“Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t let…” We all know what’s coming, but I think that most of us, as we grew up, thought that the rhyme was just a cute children’s tale. Personally, we were very disappointed to learn that it’s true. If you have time, feel free to read our article on what are bed bugs. As briefly as possible, bed bugs do exist and they do bite. Keep reading for more information on bed bug bites.
cc hiyori13There is no question that we’re asked more often than What do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? Unfortunately, this is a very hard question to answer, as the appearance of bed bug bites can vary from person to person. On some people, it may look like a rash. On others, raised bumps. And on the very lucky few (approximately 20% of the population), there will be no reaction at all. What’s more, even if there are visible signs of bed bug bites, they don’t always have to itch – they may be painful instead.
The most common appearances of bed bug bites is the “breakfast, lunch, dinner” bite. This is the name commonly given to a row of 3 raised bumps, typically on your arm or leg, but in some cases on your torso. The bites are usually in a row of three (sometimes just 2) because the bed bug literally dined on you 3 times. This is often the case because people tend to move while sleeping, and by moving, the bed bug’s feeding is disturbed and must resume in a nearby location. Another visible tell-tale sign of a bed bug bite is that the bump will often have two puncture marks. Bed bugs are supposed to make 2 punctures when they bite you: one to inject you with a numbing agent so you don’t feel them sucking up your blood and one to suck up your blood through. However, the 2 puncture marks will not be visible on everyone.
As you may have inferred, there are more common and less common types of bed bug bites, but there really is no typical bite. If you really think you might have bed bugs, head over to our bed bugs signs page and use some of the methods described in order to figure out if you have a problem.
Note – most people that think they have bed bug bites end up discovering it was from another insect or else an allergic reaction to something.
For some people, the bites can appear immediately and start itching. But for others, it can take up to 9 days before appearances of the bites are noticed. So, unfortunately, that leads to a lot of mistakes about where the bites came from. People who have been traveling for several weeks may blame one hotel for the bed bugs when they actually came from a hotel stay several days ago.
Unfortunately, the best indicator of whether you actually have been bitten by a bed bug is seeing the bed bugs.
As I explain below, bed bug bites are not dangerous, but if you think you got them at home, then you must take measures to ensure you don’t have a bed bug infestation.
Here are a few steps you should take immediately at home:
Check your mattress for any signs of bed bugs – this can be seeing bed bugs themselves or seeing reddish-black spots that they leave.
Use very hot water to wash your sheets carefully.
One of the hardest things is to actually determine whether you have bed bugs – this is especially difficult at the beginning of an infestation. A bed bug catcher device can help with this.
If you’re at a hotel and suspect you have bed bugs in your room, then do the following:
You really don’t want bed bugs to infest your stuff, so move it away from the bed where the bed bugs are usually located. If there’s a dry bath tub, then place your luggage in that. If not, then place it on bathroom tiles.
Again, just carefully lift up the sheets and check the mattress for signs of bed bugs – for a larger infestation, you may see creamy eggs (1mm long) laid by bed bugs in the corners of the mattress. Check the seams and under the edge of the mattress for dark or red spots that are signs of defecation by the bugs.
If you see any signs of bed bugs, call down to reception and ask if you can change rooms. Check the new room before you move your belongings.
To prevent bed bugs coming back into your home with you from your trip, place your luggage into a plastic bag and carefully remove the clothes and wash them in hot water. Also dry them in a hot dryer as the high temperatures can kill bed bugs. If your luggage has hard covers, then wipe them down with rubbing alcohol to remove any eggs. For seams, you might want to spray them with some rubbing alcohol. Placing your suitcase into a large freezer for 1 week is another way of ensuring you kill any bed bugs or their eggs that might be on it.
No one wants to have to throw away our stuff. But sometimes it may be the best course of action especially if you can’t clean it or if you know they are definitely infested. It may often be cheaper in the long run and mentally less stressful just to throw items away. When you’re throwing items away, make sure to carefully mark them as being infested by bed bugs so that unsuspecting passer-bys don’t pick them up.
We hope you don’t get bed bugs, but if you do have them then definitely take the infestation seriously. Take immediate measures to kill bed bugs – see the section below for more on that.
Although bed bug bites are disgusting and most certainly annoying, they are generally not dangerous. Bed bugs, unlike some insects such as mosquitos, are not known to transmit any diseases. However, a very small percentage of the population is seriously allergic to their numbing agent. In those very few people, anaphylaxis can result, which is potentially life-threatening. Read our bed bug allergy post to learn more.
For most people the only real danger of bed bug bites arises when you start itching them. Continuous scratching can cause blisters and possibly infections. Therefore, if you do have itchy bed bug bites, you should treat them early to prevent any future complications.
Bed bug bites can be treated in many ways. Over the counter medications, such as hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion, can ease the itching. If you prefer home remedies, then try applying a paste made from baking soda and water on the bites after washing the bites with soap and water. Leave the paste on until it’s completely dry before washing it off. Check out our post on bed bug bites treatment for more information.
In the end, if you have bed bug bites, then the question you’ll really start asking yourself is “how can I get rid of the bed bugs that bite me all the time?” We’ve got a whole page on how to get rid of bed bugs that I strongly encourage you to read. Above all else, pay attention to the beginning and end of that article, from which you should take away 2 primary points:
Getting rid of bed bugs is not a cheap procedure. It can be very time and labor intensive to do all the cleaning that’s involved. The dry steamer is also not cheap – around $300 for the Vapamore system that we recommend. However, it is much better to spend the money, time, and energy at the beginning of an infestation and to get rid of bed bugs properly because it’ll save you way more hassle and money down the road. If your infestation grows, then you may have to call in a professional to deal with it, and that’ll cost you way more money!
You can read a lot of other sites on the web, but if all they seem to be doing is selling you a spray or telling you that you can get rid of bed bugs simply by vacuuming and washing all your stuff, then they’re duping you. (You should definitely use vacuuming and washing as part of your strategy, but they’re NEVER enough).