Bed Bug Bites & Infestation – What You Need To Know

How do you know those are bed bug bites?

Bedbug bites

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Do you have bed bug bites and you’re thinking they’re probably mosquito or flea bites? When you find itchy welts on your body, you should know what they are.

Flea bites are normally found around your ankles, and they usually have a red spot in the center of the welt. If you have mosquito bites, those are usually puffy red or pink itchy bumps or blisters. They may or may not result in swelling. 

Bed bug bites, on the other hand, are usually found in the areas of your body that are normally exposed while you are sleeping. 

Such areas include:

  • your face
  • neck
  • shoulders
  • hands
  • arms 
  • legs

Are bed bug bites dangerous?

Bed bug bites are rarely dangerous, but they can make you uncomfortably itchy. If you continue to scratch them, they may become infected.

The bites should usually heal within a week or two. It is estimated that one in every five Americans has personally encountered bed bug infestation or knows someone else who has. 

If you travel often and you stay in hotels or motels, you have a high risk of leaving the hotel with more than your luggage. Hotels and motels are one of the many ways that you can introduce bed bugs into your home.

It was surprising that a poll conducted in 2017 of American travelers showed that 35% of polled American business travelers and 28% of leisure travelers were unable to tell what a bed bug looked like.

To identify, eradicate, and control bedbug infestation, you should at least know what bed bugs look like, especially if you have been bitten by them already. 

So, do you know what bed bugs look like?

Bed bug nymphs (young bed bugs)

bedbug nymphs

Young bed bug nymphs are usually less than 5 millimeters in length. It is difficult for you to see them with your naked eyes.

You’ll see them better using a magnifying glass. The bedbug nymphs are usually whitish-yellow and or clear-colored in appearance.

However, you may see them more easily as reddish-brown bugs when they have just fed, and their abdomen is filled with blood.

Adult bed bugs

Adult bedbug piercing the skin of a person

Adult bed bugs are small insects that are about 1 to 7 millimeters long. You should be able to identify them by their oval-shaped body and reddish-brown color.

Bed bugs do not have wings, therefore they don’t fly. They rely on you as a human or on animals to transport them from one place to another.

Bed bugs have glands on their underbelly. These glands release the characteristic musty or stale-sweet scent that you smell when you kill one. An adult female bed bug can produce over 300 eggs over her lifetime.

Items responsible for bringing bed bugs into your home 

The following are items that serve as carrier items for introducing bed bugs into your home: 

  • Luggage and bags – maybe you recently returned from a trip where you had unknowingly stayed in an infested hotel. Maybe you recently had a home guest who travels frequently and stays in hotels or motels. Bed bugs can be encountered anywhere. They don’t discriminate and can be found in a first-class resort as well as a low-rate motel.
  • Used furniture – did you recently purchase used furniture? Before you buy a used piece of furniture, you should inspect the furniture to avoid bed bug infestation in your home. Otherwise, that nice furniture you just bought might be the reason why you now have bed bug bites.
  • New furniture – did you recently purchase new furniture? Bed bugs can sometimes be found in furniture store warehouses also. From the warehouse, they’re transported and delivered to your home.
  • Shipped items – maybe you bought some items online or in the stores, and they were recently delivered to you days or weeks after you ordered them. Bed bugs can get into such items on their way to you, especially if they were held at different warehouses during transit. 
  • Moving or storage boxes – did you buy or borrow boxes when you recently moved? Those boxes can harbor bed bugs!

Signs an infestation caused your bites

Bedbug bites, bedbug infestation

Bed bugs are small insects that feed on your blood or the blood of your animals. These bugs can live in your bed, on your carpet, clothing, furniture, or other belongings in your home.

You will rarely see them during the day because they’re usually more active at night. If you get bed bug bites, they’re usually not dangerous on their own. They may become a problem if your bites become infected or cause an allergic reaction in your body.

