Bed Bug Bites Pictures, Symptoms and Treatment

Information about bed bugs bites, pictures of what do bed bug bites look like, how to check if you have been bitten by bed bugs and advice on how to stop the itch.

Bed bugs are nocturnal insects that feed mostly at night when their hosts are asleep. In the day, they hide in cracks and crevices of walls, bed frames, bookshelves, basically anywhere that gives them easy access to humans, although they are fast moving insects that are able to travel great distances.

Bed bugs bite their hosts by using their sharp beak to pierce the skin and inject their saliva. Like mosquitoes, their saliva contains an anticoagulant (to prevent coagulation of the blood) as they suck and also acts as an anesthetic agent to prevent the victim from feeling the bite. Therefore, while sleeping, humans rarely feel any sensations of being bitten, but will only realize the day after.

Nymphs (young bed bugs) take about three minutes to feed, while a full-grown bug feeds for ten to fifteen minutes. After feeding, they then crawl back to the nearest crevice to digest.

Pictures Of What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like On Humans

Bed Bug Bites On Back and Butt

Pictures of Bed Bugs Bites On Woman Back

A young woman with numerous bed bug bites on her back and buttocks.

Swollen Bed Bug Bites
Bed bugs bites that are swollen on forearm.

Multiple Bed Bugs Bites In Cluster
A picture of a cluster of bed bugs bites on the inner side of the arms.

Bed Bug Bites
Bed bugs bites on the lower back/buttocks of a woman, sitting on the bed that gave her the bites. 

Multiple Bites by Bed Bugs

Hey there

So, my story starts in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I am currently attending university and have lived in residence for the last 3 years. I started developing this really bad rash the last few months (more than a few actually) and I thought it was heat rash because I would only get it when I sweated or got hot. However, I just checked the side of my mattress and low and behold, black dots everywhere. This has caused me such embarrassment because everywhere I would go leaving the house, I would have these hives looking rash all over my arms. I am finally moving out of residence and saying goodbye to these horrid blood suckers once and for all. I even tried allergy medicine with antihistamine because I thought it was an allergic reaction, which it is, but you cant really cure allergic reaction to bed bug bites with zyrtec, benedryl, or claritin.

thanks and I hope my story helped!

What Are The First Signs And Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites?

Often, the bites of bed bugs are mistaken or misdiagnosed for other common household insects since the bites can look almost identical to those caused by other parasitic blood feeding insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, ants and lice.

Bed Bugs Bites
image credit: urbanentomology.tamu.edu

Nevertheless, bed bugs bites can be easily recognizable once you know what are the symptoms to look for.

The first tell tale symptoms of bed bug bites are the multiple small, flat or raise welts on the skin that will always appear in a linear three in a row or clustered pattern because of the bed bugs tendency to feed on the same location more than once. Experts usually describe the three in a row bite marks as breakfast, lunch and dinner. The welts can turn red, flare up and become itchy. Scratching the bitten areas may also cause the welts to blister, have an infection or leave scars.

The next tell tale sign that may indicate your bed is infested is that you will get bitten every night while you are sleeping and develop similar clustered pattern large itchy welts every morning.

Other possible signs of an infestation are tiny blood spots on bedding materials of dead bugs that are crushed during feeding or staining on the mattress from the waste of the bugs.

Bitten by bed bugs? Share with us your experiences here...

Bed Bugs Vs Fleas, Spiders and Mosquitoes Bites - What Are The Differences?

Even though bed bug bites cause itchiness and irritation to the skin similar to flea, spider and mosquito bites, there are a few differences.

Bed Bug

The bites of bed bugs usually appear as small, red welts and tend to show up in groups or in a line formation on the hands, feet, neck and other exposed body parts during sleep. For most victims, the bites will cause intense itching for several days.

Since bed bugs feed at night, you may most likely notice that you have been bitten only after you have woken up in the morning. Sometimes, the bites may also tend to appear more rash-like rather than bite-like, which is why the symptoms of the bites can sometimes be mistaken for other types of skin rashes caused by laundry detergent, soap and other cleaning products.

Characteristics of Bed Bug Bites on Arms
Victims of bed bug bites on arms (image credits: tripadviser and aaron)

Flea
Flea bites can look very similar to the bites from bed bugs since they also occur in groups and itch a lot but the bite marks of fleas are typically smaller and more pinkish in color. Common household flea bites also tend to occur mostly on the lower part of the body around the legs, ankles and behind the knees.

Most of the time, the only way of knowing whether you have being bitten by fleas is asking yourself if you have recently come into contact with any household pets like dogs and cats or wildlife animals such as raccoons, rabbits and rats that typically carry fleas that bite humans. Most of the time, children end up with flea bites playing with their dogs and cats. There are also cases of individuals being bitten by sand fleas which are found commonly around beaches, wetlands and swamps.

Flea Bites on Legs
Multiple flea bites on legs

Spider

The characteristics of a spider bite is usually large, isolated swelling that show up immediately after the bite revealing that the skin may be pierced. Depending on the toxicity of the spider bite, one may feel the painful sting of the bite much like the sting from a bee and the pain can last for a few minutes to as long as a day or two.

Spider Bites
Symptoms of spider bites on hand and leg (image credits: graela and doug)

Mosquito
When an individual is bitten by mosquitoes, the bites tend to flare up quickly as pale pinkish bumps with uneven swelling on the skin. Reactions may vary but most individuals will experience itching around the bite area for a few hours with the itch gradually disappearing after a day or two.

