What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?
Bed bugs hide in the folds of the sheets, between mattresses, behind cushions, in upholstery, in drawers and in the cracks of furniture only to come out at night and feed on the blood of humans.
Bed bugs are one the most notorious invasive pests out there. They can infest any human settlement or building – be it houses, offices, hospitals or hostels. They will even bite your pets. Bed bugs are often hard to detect, as they are small and rarely come out in the daytime. Bed bugs need blood in order to mature, and female bed bugs need blood in order to lay eggs.
The one sure way of knowing that you have bed bugs is noticing and identifying the bites on your skin or seeing bed bugs. Often bed bugs leave marks behind on the skin after they have fed on you. Bed bugs tend to bite parts of the body that are exposed while sleeping – so check your arms, legs, neck, and face.
Some people do not experience any symptoms of bed bug bites, but most people tend to get red and itchy a few mornings after the bed bugs have been to work.
Signs of Bed Bug Bites
- Small, red bumps with a darker spot in the center
- Redness around the bite marks or bumps
- These bumps will be visible on generally exposed areas of your body
- The bumps or bites might be in a cluster, or might be in a line (depending on the bed bugs’ feeding pattern)
- These bumps might cause itchiness
- Slight burning sensation might occur at the site of bites
If you notice red blood spots on your bed sheet or randomly itching skin, you might need to consider the possibility that you have bed bugs. Most bed bug bites do not immediately show up on the skin – it takes a few hours or days for the symptoms to show up clearly. Make sure that you don’t scratch the bed bug bites – this can make the skin delicate and make it vulnerable to secondary skin infections.
How Do I Know If They Are Bed Bug Bites?
Bed bug bites are generally itchier compared to the bites of ants or mosquitoes. The bite marks tend to be clustered around particular areas. If the bite marks match the characteristics mentioned in the paragraph above and you have also noticed other physical signs of bed bugs (such as blood spots on bed sheets, crushed bed bugs on the bed), you can be sure that the creepy crawly annoying you is a bed bug. Bed bug bites are tiny red bumps, and usually, disappear within two weeks after the initial bite.
Bites That Look Like Bed Bug Bites (Infographic)
What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Now that we know what the bites look like, it’s time to learn how to identify a bed bug. Bed bugs are small, flat and oval-shaped. They are reddish-brown in color and can grow up to 7mm in size. They are nocturnal insects and come out to feed at night. They feed on the blood of humans and animals (that have warmblood).
Some species of bed bugs feed on bat blood; however, most will feed on any available blood in order to survive. Most bed bugs don’t feed every day, and can often go days without feeding – which makes them harder to detect and eliminate. They prefer to hide in dark, hidden places (such as in the wood cracks of beds and the gaps between sheets), and strategically come out to prey on your defenseless self when you are sleeping at night.
Risks of Bed Bug Bites
Bed bug bites generally do not cause any serious health issues – they mostly just cause itching and slight swelling. Bed bug bites can often cause sleeping problems as the intense itching makes it difficult for people to sleep. In very rare cases, bed bug bites can lead to adverse allergic reactions. If you are allergic to insect bites, bed bug bites might bring about an exaggerated response from your immune system. In such cases, it is important to receive medical help.
Given below are symptoms of bed bug bites that indicate that you need to get medical help-
- Itchy hives on the skin
- Blister-like bite marks that are painful
- Pus-filled bite marks
- Severe, painful itching and hives spreading beyond the bite area
- Swelling of areas surrounding bite marks
- Other allergic reactions (such as difficulty in breathing)
Anaphylactic shocks due to bed bug bites are very rare, and mostly the maximum trouble caused by bed bug bites are skin infections caused due to excessive scratching.
Bed bugs are not carriers of any disease, so bed bug bites cannot transmit any diseases to humans or pets.
What Should I Do?
It is important to control and eliminate a bed bug infestation as they can lead to a lot of issues (such as skin problems and sleeping problems). Bed bug bites, if not the allergic type, can be treated easily at home. Most bed bug bites fade away within two weeks or so. The following home remedies can be used to treat the bites –
- Ice – ice can soothe the itch and can also reduce the swelling around the bite
- Aloe vera gel – it acts as a soother and brings relief to the bite area
- Baking soda – it will help reduce swelling and redness
- Lemon juice – this will help in drying out of the bite marks
Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?
We’ve talked about bed bugs, and we’ve talked about their bites. But where do these parasitic pests actually come from? Bed bugs have been around for a very, very long time. Ancient texts have noted that bed bugs often came with wood supplies, and this is true even today.
Bed bugs spread through furniture, luggage, clothes and other items. They hide in these items and then find a safe place to hide once a destination has been reached. They are found in the seams of mattresses, inside cushions, between bed covers, and in wooden furniture. Since bed bugs hide in such objects, it is important to be careful while buying second-hand furniture or carpets.
How Do I Check My Pet for Bed Bug Bites?
Bed bugs are also known to feed on the blood of common pets such as cats and dogs. They don’t use animals as a means of transport but can feed on them occasionally. The easiest way to know if your pet is being bitten by a bed bug is to check their fur or hair for actual bed bugs – they are often easy to spot. Mentioned below are some symptoms and characteristics of bed bug bites on pets –
- Pink welts or spots on the skin
- Your pet might be excessively scratching itself, often in particular spots
- Sudden unexplained hair or fur loss – this could be a sign of bed bug bites
- Irritability and anxiety – the intense itching caused by the bed bug bites might change the behavior and temperament of your pet
- Allergic dermatitis – in extreme cases
Treat your pet by consulting a vet once you have discovered bed bug bites on them. Bed bugs don’t live on animal fur – so chances are they have infested your pet’s bedding or even your own bedding.
If you have a bed bug infestation at home, take action as soon as possible. Get rid of the bed bugs before you end up saying goodbye to sleep, good skin and a tension-free life!***