What do bed bug bites and the resulting skin rash look like? Do the bites transmit diseases? See pictures and get answers about the symptoms, treatment and prevention of bed bug bites and rash.
First Signs Of Bed Bug Bites
There are few scenarios more disconcerting than waking up in the morning to find rows and clusters of bites on your body. And it is even more chilling to think that you may be sleeping with the enemy that have feasted upon you all night, sucking their fill on your blood for three to five minutes at a time.
Initial signs of being bitten are usually the skin reaction to bed bug bites. To find out if you have been bitten, check if you have the following symptoms:
- Development of small to large red bumps that occur in a row, cluster or linear pattern. (Other insects like mosquitoes, fleas, ants or lice do not bite in a cluster or linear pattern; only bed bugs do which experts refer to as “breakfast, lunch, and dinner”, a sequential feeding pattern of bed bugs.)
- Repeatedly waking up each morning to find more similar bite marks patterns on same or other parts of the body (with no cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting or diarrhea been detected.)
- Unusual staining of brown spots (dried blood) or insect waste on the bed sheets.
Note: For some people, when bitten by bed bugs, the bites can develop into intense itching with an allergic response.
What Do Bed Bug Bites and Rash Look Like?
The appearance of bed bug bites depends upon the individual’s response to the bites. For some people, the reactions to the bites may be delayed from 5 to 14 days before any signs of the “welts” start to appear. Others who are more skin sensitive may also develop skin rash after being bitten.
Below are some photo references from victims on what bed bug bites and the resulting skin rash from the bites may look like:
- See more pictures of bed bug bites
Where Do The Bites Most Commonly Occur?
Bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide that we exhale and our body heat which explains why they tend to attack at night, while we sleep. Any exposed areas of the bodies while we sleep are target spots for a bed bug to bite. The most common areas reported by victims include the face, neck, back, hands, arms and legs.
Do Bed Bug Bites Hurt? Do The Bites Itch?
Unless you have an allergic reaction to the bites (which is very rare), bed bug bites do not hurt as the bug releases an antiseptic ingredient that numbs the skin temporarily. For most people, the bites typically swell and itch within a few hours of being bitten and may develop into a rash. For others, the symptoms of the bites may take 5-10 days to show up.
Skin rashes from bed bug bites usually last for three days before fading. However, people who are extremely sensitive to the bites will display the rash symptoms for up to a week or more and may require professional medical attention to get the bite rash to dissipate entirely.
How To Tell The Difference Between Mosquito, Flea and Bed Bug Bites?
For many people, it can be difficult, if not impossible to spot the difference between bed bug bites from other arthropods such as fleas and mosquitoes due to the resemblance of the bites. Even for some doctors, they may not immediately recognize the dermatological reactions of the bites to be from bed bugs and often, mistook them to be from mosquitoes, ticks or scabies and in some real cases, even misdiagnose the bites as hives or an allergic skin rash.
To tell the difference between mosquitoes and flea bites vs bed bug bites, look for the following symptoms:
Flea bites are usually smaller and the swellings are hard to the touch. Fleas also tend to leave multiple bites in random pattern, especially around the ankles and legs. The bites can be itchy up to a week and when scratched, it can result in an open wound or infection. In most cases where the victims are bitten by fleas, they may have previously came into close contact with pets like dogs and cats or wildlife including rabbits, raccoons, squirrels and rats which may carry fleas that bite humans.
When bitten by mosquitoes, the bites flare up quickly and itch immediately, but commonly after a day or so, the itch and swelling usually disappear. The wheal of mosquitoes bites are also slightly raised, bigger and unevenly shaped. There are no definite bite patterns and the bites of mosquitoes also appear more isolated across different parts of the body and doesn’t appear in any cluster formation.
The characteristics of bed bug bites usually look like little red bumps that appear in groups or a cluster formation of 3 lined together (often nicknamed “breakfast, lunch, and dinner”). The reaction to the bites may differ from person to person and symptoms can take from a few minutes to more than 10 days to show up. For most individuals, the bites of bed bugs will itch severely and the discomfort may continue with each passing day. Some people may also develop an allergic response.
If one is still not sure about whether the bites come from bed bugs, fleas, mosquitoes or other insects, pest control experts recommend taking a few minutes to examine the bed sheets for any telltale bloodstains that bed bugs often leave behind after a blood meal. At the same time, inspect the seams, folds and edges of the mattress where you or the victim sleeps for any signs of the live bugs since bed bugs are nocturnal creatures and often hides around these areas of the mattress during the day.
Do Bed Bugs Transmit Disease? Are Their Bites Contagious?
Currently, there are no medical evidence to suggests that bed bugs or their bites transmit disease or are contagious.
Medical and scientific research concerning whether bed bugs carry infectious diseases are still ongoing, and while some studies detected the presence of Hepatitis B virus in the bugs after a blood meal, there are still no medical evidence to prove nor support that the viruses reproduce or spread any diseases in humans.
In very rare cases, people who have experienced an allergic reaction suffered anaphylaxis, a condition that may cause hives, shortness of breath and lowered blood pressure, according to a report from the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The psychological impact of an infestation can cause increased stress, anxiety, depression, paranoia and other mental and emotional issues. Even after a home is free of bugs, people may feel intense fear that a re-infestation will occur.
How Does One Treat Bed Bug Bites and the Rashes On The Skin?
Treatment for bed bug bites or the resulting skin rash typically involves the use of local antiseptic lotion, antibiotic cream or ointment. Go for corticosteroid creams and oral antihistamines to help reduce the itching, swelling or redness as well as treat any allergic reaction to the bitten areas.
If one does not have these antibiotic creams around the house, try using an icy compress or running lukewarm water on the welts to help temporarily relieve the discomfort and irritation. Avoid or limit scratching the affected areas. If there are any open wounds due to scratching, wash and keep the bite areas clean to prevent any secondary infection to the wound.
Depending on individual’s dermatological response to the bites, most bed bug bites as well as skin rash can take from a few hours to as long as two weeks to heal and resolve.
For those who experience severe allergic reaction, skin infection or pain due to bed bug bites, see your doctor right away.
How To Prevent Getting Bitten By Bed Bugs?
Since bed bugs, in most cases, attack their victims during the night while they sleep, the first line of defense would be to invest in quality bed bug proof covers to help encase the mattress protect against the bugs and aid in the prevention of the bites.
As a preventive measure, one can also add “Climbup Interceptor” to the legs of the bed that will prevent prevent bed bugs from climbing onto your bed. Alternatively, for beds without legs, a popular choice would be to stick double-sided tape around the bed.
Alternatively, one can also apply bed bug pesticides like Diatomaceous Earth to defend your perimeters around the area where one sleeps. Diatomaceous Earth helps dehydrates and kills the bed bugs upon contact.
If you suspect you have an infestation, the best piece of advice would be to call in a certified professional to inspect and treat the house.
For travelers: do a little bit of due diligence on the Bed Bug Registry to check for any complaints of bed bugs in the hotel you intend to stay and always, performing a quick check on the hotel mattress, sheets and headboard can help prevent any encounter with bed bugs and their bites.