to reduce itching in insect bites). 10
How to use:
To quickly get rid of the irritation that bed bug bites cause using a cold tea compress, this is what you should do:
- Put a tea bag in a cup of boiling water for a few minutes. Remove the bag and cool it in the refrigerator.
- Place the tea bag on the red itchy bumps to relieve discomfort and irritation.
- Apply the cold compress 2-3 times a day for fast relief from bed bug bites and bed bug rash.
Aloe vera also has properties that reduce itching and help to speed up the healing time of a bed bug bite. Aloe vera contains many properties to nourish your skin and relieve inflammation and irritation.
One study into the healing properties of aloe vera found that it has a soothing effect on irritated skin. It was found that aloe vera was just as effective as hydrocortisone creams in reducing itching and inflammatory responses in the skin. 11
How to use:
Aloe vera gel is great for helping bed bug bites to heal faster. This is what you should do:
- Use aloe vera gel with as few added ingredients as possible and liberally apply some gel to the bite marks.
- Massage the gel into the area around the bed bug bites to soothe the skin and stop itching.
- Apply the natural remedy 2-3 times a day to help your skin heal quicker and get welcome relief from the constant itching.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil will help to treat the itch in bed bug bites and help prevent secondary infections making the skin worse. Tea tree oil contains powerful antimicrobial compounds as well as properties that help to reduce inflammation and itching.
One of the benefits of using tea tree oil to quickly treat bed bug bites is that it helps soothe allergic skin reactions. For example, theBritish Journal of Dermatologyreported on a study into the antihistamine effect of tea tree oil. Histamine is released by the body as a response to allergens. It was found that applying tea tree oil to skin inflammation helped to soothe the allergic response fast. 12
How to use:
You can use tea tree oil as a spot treatment on one or two bed bug bites or you can mix a couple of drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil to apply to clusters of bed bug bites. This is what you should do:
- Put a drop of tea tree oil on the end of a cotton bud and apply to the itchy bed bug bite.
- Apply 2 times a day to help stop itching in the bite marks and prevent bacterial infections affecting the skin area.
For large clusters of bed bug bites, you can get relief by adding 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to a tablespoon of coconut oil. Apply 2-3 times a day to help your skin heal and treat any bed bug bite blisters that have formed.
You can also use tea tree oil to make a natural spray for bed bug eradication.
Other ways to get rid of bed bug bites quickly
There are many other natural ways to get rid of the visible signs of bed bug bites. Here are some more ways.
Witch hazelis a natural astringent that quickly soothes itchy skin and reduces redness. Witch hazel is perfect for treating bed bug bites and can be applied whenever your bite marks start itching.
Apple cider vinegar, when it is diluted with water in equal proportions, helps to reduce itching and kill germs in bed bug bites. Just apply diluted apple cider vinegar to the affected area to stop itching fast.
Cucumbershave an amazing soothing effect on the skin and will give you instant relief from itching and irritation. All you have to do is apply slices of cool cucumber to your bite marks.
For more information on these natural bed bug bite remedies and to find out some more effective ways to treat bed bug bite signs at home, please read my article on natural ways to make bed bug bites heal faster.
How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites
Of course, preventing an infestation of bed bugs is much easier than having to deal with the discomfort bed bug bites cause.
The CDC says that one of the best ways to prevent bed bug bites is to regularly check your bed, mattress, and bed linen for signs of bed bug activity. This can help you get rid of bed bugs before they become a major problem. 3
Also, you should be careful of buying second-hand furniture. The National Health Services warns to avoid buying second-hand mattresses and if you do buy used furniture, carefully inspect it for bed bugs. 5 Remember, that in the right conditions, bed bugs can live for many months without feeding!
Read my other related articles:
- WebMD. Bedbugs.
- EPA. Bed bug appearance and life cycle.
- CDC. Bed bugs FAQs
- MayoClinic. Bedbug symptoms.
- NHS. Bedbugs.
- MayoClinic. Mosquito bites.
- WebMD. Pictures of bed bug bites.
- eMedicineHealth. Bedbugs.
- EPA. How to find bed bugs.
- Phytojournal. Tannins are astringent.
- OWM. 2011;57(5):28-36.
- Skin Pharmacol Physiol.2008;21(2):106-10.
- Br J Dermatol.2002 Dec;147(6):1212-7.
Pictures of Bed Bug Bites
What do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?
Bed bug bites occur most frequently while you’re asleep. As bed bugs bite they inject their victims with an anesthetic (as well as an anticoagulant), numbing the area and making it very rare for someone to wake up when bitten. Bites normally take a day or two to appear, although depending on your individual reaction they may be more visible sooner.
The appearance of bed bug bites will also vary from person to person. Some people never see their bites appear at all; we’ve seen estimates as high as 30% for those who don’t react. Those who do get visible bites will see a degree of responses from a tiny pin prick to a mosquito bite, rash, or very inflamed red blotches if you’re very allergic.
Most people will find bed bug bites to be small and very itchy. These bites are often mistaken for something else such as eczema. It can be hard to diagnose bed bug bites due to this, especially if someone inflames their skin further by scratching the area. There are some signs that point more strongly to bed bugs over other types of bugs. The number one thing to look out for is a line of bites going straight up your body: bed bugs commonly bite in this pattern as they bite you at the crease where your body meets the bed sheets. It’s very rare to find a single bite like you would with spiders or mosquitoes, and much more common to find clusters and lines. It’s also rare for bugs to bite your face. They most frequently bite your lower body, but anywhere can be bitten.
Is it a Bed Bug Bite?
Diagnosing bed bug bites can be hard for medical professionals. We often hear of doctors assuming a variety of skin conditions before bed bugs – especially doctors who haven’t encountered patients with bed bug bites before. While there is no specific test to determine whether bites are from bed bugs there are tests that can show whether or not it’s an insect bite. This is useful for ruling out issues like eczema or allergic reactions, but not for determining that any specific insect bite is a bed bug. To be sure you’ll want to check for other signs of bed bug infestation, such as the bugs themselves, moltings, and the characteristic staining of their blood meal feces.
Photos of Bed Bug Bites
Here are several photos to give you an idea of what bed bug bites may look like. The reactions vary in seriousness, but this is a good place to start if you suspect you have bed bug bites. If you’re experiencing a severe allergic reaction to your suspected bites we recommend seeking medical attention.