Bed bug bites are a year-round nightmare. You’ll find out how to tell apart the bed bugs’ bites from mosquitoes’ and fleas’ bites and why you won’t feel anything while you are bitten. We’ll also give an answer to a popular question: “Is it true that even two people sleeping in the same bed can react to these bites differently?”. We will also explain how to get rid of itching after you’ve been bitten and how to prevent new bites. Those who are forewarned, are forearmed, so let’s get started!
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like? F.A.Q. or Everything You Should Know About the Bed Bug Bites
1. Do bed bug bites itch? Not when you have just been bitten. You won’t feel anything.
First, we need to talk about signs of bed bug bites which you may identify after the night sleep. According to the information about these pest insects from entomologists from the Entomology Department at Purdue University, “the bites themselves are not painful and typically are not felt”. You don’t feel any pain when bitten because the bed bugs inject a special temporary analgesic which will relieve you from the pain.
2. How long does it take for the bed bugs to bite someone?
A complete meal lasts 3-10 minutes. It all starts with the appearance of middle or large raised or flat spots on any part of human body (but the most common parts are face, neck, arms, and hands). Itching and redness almost often accompany these bites.
3. Two people sleeping in the same bed can react differently to the bites
Bed bug bites signs can differ greatly from one person to another. Even a couple sleeping in the same bed and thus bitten at the same time can react completely differently to the bites! It has been proven that almost every third person (30%) bitten doesn’t feel any uncomfortable sensations even when they’ve been bitten repeatedly over time. Such low bite sensitivity is typical of seniors. As the bed bug bites symptoms may be implicit and manifest in different ways, they are therefore often confused with other insects’ bites.. If you are not sure, whether you or your child were bitten by a bed bug, a mosquito or flea, look at our comparative table below which helps you to identify the pest bothering you.
4. Bed bug bites are usually arranged in tracks of 2-3 bites
Unlike mosquito bites, these ones always trail of 2-3 (up to 5) bites in a row, because a bed bug doesn’t suck all of the blood at once, it feeds on it gradually and bites several times. The distance between the bites can be up to several inches. Sometimes this eating pattern is called "breakfast, lunch, and dinner". Since the bites are painless you won’t be able to interrupt the bed bugs’ feast which can last, as we’ve mentioned, up to 10 minutes!
Also, mind that it is a single bed bug that can bite you twice or thrice per night! How many bugs are there in your bed? According to scientific estimations, a bed can be inhabited by up to several thousands of bed bugs. This is not a limit, though, as there has been a case of 150 thousand bed bugs infesting a single room! Most of them inhabited particularly the bed. That is why even if a tenth of this of this army of thousands of pests is hungry, you risk having multiple itchy red bites all over your body the following morning.
5. Bed bugs are not afraid of light and even can bite during the day
In spite of the fact that the bed bugs only leave their nests at night for meal (as a rule, they appear between 3 and 8 am), they exceptionally appear during the day. This can happen if the bed bugs are too hungry (you can imagine the length of being too hungry taking into consideration the fact that the bed bugs can survive for UP TO A YEAR without food!). What is a contingency for the bed bugs? It is the absence of peacefully sleeping people nearby at night. Laundries, public transit, airports, offices and other non-residential buildings are at risk.
Therefore, the bed bugs aren’t afraid of bright daylight or artificial light if they want to get their blood portion (which they will!).
6. Bed bugs bite all year around
Unlike other biting insects which have certain activity peaks, bed bugs will inhabit your bed in any season until you get rid of them.
7. Do bed bugs bite dogs?
Theydo. Sometimes it is the dogs which suffer most from the bed bug bites as while living inside; the bugs can feed on their blood for a very long time before tasting yours. Why is it so? The matter is straightforward: just like cats, dogs sleep for the most of the day (they sleep for 18 hours!). This allows the bed bugs to have enough blood at night or during the day.
8. Can bed bugs bite through clothes?
It is quite possible. The bed bugs pierce the skin and suck your blood with the help of a special proboscis, which is not adapted for piercing tissue, plastic or paper. If you sleep wearing PJs, you may be in luck for a short period of time as the bed bugs are quick and will reach uncovered parts of your body soon enough,
As you have probably figured, these pests are a serious issue and you have to analyze a whole range of different factors to identify them. We have compiled a useful chart which will help you figure whether is the bed bugs which bite you or something else.
Find Out Who Bit You! Bite Comparison Chart: 6 Differences Between Bed Bug Bites vs Flea Bites vs Mosquito Bites
The bite spot
Medium-sized stiff red swollen spots
Small red swollen spots
Small deep bites with a hole in its center, and a red areola around it. Some blisters are also found.
Where do they bite?
2-3 or more bites form a trail on any body part
The bites are separate, spots can be found all over the body.
As a rule, 2-3 bites form a trail. Most often fleas bite feet and shins, less often they attack the upper body.
Bed bugs are mostly night insects so you’ll find the bites the morning after once you wake up.
Bites can appear at any time
Bites can appear at any time
Does not necessarily happen, but in any case doesn’t last long.
Intense, goes away relatively quickly.
