“Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite” is a meaningless quote because sound sleep in a bed infested with bed bugs is not that likely to happen. Bed bugs have it all figured out; how they move into your house, locate your sleeping place and eventually make a meal out of you all while you remain clueless of their existence.
Most people who have not had the misfortune of dealing with bed bugs before, usually realize that they are dealing with their own bed bug infestation when it’s too late. This happens because these pests are sneaky. These sneaky traits start with their skilled blood-sucking abilities.
Are bed bug bites itchy? Bed bug bites are itchy but only for some people. Bed bugs use straw-like mouthpieces to pierce through the skin of a warm-blooded living being and then proceed to suck out their blood. The reason why some people don’t feel any itchiness or pain during the bite is because bed bugs inject the skin with an anesthetic, which temporarily numbs the area that was just pierced.
The itchiness starts after the anesthetic starts wearing off and the bed bug is after that long gone having filled up on your blood. This reaction (itchiness) is only felt by some people, while others will remain unaffected, without even knowing they have been bitten by the bed bugs.
As if that trick wasn’t enough, their saliva also comes laced with an anticoagulant that prevents the blood from clotting as the bug feeds.
The anesthetic effect isn’t the only trick up their tiny sleeves no, it is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to these pests. There is a lot to uncover when bed bugs are in question, however, this article focuses on the characteristics of bed bug bites, their appearance as opposed to other insect bites, where to expect bed bug bites on your body, how to treat these itchy bites, etc.
Stick around and gather up more information about your unwanted visitors. This will in effect help you in your fight against the possible bed bug infestation in your home.
What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?
Having not encountered bed bugs before, you will find yourself wondering what the infamous bed bug bites actually look like. This isn’t a crazy question because bed bug bites can easily be confused with other bug bites. Before we make a discrepancy between the various bites, let us see what bed bug bites actually look like. These are the signs that you have been bitten by a bed bug:
- Red and swollen
- These bites appear in a cluster or a line
- They are itchy
- May develop into blisters after continues scratching
See, there isn’t much about the bed bug bites appearance that distinguishes them from other bug bites other than the fact that they tend to appear in a cluster or line. This could be a result of the fact that bed bugs cannot fly and thus prefer to feed in the same area until they are full. Now, in order to really tell them apart from other insect bites, let us look at the distinguishing characteristics of the other common insect bites.
- Flea bites – have a red spot right in the middle of the bite/ swollen area. The bites are mainly found around your ankles and the moist areas around your joints, e.g. armpits, etc.
- Mosquito bites – look very much like bed bug bites but the only difference is that they do not appear in a cluster, instead they appear randomly on any part of the exposed skin. This could be due to the fact that mosquitoes do fly and can pick random places of your exposed skin to have a meal.
- Hives – hives may be a result of having an allergic reaction to something. The way to distinguish between a hive and a bed bug bite is that hives often change location and color, unlike bed bug bites that remain in the same area.
Where Do Bed Bugs Bite Humans?
Bed bugs live on an exclusive meal plan which happens to be running through your veins as you are read this article. The only thing that stands between bed bugs and their five-star meal is the skin on your body. Skin, that also happens to be hairless.
Why is hair important? You may wonder, well, this is because bed bugs are not built to traverse through fur or hair which happens to cover your head and your private parts. The hair on those areas is the biggest constraint to bed bugs when they are sourcing for a meal, however, they will still hitch a ride in it if push came to shove.
Having eliminated your limited hairy areas, that leaves us with the largest organ on your body – skin. Bed bugs will feed on any part of your exposed skin, that’s right, all the way from your hair-line down to your feet. If you feel itchy in any of these areas, check out the bed bug bite characteristics listed above to try and identify the bite.
The sad news is that knowing what a bed bug bite looks like may not be enough and if you wake up to itchy welts in the morning, do a thorough check of your bed and see if you indeed do have bed bugs.
When Do Bed Bugs Bite?
Bed bugs are nocturnal pests meaning that they are mostly active at night. They will locate your place of sleep through the carbon dioxide being expelled by you and with the warmth of your body. It should be noted that since they are active mostly during the night, it doesn’t mean that they cannot feed during the day, they can and they will especially if they are very hungry.
Do Bed Bugs Bite Pets?
Yes, bed bugs do bite pets. As noted above, bed bugs have a hard time navigating through hair or fur, however, they can still latch on and hitch a ride. When it comes to feeding on your pet, it happens mostly in the event that you are dealing with a big infestation. They will mostly feed on your pet’s underbellies and around the ears where they can easily access the skin.
Your pet when he gets bitten will, in turn, start scratching continually and if the bed bug situation isn’t remedied, the itching may cause the skin to break and cause an infection if not attended to soon. To remedy this, check for signs of bed bugs bites on their underbellies and their ears and since chances of finding the bed bugs on the pet are low, check the pets living area.
Remember bed bugs do not live on their host, instead they feed and then retreat to their hiding spots, usually around the sleeping quarters.
After you have identified that your pets are in an infested situation, take up treatment measures immediately. Start by cleaning all the pet’s items, and then groom your pet by trimming the fur (most severe cases), after this give your pet a bath using organic shampoo.
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This kind of shampoo will soothe the irritated skin. If the scratches are severe, it would do you well to visit a vet then later deal with the bed bug situation around your home to avoid the repeat of the same situation.
How Long Does the Itchiness from the Bed Bugs Last?
Usually, the average time that the itchiness will last is around an hour or so. However, this will certainly depend on the person because as we have seen in the prior point, some people do not even notice that they are getting bitten by bed bugs. This is the same with the itchiness. Some people will have a severe reaction to it while others will scratch it only a few times and then forget they were ever bitten.
Home Remedies for Stopping the Bed Bug Itchiness
Some people don’t have a severe reaction to the bed bug bites which tend to go down by themselves without much fuss, much like a mosquito bite. For these people, we recommend leaving it to heal on its own. This takes around an hour or so. Other people have it tougher so taking the following home remedies can ease the itchiness:
- Cool the itchy area with a cold cloth or an ice pack.
- Apply a thin layer of baking soda and water paste to soothe the area.
- Apply essential oils or something like a chamomile lotion to soothe the itchy surface.
- Apply anti-itch cream but in the case that the itching is a little more unbearable, take an antihistamine or an over the counter pain reliever to counter the swelling and pain.
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If the bites break out into hives, contain pus or blisters, it is time to seek medical attention. Home remedies are recommended in situations that aren’t severe so be careful when administering them.
Bed bugs may have all these tactics that enable them to thrive in your home but all is not lost. After identifying that your itchy welts are indeed bed bug bites, it is wise to visit our other articles and fond out how to get rid of bed bugs in your home. If the infestation is just too big then it is better if you call the professional exterminators. If you let them continue thriving under your roof, the situation may become unbearable pretty fast and your dream of a peaceful night will become just that – a dream!
List of Sources
Diseases & Conditions – Bedbugs, Mayo Clinic
Bed bugs, Marquette University Medical Clinic
Potter, M. Bed Bugs, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture