How to get rid of bed bug bites

If you are unsure if your pest is a bed bug, our staff can help with identification if you submit a bed bug sample.

Bed bugs are small biting insects that can multiply quickly and travel easily.

It is possible for anyone to have an infestation of bed bugs, regardless of income or housing. Bed bugs and bed bug infestations are not considered a health hazard. However, secondary health concerns include skin infections and allergic reactions from insect bites, as well as the stress and anxiety of dealing with extreme infestations.

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Preventing bed bugs from entering your home is the most important step in preventing an infestation.

Woman pulling up shirt to reveal bed bug bites on backBed bug bites

Bed bugs can be found in hotels, motels, dormitories, apartments, condos, private homes, and even in some public places, such as businesses and offices.  Anyone can get bed bugs.

  • How do I prevent an infestation?
  • How do I avoid them when travelling?

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Bed bugs are small biting insects that multiply quickly and travel easily.  Early identification can prevent problems before they start.  Learn about how to identify bed bugs, where they live, and how to identify bed bug bites:

  • Bed bugs – What are they?

Think you found a bed bug? Our staff can help you identify possible bed bugs.

Whether you are a homeowner, tenant or landlord, each person has a role in the treatment process for bed bugs.

  • How do I get rid of them?
  • How do I make sure they don’t come back?

Whichever treatment is used, it will only be effective if physical control methods and preventative measures are used together.

Bed bugs on mattress with hand for scaleBed bugs on mattress

What are bed bugs?

how to get rid of bed bugs

Image credit: David Brittain

Bed bugs are small, brown and flat blood-sucking insects that hide and breed in cracks and crevices in and around your bed. They emerge at night to feed on a sleeping host, attracted by their body heat and the carbon dioxide they exhale.

Bed bugs aren’t known to spread diseases. Their bite isn’t harmful to humans and although some people can develop an adverse skin reaction to bed bug bites, some don’t react at all. However just knowing they’re there, waiting for you, can be an unsettling thought.

A bed bug infestation doesn’t mean you have a dirty home and you’re not to blame either – the cheeky little pests can end up in your adode and quickly multiply after hitching a ride in luggage, or in pre-used furniture. They’re also common in multi-occupancy buildings, such as hotels and blocks of flats where they can easily spread from room to room by crawling through pipes and cracks in the walls.

Want more care and cleaning advice? READ: How to get rid of ants – the safe and simple way

How to spot bed bugs

how to get rid of bed bugs

Image credit: David Giles

Adult bed bugs measure around 6mm across and their elongated eggs and larvae are much smaller so they can be hard to detect. They don’t fly or jump but can crawl quickly and are experts at hiding.

Inspect your mattress, bed frame and surrounding sleeping area for signs of bed bugs, looking for clusters of brown spots – their droppings, and discarded larvae shells. You might also be able to find blood spots on your bedding and smell the musty scent given off by adult bed bugs.

Always check second-hand furniture for bed bugs before you bring any into your home. If you’re travelling, check the hotel beds and headboards too and store your suitcase off the floor on a luggage rack to avoid them climbing onboard.

2. Inspect the surrounding area

How to get rid of bed bugs

Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

Dismantle your bed furniture and thoroughly inspect it along with your mattress and any other potential hiding places around the bed such as carpets, behind bedside tables and cracks in walls (which will need to be sealed) then use a vacuum cleaner with a plastic crevice nozzle attachment to suck up the bed bugs, including their eggs, larvae and droppings. Throw away the vacuum cleaner bag and its contents in a sealed bin liner, immediately. A heavily-infested mattress will need to be disposed of safely and swapped for a new one.

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I don’t know about you, but every time I wake up and notice a red spot on my arms or legs I automatically think I have bed bugs.

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Unlike other common pests such as rodents and cockroaches, bed bugs need blood to survive, relying heavily on it to complete their life cycle. This makes us the perfect midnight snack for these blood sucking creatures whilst we sleep.

One of the most common signs of bed bugs is finding bed bug bites littered over your body. You may be wondering:

Find out everything you need to know about bed bug bites below  

What do bed bug bites look like?

