The All-In-One Guide to Treating Bed Bug Bites

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Bedbugs’ only source of nutrition is blood and it’s for this reason that these annoying creatures suck blood. For them to grow, they should feed once during each of their immature stages. Adult females must also feed on blood so they can produce eggs. However, even though bed bugs suck blood off humans, they can’t transmit diseases.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny insects that have flat and oval-shaped bodies. Unlike other insects that can fly, these creatures don’t have any wings and they mostly rely on humans to transport them from one place to another. These insects are reddish brown in color and since they are extremely tiny, they are almost invisible. They suck blood from animals or humans and they are mostly active at night, sucking on their victims’ blood while they’re asleep.

How Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

Some people won’t have any reaction to a bed bug bite. However, there are others who suffer from the following symptoms after they are bitten by the bed bugs:

  • Bites that form a line or grouped in one small area.
  • Hives or blisters on the bitten area.
  • Red and swollen area and a dark red in the middle.

Bites could happen anywhere else in the body and are more common on the exposed areas of the skin, such as the hands, legs, arms, and face.

Bed Bug Bite Symptoms?

Symptoms of bed bug bites don’t usually appear immediately. Sometimes, it takes a few days before the symptoms start showing. Furthermore, these insects don’t come feeding on blood every single night. As a matter of fact, they could survive several days without eating. Usually, it takes a few weeks before you start to notice the bites.

The bites are often very itchy. You could suffer from a burning sensation on your skin after several days. The reason why you won’t feel the bite is because bed bugs tend to excrete a small amount of anesthesia in your body before sucking your blood. If you scratch the bitten area, this could trigger an infection in your skin, which will cause swelling and bleeding.

What Other Bites Look Like a Bed Bug Bite?

Unless you’re suffering from a bed bug infestation or you slept in an infested bed, there’s no way to tell that your mysterious bites are a result of bed bug bites. If your bites are indeed caused by a bed bug bite, they will soon become slightly itchy and will eventually get swollen with an irritating bright red color in the middle. During the early stages, the bite will resemble that of a mosquito bite. However, the pattern of the bites is different. They tend to appear in a straight line or in small groupings in your skin, unlike the mosquito bites which are more sporadic.

Can Bed Bug Bites Cause Other Problems?

Fortunately, unlike other biting bugs, the bed bugs are not capable of transmitting diseases. However, the biggest problem you could encounter with a bed bug bite is skin infection on the bitten area due to excessive scratching and itching. You could also suffer from the lack of sleep because of the itch and the feeling that you might be bitten again.

If you’re allergic to a bed bug bite, you could suffer from more dramatic symptoms, such as painful swelling, engorged bite marks on the skin, burning sensation at the bitten area, and in some cases, anaphylactic response.

Where Are Bed Bugs Usually Found?

If you believe you have been bitten by bed bugs, it’s important that you deal with the matter immediately. Don’t wait for more bites to happen before you deal with the problem. Bedbug infestations used to be rare, however, in the recent years, they have become more common.

Bed bugs are mostly found in areas where there are plenty of people living in close quarters. But in some cases, they may end up in your home simply because someone may have brought them there.

Here are some of the most common places where bed bugs love to thrive:

  • Apartment complexes
  • Offices
  • College dormitories
  • Homeless shelters
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels
  • Military barracks

How to Find Them?

Bed bugs love to hide on places where you sleep. So if you notice some mysterious bites on your skin, try to look for them around your bed. It may be difficult to spot them but if you see tiny dots in black color, then that could be them. Other signs are red smears which are the blood that they have sucked out of you.

Here are some of the most common hiding places for bed bugs in your home:

  • Bed frames
  • Bed skirts
  • Box springs
  • Headboard
  • Carpeting at baseboards and below the furniture
  • Curtains and other fabrics
  • At the seams and crevices of furniture
  • Mattresses
  • Pillows

How to Treat Bed Bug Bites?

