A-1 Pest Control North Carolina

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

Bed bugs and their bites are among the most-feared household pests worldwide—how many other creepy-crawlies are there that have their own sing-songy rhyme? If hearing “good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” since you were a kid has left you a little paranoid, we’ve got you covered. Learn what bed bug bites look like among other clues that you might be dealing with a bed bug infestation.

Picture of a woman scratching her hand while wondering what do bed bug bites look like.

Identification: What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

Bed bug bites look like many other types of bug bites - which can make them hard to distinguish. But there are a few distinctive characteristics that serve as red flags that you might be dealing with these nocturnal nightmares. 

1. Reddish Welts

Bed bug bites typically manifest as small, red welts on the skin. These welts may be slightly raised, and because of that many people make the mistake of thinking bed bug bites look like mosquito bites at first. 

2. Clustering Pattern

The second thing to look out for when it comes to bed bug bites is their pattern. They often show up in clusters or groups, so if you notice multiple bites in close proximity, especially in linear or zigzag patterns, it could be a sign of bed bug activity.

3. Location

Bed bug bites are almost always found on areas of the body that are exposed during sleep, such as the face, neck, arms, and hands. 

4. Itching and Swelling

Aside from what bed bug bites look like, it’s important to pay attention to what these bites feel like. The level of discomfort varies from bite to bite and person to person, but in general they can cause itching and mild swelling.

5. Delayed Reaction

In some cases, you may not immediately react to a bed bug bite. It may take a few days for symptoms to become noticeable, so if you notice spots that resemble what bed bug bites look like even a while after staying in a new place bed bugs might be to blame. 

Picture of a person's arm with bed bug bites.

Signs of Bed Bugs

Beyond knowing what bed bug bites look like, it’s a good idea to get to know some other common signs of these pests. This can help you spot a problem early and get rid of them quickly. 

1. Unexplained Bites

The most obvious sign that you have bed bugs is, of course, the bites. Bed bugs feed on the blood of humans while they sleep, leaving behind small, red bumps, If you’re waking up with unexplained, itchy spots—especially if they’re clustered togethers—it might be a sign that its time to call a pest control company. 

2. Visible Bugs

Bed bugs are excellent at hiding, which means that often even people with an active and intense infestation never spot one of them themselves. However, once in a while one of them will make an appearance, and when they do, you’ll want to know how to identify them. 

Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, reddish-brown, and have a flat, oval-shaped body. Immature bed bugs are smaller and lighter in color. They tend to live in mattress seams, cracks in walls, and crevices in and around your bed, so check these areas thoroughly. 

3. Tiny Blood Stains on Sheets

Bed bugs are bloodsuckers, and when they bite they often leave behind small bloodstains on sheets or pillowcases. These stains can appear as tiny red or rust-colored spots. If you notice such stains, you might be dealing with bed bugs.

4. Dark Spots and Excrement

Sorry to any readers who might be easily grossed out, but the truth is that bed bugs excrete dark spots of digested blood after they feed. You may find these tiny dark dots on your mattress, sheets, or nearby furniture. 

5. Musty Odor

That’s right, bed bugs have a smell. They release a distinct musty odor, often compared to coriander, which means that if your bedroom suddenly has an unusual smell that you can't explain, it could be a sign of a bed bug infestation.

6. Eggshells and Molted Skins

As bed bugs progress through their life cycle, they shed their exoskeletons, leaving behind molted skins. You might also find tiny, translucent eggshells in areas where bed bugs lay their eggs. 

7. Bed Bug Trails

Bed bugs often leave behind visible trails or pathways, especially in areas they frequent. These trails may be dark brown or rusty in color and are a result of bed bugs moving back and forth between their hiding spots and feeding areas.

Managing Bed Bug Bites

If you have some spots that match our description of what bed bug bites look like, there are a few things you can do to manage the discomfort. 

  • Avoid Scratching: Resisting the urge to scratch bed bug bites can prevent infection and minimize potential scarring.
  • Topical Treatments: Applying over-the-counter anti-itch creams or calamine lotion can help alleviate itching and reduce inflammation.
  • Cold Compress: Using a cold compress can provide relief from itching and may help reduce swelling.

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs 

Bed bug bites look like they might come from small, easy-to-handle critters, but bed bugs are actually fairly tough to remove once an infestation has taken root. 

1. Thorough Cleaning

Remove and wash all bedding, linens, and clothing in hot water. Vacuum your mattress, carpets, and any other areas where bed bugs may be hiding. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag or clean the vacuum thoroughly after each use.

Bed bugs are also sensitive to heat, so steam cleaning is one of the most effective methods to kill them. Use a steam cleaner on mattresses, furniture, and other infested areas. 

2. Encase Mattresses and Furniture

Once cleaned, encase mattresses and box springs with special bed bug-proof covers. These covers trap existing bed bugs and prevent new infestations. Make sure to leave the covers on for an extended period to ensure all bed bugs are eliminated.

3. Professional Bed Bug Control

In severe infestations, seeking advice and assistance from pest control professionals is the best way to deal with bed bugs. They can assess the extent of the problem, recommend a treatment plan, and have access to specialized treatments for complete eradication.

Final Word: What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

While spotting what bed bug bites look like and managing the symptoms is important, often the only way to fully address the root cause of bed bug infestations is through professional intervention. If you find yourself dealing with persistent bites and suspect bed bugs in or around Hickory, Lenoir, Mooresville, Blowing Rock, or West Jefferson, give us a call at  828-481-9140 to schedule your first free pest inspection.