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Like most insect and spider bites, bed bug bites come in the form of red bumps on your skin. Because of this, it can be quite difficult to distinguish a bed bug bite from a flea bite or a mosquito bite. This is because everyone’s immune systems react to insects bites in a different way. What looks like a flea bite on me might look like a bed bug bite on you.

Bed bug bites usually appear in small groups in a single place and are usually found in a line. If there are multiple bite locations on your persons, this can often mean that multiple bed bugs have feasted on you during the night, or a bed bug has been disturbed whilst feeding.

Where do bed bug bites appear?

Bed bug bites usually occur on parts of the body not covered by bedding. They can usually be found on:

  • Head and face
  • Neck
  • Arms
  • Legs

Do bed bug bites itch?

One of the common symptoms of bed bug bites, along with other insect bites, is swelling. This can also lead to the bite becoming very itchy and irritating. In some cases, red welts can also develop. However, it’s important to know that for some individuals, bed bugbites do not leave a mark, or even itch.

What do bed bug bites feel like?

Initially, the victim of a bed bug bite might feel a slight burning sensation around the area (although this is quite rare). This occurs before the bites develop the red colouring as well as swelling and itchiness.

Bed bug bite rashes

In some extreme cases, the victim might develop a reaction to the bed bug bite. This causes a rash to develop (also know as papules or wheals), and can sometimes result in dramatic swelling and blister-like skin inflammations to occur.

What happens when a bed bug bites you?

The reason why your body reacts to bed bug bites in a certain way is down to how the bed bug delivers a bite.

When a bed bug bites you it pierces the skin with its elongated beaks. These are used to suck the blood from your body, this is usually done between 3 and 10 minutes until they have fully engorged themselves on you.

A bed bug will also inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant through its beak during the initial piercing. This helps prevent the bite from itching immediately, allowing the bed bug to dine without being disturbed. The anticoagulant stops the blood from clotting, allowing for the blood to flow freely. It is only when the anesthetic wears off that the itchiness is felt.

Bed bug bites vs flea bites

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Just like with flea bites, bed bug bites can often be mistaken for ones from mosquitoes. Mosquito bites are often random and isolated, which differs from the aligned and grouped formation of bed bug bites.

How to treat bed bug bites

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Treating bed bug bites is a relatively simple task. Bed bug bites can often be treated by applying an ice pack to the infected area, this will help reduce the swelling, and taking an antihistamine to help combat the itchiness.

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Home remedies for bed bug bites

There are a few home remedies for bed bug bites available to help reduce the swelling and itchiness. These remedies often consist of items you can find in your home.

  • Calamine lotion: Calamine lotion is great for treating bed bug bites. It provides relief from the itching and also helps to dry any rashes and protect the skin as it heals.
  • Baking soda and water: Making a paste out of baking soda and water are a great home remedy for bed bug bites. Applying the paste directly to the bite and leaving it to dry before removing helps with swelling.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Like with insect stings, apple cider vinegar works well as a home remedy for bed bug bites. It helps relieve the itching. White vinegar also works well.
  • Toothpaste: The menthol attributes of toothpaste make it a good home remedy for bed bug bites. Applying a generous amount to the bite will help soothe any burning sensation and relieve the itching.
  • Witch Hazel: Being a liquid astringent, witch hazel is great for treating bed bug bites as it contains a mild anesthetic effect which helps calm the itching caused by these bites.

Natural remedies for bed bug bites

On top of the home remedies, there are also a handful of natural remedies for bed bug bites available. The majority of these methods can be used by utilising items found around your home, or that can be purchased from your local supermarket.

