Keeping you and your family comfortable is a top priority when it comes to the simple luxuries of home. One of the biggest offenders of disrupting your home’s comfort is the presence of the bed bug. Bed bugs are quickly becoming one of the more prominent pests that homeowners are forced to deal with. This article features Bed Bug Bites Frequently Asked Questions.

Once only associated with dirty motel rooms, bed bugs have graduated to become common household nuisances that make a good night’s sleep impossible. Most people do not realize they even have a bed bug problem within their home until they begin to realize the small bites that are beginning to appear on their bodies. A bed bug bite is a strong indicator that your home is hosting a family of bed bugs.

bed bug bites

Bed Bug Bites

The Bed Bug Inspectors have an extensive experience dealing with and treating bed bugs. We have been helping residential and commercial clients since 2009. We have gathered the most common questions about bed bug bites from our New York customers. Below we collected frequently asked questions from our customers.

10 Bed Bug Bites Frequently Asked Questions

#1. What do bed bug bites look like?

Here are some signs to look for that might indicate that you have been bitten by bed bugs:

  • The bites are small but numerous and usually appear in a cluster pattern on arms, hands, neck, and the face.
  • The appearance of the bite is similar to the shape of a welt mark.
  • Bed bugs often make their bites in a row or pattern of three or four raised red bumps. Just think of it as them coming back for each meal time—breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert!
  • Bed bugs tend to go after those areas of the body that are exposed during sleeping, such as arms, hands, neck and the face. If these types of bumps appear in those locations, this is also a good indication that a bed bug might have been using you as a buffet.
  • They can be itchy or give off a burning sensation, depending on your reaction to it.
  • Typically, they do not appear right away and may take a few days, which may be a tip-off that it is a bed bug because mosquito bites appear very soon after being bitten. Also, if you have not spent extended time outside might be another indication these are “indoor” bug bites.
  • Some bed bug bite reactions may be stronger and if you scratch them too much, they can become infected and ooze some white or yellow pus-like substance. This may require some anti-bacterial ointment to reduce the risk of an infection.
man with bed bug bites on his back

Man with bed bug bites on his back

#2. When Do Bed Bugs Usually Bite the Most?

Bed bugs have often times been compared to an apple seed in appearance. They are flat, oval-shaped and dark in color, making it easy for them to hide. Bed bugs are most active during the night so the shape and color of their body help them to stay hidden throughout the daytime.

Bed bugs will hide inside of your furniture, your mattress and inside of your sheets while they patiently wait for you to get into bed and fall asleep. Bed bugs bite at night while you are sleeping and engorge themselves with your blood.

#3. Do Bed Bug Bites Cause Harmful Blood Loss?

When we say that harmful blood loss can result from bed bug infestations, we’re not referring to the idea of someone dying from bed bug bites. But while that may be a relief of sorts, this doesn’t change the fact that blood loss can be dangerous. If left untreated, a loss of blood can make a person anemic, which can, in turn, cause other serious health problems to develop. Other possible effects of blood loss include an iron level that is too low and a high level of stress being placed on other parts of the body.

#4. Do Bed Bug Bites Itch, Sting or Hurt?

When a bed bug sinks its teeth into your skin and begins sucking out your blood, surprisingly it is rarely felt. Bed bugs are so small that their bite is something that humans don’t often feel when it occurs. While the initial bite itself may be painless, the result of the bite can lead to a few different medical issues.

two adult bed bugs

Serious bed bug infestations can cause anxiety, stress, and insomnia. In cases where bed bugs have been difficult to remove, people become overwhelmingly obsessed with their presence and this will result in sleepless nights and paranoia. Other results of bed bug bites include serious allergic reactions, anemia, a painful welt on your skin and even trigger asthma attacks.

#5. Can Bed Bug Bites Cause Sickness?

Bed bugs have been making a comeback to NYC in recent years, which has led a number of homeowners to become overly paranoid of what this means. We are all aware that bed bugs love to crawl into our beds at night and suck on our blood. The more important question for many people, however, is a simple one … can bed bug bites cause sickness?

#6. Is It Possible To Be Allergic To Bed Bug Bites?

Red bite marks that are mildly itchy are not a sign of an allergy and don’t require a doctor’s visit. But if you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be allergic to bed bugs and need to get the bites checked out.

  • Severe itching. If the itching is persistent and intense, you probably are having an allergic reaction. Don’t overreact, because even non-allergic bed bug bites are uncomfortable. But if you absolutely can’t keep from scratching and over-the-counter medicated creams don’t relieve the itching, it’s time to see a doctor.
  • Itching that gets worse. Itching should subside over time, not increase.
  • Swelling. A little swelling might be due to your scratching—which even a mild itch will cause you to do—but excessive swelling is usually a sign of an allergy.
  • Redness. Bite marks are red, but if all the skin around the bites is also red, it could indicate an allergic reaction.
  • Hives.
  • Blisters.

#7. How to stop itching from bed bug bites?

The most annoying aspect of bed bug bites, aside from the idea of an insect sucking your blood while you sleep, is the itching that comes along with it. The bed bug bites themselves can show up minutes or even hours after the insect has done its business. Often, this means that you wake up with little red spots on your skin. Obviously, scratching your skin will simply make it worse. But how do you stop the itch?


