Bed bugs are an all too common pest for homeowners, business owners, renters, travelers and many others to deal with. Oftentimes, misinformation or a lack of information can lead to making rash decisions about getting rid of them. And unfortunately, being bitten is one of the primary ways to discover you have a bed bug problem. Here’s what you need to know about bed bug bites.

Identifying Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites usually show up as tiny red, often itchy bumps on the skin. They often appear in multiple places and in clusters, though this doesn’t necessarily indicate the presence of more than one bed bug biting you. Since bed bugs usually bite while the host is asleep, bites will usually appear on areas of the skin that are exposed while in bed, such as the face, neck, shoulders, hands, arms and legs.

However, as other types of blood-feeding pests can leave similar marks on the skin, other signs that you have a bed bug problem include seeing spots of blood on your bed linens, finding tiny pieces of fecal matter nearby and discovering molted bed bug exoskeletons.

Bite Symptoms

Bed bug bites affect everyone differently. When a bed bug bites someone, it uses its saliva to numb the skin and creates a tiny feeding hole with its mouthparts. This saliva also contains an anticoagulant to help with feeding. Individual reactions are often dependent on how the body responds to the bed bug’s saliva. These reactions can range from minor bumps that feel fine and go away quickly to rashes and swelling on the skin. The amount of time it takes for a bite to show up also depends on the individual, ranging from minutes to days.

Bed bug bites can be treated in multiple ways. Some of these include:

  • Anti-itch hydrocortisone (topical steroid) cream
  • Antihistamine pill or cream
  • Cold packs for swelling

Why Do Bed Bugs Bite?

Bed bugs feed on one thing: blood. A baby bed bug must feed in order to grow, and a mature female must feed in order to be able to lay her eggs. Bed bugs also often bite in multiple places to get the amount of blood they need or to access a good vein. That’s why bites often show up in groups, colloquially known as “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” bites. Additionally, if you move in your sleep, the bed bug may become disturbed and find a new place to feed, which is why multiple feeding sites are not necessarily indicators of multiple bed bugs biting you.

Infection Risks

While bed bugs do not transmit disease to humans, there’s always a chance of infection from their bites. If you scratch them and irritate the skin more, they may become inflamed. Serious, allergy-type reactions, though rare, include blisters, heavy breathing and fever. Those who have previous health conditions or who are immunocompromised are also at higher risk for infection as a result of being bitten.

Identifying Bites on Pets

While bed bugs do not feed on pets as much as on humans, it’s not unheard of for pets to bring bed bugs into the home. A bed bug bite on a pet will also look similar to that of a flea or tick, which are much more commonly drawn to pets. But if you suspect your pet did bring bed bugs into the home (bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers), they will quickly leave the pet and find a good hiding spot in your home to wait for a feeding opportunity. If you’re concerned that your pet is bringing bed bugs or other biting pests into the home, take some time to wash and groom your pet and treat it with some form of anti-pest cream or collar.

Dodson Can Help

One of the most important things to remember about bed bug bites or an infestation is to leave the issue to the professionals and not try to fix the problem on your own. Bed bugs are hardy pests, and they tend to survive home treatments and DIY pest control techniques. According to Pest World, 76 percent of pest professionals say they are the most difficult pest to control. But at Dodson Pest Control, our specialized techniques and over 75 years of experience enable us to get rid of the issue quickly and effectively. If you think you have a bed bug problem, contact us today for a free inspection!