What Do Bedbugs Bites Look Like?
Bedbugs are tiny insects that feed on blood from humans or animals. Over-the-counter treatments can help relieve itching and inflammation. Although bedbug bites are rarely dangerous, they can be very itchy. In some cases, they become infected or cause an allergic reaction. Keep reading to learn about bedbug bites, what they look like, and how to treat and prevent them.
How do you know if you have bed bugs?
To find out if you have bed bugs, you need to look for two things:
- Bites on your body
- Signs of bed bugs
Bites on your body: If you have bed bugs, you’re likely to have bites. Bed bug bites usually cause itchy welts. These welts usually appear in a zigzag pattern as show in the photo above.
Symptoms of a bedbug bite
Bedbugs excrete a tiny amount of anesthetic before feeding on people, so you won’t feel it when they bite you. It can sometimes take a few days for symptoms of bedbug bites to develop.
Some people never develop noticeable symptoms from bedbug bites. According to Pest Control Technology, approximately 30 to 60 percent of people never develop a reaction to a bedbug bite. When symptoms do develop, the bites tend to be:
- Red and swollen, with a dark spot at the center of each bite (they may also look like a hive or welt)
- Arranged in lines or clusters, with multiple bites grouped together
- Fluid-filled blisters
- You may also find blood stains on the sheets from scratching
Scratching bug bites can cause them to bleed or become infected.
Allergic reactions and infections from bedbug bites
Although rare, there have been isolated case reports of systemic allergic reactions to bedbug bites. Reactions typically included hives, asthma, and in rare occasions, anaphylaxis.
In addition, constant scratching of lesions caused by bedbug bites may lead to secondary infections, such as impetigo, folliculitis, or cellulitis. To reduce the risk of infection, wash the bites with soap and water, and try not to scratch them.
If you suspect that you’ve developed an infection or allergic reaction to a bedbug bite, contact your doctor. Get emergency medical care if you develop any of the following after being bitten:
- Multiple hives
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the throat or mouth
What’s the best way to treat bedbug bites?
In most cases, bedbug bites get better within 1 to 2 weeks. To relieve symptoms, you can:
- Apply an over-the-counter or prescription steroid cream to decrease inflammation and itching
- Take an oral antihistamine to reduce itching and burning
- Use an over-the-counter pain reliever to relieve swelling and pain
- Take a Benadryl prior to sleep to decrease itching or have a doctor prescribe a stronger antihistamine
In addition to over-the-counter medications, there are several home remedies that may help relieve the symptoms of bedbug bites. Try applying one or more of the following:
- A cold cloth or an ice pack wrapped in a towel
- A thin paste of baking soda and water
How should you treat bedbug bites on a baby?
If you suspect that your baby or child has been bitten by bedbugs, check their sheets, mattress, bed frame, and nearby baseboards for signs of the bugs.
Washing the bites with soap and water will help treat bedbug bites on your baby or child. For additional relief, consider applying a cold compress or over-the-counter anti-itch creams or low-strength steroids. Make sure to cut the baby’s nails short so they can’t scratch their skin.
How can you tell if you have bedbugs in your home?
If you suspect there are bedbugs in your home, look for signs of them in your bed and other areas. They usually hide during the day in:
- Household cracks or crevices
- Bed frames
- Spaces under baseboards
- Loose or peeling wallpaper
- Electrical switch plates
- Conduits for electrical cables
- Sofas (if a person is using the sofa to sleep on)
Bedbugs typically live near where people are sleeping in the house. That’s because bedbugs are attracted to body heat and carbon dioxide. They don’t usually travel to other rooms if people aren’t sleeping there. Bedbugs typically feed from midnight until dawn and then hide during the day in the same place they were prior to biting.
How to get rid of bedbugs in your home
To contain and eliminate a bedbug infestation, it helps to:
- Vacuum and steam-clean your floors, mattresses, furniture, and appliances.
- Launder your linens, drapes, and clothing using the hottest settings of your washing machine and dryer.
- Seal items that can’t be laundered in plastic bags and store them for several days at 0°F (-17°C) or for several months at warmer temperatures.
- Heat items that can be safely heated to 115°F (46°C).
- Fill gaps around your baseboards and cracks in furniture with caulking.
Bed bug bites usually heal and go away within a week or two. You can reach the closest emergency room for immediate treatment if you have any signs of an infection or a serious reaction.
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