Bed Bug Bites on the back of a man

Bed bugs are nocturnal pests and are mainly active when the lights are off, biting people while they are asleep. They feed by puncturing the skin and sucking blood through their elongated beak-like structure.

Although bed bugs prefer feeding at night, the bites can also happen at any time. Bed bug bites don’t usually cause severe health problems because bed bugs do not transmit diseases like a tick or mosquitoes.

Symptoms Of Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites resemble swollen red marks and are often itchy. You likely will not catch the bed bugs in the act of feeding, since they normally inject an anticoagulant and anesthetic chemical to numb the spot as it bites.

Basically, you will not wake up and they feed quickly so you will probably not see them even if you did wake up.

These bites can occur in any part of the body as long as it is exposed as you sleep, including the arms, the back of the neck, legs, shoulders, and sometimes the trunk.

In most people, the bites may lead to itchy bumps within 24 hours, which may resemble mosquito bites.

While bed bug bites symptoms vary from one person to another, they will always produce some level of discomfort, usually inflammation, and itchiness.

A few more signs of bed bug bites include:

  • You may get a burning agonizing sensation
  • You have itchy bumps
  • A bump that is lightly swollen surrounds a dark center
  • Small red welts in a straight line or zigzag
  • Small bumps enclosed by hives and blisters

Some people may develop or have severe reactions to bed bug bites and symptoms may require medical attention.

Bed Bug Bites Serious Symptoms

Serious symptoms of bed bug bites may include blisters, difficulty breathing, fever, swollen tongue, feeling flu-like or nauseous, or irregular heartbeat. Just know this is really rare and does not happen very often.

If the infestation is not dealt with, consistent bed bug bites may cause health complications. One of the negative impacts of living with constant bed bug bites is sleep deficiency.

The idea of being bitten every day can be traumatizing. Given the bites mostly occur at night, individuals may get restless or fitful sleep or may avoid sleep altogether.

A sustained lack of sleep is linked to anxiety, depression, lowered immune system, and general fatigue. The idea of having bed bugs at home can also lead to a feeling of low self-esteem or depression.

Additionally, continued bed bug bites can increase the probability of infection since your skin surface is compromised.

What do Bed Bugs Bites Look Like?

So what do bed bug bites look like? Bed bug bites usually form welts or bumps in a straight line or zigzag pattern. They usually occur in tiny red bumps or cause popular eruptions or surrounding bite arrears featuring flat or raised blotches that may be swollen.

Bed bug bites on adults leg

Identifying Bed Bugs Bites on Kids and Adults

Bed bug bites can occur on anyone, including children. The bite usually appears as red dots on the body. You can identify bed bug bites in children by observing certain characteristics.

For instance, a bed bug bite on a baby, kid, or adult will occur as tiny, elevated, and red dots with a darker spot at the center. Moreover, you may notice them scratching the bite area on their body since bed bug bites are usually very itchy.

While many other insects bite, like spiders, the majority of them bite only once or twice. But bed bugs usually bite several times, thus forming a small cluster or straight line on the skin surface.

Note that some kids or adults may not have any reaction to bed bug bites and may not even notice them. Once you notice bites immediately look at their mattress and sheets for signs of bed bugs.

Baby Bed Bug Bites

Baby bed bugs bite people when they are hungry. Their bites look the same as adult bed bug bites. Both nymph and adult bites may cause a small red and inflamed spot that can be irritating and itchy.

Difference between Bed Bug Bites and Flea Bites

Although many insects bite – like fleas, it is easy to discern a bite from a bed bug. For instance, bed bug bites are more often than not in a zigzag or straight line on the upper parts of the body, including around the neck, arms, and face while flea bites are more often found on the lower half of the body and or warm, moist spots like the bends of knees and elbows.

Development-wise, flea bites usually have a dark, noticeable center and may develop sores. Scratching flea bites may cause infection. On the other hand, bed bug bites may over time result in hard, whitish inflammation that may bleed.

Keep in mind that while bed bug bites are generally riskless, flea bites can lead to infection. Bed bug bites rarely cause severe complications, although some people may develop an allergic reaction to them.

Flea bites on the other hand can result in a rash known as popular urticarial, which appears as scratchy swellings that can become blistering and aching when touched.

Since fleas carry certain bacteria that can cause infections in humans, you should not scratch the bites. On rare occasions, flea bites can cause diseases such as plague and typhus.

