A definitive diagnosis of health effects due to bed bugs requires a search for and finding of the insect in the sleeping environment as symptoms are not sufficiently specific. Bed bugs classically form a line of bites colloquially referred to as "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" and rarely feed in the armpit or behind the knee which may help differentiate it from other biting insects. If the number in a house is large a pungent sweet odor may be described. There are specially trained dogs that can detect this smell.
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.
When staying in a hotel, I check the bed before I bring the suitcase into the sleeping part of the room so that if I have to ask the manager for another room, then I haven't exposed my suitcase to the bugs. When settling in, I put my suitcase up on the suitcase stand or the desktop so that any bugs are less likely to crawl into it. An extreme measure would be putting the suitcase in the tub. If it's a porcelain tub, bed bugs would have a hard time crawling up it. It's also unlikely that they would randomly crawl up a tub, because it's not near the bed. But if I don't see bed bugs in the room when I inspect it, I just put my suitcase on the stand because I know the probability is really low that a bug is going to crawl up the stand and into my suitcase. I keep my clothes in the suitcase or hang them in the closet—I don't leave them on the floor because wandering bed bugs might crawl into them.
Bedbug bites usually do not require any treatment. If you develop itching of the skin around the site of the bite, you can use an over-the-counter antihistamine pill or cream such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Some individuals may also experience relief from the itching by applying a hot washcloth directly to the affected area. Try to avoid scratching the skin, as this can cause skin breakdown and a subsequent secondary bacterial skin infection.
Bedbugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. Bedbugs do not have nests like ants or bees, but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.