Mosquitoes Bites and Swelling on Leg
Large welts and swellings of mosquitoes bites (image credit: jenn)

Again, for those who are still unsure about what insects bit you, entomologists and pest control experts receommends that the best way to identify whether one is bitten by bed bugs is to physically check for the signs of the bugs themselves. Look for the live bugs or other signs of recent activity like the outer exoskeleton casings where the bugs shed, droppings and newly formed dried blood stains on the bed sheets.

For the uninitiated, read this post on how to check for signs of bed bugs at home and in a hotel room.

Where Do the Bites Most Commonly Occur?

Any exposed areas of the bodies while one sleep are target spots for a bed bug to bite and suck on for blood. The face, neck, back, hands, arms and legs are the most common areas where bed bug bites occur.

Cluster Pattern Bite Marks on Back
Two day old cluster pattern bites marks of bed bugs on women back.

How Long Does the Bite Rash Last?

Reaction to bed bug bites depends on the individual. Some people will not have any reaction at all while for others who are quite sensitive to bites, they may have localized allergic reactions and develop blisters or rashes that can be extremely itchy as they get bitten repeatedly.

Typically bed bug rashes will show up a few hours after the actual biting but there are some cases whereby the rash does not appear until a few days or even a week later since this is dependent on the allergy reaction to the person who is being bitten.

Generally, the rashes of bed bugs will last for two to 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.

Do Bed Bug Bites Transmit Disease?

Bed Bug Bite

Are the bites of bed bugs dangerous or contagious? Even though these tiny and bloodthirsty pests are really bothersome and considered a nuisance, their bites are fairly harmless and are not known to spread any diseases.

Nonetheless, on very rare occasions an allergic reaction to the bites has caused nausea, sickness and even shock. Some people may also be affected psychologically and not be able to fall asleep.

A Reader's Comment on The Effects of Bed Bug Bites

I started with hundreds of bites on my body a year ago. I ended up in the ER because I had no idea what was wrong with me. I then went to 3 specialist, had biopsies and still no one knew what it was. I was able to move from that apartment in 3 months to a different complex. (because of the bed bug infestation that I had never experienced before. I am still getting bitten, severe itching, scars all over my legs, arms, neck and crease at top of my legs before entering private parts. No prescription has helped. I've had many. Calamine lotion helps with the itching but it's messy and leaves a residue on your skin. I've had cortezone shots for the itching... did not help.

I have to wear clothing to help cover the marks to be able to work. My mattress and box springs have been encased in bed bed zippered bags since December, and then adding another cover over that this year. I cannot afford to trash my mattress. I did however trash my bedding and started over. My pillows are also protected with a zippered covering.

The itching is horrible and the same bite marks I've had for at least a year seem to be re-infecting. They get red and swollen. I also have several on my body that have started to go away or I mean you have to look really close to see. I started tanning and the heat helps and also starts tanning the scratched skin to blend with my normal skin.

This is HORRIBLE. I actually think just today I caught one on my bed and then looked on the computer and it does look like one of the species. I drowned it with 2 more I think I found. I heard they were sensitive to light so I sleep with the lights on. I'm not even sure anymore if all the itching is real. It could be psychosomatic. I always have a feeling something is crawling on me. It's like when you see an ant on a picnic and can't get that thought off your mind and start itching. The bite usually is invisible to the naked eye, but once you start itching, the area expands to the skin torn off.

Diana Sinclair

How to Treat Bed Bug Bites?

For fast relief from the discomfort and itchness of the bites, you are advised to run it under lukewarm running water for approximately a minute and clean the affected area with an antibacterial soap, which will minimize the inflammation and irritation as well as take your mind off it.

For a stronger treatment for the skin rashes, severe itchiness or to prevent infections, you can apply local antiseptic lotion, antibiotic cream or oral antihistamine. Some of the recommended topical steroid creams for the treatment of the bites are hydro-cortisone - Cortaid Intensive Therapy  , for example - that helps to stop the itch and resolve any rash quickly.

How to Avoid Getting Bitten Again?

First, try to confirm the presence of bed bugs even if you suspect that you have been bitten by the tiny blood feeders.

It is best to first visually inspect your bed and room for any telltale signs of the bugs. If the brown critters are found, one can contact a reputable pest control company for the extermination of bed bugs.

For homeowners who are looking for ways on how to prevent getting bitten, here are some useful steps one can take to protect yourselves:

  • Clear away unwanted clutter and clean your room thoroughly. Vacuum carpets and seal any cracks in the wood floors.
  • Wash all bedding and clothing in hot water for at least 20 minutes. Bed bugs are very sensitive to heat and will die at temperatures above 120°F.
  • Use a quality bed bug spray to kill off any visible bugs one can find especially around and behind the headboard, bed frame as well as upholstered furniture near the bed. Follow up the treatment with professional insect powders such as Diatomaceous Earth by applying it around the bed and carpet to defend the perimeters.
  • If you are still worried, one can also use thick, double-sided tape to tape it around the bottom of the bed frame or use professional traps as a tool to detect and prevent bed bugs before they bite.
  • Encase the mattresses with bed bug proof covers that are designed to contain fleas and bugs. Similarly, the pillows and bolster must be encase too to be effective in preventing bed bug bites. The covers will work both ways to prevent new infestations as well as trap existing bugs on the inside from getting out to feed.

Note: For travellers, read this travel checklist on how to prevent bed bug bites when staying in hotels and how to avoid bringing bed bugs back to your home from your holidays.


Other Related Topics

Bed Bug Rash
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Bed Bug Pictures
See and identify what do bed bugs look like.

 

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