Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites usually show up on legs and upper body areas; arms, neck and shoulders.  Sometimes, bed bug bites are not identified because they look like something else.  Bed bug bites are generally small bumps that are very itchy.  Normally red in color, with centralized inflammation and swelling. There may be a red scab and sometimes they just look like pimples.  The bites may be larger or smaller than the average, but usually they are just small red marks that look like bad mosquito bites and are mistaken for common skin conditions.


Everyone reacts differently to bed bug bites and as many as 70% of people may not react to bed bugs bites at all.  Some people can actually have an allergic reaction.  All bed bug bite irritation is an allergic reaction to the chemicals injected by bed bugs when they bite a person.  For most people the bites are not dangerous, but for some they can cause severe itching if the person is allergic to bed bug’s saliva.  The saliva is injected through a tube when a bed bug bites to numb the area while the blood is sucked out through another.

People who have an allergic reaction to the anesthetic in bedbugs saliva will develop raised red bumps or flat welts.  For these people the bed bug bites will be very itchy and usually cause great discomfort.  These bites can become inflamed, itchy, red, and sore and can even swell, form blisters or result in small loss of skin tissue.

There really is no standard treatment for bed bug bites. There really isn’t any danger of them making you sick unless they become infected.  Usually a thorough cleansing of the area will keep your skin from getting infected.  Bed bug bites can become infected and inflamed easily.  Cleaning with cool water and soap will also help to reduce the itchiness and the swelling of the bites.  If the discomfort is extreme, applying ice and using an antihistamine cream or “anti” itch cream can help.

Alternatively, applying heat either from a hair dryer or heated cloth can help to relieve an area of irritation.  Antihistamines may help relieve itching but typically will have no further effect on the actual bites.  Systemic corticosteroids will have a similar effect.  Oral or topical steroids like prednisone or hydrocortisone are effective for treating the bed bug bites on the skin.  Treatment of bed bugs bites only tackles a small part of the problem.  If there are bites present, the most effective treatment is to actually get rid of these unwanted visitors.