As the name suggests, bedbugs bite at night when you’re asleep in bed, usually about an hour before dawn. (2) If you wake up with a bite, though, don’t immediately assume bedbugs are to blame. The bites look very similar to other insect bites. Here’s what to know to confidently identify bedbug bites and how to go about treating them.
Having bedbugs or being concerned that you might have an infestation can also lead to mental distress, including insomnia and anxiety, Frye says.
Bed bugs are a difficult pest to control for, but there are steps you can take to reduce the impact of bed bugs. Per Crumbley, here’s some simple steps to follow:
- What Do Bedbugs Bites Look Like
- What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? Bed Bug Bite Pictures, Symptoms, and Treatments
- What do bedbug bites look like? Pictures to help you identify and treat them
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What Do Bedbugs Bites Look Like
To manage itchiness and skin irritation, Ungar suggests:
“They probe the skin in several different places, I think probably to find best access to draw blood,” says Gibb. In fact, if you have screens on your windows—thereby keeping out other insects that might bite—but are still waking up with a line of 3 or 4 bites on your arm, it’s safe to suspect that bed bugs might be to blame, says Edwin Rajotte, Ph.D., a professor of entomology at Penn State University.
Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and are very flat from top to bottom—almost as thin as a piece of paper—with a brownish color, says Rajotte. Baby bed bugs are also brownish in color, but pinhead-sized.
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? Bed Bug Bite Pictures, Symptoms, and Treatments
Bedbugs also tend to leave bites in clusters or in a line that’s sometimes referred to as a “breakfast, lunch and dinner” pattern, Ungar explains. “Again, that’s because it’s easy,” Kimsey says.
While there are some clues to determine if you have bedbug bites, “they’re by no means foolproof,” says Ungar, who is the director of the Alopecia Center of Excellence and director of the Rosacea and Seborrheic Dermatitis Clinic at Mount Sinai.
“They tend to be fairly lazy, to be honest,” Kimsey says. They typically bite areas of skin closest to the surface they’re walking on, like the side of your legs closest to the mattress.
What do bedbug bites look like? Pictures to help you identify and treat them
Bedbug bites don’t normally require treatment by a doctor, though there are a few precautions you should take at home. (8) Start by cleaning the area with soap and water to lower your risk of infection and to relieve itchiness. If the bites are itchy, pick up a corticosteroid cream at your local drugstore and apply it to the area. The bites generally will heal within a couple of weeks. (9)
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If you’ve been bitten and have an insatiable itch, chances are, you’re going to want to speed up the treatment process. Unfortunately, the best way to do that is also the hardest way to do it: not scratching the bite, says Gibb, which will just further irritate the area. If you’re having trouble keeping your claws off, you can also try using an antihistamine—think Benadryl or Allegra, which are meant to curb allergy symptoms—to help mute that itchy feeling.
Checking in with your doctor or dermatologist can also help you determine exactly what type of skin issue you’re dealing with.