Bed Bug Bites

Bed Bug Bites and How to Treat Them

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like

“Don’t let the bed bugs bite” is a commonly used expression when bidding someone goodnight. These insects are so tiny, tinier than apple seeds and their bodies are flat! This makes it harder to notice if they have already invaded your house and they usually hide almost anywhere in the house. After invading the house, they can find a home in your mattresses, furniture or electric outlets. They tend to stay near beds and seats to be closer to their food source,  as entomologists report that they feed on humans’ and other mammals blood, including household pets.

the bed bug anatomy
the bed bug anatomy

Yes, bed bugs can, and they often, bite their hosts when they are asleep since they are most active during the night. They normally bite the neck, hands and face area as these places are the commonly exposed areas when sleeping. Their bites are, however, not always noticed. This is because when they bite their victims, they inject an anesthetic substance that allows them to feed without being interrupted for up to ten minutes.

Bed bug bites face
Bed bug bites on the face area

How can one know if they have been bitten by a bed bug? The bite’s symptoms are redness, swelling and itchiness on the place bitten. Although they haven’t been found to spread infectious diseases like other insects as mosquitoes do, some people may suffer emotionally from these bites. Also, bed bug victims may experience insomnia, suffer shame, and even go through “phantom bites” long after the pesky bugs have been removed by pest control experts.

Bed bug bites left wrist
Bed bug bites the left wrist

Bed bugs can cause problems for anyone. Although they are not brought about by uncleanness, they can be easily spotted and kept under control if the place is regularly vacuumed and clutter is reduced. If they happen to be in the hotel room you are in, it might help if you keep your luggage off the floor and bed to avoid bringing them into your home. It is always recommended that one seeks professional pest control help in eradicating them when they invade their home. If you are experiencing problems with bed bugs it is best to call the professionals.

Bed Bug Bites Treatment

Fortunately, bed bugs do not spread diseases so you should be safe aside from the discomfort. Don’t scratch the area as the already damaged skin can get worse and run the risk of infection. Secondary infections from scratching bed bug bites are fairly common. A homemade mixture of baking soda and water can help to ease the itchiness and discomfort. Make a paste and apply liberally on the affected area and leave on for at least half an hour before washing off. Topical creams and lotions containing Aloe Vera or Calendula also help with relieving pain, itching and swelling. Apply rubbing alcohol or benzoyl peroxide on the rashes to avoid infection. See a doctor if you suspect you are having a severe reaction to bed bug bites or if you are unsure where the rash or bite marks are coming from. You may be suffering from common allergies or scabies or bitten by some other pests such as mosquito or flea.

Other medications that can help with bed bug bites include

  • Epinephrine, antihistamines and corticosteroid injections for severe allergic reactions
  • Antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotic
  • Benadryl
  • Claritin and Zyrtec
  • Prednisone
  • Alka-Seltzer

About a third of people do not experience any reaction to bed bug bites. For those that do, the bite appears as a swollen red bump, dark red at the center. Bed bug bites also appear in clusters or definite patterns, unlike mosquito bites which are random and all over the body. Bed bugs attack exposed areas including the hands, legs, arms and face. The bugs excrete a numbing agent while feeding which is why most people don’t feel the bite. Bed bug bites usually resolve on their own within a week or two although there are treatment options for bed bug bites including.

Scarring is rare and the skin should go back to its original condition after a week or two. Scratching can definitely lead to permanent scarring along with increasing the risk of a secondary infection. See a pharmacist or doctor if you have a severe itch. Bed bugs may be tiny, but they are often a huge problem for many. These small pests infest your home, particularly where you sleep. While you sleep, they feed on your blood by biting you. Unfortunately, the bites are bothersome and itchy. If you have bed bug bites, you need to know the best way to treat them using medications. You can treat bites, but you need to call bed bug control to prevent any further bites and discomfort. 

Bed Bug Bites Treatment
Bed Bug Bites Treatment

Over the Counter Medications

These are mostly to treat the itchiness and/or burning sensation that comes with bed bug bites. These include antihistamines, anti-itch cream, antiseptic cream or lotion and over-the-counter hydrocortisone. These don’t require any medical intervention, are inexpensive and easily available. You may want to seek a professional’s advice before mixing antihistamines with other medication. Some antihistamines are also not good for children. Speak to the pharmacist about any questions you might have.

