Bed bug bites can happen in as little as 5 minutes for full feeding allowing one to multiply into thousands in a months time. If only a portion of that colony were to feed on you while you’re sleeping, you could wake up to a body covered in bites!
These blood suckers lock on to the carbon dioxide (CO2) release when sleeping. Once they have you, they head toward a warm part of your body and begin to bite. Two tubes are inserted into your body; one is used to inject a mixture of anticoagulant and anesthetic while the other is used to suck up your blood. You never notice the bites until you wake up and realize you were the main course!
Unfortunately, some victims don’t realize they have been bitten for up to two weeks while others may react right away. Two weeks is a long time, and if you slept in multiple locations, it might be impossible to figure out which place had the infestation.
They often Bite in a Pattern
Below is an excellent example of how most bites turn out – a clear pattern.
Notice the pattern on the hand? These bites are another great example of how bed bugs move on your skin when feeding.
These seven bites are all line up on the back of the arm(3) and also fed on the back of the leg near the vein. Visitor “Concerned 80” said that the bites became swollen from scratching while half asleep.
Just because you where bit seven times does not mean you have seven bedbugs – these bugs will move in a pattern looking for the perfect feeding spot, so it’s possible that only one could have caused all that irritation!
Bites are Bad!
These bloodsuckers love exposed areas of flesh such as closest to their nest such as the face, forehead, arms and known to attack babies.. Those repeatedly bitten over time are more likely to become sensitive. You may even find the person sleeping next to you does not show any signs of bed bug bites while you do. In fact, the person next to you may not have been bitten at all – a good sign that the infestation is closest to you.
Julio didn’t react well not to these bites, and they took a long time to heal!
Julio’s arm was badly bitten and he didn’t react well not to mention how long it took him to heal!
If you are unlucky, you may have a severe reaction like that shown below, which is unusual but may happen when attacked repeatedly.
Bites on Child’s Face
Vanessa took her young son to the doctor and had confirmed these bites were from bed bugs. Look at the damage they did to his face! It’s important not to scratch the area or scabbing may leave a scar. Vanessa explains what happened:
Vanessa: I am so glad I found your website. My family and I just returned from vacation two days ago, and my youngest children are covered with bed bug bites. At first, we did not know what they were. The bites started after the first night of staying there. They got increased in number and became worse over the week. We had no clue. Bed bugs never crossed our minds. I took them to the doctor as soon as we got home and we got the news. BED BUGS!
I was totally disgusted and freaking out! I still am! I can’t sleep at night. I worry that we brought them home and feel my children’s pain, they are pitiful! The bites do not seem to be clearing up and itch like crazy. My husband and I only have a few each. I will never go on vacation again!
Baby and Mother Bitten by Bed Bugs
Another visitor, Ava, had her neck badly bitten by bed bugs. For many months, her baby boy had bite marks which doctors initially suggested might be scabies or fleas.
A few months later when Ava’s older son complained of his skin crawling in the middle of the night, she checked on the baby and found his bed frame and mattress covered with bed bugs with many in the process of feeding!
This poor child was helpless to do anything while being fed upon by bed bugs. If you ever see something like this, it’s an indication of an infestation close by, and it should be easy to locate the nest.
Bites from staying at an Infested Hotel
This is what can happen to you when you stay at an infested hotel. Here, Richard crashed out in his hotel room and was viciously attacked while sleeping – can you imagine yourself waking up to this?
Below is Richard’s arm covered with more than 50 bites!
His thigh with multiple bites:
His calf was bitten as well!
Both his legs were covered with bites!
50 bites per arm! (ouch!) Many on his back including both the front and back of his legs. The itching was so bad that Richard ended up at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Urgent Care. The doctors prescribed Antibiotic and Anti-Itching medicine. He ended up missing two days of work on top of it all.
With that many bites, I’d say that this was a massive infestation and would guess the room improperly treated or not treated at all. If this ever happens to you, document everything and if possible, capture the bugs and confront the hotel – there are multi-million dollar lawsuits over bites from bed bugs, and your attorney will love you for it!
Bites from an infestation only a month old
The number of bites on Adam’s stomach helps emphasize how fast an infestation can grow in as little as 30 days! He is from Canoga Park California, and it’s clear just how red and swollen these bites can become.
The grouping of bites are circled in black.
After a lot of searching and almost giving up, Adam found, and collected the bed bugs and placed them in a plastic baggie. Needless to say, they were full of his blood.
The new problem is that he can’t sleep now because he’s afraid of being bitten again. He has used multiple bug bombs (which typically don’t work and not the ideal solution) and also sprays which drove them into the walls.
Bites on Forehead after Cabin Stay
Ross says this happened in a cabin while staying at Yellowstone National Park and his head wasn’t the only part of his body they fed on; unfortunately, bed bugs bites covered his entire body!
Most disturbing is that Ross never felt a thing! These little blood suckers waited until he fell into a deep sleep, injected a form of anesthetic into his skin, and feed until they were full! Ross was clearly the main course!