Intense, goes away relatively quickly.
Other bite signs
Brownish stains on the bed sheets and under the mattresses which are the remains of the bed bugs you’ve accidentally crushed.
Mosquitoes squeak, bites are visible when skin starts to itch
Strong pain at the moment of the bite, the insect is not observed though.
Insect activity peak
The insects are active all year around
Activity peaks at the end of spring and during summer
Activity peaks at the end of summer
How Dangerous Are Bed Bug Bites?
This very question most of all bothers those who have been bitten by the bed bugs. According to the Purdue University entomologists, “at least 27 agents of human disease have been found in bed bugs, including viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and parasitic worms. None of these agents reproduce or multiply within bed bugs, and very few survive for any length of time inside a bed bug. There is no evidence that bed bugs are involved in the transmission (via bite or infected feces) of any disease agent, including hepatitis B virus and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS”.
This, unlike your CNS’ reaction to the bed bug bites, is quite rejoicing. The scientists claim that frequent bites can cause sleep disorders, including insomnia, stress and irritation. It’s believed that the newborns attract the bed bugs most as their blood tastes specifically well for them. It's unknown whether the newborns are really bitten more often, but the bed bugs’ bites can be the actual cause of their constant crying because their skin is really sensitive. Moreover, in most severe cases of significant blood loss, the newborns can develop anemia. Also, anyone with particularly sensitive skin can develop an allergy.
NB: Although the bed bugs are nocturnal insects, they fear light less than starvation. They will come and find you even if you light the room with powerful spotlights.
How Long Do Bed Bugs’ Bites Last?
Bed bugs need fresh blood every 3-4 days, but if they have already spread everywhere, the bites won’t heal soon enough as new ones will appear all the time. Since the bites may not be immediately felt, you will hardly be able to name the exact day you were bitten. As per the Wesleyan University specialists, “bites may not become immediately visible, and can take up to 3-4 days to appear”. The University Health Services (UHS) at University W–Madison experts add that a delayed reaction up to 14 days is possible.
Redness, itching, swelling of the skin are usually gone in a few days. In more severe cases, such as being bitten by hundreds of bed bugs, healing takes longer: up to 3 weeks. If the bites do not heal and you have noticed growing health deterioration, seek medical attention immediately as an allergic possible, which should be treated under the specialist supervision, is possible.
How to Treat Bed Bug Bites
Since the bed bugs do not transmit any diseases, their bites don’t have to be treated (provided you have neither an allergy nor you itch). Still, if minor itching bothers you, use such home treatment as ice packs to reduce swelling or a mixture of water and soda to reduce itching. If itching is awful, use such products as StingEze Dauber for a~$2.98. This low-cost remedy is recommended by scientists because it helps to eliminate pain and itching. Alternatively, you may apply Benadryl Itch Relief Spray for a ~$8: it’s a multipurpose remedy with a 4.5 stars rating on Amazon.com.
Take antihistamine drugs if you know that you have an allergy reaction. These pills help to fight allergic reactions and are an excellent bed bug bites remedy. Take these drugs (after consulting a doctor) before the bites swell too much. This will help control the itching and swelling at early stages.
How to Get Rid Of Bed Bug Bites
There are lots of online myths regarding the treatment which allegedly is effective against the bed bugs. Here are two most spread myths.
Spray repellents are effective against the bites
This is not true. Repellents may be helpful against mosquito bites, some other insects’ bites, but the bed bugs don’t give a toss about what you spray on yourself.
Bed bugs bombs can help destroy the bed bugs and thus prevent their bites
This is not true. Unfortunately, they are also useless as the insecticide fog cannot reach the secluded spots inhabited by the bed bugs. Moreover, once the bed bugs feel such synthetic chemical attack, they will hide deeper into the cracks and it will become even more difficult to get rid of them.
To protect yourself from their bites, you need to use only the tested and approved by the scientists bed bug control products. Also, mind that it is necessary to get rid of not only adults, but also of the larvae and even of the eggs which could eventually grow into adult biting insects.
However, things are not very simple. You can’t merely get rid of the bed bugs by using single type of treatment. Along with thorough cleaning it is essential to systematically apply other methods.
Here are the 3 main steps:
- Use bed bug detectors to detect any bed bugs in your house as well as their tracks. Special bed legs supports, such as Climbup Insect Interceptor Bed Bug Trap for the price from ~$12.99, remain the most popular bed bug detectors. You’ll find out more about bed bug detectors in our Best Bed Bug Detectors Review.
- Cover your mattress with a mattress bed bug cover to treat your old mattress or to prevent their appearance in the newly obtained one. You’ll find the most durable covers for any budget in the review of 5 Best Bed Bug Mattress Protectors.
- Invest in an effective bed bug spray to treat indoor infestation.
Remember! Up to 150 thousand bed bugs can inhabit your bed, so don’t put off getting rid of them and take action right now!
We have collected for you all proven scientific information regarding getting rid of bed bugs in our guide. In fact, to get rid of them you’ll have to be smarter and more persistent than these bloodsuckers! Arm yourself against them right now and read “The Complete Guide to How to Kill Bed Bugs”