Bed bug bites typically appear in groups of three, called the "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" pattern. Each victim's reaction to bed bug bites is unique. Some may have a slight reddening of the skin. Others may have a more severe reaction, causing a raised, itchy rash. A raised rash may obscure the individual bites, making it challenging to identify. Sometimes, bites and lesions can throb and become very painful for days after the bugs bit you.
The treatment of bedbug bites depends on the symptoms and their severity. The bites should heal and disappear in one to two weeks whether you treat them or not. The goal is to prevent scratching the itchy rash, which can lead to a skin infection. You can use over-the-counter (OTC) anti-itch creams such as calamine lotion or those containing diphenhydramine or cortisone. Be sure to read the product label and don't use these creams around the eyes, anus, or genitals.
Each of the following pictures of bed bug bites shows typical skin reactions to the insect's saliva. Most people are not hypersensitive to the bites and will show no reaction at all with the exception of two small dots where the bedbug punctured the skin. Other people can develop red papular eruptions (raised inflamed areas) or in severe cases, blisters.
The size of bed bug bites varies with a number of different factors. Bed bugs inject an anti-coagulant along with their saliva when they pierce the skin to take a blood meal. This anti-coagulant is mostly responsible for how a person reacts to the bite and determines the size of the bug’s bite. Since people will have various sensitivities to the bed bug’s bite, the size of the bite will vary, as well. Another factor that influences the size of a bed bug reaction is the number of times a person is bitten. Bite reactions of people bitten many times are also variable, and their response may be either more or less intense as the number of bites increases.