Prescribed Medication

Although extremely rare, some people develop severe reactions to bed bug bites. You need to be able to identify unusual or severe reactions which include irregular heartbeat, severe blisters, difficulty breathing, swollen tongue and flu-like symptoms. Seek medical attention immediately you begin to notice signs of distress or severe allergic reaction. These may be treated with inject-able corticosteroid or epinephrine medication among other prescribed medication.

Common Remedies for Bed Bug Bites

There are a few homemade remedies although it is not always obvious if they are effective or simple myths and old wives’ tales. Plant or gel Aloe Vera can help to ease symptoms of insect bites including bed bugs. The amino acids and other active substances in Aloe help to relieve the burning and itching. Some people claim to ease the itchy and burning sensation by applying a generous amount of toothpaste on the affected area. Others recommend lemon juice, witch hazel, a mixture of baking soda and water and calamine lotion. Do not attempt to treat a severe reaction to bed bug bites with home-made remedies regardless of what or where you might have heard. Visit the emergency room as soon as you begin to develop severe reactions to the bite.

Corticosteroid Creams

You can find corticosteroid creams, or hydrocortisone creams, over-the-counter or by your physician. Make sure you apply the cream to any area of your body where you have bed bug bites. The cream helps to alleviate swelling and itchiness associated with the bites. It is best to relieve itching so you do not scratch and further aggravate your skin.

Antihistamines

Antihistamines are also recommended. You can purchase antihistamines in pill or liquid form, such as Benadryl. You can acquire antihistamines over-the-counter from a supermarket or local drugstore. You can also ask your doctor for a prescription for an antihistamine. In fact, if you combine an antihistamine with a corticosteroid cream, you will get better results.

Antibiotics

Sometimes a bed bug bite may lead to an infection, particularly if you scratch at the bites. Scratching irritates the skin and allows infections to under your body. Talk to your doctor about prescribing you with antibiotics for your bites. Sometimes people have an allergic reaction to bed bug bites. If that is the case, an antibiotic can help you fight off the infection.

Dermatology Products

If you have a lot of bites or even severe discomfort or a severe reaction, visit a dermatologist. A dermatologist can provide you with dermatology products to help clear up the bites. Dermatology treatments are best used by people with several bites, infections from the bites, blisters caused by the bites, or an allergic reaction from the bites.

Soap and Water

Ask your doctor about medicated soaps used to clean your skin and relieve itching associated with bed bug bites. Use a combination of medicated soaps and warm to hot water to wash your skin thoroughly. You will need to make sure your skin is clean to prevent the risk of infection that bed bug bites may sometimes cause.

Bed Bug Bite Symptoms

While it might be true, you have an allergic reaction; there are indicators to watch out for to distinguish these bites. They look like small red areas that are inflamed, itchy and blistered. You can see them usually on body parts that are exposed during sleep such as arms, legs, and neck. These bites can stay for quite some time before they start to show up. If you notice blood spots on your sheets and bed bug feces, direct your suspicion towards a bed bug infestation.

Bed Bug Bite Symptoms
Bed Bug Bite Symptoms

When you get a bed bug bite you will get a reddish looking bite mark that may seem harmless at first, but will eventually become irritating and itchy. When this happens, it’s important that you contact a bed bug exterminator as soon as possible to prevent bed bugs from breeding and infesting your home.

Bed bug bites are initially painless because they secrete substances (an anesthetic and an anticoagulant) that make their bites painless. This is why most people don’t notice them immediately, but eventually, the bites will swell up into irritating welts that look similar to mosquito bites.

Bed bug bites can take on several appearances. There are bites that stand-alone and look like red, swollen bumps with dark red centers. Other bites are grouped in a particular area, and then there are bites that appear like hives or blisters.

Fortunately, bed bug bites are not dangerous. At worst, they will cause a little itchiness or burning sensations, but they won’t cause any illnesses or infections. However, when people scratch their bites, they may cause secondary infections.

When Do Bed Bugs Bite?

Bed bugs are most active during the night, so that’s when they’re most likely to bite people. They use their elongated beaks to pierce through skin and withdraw blood. They will then feed for about 3 to 9 minutes before crawling away unnoticed. Bed bugs usually prioritize those areas of the skin which are exposed during sleep. So the arms, the neck, the hands and the feet are most vulnerable to their attacks. It’s also worth mentioning that although bed bugs are not dangerous, a whole swarm of them could make sleeping very uncomfortable, which in turn could lead to stress and sleeping problems.

