Cutaneous reactions to bedbug bites can vary widely and are easily confused with other conditions (Table 1).15–19 A typical lesion is a 2- to 20-mm, pruritic, erythematous maculopapule with a central hemorrhagic crust or vesicle.5,8 Macules, papules, wheals (Figure 3), vesicles, bullae, and nodules have all been reported,20 as have asymptomatic lesions with a barely visible punctum as the only evidence of a bite.8 Bites vary in number and are preferentially distributed in unclothed areas (e.g., face, neck, extremities). Unlike many other arthropod and insect bites, bedbug bites are rarely located in the popliteal fossae or axillae.21 Lesions can be noticeable immediately when waking up or several days later, with the reaction often progressing from delayed to immediate with subsequent exposures22–26  (Table 2). The classic bedbug rash is referred to as “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” because it commonly presents as several bites in a row or cluster 20 (Figure 4).
Zonalon and Prudoxin (doxepin) are topical creams that can be prescribed for relief from itching. The active ingredient in these products is a topical tricyclic antidepressant and seems to work against itching by reducing histamine. Histamines are chemicals your body produces in response to injury or when having an allergic reaction. A prescription-strength cortisone cream may also help. In some cases, a prescription antihistamine will be given. 
Data Sources: A PubMed search was completed in Clinical Queries using the key terms bedbug, rash, bites, and infestation. The search included meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, clinical trials, case reports, and reviews. We also searched the online databases of the Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Jefferson Clinical Images. Lastly, we used Essential Evidence Plus. Search dates: February through June 2011.

