Diagnosing bed bug bites can be hard for medical professionals. We often hear of doctors assuming a variety of skin conditions before bed bugs – especially doctors who haven’t encountered patients with bed bug bites before. While there is no specific test to determine whether bites are from bed bugs there are tests that can show whether or not it’s an insect bite. This is useful for ruling out issues like eczema or allergic reactions, but not for determining that any specific insect bite is a bed bug. To be sure you’ll want to check for other signs of bed bug infestation, such as the bugs themselves, moltings, and the characteristic staining of their blood meal feces.
Bedbugs are obligate blood parasites that belong to the insect family Cimicidae. Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus, the two bedbug species that feed primarily on humans, are oval, reddish-brown, flat, and wingless. Adults are typically 4 to 7 mm in length (Figure 1). Nymphs can be as small as 1 mm, and are translucent and lighter in color 5,7 (Figure 2). Adult females produce 200 to 500 eggs in a typical six- to 12-month life span.5,8 Bedbugs can withstand temperatures from 44.6°F to 113°F (7°C to 45°C).8
Bedbugs reproduce by a gruesome strategy appropriately named "traumatic insemination," in which the male stabs the female's abdomen and injects sperm into the wound. During their life cycle, females can lay more than 200 eggs, which hatch and go through five immature "nymph" stages before reaching their adult form, molting after each phase. [Infographic: Bedbugs: The Life of a Mini-Monster]
Individual responses to bites vary, ranging from no visible effect (in about 20–70%),[5][3] to small macular spots, to prominent wheals and bullae formations along with intense itching that may last several days.[5] The bites often occur in a line. A central spot of bleeding may also occur due to the release of anticoagulants in the bug's saliva.[4]

About a week ago I woke up with bites on my legs starting at my ankle up to my thigh. They were sparse but could be counted as grouped or lined. I have no bites anywhere else and have not gotten anymore bites since this happened. My husband shares the bed and our two small children (3 years and 17 months) are frequent bed joiners and none of them have any bites. I sleep with pj pants on and under blankets so it wouldn’t be the most exposed skin that I have at night. However I have no recall of being bitten and had pants on during the day. The bites were itchy for about two days and then they are just red. I am wondering if they could be bed bugs. I am having trouble sleeping because of the uncertainty. I have pics I could post.


I have been divorced from my ex for 4 yrs now but remain friends with him and see him often. I recently learned that my ex in laws have a heavy bed bug infestation. My ex lives 3 houses away but is at his mothers every day as they are elderly. He has been dealing with the bugs and my ex’s petulance about the bugs. They have doctors appointments coming up and I wonder if they should tell the doctor about this. My ex has tried to get them to bathe more, treat the bites, wash the clothes but they act as if it is a big imposition to them. I have not asked him over since I found out about them and am reluctant to do so. Am I wrong in thinking that the ex in laws can spread them to others at the doctors office and is it possible for my ex to bring them here?
Bed bugs have five immature nymph life stages and a final sexually mature adult stage.[13] They shed their skins through ecdysis at each stage, discarding their outer exoskeleton.[14] Newly hatched nymphs are translucent, lighter in color, and become browner as they moult and reach maturity. Bed bugs may be mistaken for other insects, such as booklice, small cockroaches, or carpet beetles; however, when warm and active, their movements are more ant-like, and like most other true bugs, they emit a characteristic disagreeable odor when crushed.
The life cycle stages of a bed bug are egg, nymph, and adult. The reason they are called bed bugs is that they readily infest mattresses, bed frames and box springs. Eggs are laid along the edges of or around buttons on the mattresses. Eggs can also be glued to rough surfaces. Bed bug females lay about 200 eggs, usually at the rate of three or four a day. Eggs are placed in cracks, crevices and other isolated and protected shelters. Females lay eggs after a blood meal. Eggs will hatch in one or two weeks into Nymphs. Newly hatched bugs (Nymphs) begin feeding immediately. At room temperature, and with an available food supply, the nymphal period will last 14 to 30 days. They shed their skin (Instar) five times before becoming adults. Bed bugs will mate soon after becoming mature, so the time from egg hatch to egg laying is 4 to 9 weeks, under favorable conditions. The average life span of the bed bug is 6-12 months and they feed every 10 days or so during this time. Bed bugs can survive many months without a blood meal and their reproduction is high.

