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What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

Itchy red spots?  Could it be…BED BUGS?

You wake up and notice itchy little red bumps.  What are they?  A skin rash? Or—sense of mounting dread—could it be bites from bed bugs?

Unfortunately, there is no way to tell for sure without additional evidence, such as seeing a bed bug or bed bug fecal matter.

A doctor can run a test, which will indicate if it is an insect bite but that test won’t indicate whether or not they are specifically bed bug bites. Nonetheless, such a test can be helpful.  If the test shows it’s not an insect bite, then you can rule out bed bugs.  But if the test shows it is an insect bite, then you know it might be bed bugs, but won’t know for sure unless you find other evidence.

Also, it should be noted that there are definitely instances where doctors misdiagnose.  A doctor might look at some itchy red spots and assume it is a rash and not even think of bed bugs.


What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

When a bed bug bites a person, it injects an anesthetic so the person doesn’t feel the bite.  After being bitten, bite marks can appear anytime from immediately up to several days later, depending upon how the person reacts to the bite.

And since people react differently to bites, there is no one set way that bed bug bites look.  Appearances can range from looking like a pin prick, to a mosquito bite, to a rash, all the way to extremely inflamed raised red blotches, if the individual is very allergic.

Most often the bites are very itchy. But there are occasionally people who have no reaction to bed bug bites and would never know they had been bitten.  And there are very rare individuals who may experience anaphylaxis.

I had bed bugs a few years ago (it was out of that experience that Zappbug was born), and for the first couple of months I thought the red itchy spots were just my eczema flaring up. It wasn’t until I discovered an actual bed bug that I realized that the spots were bed bug bites.  I had mistaken the bed bug bites for a bad flare-up of eczema.

Usually there is not just a single bite, although that can happen.  It’s more common that there are at least 3 bites in the same area, often in a cluster or line.  If it’s a bad infestation, it can be a lot more than 3 bites.

Bed bugs tend not to bite the face, though that can happen, too.  More often bites are on other parts of the body.


Photographs of Bed Bug Bites

Here are several photos to give you an idea of what bed bug bites look like.  You can see that each individual’s reaction to the bites varies greatly, from relatively minor to very extreme.


Bedbug bite web md

For this person the bites are small and not particularly inflamed.  Also notice it is a group of about 4 bites.  (Photo Credit: WebMD



brookewood neck bites

This person had more of a reaction to the bites: Bites are more raised.  Also, notice bites are in a line. (Photo Credit: brookewood on flickr)



multiple bites on back

This person had even more of a reaction: Bites are more raised, red and inflamed.  (Photo Credit: Sarah & Neil on flickr.) 



extreme allergic reaction to bites

This person had a severe allergic reaction and the bites are extremely inflamed. (Photo Credit: BuggedatHilton on flickr.) 


Frequency of Bed Bug Bites

Frequency of bites can range from every few days to every night, depending on how bad the infestation is.


Treatment of Bed Bug Bites

Itching from bed bug bites can be relieved with over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream and/or antihistamine pills.


Important to Remember

There is no evidence that bed bugs carry disease. Bed bug bites may make you itch, but for the vast majority of people, they are not harmful in a serious way. (There are those extremely rare individuals who experience anaphylaxis.)

This is really important to keep in mind, because it is very easy to panic when you learn you have bed bugs.

Try to keep in mind that they are not seriously harming your health. It is a nuisance that must be dealt with, but you are not going to be hurt by them.

If you do have bed bugs, we are here to help and have a lot of free information and tutorials to help you get rid of them.



Posted by Andrew Havlis