Fleas usually jump on your legs and will bite you during the day and at night. It should be easy to see that you have fleas in the house biting you.

Bed bug bite vs flea bite

Difference between Bed Bug Bites and Mosquito Bites

Mosquito bites tend to be in an unsystematic pattern and are a bit larger than bed bug bites. But both bites can result in itchy, irritated, or red welts and bumps.

Note that only female mosquitoes bite. It normally takes around six seconds for female mosquito saliva to seep into the bloodstream, leading to a reaction.  

In most cases, mosquito bites will look like red bumps with a wound at the center. But if an individual is sensitive, mosquito bites can cause larger bumps or welts.

The bites itch since that is the way our immune system reacts to mosquito salvia. But just like bed bugs, mosquitoes are also more likely to bite when the lights are off. Human sweat, warmth, and carbon dioxide may attract these insects.

As we have mentioned, bed bug bites normally appear in a cluster and a certain pattern, such as a zigzag or straight line. But mosquito bites are usually isolated and random all over the body parts that are exposed.

People usually don’t react to bed bug bites because it happens in your sleep. Most people will not realize they were bit till morning or even days later.

In terms of infection, mosquito bites are known for spreading serious illnesses. More than 725, 000 individuals around the world die from diseases caused by mosquito bites.

The most common diseases caused by mosquito bites include dengue fever, malaria, west Nile fever, and Zika.

Bed Bug Bite Treatment

In most cases, you can simply treat bed bug bites at home. But you should visit a dermatologist for professional treatment if the bites lead to blisters, allergic reactions, and skin infection.

For allergic reactions, you may require an antihistamine, epinephrine, or corticosteroid injection while a dermatologist may prescribe an antiseptic medication for infection caused by bed bug bites.

When it comes to an irritating itch, you may be prescribed an antihistamine in liquid or pill form.

How to Stop Bed Bug Bites from Itching

There are many substances at home you can put on bed bug bites to stop them from itching. Here are some of them:

  • Apply baking soda paste (just mix baking soda with water) directly on the affected area. Let it dry and wipe it off using a cotton pad.
  • Calamine lotion is known for being effective in treating bed bug bites as it heals itching as well as helps protect the skin and dry rashes.
  • Aloe Vera is also a potent substance to put on bed bugs to relieve itchiness. You can use it as a gel or fresh to treat your bed bug bites. The amino acids and the active substance in this plant help relieve burning sensations and itching.
  • Toothpaste can also relieve the effects of bed bug bites. It has menthol, which is known for being a powerful anti-itch remedy. So just apply a small amount to the affected area to soothe the itching and burning sensation.
  • Lemon juice contains antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help relieve itchiness and dry rashes while alleviating the redness and reducing the swelling of bed bug bites.

How Long Does it Take for Bed Bug Bites to go Away?

Bed bug bites can take up to two weeks to appear, but some people may not even notice the bites. Most bites take up to one or two weeks to heal after appearing and do not result in long-term issues. Those with severe sensitivity to bites may last up to three weeks or even longer.


Bed bug bites can be easily mistaken for other insect bites, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and signs of a bed bug infestation, and take steps to prevent and treat the bed bug problem.


Can Bed Bugs Bite Through Clothes?

No, bed bugs cannot bite through clothes. The bugs are usually drawn to the carbon dioxide produced during breathing, and will typically bite uncovered areas such as the neck, arm, and face. But since they can also burrow through clothing, the bits can also occur on any part of the body.

When Do Bed Bugs Bite You?

Bed bugs are nocturnal bugs, meaning they are more active at night, and this is when they bite, especially when you are sleeping. They rest during the day and become active when the lights are turned off.

However, they are opportunistic and therefore will also bite during the day, particularly if they have not had a meal recently.

Can You Get an Allergic Reaction from Bed Bug Bites?

While some people may not react to bed bug bites, others may experience allergic reactions that may include severe blisters, hives, or itching. If you experience these symptoms, you should immediately visit a dermatologist.

Note that a severe reaction to the bites can result in a complex skin condition that leads to urticarial – swelling and inflammation of the skin.

Do Bed Bugs Bite Every Night?

Contrary to a popular misconception, bed bugs don’t always bite every night. As a matter of fact, they can go for weeks without eating. And while this may sound great, it makes it harder to notice their presence in your home.

An individual bed bug can seek a meal of blood every 5 to 10 days.

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