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Bed Bug Bites: Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

I am a consulting doctor and a health writer who has been writing online for 8 years.

How can you tell if it's a bed bug bite or something else?

How can you tell if it's a bed bug bite or something else?

A bed bug is a type of insect belonging to the Cimicidae family of insects. It is a wingless, tiny, and somewhat reddish parasite which feeds on human and animal blood for survival. An adult bed bug can grow anywhere between 5 mm to 7 mm, while an infant bed bug can be as small as 1.5 mm.

Beg bugs crawl quickly and thus move from one area to another. Their body is flattened and somewhat similar in appearance to a cockroach. Bed bugs tend to replicate and grow in ideal temperatures of about seventy to eighty degrees Fahrenheit. They are capable of reproducing three generations of bed bugs in only one year.

Bed bugs can occur in any part of your home. However, they are more commonly found in the bedroom. They tend to occur as groups in beds, mattresses, box springs, bed frames, furniture cracks, upholstered furniture, and the closet.

It is possible to recognize a bed bug infestation when you notice egg cases, shed skins, and fecal stains in the above-listed hiding places of bed bugs. Bed bugs can survive without feasting on human or animal blood for nearly a year. Hence, they may also be found living in unused human dwellings.

Before World War II, bed bugs were quite widespread in America. However, after the wide-ranging use of DDTs in the 1940s and 50s, they were nearly completely eradicated. Currently, due to increased immigration and travel, as well as the presence of laws that prohibit the use of some types of pesticides, bed bugs have once again become a bother in the US.

Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites

A few signs and symptoms that may accompany bed bug bites are as follows:

  • Beg bug bites are generally not painful. Hence, they often go unnoticed. Bed bugs eject their saliva when biting. This saliva has anticoagulant and anesthetic properties. Hence, the blood does not clot and affected people do not feel pain.
  • Itchiness and irritation of skin areas affected by bed bug bites may only arise a few hours after the bite. Sometimes, the itching may occur after some days or even a week.
  • The occurrence of adverse symptoms of bed bug bites and their severity is dependent on the skin’s sensitivity to the chemicals released during the bite. In most instances, patients may experience itching, redness, and inflammation or swelling.
  • Bed bug bites usually result in the formation of tiny, raised or flattened bumps on the skin. If the bed bugs suck blood sequentially, then the bumps may occur in a group.
  • A bed bug bite often looks like a mosquito or flea bite. However, bed bug bites can be easily differentiated due to the characteristic smell of their secretions and the presence of dark fecal marks on the bed linen as well as near their hiding spots.
  • Patients may often scratch at the bed bug bites to alleviate the itchiness. Excessive scratching can tear the skin. The resultant wound is then at greater risk to getting infected by bacteria or other pathogens.

Doctors currently believe that no infectious germs get transmitted via bed bug bites. However, many researchers are trying to verify the hypothesis that bed bugs may possibly carry the pathogen which causes American trypanosomiasis.

Causes of Bed Bug Bites

  • Bed bugs tend to thrive and grow rapidly in crowded residential areas with poor awareness of insects. They can also be found in homes built near the nesting sites of birds or mammals.
  • Bed bugs can also be commonly found in areas where people often congregate, including multiplexes or cinema halls, laundries, public transportation systems, and office buildings.
  • Bed bugs do not have wings and hence cannot fly. They can however crawl very fast and cling on to clothing, bed sheets, etc. Bed bugs can thus easily relocate to a new room or a new area, and then multiply.
  • Bed bugs can comfortably travel inside suitcases, apparel, etc., and thus migrate from one hotel to another, or to homes, offices, and restaurants. The other way round is also possible.
  • Bed bugs are typically nocturnal creatures. They will crawl out of their hiding places and feed on the victim’s blood when he/she is asleep. Bed bug bites usually occur on the exposed skin areas.

Bed bug paranoia can cause anxiety. Read about bed bug paranoia if you are experiencing an infestation to get ahead of caring for your mental health.

Treatment of Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites are not dangerous and generally do not require medical treatment. Some of the treatment options for bed bug bites are listed below:

  • Intense and continuous itchiness can be reduced by the application of steroid creams and/or topical antihistamines.
  • Secondary bacterial infections of bed bug bites can be treated with antibiotics
  • Wash the affected area with soap and cold water. Then apply lemon juice on it and let it stay for an hour. Later, wash again with cold water.
  • Lavender sprays can alleviate skin irritation
  • The application of varied herb pastes such as black pepper, red pepper, and black walnut also helps.

The application of ice on bed bug bites can provide relief.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Seemaab Khan on November 26, 2018:

Bed bugs also grow in the places which are usually warm like rooms with heating systems.

jay1212 on October 26, 2018:

Thanks for sharing this information. yes, really a great post. I like this post.

Neil on December 20, 2016:

I would also like to know how to get rid of them??

dustin on January 08, 2015:

How do u get rid of them

medicalhub (author) on July 23, 2014:

Check for bedbugs hidden inside your furniture, bedding and mattress.

Thank you for appreciating my content. Please do go through my other posts

gerald. on July 23, 2014:

i have to wonder if i have bed bugs. thanks for the info!

vipin on December 30, 2013:

Its amazing, looking at the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you provide. I'll bookmark your blog and visit it weekly for your new posts.