What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? Information on Symptoms & Treatment

Bed bugs are often thought of as a pest of unsanitary places, but they can be found anywhere, says Crumbley. Regardless of the state of your home, a bed bug infestation is possible. According to Crumbley, here are some signs to look out for and that can help you confirm whether or not you are dealing with bed bugs:

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.

In fact, bed bugs don’t even transmit anything dangerous to you. “They’ve never been shown to transmit any diseases,” says Rajotte. “Unlike mosquitoes and ticks and things, which can transmit some pretty bad diseases, bed bugs do not,” she says.

Bed Bug Bite Signs, Symptoms, Pictures and Treatment

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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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Although some people will say a bed bug bite hurts somewhat, most complaints are due to the itching the bites cause, says Gibb. And that itching is due to the chemicals the bed bug inserts into your body during the bite, notes Rajotte.

In fact, Gibb says some people’s skin doesn’t respond to a bed bug bite at all, which is especially the case for the elderly population. That’s why it can be difficult to determine if your bite is from a bed bug just by looking at it.

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“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.

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What do bed bugs look like and where do they hide?

Although the duration and intensity of a bed bug bite will vary from person to person, you typically won’t feel the effects of a bed bug bite—like itching and those raised red bumps—until mid-morning after a bite due to the anesthetic the bug injects prior to biting, says Gibb. “So they certainly don’t feel it when the bite is occurring, but shortly after, probably within a day,” he adds.

Meet the Experts: Emma Grace Crumbley, entomologist for Mosquito Squad; Timothy Gibb, Ph.D., a clinical professor of entomology at Purdue University; Edwin Rajotte, Ph.D., a professor of entomology at Penn State University; Changlu Wang, Ph.D., extension specialist in entomology at Rutgers University.

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? 10+ Pictures & Case Examples

Bed bug bites symptoms

For a new infestation to occur, bed bugs must have been brought from one area to another through human intervention, says Emma Grace Crumbley, entomologist for Mosquito Squad. “For example, if you stay at a hotel that has a bed bug problem, and bed bugs get into your clothes and luggage, it is very likely you will have a bed bug problem at your next destination, be that another hotel or your own home,” she explains.

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What do bed bug bites look like?

The bite symptoms typically last for about two weeks, explains Wang. “Some people may still show symptoms after a month,” he says, while others may see their bites dissipate over a few days.

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 Bed Bug Bites Look Like? 10+ Pictures & Case Examples

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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Signs of a bed bug infestation

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:

The trouble with identifying a bed bug bite—as is true for a lot of insects, including mosquitoes—is that it can be hard to identify the source, as not everyone’s immune response is the same. “Everybody’s going to respond differently,” says Timothy Gibb, Ph.D., a clinical professor of entomology at Purdue University. “Same thing’s true with a mosquito bite. Some people are going to swell up and it’s going to itch. That same mosquito could bite someone else and it’s hardly noticeable.”

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