Bed bug bites are common, with more than 200,000 cases of these nasty bites in the United States every year. The good news is that these bites are short-term, and they often resolve on their own.
You can usually self-diagnose a bed bug bite, too.
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Identify the Bug That Bit You
When you have a bite of any kind, it’s essential to determine what decided to use you as a snack. A good idea, and one that you’ve probably thought of already, is to try and find the bug that bit you.
Bed bugs are elusive, so you’ll need to look very hard to find them.
And since they don’t like to come out during the day when the lights are on, you may not notice you have a bed bug problem to begin with. A thorough investigation of your room should commence. You’ll want to look through your:
- Box spring
- Clothes (near the bed)
Bed bugs are tiny, reddish brown pests that are as small as an apple seed. These bugs can be found in your home, hotels and motels and even hospitals, which are as clean as possible for health reasons.
If you find these bugs, you know what bit you.
But they’ll skitter away quickly, and they’ll often be found between the bed and box spring, or in the crevices of the mattress. You’ll need to look thoroughly to find them and then identify them by their appearance.
What Does a Bed Bug Bite Look Like?
You can work to identify the bite, too, which will take a trained eye and some experience. The bites can affect people differently, and if you’re a person that is allergic to these bites, they can be more pronounced.
The bites have a few characteristics that will help you distinguish them from other bites:
- Dark red center with a red and swollen area
- Blisters or hives near the bite
- Bites in lines
Bed bug bites can occur on any part of the body, but they’re most common in exposed areas. The issue is that the bugs come out at night, so you’re sleeping when they decide it’s time to bite you.
And many people will wake up with bites that they only notice when they head into the shower.
Exposed skin is the prime target for bites, so if you sleep in your boxers and without a shirt, you’ll want to look for bites on your back and legs.
What you may not have known about bed bugs is that they have a thickness that is similar to the thickness of a credit card. A small thickness allows the bug to sneak between you and the bed – so they may not be crawling on your body at all.
It’s important to look for a cluster or bites in a line. Bed bugs will bite humans multiple times and often in a row as they move up the body.
Bed Bug Bite Symptoms
Bed bug bites itch – a lot. A common sign of most insect bites is that they itch a lot. The reason for the itching will change from one insect to another. When you think you have a bed bug bite, the one thing you may not realize is that the bite may be a few days old.
These bites can take days before symptoms start to show.
The symptoms that are most commonly exhibited after a bite are:
- Red welts in the area (often clustered or in a line)
- Extreme itchiness (don’t scratch the bite)
- Burning sensation around the bite
What does a bed bug bite feel like? Nothing.
When you get bit, you won’t notice it. Bed bugs have a slight anesthetic that will be injected into the skin prior to being bitten. This anesthetic is enough to numb the area slightly so that the bite goes unnoticed.
Studies have been done as to why some people don’t react to this anesthetic.
It’s commonly accepted that bed bug bites go unnoticed, and some don’t even swell up to form welts. It’s thought that repeated exposure to bed bugs causes the body to become immune to the anesthetic that leaves most people with welts.
Many studies state that 70% of people don’t react to this anesthetic, but a lot of experts say this number is erroneous.
Bites That Look Like Bed Bugs Made Them
It’s common for people to mix up the type of bite that they’re suffering from. Bug bites often expose themselves in stages. People often mix up the bite of a bed bug with the bite of a flea or mosquito. Why?
They’re itchy with a red center.
The difference is that mosquitoes don’t bite in clusters or lines like their bed bug counterpart. Fleas often bite the lower extremities, and the bites are smaller due to their small size.
Allergic Reaction to Bed Bug Bites
You can be allergic to these bites. The good news is that bed bugs don’t pose a risk of disease like other bugs. So, if you’ve been bitten, it may be uncomfortable and unsightly, but it’s not going to be life-threatening at any point.
Note: You don’t want to itch the bite excessively.
You’ll itch the bite at some point – it’s inevitable, but you don’t want to itch it too much. There is a risk that the bite will become infected, and if this occurs, you may need to go to the hospital to get medicine to clear up the infection.
A person can be allergic to a bed bug bite, and this can lead to:
- Engorged bite marks
- Intense burning at the site
- Painful swelling
In rare cases, people have suffered an anaphylactic response to the bite. This often occurs when the bites are an ongoing problem, and immediate medical attention will be needed to ensure that the person can breathe.
Bed Bug Medicine and Bite Treatments
Keep in mind that most bites go away in a few days to a week or two at most. You don’t need to seek bed bug treatment in most cases, but if you do need some relief, there are ways to keep the itching to a minimum:
- Anti-itch creams
- Antiseptic creams (if infection occurs)
- Ice packs
An ice pack will help to alleviate some of the swelling, and it’s often used to help prevent people from itching. When the ice is applied, it will numb the area and cause the itching sensation to decline dramatically.
Treatment from a medical professional is rarely needed.
The only time that treatment is a must is if you have a severe allergic reaction to the bites, which is very rare. If an infection does occur, you’re advised to seek out treatment to eliminate the infection before it becomes a serious medical concern.
At-Home Treatment Options
If you’re looking for relief, you’re not alone. It’s common for people to want to stop the intense itching or burning they’re experiencing. Bug bites can be annoying, but know that bed bugs aren’t going to cause you lifelong issues – they don’t transmit diseases.
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Two simple ways to treat these bites are:
- Wash: A simple and effective way to alleviate the skin irritation and itchiness is to wash the area with soap and water. Warm water will often help to reduce the swelling of the bite, too. The other good thing about washing is that it will lower the risk of infection.
- Corticosteroid Cream: If the itching is intense, a corticosteroid cream is recommended. This cream can be purchased over-the-counter, and you’ll find it at your local drugstore. This is a medicated cream, but only low dosage models are offered without a prescription.
Bedbug treatment cost is negligible in most cases because a person doesn’t need to go to a medical professional to seek treatment. If you do have an infection and need to seek treatment, this will often be covered under your medical insurance plan.
Bite Treatments Won’t Work for Long-term Success
If you’ve been bitten by a bed bug somewhere away from your home, then you’ll heal from the bite and won’t have to worry about treating the entire home. Anyone that is being bitten by bed bugs in their own home will need to treat their home to kill these pests.
And since they can live 300 days without food or water, you’ll need to kill them – not starve them out.
Treatment is a difficult and tedious topic – we’ve covered it in other articles on this site.
If you’re seeking professional treatment, be prepared to spend a lot of money remedying the issue. Treatments often occur in phases, and the cost can be:
- $250 – $900 per room
- $400 – $600 per room on average
And if you need to treat an entire 2,000 square foot home, this can cost $1,500 – $2,000 per treatment.
Since the costs are very high to treat an entire home, it’s common that homeowners will choose to treat their home on their own. This takes a lot of time and deadly chemicals to be able to do properly.
Bedbug bombs, intense cleanings and repellents are the normal course of action, but it can take a very long time since the eggs need to be destroyed, too.