If you suspect an infestation, experts recommend finding a professional exterminator who has experience dealing with bedbugs. Sprayed insecticides are commonly used to treat infestations, and exterminators may also use nonchemical methods, such as devices to heat a room above 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius), a lethal temperature for bedbugs, according to the Mayo Clinic. Freezing infested items for a few days at temperatures below 0 F (-18 C) may also put bedbugs to permanent rest, according to the University of Minnesota. But you may have to throw out heavily infested mattresses and other items of furniture.
Traditional methods of repelling and/or killing bed bugs include the use of plants, fungi, and insects (or their extracts), such as black pepper;[54] black cohosh (Actaea racemosa); Pseudarthria hookeri; Laggera alata (Chinese yángmáo cǎo | 羊毛草);[15] Eucalyptus saligna oil;[55][56] henna (Lawsonia inermis or camphire);[57] "infused oil of Melolontha vulgaris" (presumably cockchafer); fly agaric (Amanita muscaria); tobacco; "heated oil of Terebinthina" (i.e. true turpentine); wild mint (Mentha arvensis); narrow-leaved pepperwort (Lepidium ruderale); Myrica spp. (e.g. bayberry); Robert geranium (Geranium robertianum); bugbane (Cimicifuga spp.); "herb and seeds of Cannabis"; "opulus" berries (possibly maple or European cranberrybush); masked hunter bugs (Reduvius personatus), "and many others".[58]
Pay attention to when the bites occur. Consider, for example, if you notice the bites after waking up when previously you hadn't noticed them. However, this can also be difficult to determine because each person's reaction time can vary significantly. Symptoms that result from the bite can manifest at any point from a couple of hours to more than a week after the bite occurred.
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]
When it comes to controlling bed bugs, "do it yourself" should not be anyone's motto. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate - 76 percent of pest professionals say they are the most difficult pest to control.  As such, people who suspect a bed bug infestation should turn to a qualified pest professional with expertise in treating these pests. The pest professional will evaluate the extent of an infestation and recommend the best course of treatment.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorses that appropriate control of a bed bug infestation requires an experienced pest management professional and recommends that victims be advised against attempting to control measures themselves.
I think the lice/bedbug/flea killing shampoo and gel I’ve been using accounts for me not getting munched on that terribly…as i stated earlier the worst of it seems to be over and I’m going to keep using gold bonds and neosporin. I had a few other topical anti itch creams lying around and while they’ve helped some…nothing soothes like the golds bond. I feel very lucky that I’m not bitten in anyplace visible. my right bicep was where i was bit the most (besides my feet)…which is also the side i sleep on.
It is important to remember that they have a very flat body that allows it to hide almost anywhere. During the initial onset of the infestation, they are only visible around the tufts and seams of the mattress. As the infestation grows, these bugs spread out and inhabit larger and larger areas. Generally they prefer rough surfaces like wood or paper for their harborages.
My husband and I recently stayed at a Scottish Inn, off I-75 in Florida, on our way back from NJ. We needed a room on the first floor. The only thing they had was a $32.00 room + tax. Since we were tired from driving, we took it. During the night, I woke up and I felt like something had bitten me. When we got up to get ready to leave, I noticed both my arms, left leg, one on my face, left ear and one bite on my neck had been bitten. I immediately took a hot bath, but I still can’t stop itching. I’ve never had bed bug bites before so I visited this site. I definitely will be trying the baking soda and water mix. My husband has two bites on his arm, but they’re not as bad as mine. He thinks he received them at the prior motel we stayed at.
The bed bug is a universal problem yet it can be dealt with on a regular basis. used items and new items carry bed bugs. always wash and dry for 20 min. ( its the heat that kills the bug). bed pillows need to be washed and dried on a regular basis and the beds head board are full of body skin cells that attract the bugs. a good old cleaning with vaccum and wipe down is needed. keep your vac cleaned and bag empty after each use, the bugs are in the vac.
Hey Jessica! Sounds like bed bug bites to me but don’t stress, although bed bugs are known to travel with you from other locations its not a guarantee that they always do. I recommend giving all your clothing a hot wash when you get back home (and your travel bags) and to inspect your bed for signs of their presence. As a precautionary measure, you can put DE under your sheets for a day or two and that will kill any pests that are hiding there. Good luck
Hi been getting bites since March. I have been to three doctors who all say the bites are not bed bug bites due to the pattern of the bites. This weekend I got bit again I have one on my leg and a two on my waistline. One of really big and the other are two small ones that are really red. I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a small bug on pillow and one on wall by bed and took a picture and from looking online looks like pic could be a bed bug or chigger. We have already checked the mattress a bunch and found no signs of bed bugs. Can I send you a pic so you can confirm what the bug might be?
To avoid light, bedbugs hide in the seams of mattresses and crevices of bed frames, walls, and furniture during the day.5,7 They are attracted to human hosts by warmth and carbon dioxide; these hosts generally sleep within 3 to 7 feet (1 to 2 meters) of the bedbugs’ hiding places.8,9 Feeding usually takes place just before dawn.10 Bedbug saliva contains several anesthetic, vasodilatory, anticoagulant, and proteolytic compounds that allow the insects to feed undetected for five to 10 minutes. Three of these compounds have been identified as instigators of the subsequent hypersensitivity reactions that may be noticed when the host awakens.11–14
It was stated in 2012 that no truly effective insecticides were available.[6] Insecticides that have historically been found effective include pyrethroids, dichlorvos, and malathion.[4] Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time, and harm to health from their use is of concern.[3] The carbamate insecticide propoxur is highly toxic to bed bugs, but it has potential toxicity to children exposed to it, and the US Environmental Protection Agency has been reluctant to approve it for indoor use.[33] Boric acid, occasionally applied as a safe indoor insecticide, is not effective against bed bugs[34] because they do not groom.[35]
We have bedbugs. They are all over the house. In all of the rooms. My daughter feels that it would be safer to sleep outside than in this house. My son has really sensitive skin and the bedbugs love to attack him. One night he just kept twisting and turning because he must have been itching. We have had to get rid of all of our beds and have had to sleep on the floor. The floor is safer than the beds but not by much. The bedbugs seem to be everywhere. On the walls, on the floor, with you, or in your beds. We have tried many things so if anyone has any advice, it would be very much appreciated.
My fiance and I have been dealing with bed bugs for 3 years. In the beginning I was the one being bitten. Just recently my fiance has been covered in bites. His lip is swollen this morning. We don’t know what to do anymore. This entire process is expensive and hard for us to afford. we’ve been treated by 3 exterminators. None have worked. I’m very upset because all of our belongings are damaged because of this! The Land Lord keeps bring exterminators and nothing’s working. we follow all the directions. I’ve checked my cat he seems to be fine, but I don’t know anymore. we’re miserable. I think we are stuck for life.
Bed bug bites do not typically require treatment. It is best to clean the bite site(s) with soap and water and avoid scratching so as to prevent secondary infection. Progressive swelling, warmth, tenderness and sometimes (albeit rarely) fever may be signs of secondary infection, which should be managed with antibiotics as appropriate. Much more common are complaints of itching. For how to treat bed bug bites that cause severe itching, topical steroid creams or oral antihistamines may offer relief from itching and thus decrease the risk of infecting the bite site.
Within 20 of exposure I started coming down with bumps. They started to.on my forearms but now have spread to legs. My company sent a exterminator to my home to check to make sure I didn’t spread them to my home, my home declared bug free:). They sent me to employee health where I was put on strong antibiotic and cortisone like cream to put on wounds. They are red, cluster like itchy. Frustrating thing is I keep getting more. I am so itchy I can’t sleep. Could it be something different then bugs that I was exposed to? Just frustrated with continual bites
I am constantly being bitten and it wakes me up from the itch, I bought calamine lotions and anti-itch products the calamine works the best for the itch. I don’t scratch them because they can get really infected…but it keeps me up for hours through out the night which keeps me tired all the time and I have to go to work in the morning with lack of sleep. I had to go to the board of health in my town to get the landlord to have my apartment treated…it’s a long process and it could be expensive with all the lotions I have to buy for the itch.
Seattle Children’s complies with applicable federal and other civil rights laws and does not discriminate, exclude people or treat them differently based on race, color, religion (creed), sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin (ancestry), age, disability, or any other status protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Financial assistance for medically necessary services is based on family income and hospital resources and is provided to children under age 21 whose primary residence is in Washington, Alaska, Montana or Idaho.