Bed bugs are not really that deadly or dangerous, but they are terribly annoying. The symptoms of their bite could disappear in a week or two. You can use an anti-itch cream to prevent the itchiness that comes as a result of the bite. You can take an antihistamine to minimize the burning sensation and the feeling of itchiness. Ice packs can also help to numb your skin and prevent your urge to scratch. You can use lotion or antiseptic cream just in case the bite gets infected.

Prevention

One way to prevent bed bug bites is to prevent the insects from getting into your place and feed or breed in human environments.

During the day, these insects love to seek refuge in the crevices and cracks of walls, flooring, furniture, and in mattresses.

The folds and seams of upholstered furniture can also offer a great hiding place for bed bugs. They are also known to thrive in vacuum canisters.

Bedbugs choose to hide in areas near the sleeping quarters of humans, such as in beds.

Here are some of the places where bed bug infestation is a common occurrence:

  • Apartment and condominium units
  • College dormitories or housing units
  • Cruise ships
  • Daycares
  • Second-hand furniture stores
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels
  • Large office spaces
  • Nursing homes
  • Public transportation
  • Rented homes
  • Shopping malls
  • Urban areas
  • Vacation rentals

Here are the items that are responsible for the spread of bed bugs:

  • Secondhand or new furniture
  • Textiles exposed to bed bugs
  • Loungers and chairs where people would use to sleep
  • Bedding and bedclothes
  • Storage boxes or moving boxes

Bed bugs don’t have any specific preferences. They could thrive in new or used things and in sanitary or unsanitary conditions. However, they are also common at high-end places, such as in hotels and airplanes.

Bed Bugs Control

Here are some of the most effective tips when it comes to the prevention, control, and clearing of bed bug infestations:

  • Don’t stay on furniture, objects, or places that are known to have bed bug infestations.
  • When shopping for furniture, choose those that are made from materials that don’t have crevices, seams, or cracks that the bed bugs can linger on.
  • Avoid furniture or items that come from areas or environments that are heavily infested with bed bugs.
  • Seal or fill any crevices, cracks, and seams in some of the objects in your home using glue or caulking.
  • Regularly wash and clean your bed clothing and beddings.
  • Wash beddings properly and dry them at high heat.
  • Regularly vacuum upholstered items and make sure you vacuum them thoroughly.
  • Clean the heavier bedding items such as the upholstered items and mattresses in high heat. Apply the “dry steam” setting, which is usually available in most modern washing machines.
  • Kill the eggs and bugs in upholstered items and luggage using hand steamer.
  • When traveling, always keep the luggage on racks and far from furniture, beds, and floors.
  • Take time to check hotel rooms for signs of bed bugs when traveling.
  • Cover your skin as much as possible when sleeping in a bed bug infested bedroom.

If the infestation of bed bugs is severe, consider destroying the infested items or furniture. If possible, burn the items.

Get Rid of Bed Bugs for Good

The moment you notice the presence of bed bugs in your home, call a pest control company immediately. These companies are well capable of treating the bed bug infestation in your home. Remember that getting rid of the bed bugs yourself is extremely difficult and you might just end up prolonging the infestation. These tiny insects could hide in your home for several months without feeding on blood so hiring a professional is the best way to get rid of them completely.

How Are Flea Bites Different from Bedbug Bites?

If the bites on your skin are patterned in small groups of dots, they are either fleabites or bed bug bites. It can be difficult to tell the difference between these bites. However, fleabites are usually common in the lower half of the body and they prefer the warm and moist areas of the skin, such as in the bends of knees and elbows. On the other hand, bed bug bites are usually common in the upper half of your body, near the neck, face, and arms.

Fleabites 101

Just like the bed bugs, fleas are tiny insects that suck on blood. 5% of them thrive on pets, which is usually the reason why humans get fleabites. Fleas can’t fly; however, they are capable of jumping up to 18 cm high! Once they latch onto their victim, they immediately start to bite.

Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of fleabites are small red marks on the skin coupled with an intense feeling of itchiness. These bites are often grouped together.