Want to see more Bite Pictures & less words?
Easily swipe through our many pictures of bed bug bites but be warned – Some may cause you to have nightmares!
Scratching can leave Scars!
Afraid, a name used by one of the mothers visiting our website, shares the bites on her arm and what happens when you scratch them.
These appear all over her body, but this is the top part of the arm near the elbow.
Scratching will cause bleeding and can lead to infection.
Her whole body is covered in bites and gives you an idea of how much damage these bugs can really do.
WARNING! Do NOT scratch your bites, it can leave permanent scars!
Treating Bed Bug Bites
HOME REMEDY: Baking Soda paste is the #1 home treatment for bites. Mix water with baking soda to make a paste that you then place on the area and let dry. Here are more details:
- Make sure to wash the bed bug bites with soap and water.
- Make a thick, sticky paste with the water and baking soda, not too runny and thick enough that it will stay.
- Let the paste stand until completely dry and then wait an hour or so. Some let it stand for hours while others find that an hour or less is fine.
- Gently wash the paste off and pat dry.
Other natural remedies for treating bed bug bites include:
- Witch hazel, St. John’s Wort and Lemon juice – all work by removing the desire to itch (Astringents).
- The gel from the Aloe plant is how many treat bed bug bites and contains anti-fungal and antibiotic properties that work great! Just trim a tip and apply the exposed area to the bite.
- Handed down from generations is a bath with a half cup of peppermint oil to relieve the itching.
- Claude suggested a “hot as you can stand it” shower or bath to treat the bites. The itching will intensify for a few seconds, but then there is the relief which lasts for many hours. Some believe that the heat from the water overloads the ends of your nerves and prevent them from telling your brain to itch. Some think that the heat causes your body to release more histamine than usual and thereby less histamine around the bite. Whatever the reason, it’s commonly used as a solution to itching caused by bites.
- Lemon juice on a wad of tissue placed lightly over the swollen area to reduce itching
- Chrissie said that a dab of Essential Oil of Basil with a cotton bud on each bite brings the ‘poison’ the bug has deposited to surface (she lances her bites with a sterilized pin (flame heat/wiped clean)). She then dabs the bed bug bites with lavender oil and her itching subsides.
- Sam uses crotamiton creme followed by lotrix creme for 15 days to stop the itching and clear things up.
OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATION:
- Cortisone cream to stop the itching
- Calamine lotion
- Just about any topical anesthetic containing pramoxine
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Naproxen or Ibuprofen or a anti-histamine like benadryl to help reduce swelling
- Light paste of aspirin and water like you would do if using baking soda and water
MEDICATIONS PRESCRIBED BY A DOCTOR:
The dermatologist did a biopsy: Below is Rob’s story of being repeatedly bitten by bugs and after a lot of research found out that indeed he had bed bugs – thanks for sharing Rob!
I just discovered the cause of my skin reaction this morning. Been spending a lot of time at a friends place and started to get red spots that were intense and itch. It just got worse and worse. The dermatologist did a biopsy and found no bacteria or virus. Skin scrapping found no fungus. It was a matter of finding out what was causing my skin to become so swollen I couldn’t see some of the bite marks. It only affected my legs, feet, arms, upper back, chest, neck, and shoulders. No midsection bites.
On Tuesday my arm became worse after spending the night at my friend’s place. At home, when I got out of the shower a bug near my jeans and killed it. I called my doctor to treat my arm and mentioned the bug. He saw me that day and put me on prednisone. Last night I took the antihistamine he prescribed, and it knocked me right out. I fell asleep on my friend’s shaggy carpet for about an hour and a half. As I awoke, I saw another bug run across my shorts.
I have a phobia about bugs, and so my friend helped me capture it so that I could show the doctor as he requested; the doctor put it under the microscope and pointed out the telltale signs.
In short, I was bitten by bed bugs from visiting my friend’s apartment. I’ve sent in some pictures of the symptoms on my arms. It’s such a relief to know what is causing my skin problems rather than thinking I had some disease.
I’ve found that the locoid lipocream he gave me to be the most effective. He also gave a sample of foaming medication in a small can which didn’t seem to work. The swollen areas were much worse that you would imagine, I experienced flat out pain by nighttime. I treated my arm 3x that day with the lipocream and by morning it was 100x better with significantly reduced redness and swelling.
Good luck to those dealing with similar issues, I feel your pain!
Rachel had a doctor prescribe her betamethasone valerate to relieve the itching. She says it works but doesn’t get rid of the bites.
Bridget’s Dr. prescribed a topical cortisone cream to stop the itching and told that diphenhydramine (Benadryl) would halt the itching too.
Julie’s Doctor suggested using teatree oil as a repellent and fucidin H on the spots. He suggested that I should spray everything with the green baygon even the mattresses.
More Photos? ▶ This is what bed bug bites look like on people eaten alive!