Amazingly, these sneaky little bloodsuckers dine on you without waking you. You don't feel their stealthy bite because they inject a numbing agent into your body, along with an anticoagulant to keep your blood flowing as they suck. The first sign of bedbugs may be itchy, red bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. Bedbugs tend to leave straight rows of bites.
I recently stayed at a nice resort and ended up with bed bug bites. Since I was on vacation, I had nothing with me for itching except (and don’t laugh) hemorrhoid wipes. I was desperate so I tried one and the itching would stop for a few hours (unless something touched the bites). Now after reading the posts here I see that witch hazel and aloe, both of which are in these wipes, are one of the better treatments for the itching. The wipes were great, they are “wipes to go” which means individually wrapped so I could carry one in my purse and use it throughout the day as needed and then just fold it up and put it back into the wrapper til next time. These can be bought OTC at any pharmacy and I have the store brand, not name brand.
About a week ago my son bought me a sectional sofa at a yard sale and by the 3rd day my grand daughter had more than 100 bites all over her arms, legs and back. I told my son that it was chicken pox because she got so full of them by the next day again, until i got up the next morning with my legs, back and arms filled with the same bites…. for my luck the sofa was loaded with the unwanted bed bugs and now they were all over my home. This is the worst itching ever not to mention the frustration when people see you with all the bite marks and they see you like you have something contagious . I threw the sofa out and found a spray called “Rest Easy bed bug repel” ($10.00) and a powder (Diatomaceous Earth) ($10.00) and sprayed all the mattress in the house along with the powder and washed EVERYTHING with hot water. I think they are gone now. I bought Calamine lotion, benadryl anti itch cream, and cortisone but the only way that my itching started to feel better was with “Gold Bond max relief cream.
I can definitely understand. This is has been going on with us for almost a year. My hands and arms look like I have leprocy or something. Horrible blisters, rash, scabs, and bunches of “bumps” especially in my right hand. I wind up with painful blood blisters some times. I am living on benedryl and calamine lotion. I hate going out because of what I look like. I have taken to using cover up and foundation on my hands to make the mess less noticable. i have a long-sleeved summer weight sweater that I wear whenever I do have to go out.
just got back from two weekends of traveling to two diff locations. noticed a slight rash yesterday on the side of my ribs and a couple smaller itchy spots on one side of my stomach, etc. i don’t think it was from the first weekend of travelling as my bed companion didn’t get anything. the second weekend was at a college campus, but i had wiped the bed down before putting sheets and a sleeping bag over it. got back home sunday and noticed the itch yesterday (tuesday). so now i’m freaking out and assuming the worst scenarios. i’ve washed and dried all my clothes (though i did leave my suitcase out for two days before i even realized the itch), my sheets, and used a handheld steamer on my mattress, clorox / lysol the edge of my bed and the wooden frame, vacuumed all open areas on my wooden floor, etc. not sure if i should go to urgent care or what, but i’ve so far used hydrocortisone (previously already prescribed). can you please help or can i send you photos since you’re more familiar with this? never happened to be at home before all 20 something years so now i’m terrified i brought something back with me!

Individual responses to bites vary, ranging from no visible effect (in about 20–70%),[5][3] to small macular spots, to prominent wheals and bullae formations along with intense itching that may last several days.[5] The bites often occur in a line. A central spot of bleeding may also occur due to the release of anticoagulants in the bug's saliva.[4]
Probably chiggers -- they are very small, red mites that usually cannot be seen with the naked eye. They are about as small as the period at the end of this sentence. To stop the itching, use OraJel (usually sold for teething babies), which contains benzocaine (an anesthetic). Also, rub in hydrocortisone cream. To prevent chigger bites, wear long pants and stuff the cuffs into your socks.
I recently stayed at a nice resort and ended up with bed bug bites. Since I was on vacation, I had nothing with me for itching except (and don’t laugh) hemorrhoid wipes. I was desperate so I tried one and the itching would stop for a few hours (unless something touched the bites). Now after reading the posts here I see that witch hazel and aloe, both of which are in these wipes, are one of the better treatments for the itching. The wipes were great, they are “wipes to go” which means individually wrapped so I could carry one in my purse and use it throughout the day as needed and then just fold it up and put it back into the wrapper til next time. These can be bought OTC at any pharmacy and I have the store brand, not name brand.

This pair of bed bug bite photos below show the immediate (left) and next day (right) reaction after feeding a colony of bedbugs from a container in the lab. (That's why they are contained in a small circular area).  The hive-like immediate symptoms are replace by dark red rash type reaction the following day with inflammation and less severe redness radiating out to a larger area.  
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.
Bedbugs are most often found in hotels, hostels, shelters, and apartment complexes where lots of people come and go. Because bedbugs hide in small crevices, they can hitch a ride into your home on luggage, pets, furniture, clothing, boxes, and other objects. Bedbugs are found worldwide, but are most common in developing countries. Once rare in North America, they may be on the rise due, in part, to increases in international travel.
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