Adult bed bug spotted on skin of persons arm biting and taking a blood feed that can result in an a bed bug rash developing if the person is allergic to the bite

Bed Bug Bites

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Bed Bug Bites

A bed bug is a small parasitic insect that feeds on human blood.  Their bite can cause skin reactions including rashes, possible psychological effects and most commonly an allergic reaction.  Bedbugs are nocturnal and you tend to find their bites on exposed areas of skin such as arms, legs, face or the neck.

Bed bugs have a unique feeding system all contained within their mouth, known as the rostrum. The mouth is comprised of mandibles and maxillae. All the parts help the insect pierce through the skin and into a blood vessel.

The mandibles form a tube that allows them to ingest blood, but the blood pressure of the victim pumps it right into their bodies. The rostrum also injects two chemicals - an anesthetic and an anti-coagulant. The first ensures you don't feel it when you get bitten and the second ensures that your blood doesn't clot.  This also allows them to feed uninterrupted for up to 10 minutes, when they become engorged and then crawl away.

This is why the bites don't usually wake you up and you only notice the next morning. It is the chemicals injected into the bite that cause the reaction and, just like with insect stings, how people react to the bed bug bite varies.

Bedbug bites on the exposed areas of a persons neck has generated an allergic bed bug rash on their skin

Identify Bed Bug Bites

It can be hard to identify specifically a bed bug bite and they are sometimes confused with a flea bite.  You should look at the overall pattern and timing of the bites, and spot any other signs of bed bugs to confirm.  Sometimes bed bugs bites are in a cluster and can look like a rash, where the bite inflammation has merged.  Presence of bed bug faeces, casts of their skin, and blood marks on the sheets is a sign.  But it always pays to search around the mattress, box springs, bed frame and head board as you may actually find more bedbug infestation signs.  

Where do bedbugs bites?

Most commonly bed bug bites will be found on areas of the skin that are usually exposed at night, but that also have blood vessels that are close to the skin.  Check areas like:

  • Neck
  • Face
  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Torso
Example of bed bug bites from bedbug on skin close-up

Can I get diseases from being bitten by a bedbug?

The good news is that bed bugs have not been shown to transmit any disease and their actual bites do not hurt.  However, getting bites can still be very distressing and in some cases they can become sore and itchy and lead to a painful skin rash and potentially secondary infection.

Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites

Some individuals develop itching around the affected area, red welts or swelling the morning after being bitten, but for some, theey do not react to the bite of a bed bug and they wilkl remain unaware of their bed time friends.  However, sometimes it can take days for the bites to appear.

Our bodies can react very differently to the bed bug bites.  Some people have no reaction at all, whilst others can have minor swelling and itching and even develop a rash.  When you are bitten by a bed bug, symptoms may include;

  • Irritation at the site of the bite
  • Small raised areas of redness
  • Sometimes these can turn into blisters
  • Raised itchy bumps with a clear centre
  • Red bumps could be surrounded by blisters or hives
  • There could be a pattern of bite marks as they have made their way across your skin

Home Remedies for Bed Bug Bites

Home Remedies can be used in addition to other treatments to alleviate the symptoms of bedbug bites.

  • Cold flannel or ice pack wrapped in a towel on the affected area
  • Essential oils, such as Basil (gentle anti-inflammatory), Chamomile (soothing qualities) and Lavender (anti-inflammatory) may help to ease symptoms.

These remedies can help to reduce the itching and inflammation, and it is important to keep the area clean without scratching the bites to ensure you do not get a skin infection.

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