I Have a Bed Bug Infestation but No Bites on Me

Different people react differently to the bites. While some develop the rashes and all, some look just fine. However, this does not mean that they do not bite you. As they bite, they inject an anticoagulant into the blood that determines the different reactions of different people and the size of the inflamed area. Just because you do not have the marks on you, does not mean you should ignore the problem. You should seek professional help to counter these bugs.

Am I at Risk of Contracting Blood Communicable Diseases?

The answer to this is no. Just like mosquitoes, bed bugs do not transmit diseases such as HIV. However, should you severely scratch the irritating areas, you stand at risk of getting some infections. Should the irritation persist, seek medical advice. You are also supposed to keep the affected areas clean and disinfected to avoid chances of getting an infection. People with weak immune systems, the senior citizens, and children stand at risk of these infections. After a small amount of saliva has been contained within the victim for a number of weeks, the individual’s skin can become increasingly sensitive to it. Eventually, the body will develop a mild allergic reaction to the bite and can cause a lesion. Those who have become victim to a bed bug bite may believe that they have been bitten by a mosquito. These bites can be very irritating and you may be tempted to itch them. Depending on the amount of fluid you have been injected with, your bite can vary from being a small red mark to a larger red area which has swelling around it. Sometimes, some of the bites can stop you from sleeping and even become infected. Lack of sleep can be very detrimental to your health as it can cause a lack of focus and fatigue.

To conclude, apart from lack of sleep and it being generally irritating there aren’t any other effects that can damage your physical health. In addition to, scientists have not been able to prove that any diseases can be spread or caught by these insects. If you have received a bed bug bite it should usually get better and improve naturally.

Bed Bug Bites vs Mosquito Bites

Close Picture of Bed Bug
Close Picture of Bed Bug

You wake up itchy and scratching and you are positive you were bitten by something but can’t quite tell what it is. The two most likely culprits, depending on where you live, are mosquitoes or bed bugs. Knowing which one bit you is critical so you can choose the right pest control measure and also for your own health and peace of mind. Mosquitoes transmit a variety of serious diseases including malaria, Zika fever, yellow fever, dengue and filariasis.  Although not known to transmit any diseases, some people have adverse reactions to bed bug bites where symptoms may include respiratory difficulties, fever, erratic heartbeat, nausea and severe sleep deprivation.

Identifying Bed Bug Bite vs Mosquito Bite

There are a few subtle differences between bed bug bites and mosquito bites that can help you identify which insect is responsible for the bite. Call a professional exterminator as soon as you notice unexplained bite marks on your body.

1. Bite Appearance

Bed bug and mosquito bites look very similar so you need to rely on more than the bite appearance to make a positive identification. Mosquito bites tend to manifest as puffy white bumps with reddish and irregular shaped boundaries. These occur almost immediately after the bite or within a day or so. Bed bug bites tend to be flat, red welts.

2. Bite Symptoms

Virtually everyone will react to mosquito bites. The bite begins to itch immediately or shortly after the bite. Many people show no symptoms or reactions to bed bug bites. Bed bug bites also begin to itch much later, up to a few days after the bite.

3. Bite Location

Bed bug bites are typically in clusters in multiple linear or circular patterns. The bite marks have a distinct pattern typically in vulnerable areas including the legs, arms, chest, back, face and neck. Mosquito bites are random all over the body even when bitten by multiple insects. Mosquitoes also target vulnerable areas not protected by clothing including the back, neck, face and legs.

4. Bite Sensitivity

Usually, the more bed bug bites one gets the more sensitive he is to the bites. These are painless at first as the bed bug secretes a numbing agent while feeding. The pain or symptoms may become more pronounced as the bed bug feeds multiple times. The opposite is true for mosquitoes where the pain and sensitivity tend to decrease the more times one is bitten. This is part of the reason why children are more sensitive to mosquito bites.

5. Additional Clues

Bed bugs leave additional clues. They excrete digested blood on the bed sheets which appear like tiny dark red or black stains. Seeing these stains on your bed sheets means the culprit is the bed bugs. Mosquitoes make an audible whining or buzzing sound which can help you detect the offending insect. Mosquitoes are also less discreet when feeding so you are more likely to wake up in the middle of the feeding due to pain.

Other Bite Marks to Watch Out For

Unfortunately, it is not just bed bugs and mosquitoes that invade homes and bite human hosts. Other common insect bites that would be useful to learn how to identify include;

Ticks

Tick bites appear as firm, red bumps. You are also likely to notice the tick in the middle of feeding since these tend to stay attached for a prolonged period while feeding. An adult tick can stay attached for up to 10 days if undisturbed.