Flea bites are most common in the following areas of the body:

  • Waist
  • Feet and lower legs
  • Armpits
  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Elbows

Risk Factors

If you are allergic to fleas, you could develop rashes or hives after a flea bite. The bitten area may also start to develop blisters and will eventually swell. Once the blister breaks, this could potentially lead to infection. If you end up scratching the affected area and break your skin, you’ll get a secondary infection.

Fleas could also infest your skin. For instance, burrowing fleas could lead to an infestation known as the tungiasis. This often always occurs at the toes and feet. The flea could also dig into your skin and start feeding. Eventually, the flea will die after two weeks, however, it may lead to more complicated skin infections soon after.

How to Treat Flea Bites

The first line of treatment for flea bites is to wash the bitten area with water and soap. If possible, apply a topical cream for anti-itch. Lukewarm bath of oatmeal may also help to relieve the feeling of itchiness. It’s also important to avoid bathing or showering with hot water as it has the tendency to make the itchiness even more severe.

The moment you notice that you are having allergic reactions as a result of the bite, consider taking an antihistamine in order to minimize the allergic reaction.

If possible, see your doctor, especially if you have developed an infection or if the bites aren’t clearing up after several weeks. If the bites are infected, your doctor may prescribe you with antibiotics along with other medication.

You could reduce the risk of flea infestation in your home by doing the following:

  • Vacuum your furniture and floors regularly
  • Use steam cleaning to clean your carpets
  • Mow your lawn, especially if your pets tend to linger there
  • Hire a pet control service
  • Regularly wash your pets with soap and water
  • Closely examine your pets for fleas
  • Place a flea collar in your pet or bring your pet to a veterinarian to get treated

Bed Bug Bites 101

Just like fleas, bed bugs also feed on blood. They’re tiny, oval-shaped, and with a reddish brown color. It’s hard to see them during the day since they hide in dark places. These insects attack humans when they are asleep. This is because they are easily attracted to the heat of your body and the carbon dioxide that you produce every time you exhale.

Bedbugs prefer to hide in the following places:

  • Bed frames
  • Box springs
  • Carpets
  • Mattresses

It’s common to see bed bugs in facilities that are used heavily, such as in hospitals and hotels. They are also common in apartments and homes.

Symptoms

Bed bugs are capable of biting in the upper half of your body, especially in the following areas:

  • Arms
  • Face
  • Hands
  • Neck

Bedbug bites are usually small and accompanied with a dark red spot at the middle of the skin’s raised area. The bites are sometimes arranged in a straight line and could get worse if you scratch them.

Risk Factors

There are some people who tend to have serious reactions to bed bugs and the affected area could swell or get irritated after some time, which could result in blisters. You could also develop hives or severe rashes.

Bird Bugs vs. Bed Bugs

Bird bugs are most commonly known as bird lice or bird mites. They look exactly like bed bugs when viewed up close, however, they are usually smaller and resemble the look of a black pepper. Adult bird mite measures .5 mm while an adult bed bug is 5 mm in size.

Bird bugs tend to feed on birds, however, if the bird dies or leaves the nest, the bugs could crawl into your home to search for blood to suck. According to one study, bird bugs are able to survive up to 9 months without feeding. Thus, eliminating them during an infestation is a bit difficult.

How are bird bugs different from bed bugs?

  • Bird bugs tend to be smaller than bed bugs.
  • Bird bugs thrive on their hosts while the bed bugs simply bite and go back to their hiding places.
  • Bird bugs don’t leave any fecal traces
  • Bird bugs prefer birds although they tend to search for alternative food sources once their primary host is gone.
  • Unlike bed bugs, bird bugs are not capable of reproducing on human blood.

If you believe that your home is infested with bird bugs, the first thing that you may need to do is to check your pets and see if the bugs are living in them. You also need to inspect your gutters, attic, and any adjacent trees that are close to your home. Remember that these bugs are parasites so the first step to eliminating them is to look for their host or source and eliminate them.

