How to Identify Bed Bug Bites

Although bed bugs don’t usually require serious medical attention, they can cause a great deal of anxiety and restless nights. To help find bed bugs before they find you (and your belongings), dermatologists recommend looking for the following signs near places where you sleep.

If you do get bed bugs and have many bites or a bite that looks infected, see a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can treat an infection and help relieve the itch.

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Bed bug bites usually heal and go away within a week or two.

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Why do bed bugs bite?

Bed bugs are nocturnal, which means they are active mainly at night. They normally bite people who are sleeping or sitting still for long periods of time. However, bed bugs will not bite every night. They only come out when they need to eat, and it could be several nights or several weeks before they need another meal.

Mosquitoes bite to extract blood and use it to develop their eggs. A mosquito can transmit several disease-causing pathogens, such as West Nile virus and malaria. In some instances, some people may have a severe reaction to a mosquito bite, experiencing low-grade fever and even swollen lymph nodes.

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Most bites will heal within one to two weeks of appearing and not cause any long-term problems. Those with stronger sensitivities to insect bites may take up to three weeks or longer to heal.

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Bed bug bites vs. hives

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When bedbugs bite, you often see clusters of bites. Each cluster usually contains 3 to 5 bites that appear in a zigzag pattern.

Liebold K et al. “Disseminated bullous eruption with systemic reaction caused by Cimex lectularius.” J Euro Acad of Dermat and Vener. 2003;17:461-463.

Bed bugs do not transmit diseases, but bed bug bites can become red …

Bedbugs

At first, you probably won’t feel anything. As noted by the CDC, when a bed bug bites, it injects an anesthetic and an anticoagulant into your bloodstream. As a result, you may not realize you’ve been bitten until the telltale red welts appear hours or days afterward. When that happens, bed bug bites can become itchy and irritating. If you scratch at these bites, they may become even itchier and more irritating. Excessive scratching can create skin problems, bleeding, or a secondary infection.

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Do bed bugs bite only at night?

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You’ll seldom see bed bugs, so many people mistakenly believe that mosquitoes, fleas, or spiders bit them. Sometimes people mistake bed bug bites for a common skin condition such as an itchy rash, hives, or chickenpox.

References
Leverkus M et al. “Bullous Allergic Hypersensitivity to Bed bug Bites Mediated by IgE against Salivary Nitrophorin.” J of Invest Dermatol. 2006;126:2364-2366.

How to Identify Bed Bug Bites

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To make sure you have bed bugs, you’ll need to look for signs of bed bugs.

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How to check for bed bugs

If you have a large number of bed bugs, you may see the bugs. Most people, however, only see signs of bed bugs. To look for signs of bed bugs, check the places that people sleep for the following:

If you find signs of bed bugs, call a pest-control company or your property manager. You should not use bug spray or a fogger. These products have little effect on bed bugs.

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