Checking beds for bed bugs was a common practice long ago, especially while traveling. Travelers today should consider doing the same, preferably before unpacking. This would entail examining the bed sheets and seams of the mattress and perhaps box spring for signs of bed bugs, especially along the head (pillow end) of the bed. Experts also remove and check behind headboards since this is a frequent hiding place for bed bugs in hotels. Headboards are heavy and cumbersome, however, and untrained persons should not attempt removal themselves.
I’ve encountered mosquito bites, flea bites and spider bites, but never had I encountered bed bug bites, that is until I travelled to San Francisco, CA. I made the trip at least four times a year; however, this time was different—opting to stay in a nearby hotel instead of with family or friends. I remember lying in bed. The room was hot and stuffy, causing me to toss and turn throughout the night. When morning came, I was exhausted but began my usual morning routine eager to get on the road. After a quick rinse, I dragged myself over to the mirror; that’s when I noticed them—little red bumps across my chest. Quickly, I scurried over to the bed—pulling off sheets, flipping pillows, inspecting the mattress and the box spring—nothing! Ugh, how could this have happened? It was a top-rated hotel. Were these bed bug bites, or was it another blood-sucking insect?

Scratching can cause superinfection, leading to impetigo, cellulitis, or folliculitis.27–32 Reactions typically resolve within one to two weeks without treatment.32 Systemic reactions have been described, including asthma, generalized urticaria, angioedema, iron deficiency anemia, and, very rarely, anaphylaxis.33–36 Although bedbugs have been suspected to be vectors of more than 40 microorganisms, there is no evidence that they are involved in the transmission of disease.5


Check to see if you can identify the rust-colored fecal stains, egg cases, and shed skins (exuviae) in crevices and cracks on or near beds. A sweet, musty odor is sometimes present. You should also look at other areas such as under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in couches and other furniture, in bedsprings and under mattresses, and even in articles of clothing. While fecal stains and skin casts suggest that bedbugs have been present, these do not confirm that the infestation is still active. Observing the bedbugs themselves is definitive confirmation that an area is infested. You may require professional assistance from a pest-control company in determining whether your home has a bed bug problem.
Great stuff to use. My former girlfriend gave me a parting gift of bedbugs she got while staying at her parents house. She was good enough to leave me some cortisone though which I needed for the first time this morning. I had being seeing bedbugs and routinely treating them for about 2 months and I had laid diatomaceaous earth around my bed and didn’t have any itching or real issues. The layer had been wearing thin and I was too lazy to respreads. Last night I slept in the nude and woke up with the worst itching and now a rash all over my body. I had been seeing bedbugs and killing them for a month or two on and off and thought what’s the big deal. Now if know!!! This is the worst case of itching I’ve ever experienced!! Luckily I have the cortisone but it’s not helping too much. I’m blasting off a bed bug bomb my brother gave me 2 months ago that I never used and respreading the diamo earth. I checked my mattress and found literally only 2 bugs a very small nymph and an adult but they must be somewhere else because my body is covered in a rash. Maybe I finally reacted to bites I had been getting in the past or more are hiding elsewhere but I’m going to rid myself of these pests. Wish I could rid the world of them!!! This itching is the worst!!

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.[5] 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.[4] If the number in a house is large a pungent sweet odor may be described.[4] There are specially trained dogs that can detect this smell.[2]

We’ve randomly gotten bites here and there but it’s summer so we were unsure. We had a cleaning lady come in recently and use her vaccuum so we suspect that could’ve brought in bed bugs! Last night was worst ever but I was outside yesterday but didn’t notice these bites til I just woke up. No signs of spots left behind on mattress, maybe one dot on bedding but could be anything. What do you think?? I have about 6-8 on my middle back and they are about an inch or so apart in one line across bra line area

Bedbug bites don’t normally require treatment by a doctor, though there are a few precautions you should take at home. (8) Start by cleaning the area with soap and water to lower your risk of infection and to relieve itchiness. If the bites are itchy, pick up a corticosteroid cream at your local drugstore and apply it to the area. The bites generally will heal within a couple of weeks. (9)
×