Fire Ants

Fire ant bites are typically extremely painful and start off as a red bump with burning sensation that later becomes a small, white pimple filled with pus.

Spiders

Spider bites are usually barely noticeable and even painless but can sometimes cause swelling and intense pain.

Fleas

Fleas bites tend to appear on the ankles, legs and feet and look like tiny random dots. Some people have severe reactions to flea bites which can turn into blisters and open sores in a short time.

Lice

Lice bites typically appear on the scalp, neck and shoulders and appear as red, itchy spots.

Bed bugs bites are more or less identical to assassin bugs also known as kissing bugs so a close examination of the bite is not a guarantee that you will identify the right pest. Bed bugs are also extremely difficult to exterminate even for professionals and DIY has a high failure rate. Bed bugs, as are other pests, have developed a resistance to most over-the-counter chemicals and pesticides. A professional bed bug exterminator will get rid of the pests permanently and execute measures to make sure that they don’t come back.

How Long Do Bed Bug Bites Last?

Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood and like to live close to their human hosts hence their name. Although bed bug bites are relatively distinct, you should use additional methods to diagnose a bed bug problem if you haven’t physically seen the pest. Additional signs of bed bugs include feces in your sheets or mattress, cast exoskeleton and bed bug eggs.

Bed bug bites typically manifest as itchy, red welts or bumps usually in a cluster, line or zigzag pattern. These bites typically appear on areas of the body that remain uncovered while you sleep such as the back, neck, arms and legs. Some people do not show any symptoms. The bites can appear anywhere from within a few hours of getting bitten to ten days. Bed bug bites typically last one week or two weeks before disappearing without any long-term problems. Most people don’t need any treatment for bed bug bites and are able to wait out the initial discomfort until it goes away on its own. The symptoms and bumps should begin to disappear within the first few days. People with allergic reactions may take longer to heal. Visit your doctor immediately you notice signs of adverse reactions such as huge welts, puss and difficulty breathing.

How to Avoid Bed Bug Bites

Call Your Local Bed Bug Exterminator to Avoid Bed Bug Bites
Call Your Local Bed Bug Exterminator to Avoid Bed Bug Bites

The logical place to start is to hire an exterminator in Toronto to remove the bed bugs if you are getting bitten in your home. Over-the-counter pesticides don’t work and bed bugs hide in crevices the width of a credit card. Only an expert can exterminate bed bugs. Next, vacuum your carpets and upholstery regularly until the bed bug problem has been resolved for good. Steaming can also help because heat kills bed bugs. Roughly 118 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes should kill the pests. Finally, inspect rooms thoroughly when staying in a hotel or motel. Watch out for bed bug signs such as discarded exoskeletons and reddish, black or rust-coloured stains on the bed sheets or mattress.

Do They Bite Animals Too?

Bed bugs bite not only humans but also animals. It is a common mistake to confuse these bites in pets as tick bites. Once they bite, they do not stay on the pet’s fur rather they seek a safe place to hide.

How to Remove Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are among the most stubborn and difficult pests to treat even by professional and experienced exterminators. For one, most household pests have become immune to over-the-counter pesticides and chemicals. Many of the effective active ingredients that were used in pesticides until the late 90’s are now considered toxic and have been banned. The harsh chemicals used by exterminators to kill bed bugs and other household pests are only accessible to licensed professionals. DIY extermination has a high failure rate and the infestation continues to spread the longer it is allowed to continue. One female can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. If you have a bed bug infestation, then it’s important to contact qualified bed bug control professionals to remove them immediately. Do-It-Yourself measures and over-the-counter insecticides are not very effective at removing infestations because bed bugs reproduce very rapidly.

Female bed bugs can lay hundreds of eggs in a given area, and because they are approximately the size of dust, it’s almost impossible to remove them without professional assistance. In fact, bed bugs can produce three generations in just one year, and allowing them to increase their numbers could make your bedroom a very uncomfortable place to sleep in.

Remember, if you have a bed bug infestation, contact a professional pest control company. Call the Exterminators: 647-496-2211 to get bed bugs out of your home. We also feature a variety of bed bug related products such as mattress covers and bed bug monitors.

 

Article Updated: November 4th, 2018

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Joe The Exterminator
Joe The Exterminator

Joe is a professional pest control exterminator with over 15 years of experience and enjoys sharing his knowledge about different pests and how you can deal with them.