If you’re bitten by bed bugs, you may not feel the bite immediately. Sometimes, it may take a few days for your bites to become noticeable to you.

By the time you notice them, the bed bug bites may have become red and swollen. You may see multiple bites appear in a line, or as clusters in a small area of your body.

Bed bug bites can also cause an itchy, burning sensation to your skin. When you repeatedly scratch the bites, the area may become inflamed and infected. 

Common reasons why you should suspect you have bed bugs in your home

  • If you wake up in the morning and you have bites on your body that were not there when you went to sleep, you should suspect bed bugs. 
  • Unexplained night bites after you recently acquired some used furniture.
  • Mysterious bites appear on your body after you have recently stayed at a hotel or motel during a recent trip. 
  • The appearance of small blood stains on your pillowcase or other beddings, or your pillows and mattress have dark and rusty spots. To confirm the presence of bedbugs, remove all the bedding on your bed, and look carefully at the creases of your mattress. You should be able to find bedbugs there if you have them. 
Bed Bugs on Mattress
Mattress infested with bed bugs
  • Check inside books, telephones, and the edges of your carpet. 

In the daytime, bedbugs often hide in the cracks and crevices of your mattresses, walls, furniture, and flooring. They tend to hide near sleeping quarters from where they crawl out at night. 

The presence of bed bugs in other rooms that are not sleeping quarters in your home is a sign that you have a severe infestation. If you’re not certain how to identify bed bug infestation, you should call a bed bug exterminator.

Signs & symptoms of bed bug bites

Sometimes, your body may not show an immediate reaction to the bites, and you may not feel anything.

  • You may feel the bedbug bites but have no other clear symptoms. In this case, all you probably see are small dots where the bugs had bitten you, and there are no other symptoms. 
  • You may experience minor inflammation and irritation around the bug bites.
  • If you’re hypersensitive to bites, you may experience various degrees of more severe symptoms that are associated with bed bug bites. 

Your symptoms may occur immediately after you have been bitten. They may also develop or progress over the following days after you’ve been bitten.

Your bites may produce some degree of discomfort characterized by itchiness and inflammation. Without further irritation, your symptoms should typically resolve after a week or so.

Bed bug bites on a person's back

Other signs and symptoms that you may have bed bug bites include the following:

  • Reddish or reddish-brown dried stains on your pillowcases or bedding. These stains are due to bed bug droppings.
  • Red, itchy bumps on your body with a burning painful sensation. The bumps will most likely have darker centers and a lighter, swollen surrounding area.
  • The raised itchy bump described above usually has a characteristic clear center.
  • Small reddish bumps on your skin, surrounded by blisters.
  • Papular eruptions or areas of your skin with raised or flat patches. The area may also become inflamed.
  • Small red bumps or welts on your skin that are in a line or a zigzag pattern.
  • White or clear skins on your bed or mattress, shed by the bed bug nymphs as they mature.
  • Small spots of dry blood stains on your bedding, from bed bug bites.

More severe reactions to bed bug bites

Most severe reactions that you may develop due to bed bug bites include the following serious symptoms that will require immediate medical attention:

  • Fever
  • Swollen tongue 
  • Irregular heart rate 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Flu-like symptoms.

Bed bug treatments

If you suspect that you have bedbugs in your home, you should get rid of them immediately. You should do this by cleaning up all the places where they live. Look for signs of the bedbugs on your bed and in other areas where they may hide.

These areas include:

  • Mattresses 
  • Box springs
  • Bed frames
  • Pillows
  • Bedding
  • Curtains and drapes
  • Headboards
  • Carpeting around baseboards
  • Clothes
  • Cracks all seatings of furniture
  • Spaces behind your light switches
  • Electrical outlet plates. 

How to treat minor bed bug bites (without itching)

You should clean your bites with soap and water, and pat the skin dry. Leave the area open.

How to treat bites with itching and minor irritations

If you want to soothe the areas where you have bed bug bites, you should apply a cold cloth. You may also apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel. Alternatively, you may apply a thin paste of baking soda and water.

