Signs and symptoms of bed bug bites

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Bed bug bites cause itchy, red blisters on the body and rarely cause serious problems like allergies or anemia. A bed bug bite is similar to other bed bugs; there is little difference between the actual mark of the bite. Bed bug bites can be mistaken for skin rashes or other bed bug bites.

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Common symptoms

Bed bug bites often cause itchy skin blisters, usually pink or red in color. Bed bugs are a species of insect known as cimex lectularius ( cimex in Latin means bed bug and lectulo in Latin means bed). There is a second common type of bed bug known as cymex hemiptera . These insects are tropical insects that live primarily within 30 degrees of the equator.

Itching

Bed bugs have a needle-like mouthpiece that pierces the skin and allows bed bugs to feed on blood. To facilitate feeding, they secrete saliva, which has anticoagulant (blood thinning) properties. In some people, this saliva can cause reactions, including itching.

Scratching can make itching worse.

There are published reports, many without supporting evidence, that each of the common bed bug species has chemically different saliva. However, some researchers found no differences in the responses elicited by each species.

Small red lesions

Bed bug bites are small red blisters (swollen spots on the skin) that usually grow up to 5 millimeters (mm) wide. The lesions start as red spots that rise and then turn into blisters.

Bed bug bites often cluster along the lines, usually following the arms and legs.

Bed bug bites usually appear in a straight line or side by side. Theories for this pattern include the idea that bed bugs feed along blood vessels or that they only feed along lines where the skin touches the sand.

Joel Carille / Getty Images

Rare symptoms

After the insect has eaten, slight bleeding may appear from the center of the insect bite. The bleeding is self-limited and appears on the sheets as drops of blood.

Large groups of insect bites can cover a large part of the body and resemble chicken pox. If the groups of bites are close enough to each other, the bites can merge into one large rash. People with chronic large groups of insect bites can develop anemia, which can cause fatigue.

Some have blisters especially in arms and legs.

Bed bug bites rarely cause a serious allergic reaction.

Signs of infection

Bed bug bites can easily be mistaken for a rash. For this reason, detecting signs of infection is an important part of confirming the diagnosis.

Bed bugs often infest the folds of pillows and the upholstery of furniture and mattresses.

Bed bugs can appear almost anywhere and most likely on other upholstered furniture in rooms, where the infestation can be found in the bed or chair itself.

Bed bug infestation is characterized by fecal droppings, appearing as small specks, the frequency of which increases as you approach an actual shelter. Beetles produce pheromones when they are under stress or in danger. It smells very sweet and intensifies when people try to kill bed bugs.

Frequently asked questions


  • Bed bug bites
    look like small red bumps that can form blisters. They are often difficult to distinguish from the bites of other insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, or spiders. Bed bug bites often appear in straight lines or in small groups on the limbs due to the bed bug feeding pattern.

  • Yes, bed bug bites are generally itchy from their saliva, which can trigger a histamine reaction. Reactions to histamine vary, with some adults and children having a more severe reaction, while others are very limited or nonexistent. If you scratch the bites, you can develop an infection. Otherwise, they tend to go on their own .

  • In addition to the small red itchy bites, bed bug bites can cause the following symptoms:

    • Light bleeding from the center of the bite
    • A larger rash made up of groups of fused bites.
    • Skin infection if you scratch the bites.

    In more severe cases, insect bites can cause:

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