  • Aloe vera: Either fresh aloe vera or aloe vera gel works well for this natural remedy for bed bug bites. The active compounds and amino acids found in aloe vera help ease the itching and burning sensations caused by bed bug bites.
  • Lemon juice: The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and the fact that it is a natural astringent makes lemon juice a great natural home remedy for bed bug bites. Lemon juice can help dry out rashes and keep itching at bay whilst also reducing redness and swelling.
  • Banana peel: Like mosquito bites, the banana peel is a great natural remedy for bed bug bites. The natural oils found in the peel can help reduce itching and redness.
  • Peppermint oil: Like toothpaste the menthol attributes of peppermint oil makes it a perfect natural remedy for bed bug bites. The best course of treatment is to add a couple drops of peppermint oil to a hot bath

How to get rid of bed bugs?

how-to-get-rid-of-bed-bugs

The best way to successfully prevent bedbugs from biting you is to eliminate them from your home. There are a handful of options available to help get rid of bed bugs, these can range from simple home DIY techniques to enlisting the help of a pest control professional.

If you have spotted bed bug bites on yourself and think you might have a bed bug problem, follow these steps to help get rid of them from your home:

  • Wash: Remove the bedding from your bed and wash them on a high heat of at least 60℃ (and for ideally 90mins). If possible, tumble dry the bedding afterwards too, for a min. 30minutes.
  • Vacuum: Vacuum your house thoroughly and empty the contents in an outside bin.
  • Contact a professional: The best way to get rid of bed bugs is to enlist the help of a pest control professional with specialist solutions, like heat treatment, targeting bed bugs at every stage of their life cycle.

Preventing bed bugs

One of the main ways in which bed bugs find their way into your home is through travelling. During your holidays/travels bed bugs can easily hitch a ride in your suitcases from infested hotel rooms, youth hostels, B&Bs and furniture. Checking your hotel room for bed bugs can help prevent bed bugs from grabbing a free ride to your home.

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How to check your hotel room for bed bugs

We have come up with a free guide to checking your hotel room for bed bugs in 5 easy steps to help limit the possibility of inviting bed bugs to your home.

Just returned from holiday and worried about bed bugs?

  • We recommend you store your suitcase and luggage in your garage or utility room, or an area furthest from your bedroom and main living areas.
  • Place the contents of your luggage into a bin bag and transfer them to your washing machine and wash on a high heat.

This will help deal with any bed bugs which have stolen a ride in your suitcase.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that only feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep. They are reddish-brown in color, about 1mm to 7mm in size, and can live for several months without a blood meal. Bed bugs are not known to spread diseases, but their presence can cause itching and loss of sleep. Excessive scratching can increase the chance of secondary skin infections. Bed bugs are found all over the world and the cleanliness does not determine the presence of bed bugs.

Bed bug

Symptoms usually appear one to several days after initial bite, and may take up to 14 days to appear. Symptoms include:

  • Bite marks–a swollen and red area that may or may not itch
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety

Some people may not have a reaction to the bites and may not develop bite marks at all.

Bed bug bites

Bed bugs hide in seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed during the day. Bed bugs are transmitted from place to place as people travel. They can be in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, or anywhere else they find a place to hide.

Bed bugs can be found in matresses

There is no laboratory test to confirm bed bug bites. Bed bug infestations can be determined from an inspection and finding eggs or bed bugs.

Bed bug bites can be treated with antiseptic or hydrocortisone creams or lotions. An antihistamine can also be taken.

Bed bugs infestations can be treated by pesticides (make sure it specifically treats for bed bugs) or call a professional. Clean laundry and bedding by washing in hot water and drying with high heat. Steam cleaning can be effective, but be sure to check for bugs in a week or two. Concentrate in the areas they like to hide such as the seams. Bed bugs are sensitive to heat, so putting your mattress in a tight plastic bag and leaving it in the heat for several days can kill adults and the eggs. Vacuum your mattress and the areas around it. Be sure to immediately empty the vacuum cleaner and throw it out. If your mattress is infested, you may also consider getting a new mattress, but be sure to take care of the rest of your home so that your new mattress doesn’t get infested.

There is no immunity to bed bugs.

There are no statistics on how many homes have been infested with bed bugs in Hawaii. However bed bugs can be found everywhere, and can be transported through travelers.

Inspect furniture before bringing into your home. Remove any clutter around your bed. Eliminate hiding places for bed bugs such as sealing crevices, repair peeling wall paper, and tighten loose light switches. Be aware when you travel so you do not bring bed bugs home with you.

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