The following may also relieve your symptoms:

Sometimes, the itching from your bed bug bites may persist. If you have severe inflammation and swelling that is not relieved by home remedies, you should seek medical advice. 

Tips for containing & eliminating bed bug infestation

The following are tips that will help you to contain and eliminate a bed bug infestation:

  • You should heat all items that can withstand temperature. Heat them up to 115F (46C). 
  • Seal items that can not withstand high temperatures, and store them at 0F (-17C) for several days.
  • Launder your bedding, linens, curtains, drapes, and clothing in hot water, then dry them on the highest dryer setting. 
  • Put items that you can’t wash in your dryer. Such items include stuffed animals, shoes, etc. Run the dryer on a high setting for 30 minutes.
  • Scrub your mattress seams with a stiff brush to remove bed bugs and their eggs before vacuuming your bed and mattress.
  • Vacuum and steam-clean your bed, mattresses, floors, furniture, appliances, and surrounding area. After vacuuming, you should double-bag the vacuum cleaner bag and place it in the garbage can outside immediately after vacuuming. Repeat this process frequently.
  • Get rid of clutter in the infested area you’re treating. Pay attention to the area around your bed.
  • You should spray all affected areas including your mattresses, beds, headboards, walls creaks, etc with an effective bed bug spray treatment.
  • Bed Bug Patrol Spray Treatment from Amazon is a good product. It’s been proven to be 100% effective against bedbugs. It is a stain-free, plant-based, non-toxic, child, and pet-safe pesticide. It comes with a free step-by-step downloadable e-book guide that gives you an in-depth guide on how to effectively use the pesticide to eradicate bed bugs from your home and you don’t have to lose any more sleep over bed bug bites.
  • You may also spray your home or apartment with a bedbug fogger. You can use this for areas such as carpet, mattresses, box spring surfaces, and furniture surfaces.

Control & prevention

After you’ve treated and eradicated the bed bugs in your home, you should take measures to prevent future infestations. The best measure for protecting you from bedbug bites is to stop the bugs from entering, feeding, and breeding in your home.

Bed bug bites and hotel beds

You should be aware of the areas where bed bug infestations mostly occur. The top three places where you’ll find bedbugs are:

  • Single-family homes (91%)
  • Apartments/condos (89%)
  • Motels/hotels (68%). 

Other areas you’ll find them are:

  • Nursing homes
  • Schools and daycare centers
  • Offices
  • College dorms
  • Hospitals
  • Public transportation
  • Vacation rentals
  • Rented homes
  • Cruise ships
  • Furniture stores
  • Second-hand stores
  • Public transportation, including airplanes.

You should clean your bedding regularly. Wash and dry them at high heat.

Whenever you stay at a hotel, inspect your room before settling in. Do a quick scan of the bed, mattress, couches, and armchairs in the room.

Check the seams and folds of the mattress for tell-tale infestation signs. Look for little dark stains. You may even be able to see the bugs’ castaway shells or pearly white eggs if the infestation is bad.

When you check into a hotel room, keep your luggage on racks in your room. Keep them away from the floor or your bed. 

After you’ve returned home from your trip, use a hand steamer to clean your luggage. This treatment should kill eggs and bugs that are lurking in your luggage.

You should encase your mattresses, pillows, and box springs in zippered waterproof bedbug-proof covers (see below for our recommendations). This should keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bed bugs are able to survive for up to a year without feeding. Leave the cover in place for at least a year.

You should get rid of your mattress if it is heavily infested. The best way to dispose of your infested mattress is preferably by burning it.

Replace your old mattress after the infestation has been treated. If you don’t, your new mattress will likely become infested as well, and your bed bug bites will resume.

Here is a list of other recommendations for bedbug-proof protective covers for your bed and box spring from Amazon:

Read also: Bed Bug Facts And Myths You Never Knew About

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