Most people will find bed bug bites to be small and very itchy. These bites are often mistaken for something else such as eczema. It can be hard to diagnose bed bug bites due to this, especially if someone inflames their skin further by scratching the area. There are some signs that point more strongly to bed bugs over other types of bugs. The number one thing to look out for is a line of bites going straight up your body: bed bugs commonly bite in this pattern as they bite you at the crease where your body meets the bed sheets. It’s very rare to find a single bite like you would with spiders or mosquitoes, and much more common to find clusters and lines. It’s also rare for bugs to bite your face. They most frequently bite your lower body, but anywhere can be bitten.
The new plague has an old name: bed bugs. They’re in all 50 states, and can be found everywhere, from airports to motels to mansions. They feed silently in the dark, and leave behind a distinctive calling card: a cluster of itchy red bites. If you believe that you’re suffering a bed bug infestation, you’ll want to take action against the bugs right away, but while you’re fighting them, you may also want to treat the bites.
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that only feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep. They are reddish-brown in color, about 1mm to 7mm in size, and can live for several months without a blood meal. Bed bugs are not known to spread diseases, but their presence can cause itching and loss of sleep. Excessive scratching can increase the chance of secondary skin infections. Bed bugs are found all over the world and the cleanliness does not determine the presence of bed bugs.
Another clue to infestation is odor. Like many species of bugs, bed bugs release odors called alarm pheromones. When a group of bed bugs gets disturbed, you may get a whiff of that odor, which is similar to the odor stink bugs give off. At higher concentrations the odor is unpleasant. Some people say at low concentrations it's a pleasant smell—like coriander. In fact, older literature refers to the bed bug as the coriander bug. I've tried to smell the coriander scent in bed bug alarm pheromones and have not been able to make the connection, however.
While cleaning up infested areas will be helpful in controlling bedbugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. Because treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms. Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label specifically says you can use them on bedding.