Bat Bugs vs. Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are actually a close cousin of the bed bugs.

It’s often said that bed bugs are the descendant of bat bugs who fed on humans dwelling in caves thousands of years ago.

Bat bugs are common bugs that get mistaken for bed bugs. These bugs rely heavily on bats as their main source of food. Just like bird bugs, bat bugs can’t reproduce on the blood of humans.

How do bat bugs differ from bed bugs?

  • Bat bugs have longer hair
  • Bat bugs only reproduce on bat blood and not human blood.

If you believe that your home is infested with bat bugs, inspect your basement, attic, cellar, and any location that these bugs may have had access to. As soon as the bats are removed, the bat bugs should also go away.

Mosquitoes vs. Bed Bugs

The mosquito is another insect that’s often confused with bed bugs. Most people who have been bitten by bed bugs try to convince themselves that the bites are merely from mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, there are not many differences between a mosquito bite and bed bug bite. This is why it’s often very difficult to assess the bite by simply looking at it. You must look for more evidence to prove that what you have is a bed bug.

For instance, if you live in tropical places like Florida and your home doesn’t have any window screens, then there’s a good chance that bites you have are from mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes can be a nuisance and must be eliminated. Some of the most effective tips for removing mosquitoes in your home include eliminating any standing water sources all over your house. These water sources provide a habitat for mosquitoes to thrive in and eventually reproduce.

Treating Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites will eventually go away after about a week or two. However, you may need to see your doctor if the following things occur:

  • The bites will not go away after a few weeks.
  • You are showing signs of allergic reactions, such as hives.
  • You end up developing a secondary infection as a result of scratching.

You may use a topical steroid to treat the bites on your skin. If you’re having an allergic reaction, you may need to take oral antihistamines or steroids. Your doctor may also prescribe you with an antibiotic if you’re suffering from an infection.

If you believe that the bed bug bites happened in your home, you should inspect your living space.

Here are some ways on how you can remove bed bugs:

  • Regularly clean and vacuum your furniture and floors.
  • Put your upholstery and bed linens to laundry. Kill the bugs using hot washer and dryer.
  • Remove all things out of your room and place them in below-freezing temperatures for a few days.
  • Call a professional pest control service to treat your home.

How to Identify Bites on Pets

Bug bites on cats and dogs are pretty much the same with the bites on humans. You might notice some fleabites and mosquito bites on your pet. Just like with humans, the bugs don’t linger on pets after sucking blood since they will return to their hiding place after feeding. Aside from bites, you may also notice the bug’s feces in your pet’s skin and this could irritate their skin. The best thing that you can do is to inspect your pet’s sleeping area and beddings. Groom the animal frequently and check carefully for any signs of the presence of these pesky bugs.

Using Essential Oils for Itchy Bug Bites?

When used correctly, essential oils can effectively treat bed bug bites. These oils are derived naturally from plants and are capable of treating skin itchiness and inflammation.

The essential oils can also help minimize the urge to scratch the affected area. Persistent scratching could lead to an open wound.

Essential oils can help treat bug bites in many ways:

  • It’s important to dilute the essential oils with carrier oils like vegetable oil.
  • Use antimicrobial essential oils to minimize the risk of an infection.
  • Essential oils that contain anti-inflammatory properties can change the way the body reacts to bug bites, reducing this way the feeling of itchiness.
  • People suffering from allergic reactions must avoid using essential oils as they could trigger an asthma attack.

What Essential Oils You Should Use

Any type of bug bite could lead to infection, especially if it’s scratched thoroughly, leaving an open wound, just like with some insect stings. People who suffer from mild skin reaction may find essential oils very useful.

It’s always necessary to mix the essential oil with a carrier oil and it shouldn’t be applied directly to the skin. The FDA doesn’t monitor the use of essential oils closely so it’s important to choose an essential oil brand known for its purity and quality.

