Bed bugs are a nuisance that millions of people struggle with. If you are currently dealing with a bed bug infestation, you may also find yourself covered in bites. These bugs feed off human blood, leaving bites, rashes, and skin irritation on their hosts.
Learn how to stop bed bug bites from itching and why they itch in the first place.
What Do Bed Bugs and Their Bites Look Like?
While bed bugs are small, they are visible to the human eye. The average size of a bed bug is about five millimeters. They have a flat, oval-shaped body and may appear reddish-brown or light brown in color.
It is common to detect one or two of these small bugs in an infested area during an infestation. However, most people first detect a bed bug problem due to the bites.
You can get the bites anywhere on your body. However, they are most commonly found in areas that are more exposed during the night, such as your legs, arms, and face.
The bites often produce a small, red mark on the skin, with a darker red center. The bites may be grouped together or appear in a line.
Common Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites
Are bed bug bites itchy? The symptoms of these bites vary. Some individuals experience rashes or general irritation, while others experience extremely itchy skin. You may not notice the bites immediately, as the symptoms often take several days to appear.
Bed bugs do not need to feed every night. After a full meal, they may wait several days before eating again. This inconsistency may cause some individuals to assume that the bites are caused by a random critter, such as a spider.
One to three days after getting bit, the skin around the bite may become itchy or you may notice a burning sensation. However, most people do not experience any additional symptoms, unless they are allergic to the bed bug bites.
Those with a bed bug bite allergy are more likely to experience a few extra symptoms besides the itchiness. The bite marks may appear larger and be more painful. An allergic reaction may also cause a rash to break out and in extreme cases, may cause anaphylactic shock.
The itchiness should pass within a few days, even without any treatment. If there is an allergic reaction, taking an antihistamine may help relieve the symptoms. For severe cases, medical assistance from either a physician or dermatologist may be needed.
Understanding the Cause of the Itching
Why do bed bug bites itch? The itching is your body reacting to the bug bite. Most people have a mild reaction to the saliva left behind by the bed bug after it feeds. However, for people with a bed bug bite allergy, the reaction can be more severe.
When a bed bug bites you, it excretes an anesthetic to numb the skin and prevent irritation, so that you do not detect the bite immediately. They also inject an anticoagulant to help prevent blood from clotting. This allows them to feed quickly and efficiently before crawling off your body.
The anesthetic eventually wears off, allowing your skin to react to the saliva. This produces an inflammatory response to fight off the threat, which typically results in itchiness or a burning sensation.
How to Stop Bed Bug Bites from Itching
How long do bed bug bites itch? When you avoid scratching the bites, the irritation may go away within one or two days. Scratching can inflame the bites, increasing the itchiness and delaying recovery.
Another danger of scratching is developing an infection. When you scratch the bites, you may end up with a skin infection that may require additional treatment.
The itchiness can be hard to ignore. Luckily, there are several ways to relieve some of the irritation. You can use a topical cream with mild medication, such as corticosteroid cream. These ointments are available without a prescription at most drug stores.
Another option is to simply wash the bites. Using soap and water to wash the skin around the bite marks can help reduce some of the itchiness as well as lower the risk of the skin becoming infected from scratching.
You may also get relief from an ice pack. A cold compress can help numb the affected area of your skin and keep you from scratching the bite.
These steps may help you control the itchiness and the urge to itch the bites. However, you will not stop the bites without dealing with the bed bugs.
Additional Ways to Detect Bed Bugs
Besides the itchy bites, there are other signs of a bed bug infestation. If you notice bites on your skin, you should search your home or apartment for the presence of bed bugs.
Bed bugs do not remain on their hosts. After feeding, they crawl back to their hiding spot. The most common hiding spots are mattresses and bedding. You may also find them in curtains, carpeting, or under your furniture.
While bed bugs are visible, you may not always see them. Instead of the bugs, you may find their droppings or eggs. The eggs are translucent or milky-white, while the droppings often look like small black dots.
Stop the Infestation to Stop the Bites
Are bed bug bites itchy? Yes, the bites are often itchy. However, the best way to deal with the bites is to treat the infestation. If you can get rid of the bugs, you can stop the bites from occurring.
Bed bug infestations are difficult to treat on your own. In most cases, you will need professional assistance from a pest control company to eradicate the bugs and their eggs.
In the meantime, you can attempt to relieve the itchiness from the bites. Applying a topical cream such as a corticosteroid cream or taking an antihistamine may help neutralize the irritation. You should also avoid itching the bites, which can make them itch even more and increase the risk of skin infection.
If you are tired of dealing with itchy bed bug bites, contact a reliable pest control company that offers bed bug treatments and use healing creams to relieve the itchiness.