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Bedbugs and Bug Bites

BedBugs. Lice. Scabies. Fleas. Spiders. Ticks. ... All can cause rashes, itching, and a lot of worry. The recent surge in bedbugs in eastern cities has everyone talking about how to find and kill bedbugs. But if you have a new rash or itchy red bumps, how do you know if bedbugs are the cause?  Maybe your skin problem is not even related to insects or bugs and is caused by something different altogether.

Bedbug Information:

If you are concerned that you have been bitten by bugs, or you fear that you have bedbugs, you should know where they tend to bite the skin, what bedbug bites look like, and how they compare to other bug bites.

Though many people will ultimately need assessment, diagnosis, and treatment by a doctor, at you can learn about most of the different types of itchy rashes that result from bugs of all kinds.

Bedbug Bites: What to Look For

Bedbugs: Prevention and Treatments

Other Bug Bites and Infestations

Skinsight Slideshows:


 Bedbugs (click to view)

bedbug bites

 Bug bites (click to view)

Bedbug Bites: What to Look for

The morning after being bitten by a bedbug, you may notice an itchy hive-like bump at the site of the bite mark, which will go away through the course of the day.

Other Signs Include:

  • There may or not may not be a visible bite mark in the center of the bump.
  • After that, what start as small bruise-like areas turn into red, intensely itchy bumps on the exposed parts of the body (arms, legs, chest, and sometimes the face).
  • There may be a clustered configuration of 3 bites in a line (commonly known as "breakfast, lunch, and dinner").
  • You may see tell-tale signs of the bedbug's presence, such as blood stains on the sheets or flecks of bedbug dung on or around your bed
  • You may smell a sweet odor that occurs when there is a large bedbug infestation.
  • You may be able to spot a moving bedbug if you are searching at night.

Resolution takes about 2 weeks and leaves some darkening of the skin (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).


beg bug bitesbedbug bitesbedbug bites on the back

Bedbugs: Prevention and Treatments

The management of bedbug bites includes eradicating the bedbug infestation and controlling the itching.

Most often bites will occur while travelling. To prevent an outbreak:

  • Check your hotel room for signs of bedbugs when you first check in. Pay close attention to the headboard and mattress looking for droppings, small blood stains, or the bug itself.
  • While staying at hotels keep your luggage off of the floor - preferably on luggage racks.
  • Wash clothes immediately after returning from travel. Make sure to check all suitcases and travel bags.

Key steps to stop an infestation include:

  • Wash all linens in hot water and dry in a hot dryer. You may also need to wash your curtains.
  • Scrub furniture to remove eggs, and fix any cracks that may be in the furniture; you may need to take the furniture apart to do this well.
  • Vacuum the room, including the mattress (concentrating on the seams) and any surrounding crevices.
  • You may want to fill and seal any cracks around the room and paste down any rolling wallpaper seams.
  • Check the adjoining rooms for bugs as well, even if the occupants don't complain of itching.

    Sometimes, in cases of severe infestation, it may be best to have a licensed pest control agent inspect and eradicate the bedbugs. Be aware that some insect repellants can be toxic to children, so make sure to find out exactly what chemicals they will be using and what the chemical's risk profile is.

Dealing with the itch:

  • Should you get bitten, you'll want to control the itching. A low-strength topical corticosteroid cream or ointment, such as hydrocortisone, can be purchased over the counter to help with itching.  Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) can also be used to control the itching.

When to see a doctor:

  • Scratching the bite sites may cause infection, so if there is pus, redness, swelling, fever, or the reactions blister or are otherwise severe, you should see your doctor. There have been rare cases of severe allergic reaction that affects breathing (anaphylaxis), which requires immediate emergency medical care.



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