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Bedbug Bite: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Treatment, Prevention, Ways To get Get Rid of Bed Bugs

A bite from any type of insect can be painful, as well as irritating. One of the pesky insects which enjoy biting human beings includes the bedbug. Bedbugs tend to bite and feed on the blood from the skin which is exposed while a person(s) is sleeping. Many many years ago, eradication of bedbugs was carried out using a pesticide named DDT; however, this pesticide has since been banned, as it is very toxic in nature.

Bedbug Bite

The risk of coming across bedbugs is more if a person travels a lot and has to stay overnight at various places, such as hotels, guest houses, motels, shelters and even hospitals.

A bedbug is flat and oval in appearance and is reddish brown in color. It is about the size of a seed of an apple. During daytime, they hide in various crevices or cracks of beds, headboards, box springs, mattresses, bed frames etc. It is mandatory to get them exterminated by a professional if you have bedbugs in your home.

Cause of Bedbugs

The Resurgence Of The Bedbugs Is Because Of Various Factors Such As:

  • Increase in international traveling.
  • Resistance to insecticides.
  • Variations in the pest control.

Dwelling of Bedbugs: During the daytime, bedbugs commonly hide in the nooks and crannies of the box springs, mattresses, coverlet, bed frames, headboards etc. Other than this, they also reside beneath the:

  • Loose wallpaper and peeling paint.
  • Under the carpeting.
  • Inside the seams of upholstered furniture.
  • Under the electrical outlets and light switch plates.

Risk Factors For Having Bedbugs

The risk of having bedbugs is high in crowded places such as apartment complexes, homeless shelters, dormitories, hotels, motels, military barracks and refugee camps

Signs & Symptoms of a Bedbug Bite

It is quite difficult to differentiate between a bedbug bite and other insect bites. The site where the bedbug has bitten usually has the following characteristics:

  • The area of the skin where the bedbug has bitten is red in color and usually with a more dark red spot in the center
  • Patient experiences itching in the location of the bite.
  • The red spots of the bite can be found in a cluster or can be arranged in an uneven line.
  • The bites are present on the exposed skin, such as face, arms, neck and hands
  • Some individuals may experience an intense allergic reaction, which comprises of hives or blisters and severe itching. In such cases where the patient has had a severe allergic reaction to bedbug bites, immediate medical attention should be sought.

Investigations For A Bedbug Bite

If you believe that you have been bitten by bedbugs, then you should immediately examine your home for them especially in areas where the bedbugs hide during the day, such as nooks and crannies in the walls, furniture, mattresses, headboards, under the carpet or under the peeling paint/wallpaper, furniture etc. The examination for the bedbugs should be carried out at night, as they are active during the night time. The following are the indications of having bedbugs in your home:

  • Dark spots commonly found laterally on the mattress seams. These dark colored spots are the excreta of the bedbugs.
  • Empty skins or exoskeletons, as the bedbugs shed their skin five times before becoming adults. So, look for empty skins, which are light brown in color.
  • Bloody smears can be found on your bed sheets, coverlet, mattresses etc. where the engorged bedbugs have been accidentally crushed by you causing blood smears in that place.

Treatment For A Bedbug Bite

Treatment For A Bedbug Bite

The red and itchy spots which appear where the bedbug has bitten you often disappear on their own in a couple of weeks. Your recovery from them can be prompted by using oral antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and topical skin cream which has hydrocortisone in it.

In case of a skin infection occurring as a result of you scratching the area of the bites, you may be prescribed antibiotics for that.

Ways To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs

Once the bite symptoms have resolves, it is very important to eradicate the underlying cause, i.e. the bedbug infestation. This is easier said than done, as the bedbugs hide so well and have the ability to survive for months on end without eating. It is highly recommended that a professional exterminator be hired to eliminate the bedbugs where the exterminator will use a combination of pesticides and other nonchemical treatments.

Nonchemical Treatments Consist Of:

  • Doing meticulous vacuuming of the crevices and cracks helps in physically exterminating the bedbugs. However, there are many hiding places where a vacuum cleaner cannot reach.
  • Washing your beddings, clothes etc. in hot water of temperature at 120 F (49 C) helps in killing the bedbugs.
  • Keeping your wet or dry clothing and other thing, which you suspect has bedbugs, in clothes dryer with a setting from medium to high heat for at least 25 minutes will help kill the bedbugs and their eggs.
  • Cold temperature can also kill the bedbugs, but you need to keep your clothing in the freezer for many days or leave the infected materials outdoors if the temperature is below 32 F (0 C).
  • There are few professional exterminators who use a portable device which increases the room temperature of a room to dangerous levels as all the stages of bedbugs can be killed at 122 F (50 C) temperature.
  • If there is extreme infestation of the bedbugs, then you may need to dispose these infested items, such as couches, mattresses, carpeting, bed boxes etc.

Prevention of Bedbug Bites & Infestation

  • Cover yourself up fully when sleeping, as the bedbugs don’t usually get under the clothing.
  • Mosquito netting, which has been soaked or sprayed with a pesticide named permethrin also helps. However, there is a chance of the bedbugs developing resistance to this chemical/pesticide.
  • Always thoroughly examine any secondhand items, such as upholstered furniture or mattresses before purchasing them.
  • If you are traveling, then you need to take precautions by checking the mattress seams for any bedbug excrement. Also, it is better to keep your luggage on dressers or tables rather than on the floor.
  • If you are surrounded by any bat or bird habitats, then try to eliminate them as they can harbor bedbugs.
  • Bear this in mind that insect repellents which help protect against ticks or mosquitoes are not effective for bedbugs.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Bed bugs FAQs. [https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html]
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2020). Bedbug bites. [https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bedbugs/symptoms-causes/syc-20370001]

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 25, 2023

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