  • Peppermint and Menthol Oils. According to some sources, peppermint oils can help to provide a cooling sensation to the skin, which makes it effective in bug bites. The soothing feeling can also help to ease the stinging, itching and burning sensation resulting from the sting or bite. Several research studies suggest that the peppermint oil could act as an antimicrobial property, which greatly reduces the risk associated with the infection. As much as possible, avoid applying peppermint oil to the wounded skin as it could aggravate the wound.
  • Tea Tree Oil. The tea tree oil can prevent the bacteria and other microbes from penetrating into the bitten area of the skin. This also helps to reduce the risk of skin infection which makes it a great choice for kids who can’t resist the urge to scratch.

Research also suggests that the tea tree oil can act as a natural antihistamine. Antihistamine helps to minimize the histamine receptors of the body which play an important role in the allergic reactions and severe itchiness.

  • Lavender Oil. Known for its calming effects and its ability to improve the mood, lavender oil is also effective at easing the pain and itchiness brought about by bug bites. Lavender also helps to lessen the pain from insect sting and bites, especially bees and fire ants.
  • Lemongrass Oil. The antimicrobial effects found on lemongrass oil can help to prevent the spread of insect-borne diseases. A research done in 2014 showed that a compound found in the lemongrass oil may contain anti-inflammatory properties, which are very effective in treating bug bites. Inflammation is often the main cause of itchiness and pain resulting from insect stings and bites. By reducing inflammation, the lemongrass oil can make the bug bites less painful.
  • Chamomile Oil. The chamomile oil has long been valued for its soothing properties. These benefits can help you treat itchiness that you may feel after an insect sting or bug bite. Several studies have shown that chamomile also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which means that it could help treat mild allergic reactions, including the burning sensation and itchiness resulting from insect stings and bites.

How to Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are naturally extracted from plants, including trees, flowers, and herbs. They are different from fragrance oils and perfume which often have several other ingredients.

When used in plants, the essential oils can attract beneficial bugs such as bees and defend the plants from dangerous insects. Furthermore, they also help fight diseases and bacteria. Essential oil advocates believe that humans can benefit from essential oils in the same way as plants.

Several studies also suggest that essential oils can help supplement mainstream medical treatments and may provide several benefits, which a standard method of treatment cannot provide. This includes the treatment of bug bites and other insect bites.

Applying Essential Oils

The essential oils must be applied directly to the affected area of the skin following the instructions that came in the packaging of the oil. It can also be applied as advised by a specialist or physician. The oils shouldn’t be consumed, except when recommended by a medical professional.

Essential Oils You Should Avoid

The following oils shouldn’t be used to treat bug bites or when the skin gets irritated:

  • Allspice
  • Bay laurel
  • Benzoin
  • Cassia
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Fennel
  • Fir needle
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Spruce
  • Thyme

Pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding must first consult their doctor before they decide to use the essential oils to treat the skin.

When Oils Are Not Enough

Sometimes, the use of essential oils may not be enough to address the itchiness and pain as a result of the bug bites.

Here are some other strategies that could be helpful:

  • Applying a topical remedy for anti-itchiness such as the hydrocortisone cream
  • Applying calamine lotion on the affected area.
  • Taking an oatmeal bath
  • Using over-the-counter antihistamine like the Benadryl

If the bite has gotten very swollen to the point that there are streaks coming out of it, then that’s a sign that it’s already been infected. When this happens, go to a doctor immediately.

People suffering from severe allergic reactions that lead to flushing, shortness of breath, rashes, vomiting, must seek immediate medical care. Essential oils should never be used to treat allergic reactions.

Conclusion

Bug bites are truly annoying, especially for people who have a dry and sensitive skin. Essential oils provide a simple antidote against these bites. Some oils can also help prevent bug bites, and according to many research studies, lemon eucalyptus, Neem oil, and citronella oils are effective at repelling mosquitoes and other pesky insects.

Essential oils are effective and powerful. The fact that they are derived naturally from plants means that they are safe to use. And just like with using other remedies, consider talking to your doctor before you use any essential oil, especially if you have a sensitive skin or allergic reactions.

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