6 Bed Bug Bite Symptoms and Their Health Consequences

Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that feed on blood from humans or animals. They usually live in furniture, beds, carpet, and even clothing. Bed bugs use a small tube-like structure (a proboscis) to pierce human or animal skin and feed on their blood.

Bed bugs are most active during the nighttime while humans sleep, as well as in the early morning. Bed bugs can bite anywhere in your body. Most frequently, they will bite on areas that are exposed during sleeping, such as the face, neck, shoulders, hands, arms, and legs.

If any (or all) of these bed bug bite symptoms are present, it’s recommended that you do a full search to verify the problem. To do this, inspect your bed and bedroom. You’re looking for their signature reddish-brown spots or small brown ovals which are their molted skin.

Below are six common bug bite symptoms that you might experience. If your symptoms and your search indicate that you have a bed bug problem, it’s time to call in the pest control experts so they can take care of the problem.

1. Itchiness

Most bed bug bites are painless at the beginning but then develop into itchy, red welts on the skin where you were bitten. Bed bug bites are often quite itchy and sometimes bleeding and even infection can arise from scratching the bites. If bed bugs aren’t thought to be the cause, people will usually attribute the itchy welts to other things, like mosquitos for example. The bites may also cause a burning sensation.

2. Redness and Swelling

A hallmark of bed bug bites is that they become red and swollen. When you notice the marks, you’ll also notice that they look like red welts that are raised off the skin.

Many people do not feel the bite itself or develop clear-cut symptoms other than the marks where the bug bit because the bugs excrete a tiny amount of anesthetic before feeding. Multiple bites may appear in a line or even a cluster in a small area of the body. Usually, inflammation and irritation will surround the bites. Some people, however, will develop more severe symptoms from the bed bug bite and are considered hypersensitive to bites.

3. Musty Odor

One of the common bed bug bite symptoms is a musty odor which is very strong and very unpleasant. The smell can be compared to that of a wet towel. The smell is due to the bed bugs releasing pheromones which they tend to do when they live with a large number of other bed bugs. If you find your bedroom smells this way, it’s another indication that bed bugs may be your problem.

4. Marks on Body

Like we mentioned above, one of the bed bug bite symptoms is the marks on your body. Bed bugs tend to bite in a line, a cluster or even a zigzag pattern. These marks are usually on the areas that are exposed during sleep (face, neck, shoulders, hands, arms, and legs). This biting pattern is different that flea bites, as fleas tend to bite around the ankles.

These bed bug bite symptoms are expected to develop right after the bite, or not long after. Luckily, symptoms will resolve themselves in about a week. In the following blog, we’ll explore six bed bug bite symptoms in more detail.

5. Bites Only Happen During the Night

Since bed bugs typically live in mattresses and are most active during the night or in the early morning, one of the signs and symptoms that you were bitten by a bed bug is experiencing the bites while sleeping or trying to sleep. Waking up in the morning and noticing these bites or having any of the above symptoms is a good indicator that the bites were left by bed bugs.

To get rid of the problem, make sure you search the bedroom thoroughly for the bed bugs:

  • When searching your bedroom, strip the mattress and box spring of any sheets and bedding. Look in the corners and the seams of the mattress with a magnifying glass and flashlight so you can get a good, clear look.
  • When searching your bedroom and checking your mattress, also look under the bed and even around the headboard. Check any other furniture you have in your room and even the carpet. When searching the carpet, you’ll also want to look at the edges. You’ll even want to check in and underneath your dresser as they may have gotten into your clothes as well.

6. Bloody Spots Left Behind on the Bed

After bed bugs have bitten someone, they’ll leave behind blood stains that look like rust spots. You can usually find these spots toward the edges and corners of the bed. Bed bugs also shed their skin (also called molt) several times as they mature, so you may find their oval brown exoskeletons left behind in your bed. This is another sign that you have a bed bug infestation.