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No one likes being bitten by bugs of any kind, and although bed bug bites aren’t dangerous, they are annoying and can be very itchy. So in this post, I’m going to tell you about 14 home remedies that will help reduce the itching and possible pain as well as shorten your recovery time. Every bed bug bites treatment described is easy, cheap, and effective!
While treating bed bug bites is pretty straightforward, determining whether you actually have bites from a bed bug is not quite so simple!
There are many insects that could leave bites that look like bed bug bites (for example, mosquito bites are very commonly mistaken for bed bug bites). And there are many allergies and rashes that could also produces bumps in your skin that look very similar to bed bug bites. Even professionals often have trouble determining whether someone’s bites are from bed bugs or not.
That’s why we highly recommend people check that they have bed bugs before jumping to conclusions after seeing a few bites when they wake up. Check out our section on bed bug symptoms if you’re unsure whether you have bed bug bites or not.
Bed bug bites are generally not dangerous and that’s why you can use home remedies as bed bug bites treatment. However, there are some individuals that might suffer an allergic reaction to bed bug bites, including anaphylaxis (difficulty breathing) in some rare cases. For those individuals, immediate medical attention is recommended!
If your bites a very painful and swollen, then we also recommend you get them checked out by a doctor.
There aren’t really any other potential dangers to bed bug bites. The main fear with insect bites is that they transmit diseases, but this does not appear to be the case for bed bug bites.
However, as with any insect bites, they can get really itchy. And if you scratch them too much, bacteria from under your fingernails can infect the broken skin. Antiseptic creams or lotions can help if you do get a skin infection from scratching the bites too much, and if that doesn’t help, then we recommend seeing a doctor to check.
Below, I’ve listed 14 home remedies to help lessen the itchiness so that you don’t get to the point where the skin is broken and skin infections are possible.
Most bed bug bites go away after 1-2 weeks. Prolonged scratching can delay the healing process, so that’s why it’s good to use some of the following treatments to get rid of those bed bug bites as quickly as possible.
This is probably the most obvious treatment for any type of itchy bug bite. Hydrocortisone cream is often sold over the counter. And if you can’t find hydrocortisone cream, other anti-itch creams are often available at pharmacies.
Method: Apply a small amount of hydrocortisone cream over the bites, and make sure you wash your hands after. Always read and follow the instructions on the package.
Calamine lotion is often “used as an anti-pruritic (anti-itching agent) to treat conditions such as sunburn, rashes, poison ivy, poison oak, chickenpox, and insect bites and stings.” This makes them perfect for treating itchy bed bug bites.
You can purchase calamine lotion at a lot of stores, but you can also make your own following this recipe here.
Method: Place a small amount of calamine lotion on a cotton ball and apply to the bites. As with any medication, follow instructions on the package.
Essential oils can often help with various ailments. Lavender essential oil is often said to have analgesic effects due the linalool compound in the oil. Tea tree essential oil has antiseptic properties and is used to treat many skin conditions. Both tea tree and lavender essential oils can help relieve itchinesses on insect bites for several hours after application directly to the bites.
You can purchase essential oils many places – just be careful to purchase pure essential oils (not diffuser oils or scented oils which often contain other fillers and are not suitable for application to your skin). Most advice regarding essential oils suggests that you dilute it before use, so make sure you don’t apply pure essential oils to your skin before proper dilution.
Method: Dilute essential oils in water or oil and apply to bites.
A paste made from combining baking soda, AKA sodium bicarbonate, and a little bit of water can stop the itching by drying out the skin around the bed bug bites. This is an easy treatment to create since most of us have baking soda in our pantry or can easily purchase it at the grocery store.
Method: To create the paste, mix enough baking soda with water to form a paste. Then apply the paste on the bites to reduce the itchiness. Make sure the paste is thick enough that it won’t just run off your skin. Leave the paste on for several hours until it is completely dry. Then wash it off gently with warm water. Some people have suggested that adding salt into the mixture as well can help.
This is probably the first thing you should do when you find bed bug bites on your body. This simple act can help reduce itchiness and also help kill any bacteria on the bites that could cause infections.
Method: Wash the bites area carefully with soap.
Ice helps to keep the swelling down on bites as well as relieve itchiness by numbing the bites.
Method: Apply an ice pack to the areas with bed bug bites. Wrap a tea towel around the ice pack before placing it directly on your skin.
This sounds like an odd bed bug bites treatment, but it’s actually recommended by many people. Just think about how many skin care products (like soaps and shower gels use oatmeal or extracts from oatmeal as a component!). While it’s unclear whether it’s the oatmeal itself that’s doing the healing or just the hot water, this treatment should help to calm your skin and make the bites itch less. So, if you have oatmeal in the house, then give this a try.
Method: Pour a hot bath and add powdered oatmeal into it. Alternatively, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of taking a bath, you can mix the powdered oatmeal with warm water to make a thick paste, which you can apply to the bites.
Lemon juice and apple cider vinegar (as well as other vinegars) are natural antiseptics that are often used to treat skin conditions (in particular, to relieve itching). They also help kill any bacteria on the bites.
Method: Apply lemon juice or diluted apple cider vinegar to each bite. Wait for around an hour before washing it off.
Alka-seltzer is an effervescent antacid and pain reliever that contains 3 ingredients: aspirin, sodium bicarbonate (which is baking soda), and anhydrous citric acid. The aspirin can help relieve any pain from the bites, and the sodium bicarbonate and the citric acid can both help to relieve itching.
Method: Place two Alka-Seltzer tablets into half a glass of water. Dip a cotton ball into the water and apply it to the bites. Note – don’t use this remedy if you’re allergic to aspirin.
Antihistamines can be oral or applied directly to your skin. Antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl) work by reducing the amount of histamines produced by your body in response to the allergens injected by the bed bugs into the bites. This can help to reduce the redness and swelling of bites.
Method: Follow instructions on the antihistamine packages and take orally or apply it directly to your skin.
Witch hazel is a plant that is used to produce an astringent (also called witch hazel), which is used to treat many skin conditions.
Method: Depending on what type of product containing witch hazel you use, you may have to dilute it or you may be able to apply it directly to your skin. Again, follow instructions on the package when using.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant that is used to make various products including moisturizers and sunburn creams.
Method: Apply gels containing aloe vera on your bites to calm them.
Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate crystals that are common in many bath salts. It’s unclear if the magnesium in the salts help soothe bites or whether it’s the hot bath that helps the bites.
Method: Pour epsom salts into a hot bath. Add in a few drops of lavender essential oil for extra benefit.
This is a great option when you’re away from home and can’t easily get some of the other treatments for bed bug bites described above. Even when we’re on vacation, we typically always have toothpaste handy!
Most toothpaste contain menthol (hence the minty taste) and baking soda, both of which can help relieve the itchiness from the bites.
Method: Apply a small amount of toothpaste onto the bites as needed.
Anti-itch creams like hydrocortisone are usually the most popular bed bug bites treatments people turn to. However, we find a bit of lavender or tea tree essential oil on a bite can also help reduce the itching for hours. If the bites swell, then ice packs are a great option to help calm things down.
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