- Bed bug bites have a distinctive appearance.
- Though the bites can be itchy or painful, they’re not dangerous.
- The best way to treat them is with steroid cream or antihistamines.
Bed bugs are the most unwelcome of house guests. These tiny, brown insects like to live in furniture items like mattresses, sofas, and carpeting, and can leave you with painful bites.
But are bed bugs dangerous? And what do bed bug bites look like?
There are plenty of misconceptions around these pesky bugs. Here’s the rundown on how to identify bed bug bites and what to do about them.
First of all, here’s what a bed bug bite looks like.
According to WebMD, bed bugs are usually active at night and like to bite people while they are sleeping. For this reason, one clue that your bites are due to a bed bug infestation is if you first notice them in the morning.
Bed bug bites are normally painless at first, but eventually develop into itchy red spots. Everyday Health explained that you probably won’t feel the bite of a bed bug as its happening happening because the insects actually inject an anesthetic to numb the area first.
Bed bug bites usually look like mosquito bites and can appear anywhere the skin is exposed during sleeping. They sometimes appear in a distinctive zigzag or line pattern, which reveals where a single bed bug travelled across the skin, biting as it went.
Some people have mild allergic reactions to bed bug bites, which can lead to itching and swelling at the bite sight. However, many bed bug bites appear flat and no not itch at all.
Bed bugs bite people in order to feed on their blood.
In case you were wondering how bed bugs feed, here’s the ghastly answer: bed bugs pierce human skin with an elongated beak, through which they suck blood.
Bed bugs shed their skin five times before reaching full adulthood and actually need to have a blood meal before each of these shedding events. After they have ingested enough blood, bed bugs prefer to crawl away from a person to a secluded location to digest their meal.
Contrary to what you might have heard, bed bug bites aren’t usually dangerous.
Bed bugs may be gross, but they’re not actually dangerous. According to the Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky, bed bugs have not been shown to transmit diseases to people. They do carry pathogens that could be harmful to other organisms, but transmission to humans has never been observed and is highly unlikely.
Of course, dealing with an infestation of bed bugs can be extremely emotionally distressing and might decrease quality of life, especially if it leads to a lack of sleep.
But you might become more sensitive to bed bug bites over time.
Everyday Health noted that people’s bodies tend to become more sensitive to bed bug bites the more times they are bitten.
Whereas a first-time bed bug victim might have no reaction or a very delayed reaction to a bite, someone who has sustained many bites over a longer period of time might develop a red spot in a matter of seconds.
Scratching bed bug bites can potentially lead to infection.
Though bed bug bites won’t leave you with any diseases, the NHS warned that bites can become infected.
Itching bed bug bites can lead to breaking the skin, which leaves the bite site open to invasion by bacteria. The signs of an infected bug bug bite include pain, swelling, and increased redness.
Some severe bed bug infestations might even lead someone to develop a rash or a series of fluid-filled blisters.
The best way to treat bed bug bites is with a mild steroid cream or allergy tablets.
In most cases, bed bug bites will go away in a few days and do not require medical attention or intervention.
If, however, the bites are extremely itchy or painful, applying a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone can help quell the urge to scratch. You can also try taking over-the-counter antihistamine tablets or liquids.
If you notice that your bites aren’t going away or are become more inflamed, it might be time to visit your doctor. It is possible you may need to be prescribed antibiotics to clear any possible infection.
Clearing your home of bed bugs is the best way to prevent future bites.
Bed bugs can seem to appear out of nowhere and are experts at hiding away in furniture, which can make eradicating them difficult.
Enlisting the help of a pest control company to clear your home of bed bugs is the best way to prevent any future bites. To stop infestations before they happen, don’t bring home any secondhand furniture or decor and be sure to regularly inspect your mattress for signs of bed bugs.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.