#8. Why do bed bugs bite?

Bed bugs don’t bite humans because they’re irritated or threatened. They do so out of necessity for their own survival. Without ingesting on our blood, a bed bug is unable to grow. Although they can sometimes go up to a year without having a meal, they will eventually succumb to starvation if they don’t get what their bodies need. Of course, none of this is reassuring to the receivers of bed bug bites.

The good news…

When it comes to any insect, especially ones that bite, there is the fear of disease. A number of insects have been known to pass along diseases to humans, some of which can quickly lead to sickness or, in some cases, death.

The good news is despite the fact that bed bug bites have been rumored to transmit diseases, research has shown that there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim. Bed bugs cause a lot of problems for humans, but the disease is not one of them.

Now, the bad news…

Just because bed bugs don’t knowingly transmit disease, that doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for concern. The big danger comes from the itching accompanying the bed bug bites. The itching can be quite severe, making it hard to resist. For those with sensitive skin, it can be even more intense. Plus, bed bugs crawl through dirt and grime found in the cracks and crevices of our home, not to mention outside, so there’s no way to know what they might be carrying along with them.

If you scratch a bed bug bite, this could quickly lead to an infection, and that is where the real danger lies. If you are afraid of scratching, it is recommended that you employ the use of a topical anti-itch cream. In most cases, that will do the trick. If that doesn’t work, however, and the redness or itching sensation doesn’t go away after a week, consult a medical expert who can recommend a treatment, which might include antibiotics.

#9. Do Baby Bed Bugs Bite Too?

bed bugs and their eggs

Bed Bugs Infestation (Flickr)

When people worry about being bitten by bed bugs, they usually picture being preyed upon by the adult bed bug—about 3/16th of an inch long, oval, flat, and reddish-brown. But when it comes to bed bug bites, baby bed bugs are often the culprit.

The Bed Bug Life Cycle

To understand why baby bed bugs are far from innocent when it comes to feeding on humans, all it takes is a look at the bed bug life cycle.

The average bed bug will then lay about 5 eggs a day (up to 500 in a lifetime). The eggs are tiny, but they are visible to the naked eye. They are approximately 1 millimeter long and milky-white. However, bed bugs’ natural tendency is to live and reproduce in cracks and crevices where you can’t see them, so spotting eggs isn’t common.

Do Baby Bed Bugs Bite?

After about two weeks, the eggs hatch, and the baby bed bugs start feeding immediately. Here’s the critical bed bug fact to know: Bed bugs must pass through five molting stages before they become adults, and each time they molt they must first feed.

bed bug nymph

Baby Bed Bug (Nymph) Just Fed (Notice the reddish color in the back)

That’s why baby bed bugs are to be feared as much as adult bed bugs—they have a biological imperative in addition to hunger to feed on you. Your blood is their road to maturity!

Molting Evidencebed bug under microscope icon

One positive that comes from bed bugs’ maturation cycle is that each time they molt, they leave behind an exoskeleton that you can see. These are often left in the open, so they can be your first realization that you have a bed bug problem.

Starting Over Again

Once a bed bug has molted five times, it’s ready to start the cycle over again—it’s now able to reproduce. If you consider that the path from inception to adulthood is only two weeks, and if you take into account the number of bed bugs each adult female produces, it’s easy to see how fast a few bed bugs inadvertently brought into the home can quickly become a full-blown infestation.

That’s why it’s so important to call a pest control company that specializes in bed bugs as soon as you suspect you have bed bugs in the home. If you wait to act, the problem can become much more costly to eradicate as the baby bed bugs grow up and spread the infestation.

#10. What to Use to Prevent Bed Bugs From Biting

Is there a way to prevent bed bugs from biting you? That’s a question often asked by people who fear they have bed bug infestations in their home, and the answer is “yes and no.”

Unfortunately, no, there aren’t bed bug “repellents” that you can spray on your skin to keep them from feeding on you. For one thing, repellents wear off. Even more importantly, bed bugs have repeatedly shown a resistance to the chemicals contained in consumer insect repellents.

But, yes, there are things you can do to prevent bed bug bites.

Bed-bug resistant mattress, pillow, and furniture covers

There are encasements specifically designed to keep bed bugs off of you, with material, zippers, and seals specifically designed to keep bed bugs from getting out.

On your bed, it’s best to use mattress encasements in conjunction with ActiveGuard liners, which actually kill the bed bugs and prevent reinfestation instead of simply preventing them from attacking you. These liners are odorless and designed for comfort.

Climbup Insect Interceptors

These pesticide-free cups are placed under the feet of beds and other furniture. A thin layer of talc makes them too slippery for the bugs to crawl out of the cups, which they fall into as they are trying to climb in or out of the bed, couch, or other pieces of furniture. Not only do these cups prevent bed bug bites, they are also useful in determining where the bed bugs have nested.

Vapor steamers 

Specially designed vapor steamers can kill bed bugs with their heat and include jet tips for spraying in cracks and crevices.

Learn more about Bed Bug Bites