What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? Bed Bug Bite Pictures, Symptoms, and Treatments

Bedbugs prefer to feed on the blood of humans (but they can survive on the blood of mice, rats, or other animals, too). You probably won’t catch the bugs in the act of biting, however, because the bedbug injects an anesthetic and an anticoagulant to numb the area as it bites you. (1)

Bed bug bites will most commonly occur on the arms, neck, or trunk of the body, says Gibb, although they’ll bite anywhere they can find exposed skin. And—as their name suggests—bed bugs will bite you at night while you’re sound asleep.

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What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? (Pictured)

Bed bugs are also excellent at moving in between adjacent rooms, especially in older buildings where door seals and baseboards are worn, leaving easy-access entry points, says Crumbley. “This, along with their small size and flat body plan, allows them to hide in many areas throughout a room, making controlling bed bugs especially challenging,” she notes.

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When and where do bed bugs bite?

If you have recently traveled and stayed in a hotel, motel, or bed other than your own, especially in an area with a current bed bug infestation, you will need to take precautions to sanitize your belongings and clothing to ensure you did not bring pests back with you, says Crumbley.

Bedbug bites generally heal within a couple of weeks. It is recommended to clean the area with soap and water and apply a corticosteroid cream to relieve itchiness.

The key bed bug bite symptom to look for is a red, raised bump, says Gibb, similar in appearance to a spider or mosquito bite. But what sets bed bugs apart from other insects is that oftentimes, their bites will present in a line or cluster on one part or side of your body. This is the result of what’s called “probing.”

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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.

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Signs of a bed bug infestation

Bed bugs may also be brought into a home from thrifted items, including cloth materials (clothing, sheets, carpets, etc.) as well as books. Bed bugs are small and flat enough to fit in between book spines and bindings. After purchasing a used item, be sure to thoroughly sanitize it as soon as possible, says Crumbley.

No, reactions to bedbug bites can vary from person to person. Some may have no reaction at all, while others may experience extreme reactions such as swollen arms or itchy rashes. Some may have an immediate reaction while for others it may be delayed.

However, there are a few things that can tip you off to the fact that bed bugs are the culprit of your bites. Here’s what to know, including bed bug bites pictures to help you visualize the symptoms.

What Do Bedbugs Bites Look Like

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If you wake up with a line of three to four itchy, swollen bumps, it could be due to bed bugs.

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Where do bed bugs come from?

Bedbug bites tend to stick around longer than mosquito bites, though they look very similar.

“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.

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? Bed Bug Bite Pictures, Symptoms, and Treatments

Bed bug bites symptoms

The bites can appear on any part of the body that’s exposed while you sleep — places like the back of your neck, shoulders, arms, and legs are common, says Steve Durham, president of EnviroCon Termite & Pest in Tomball, Texas.

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Most of the Time Bedbug Bites Themselves Don’t Require Medical Attention

“We’ve found it’s most active when people are most sound asleep, and that’s usually from about 2:00 to 4:00 in the morning,” says Gibb. “That’s natural for a parasite like that to do that because it’s going to protect it. People won’t see it, they won’t feel it. It makes their survivorship much more probable.”

Brielle Gregory previously worked at Men’s Health magazine, where she reported, edited, and fact checked all things health, nutrition, and weight loss related; she currently spends her time digging into similar topics as a freelancer writer and editor. She’s a doting dog mom to a half-corgi and an aspiring world-traveler who’s probably planning her next trip right now (the dog included).

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