bug bites

Updated: May 9, 2022

At the end of a long day, nothing feels better than climbing into bed for a good night's rest. Unfortunately, your sleep may be disturbed if you have seen evidence that bed bugs are sharing your bed. Bed bugs hide during the day and feed at night when their victim is sleeping and vulnerable. Their diet? Your blood.

Discover the signs of a bed bug bites, which can cause rashes if scratched repeatedly, and what to do if you've been bitten. Learn how you can avoid the painful, potentially dangerous effects. Plus, learn about the most effective way to eliminate bed bugs altogether.

Bed bug rashes?

Wake up with an itch that won't go away? Bed bug bites may be to blame. Although bed bugs themselves do not normally cause a rash, their individual bites can itch so much that excessive scratching may cause a rash on the victim. Since bed bugs cozy up where people lounge and sleep, bed bugs can make the sweetest slumber a real-life nightmare. So how do these bloodsuckers get away with it? By injecting a natural anesthetic, they are able to go unnoticed as they suck blood from their sleeping victims. Everyone responds differently to their bites, but here's a list of common reactions to help determine whether you've fallen prey to these unwanted bedmates.

How to identify bed bug bites

Because bed bug bites and possible rashes caused by scratching can mimic other insect bites, allergies or certain skin conditions, it can be difficult to identify whether bed bugs are to blame. Read on to learn about additional signs.

Marks on exposed skin

Inspect your arms, hands, neck and face. If you see any red bumps, bites or rashes on your skin, they may be from scratching bed bug bites. That said, bed bug bites are often confused with the bites of other pests. Most often, this includes mosquitoes and fleas. What's the difference? Flea bites often occur around the ankles, whereas bed bug bites can occur anywhere that skin is exposed at night. Mosquito bites are generally larger but can also be found on any skin that is exposed when you are dressed for the day.

Painless bites, often painful effects

Unlike bee stings and other bug bites, when bed bugs bite, it's unlikely that you'll notice. This is because they bite when your body is still (often when you're sleeping). Not to mention, the saliva they inject upon biting numbs the skin, making the bite itself painless and unnoticeable. It's sort of like a local anesthetic.

That said, it is also the saliva that causes some people to suffer future reactions. The effects of a bite can vary from person to person. Sometimes an allergic reaction to bed bug saliva produces red, itchy welts. Other people may experience no symptoms at all.

Two for one: bites and rashes

Bed bug bites can sometimes be small, raised bumps that are red and slightly itchy. For people who are particularly sensitive to bed bug bites, small, raised bumps may develop into a red bed bug "rash" surrounding the bites. An individual's reaction — sometimes an allergic reaction to scratching the bite area — determines the appearance of the affected area and the severity of the reaction.


If you have an allergic reaction to bed bug bites, one of the most common symptoms you'll suffer from is itching. Unfortunately, the itchiness caused by bed bug bites can last for up to a week or two. Although it's difficult to do, refrain from scratching bites, as it only makes matters worse. Intense scratching can lead to bleeding, infection and swelling. Over-the-counter anti-itch creams may help, but for severe bites and rashes, it's best to talk to your doctor about a treatment.

Increase in nightly bites

People often mistake bed bug bites for rashes or other insect bites. Oftentimes, fleas are blamed for the bites, especially if pets are present in the home or if the person has spent a lot of time outdoors. If you suspect you may have bed bug bites, monitor whether nightly bites increase over time.

Bed bug bites vs. heat rash

It's easy to confuse a bed bug bite with rashes with hives or heat rash, especially in the summer months when it's warm. That's because both types of rashes cause red, itchy bumps to form on exposed skin. However, heat rash is characterized by red welts and tiny blisters. Bed bug bites lack these blisters. Additionally, hives tend to move around the body whereas bed bug bite rashes typically stay in one spot, where the bites occurred. Whatever type of rash you have, consult your doctor for the most accurate medical opinion.

Bed bug bite patterns

Identifying bed bug bites is much easier if you know what to look for. The biggest thing to remember is that bed bugs may feast on human blood in a "breakfast, lunch and dinner" pattern, sometimes identifiable as three bites in close proximity. Look for raised bumps in a line or clustered row, particularly in groups of three or more. Since bed bugs feed on exposed skin while their host is dormant, the pests typically crawl along and bite in quick succession.

Allergic reactions to bed bugs

Not everyone is affected by bed bug bites. In fact, some people have no visible signs and no reaction at all. Others have serious allergic reactions. So how do you know if you will have an allergic reaction to bed bug bites? Unfortunately, there may be no way to know for sure until you've been bitten. Reactions may include pain, itching and discomfort at the site of the bite. It's important that you do not scratch the bumps, as it may lead to a bed bug bite rash. If you've been bitten and are concerned about any possible side effects, consult a health care professional immediately.

Contact Terminix® to help get rid of bed bugs

Want bed bug bites to stop? You've got to kill the culprit, and destroy their eggs to stem the infestation. You've heard the saying "Goodnight, sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite." This year, fight back when you schedule an appointment with Terminix. Our trained technicians can help rid your home of bed bug infestations.

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