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Bed Bug Bites VS. Other Bites

Bed bugs are nocturnal bloodsuckers!

Yes, they feed on human blood while you sleep.

If you think the bed bugs have been biting, but are unsure if they are bed bugs or some other insects, we can help you tell the difference.

We can also help with advice on pest control, treatment using home remedies, bite symptoms, what to look for when searching for evidence of bed bugs, how to avoid a bed bug infestation in the first place, and much more.

Please read on to find out about key differences in bites from various insects, like fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks.

What does a bed bug bite look and feel like?

You may find a cluster of 3-4 bites bed bug bites that usually occur when the bed bugs are moving around to feed.

The bed bug bites will appear as small bumps or welts on the skin that start to feel very itchy and painful when you wake up.

You will usually see the bump or rash first and then the itch will start.

You may see a rash appear with a bed bug bite. The rash can often be mistaken for hives or dermatitis.

If you are unsure about a rash or pain, seek medical advice to get a correct diagnosis and relevant medicine.

Bed bug bite symptoms

The symptoms and reactions of insect bites will vary from person to person. Bed bugs do not spread disease, but some people’s health can be affected mentally by the itching and sleepless nights.

When a bed bug bites, it injects saliva into the skin that works as an anticoagulant and anesthetic. The human body fights this, causing reactions.

At first, there may not be any visible clues that you have been bitten by bed bugs. The itching and pain tend to get worse in the morning and dies down later in the day.

Bed bug bites may lead to an infection if scratched. The skin will be broken and bacteria can get into the wound. Try to avoid itching any itchy bites.

Some people may not even notice they have been bitten by bed bugs or have a reaction to the bites.

If a person is sensitive they may develop an allergic reaction, which can cause severe swelling of the bug bites, and the bug bites may become very red. Medical advice should be sought if this occurs on the body.

A severe allergic reaction that includes difficulty breathing and hives will need immediate medical attention. Although thankfully rare, it can lead to an anaphylactic shock.

How to tell if the bites are healing

  • When healing, the bed bug bites usually look like red raised bumps with a clear center and a lighter swollen area around the outside of the bite.
  • The bite will look less red and swollen.
  • A scab may form when a bed bug bite is healing and you will also feel a painful burning sensation.

How long does a bed bug bite last?

You are probably looking at 2 weeks for the bites usually to heal if you have managed to avoid scratching the bites often.

What do bed bugs look like?

Bed bugs are the size of an apple seed, therefore visible to the naked eye, and are reddish-brown in color. After a meal, the body will appear less brown, but redder and swollen.

A bedbug’s body is flat and oval before feeding, allowing it to get through tiny cracks and crevices.

They cannot fly, but they are quick-moving insects covering, four feet a minute. The bed bugs will hitchhike in luggage etc., come into your home, and you have a bed bug infestation.

Other evidence of these pests

A telltale sign of bugs is marks left on the bedding. These marks are blood leftover from a greedy bed bug. Look out for empty egg cases and brown marks which are feces stains from the bugs.

Here is the answer to bed bug bites vs. other bites.

We have compared them for you to make identifying them a little clearer.

Some can look similar and others are entirely different, but it does help to know what has been biting you. We hope our guide helps.

Bed bug bites vs. Mosquitoes Bites

Female mosquitoes only live around 50 days on average, but in that time she will bite people and possibly spread disease, including some diseases that are very serious to a human’s health. Great!

Mosquito bites are moderately painful.

You can tell the difference between a mosquito bite and a bed bug bite by the pattern on the skin. Bed bug bites occur in clusters, while a mosquito will bite randomly anywhere on the body.

There is no end to the bites, as a mosquito will feed until full. A mosquito will tend to bite day and night, unlike bed bugs who tend to feed mainly at night.

Mosquito bites look like red bumps on the skin that are itchy straight away. Mosquito bites tend to clear up quicker than bed bug bites.

The older you are, the more likely you are to be less affected by mosquito bites.

If you notice a mosquito biting you, squash it and you may see blood.

Bed bug bites vs. Flea bites

Fleas can jump, boy can they jump!

And when they land they bite. A flea loves a blood meal!

Flea bites and bed bug bites are often hard to tell the difference between.

But we have a tip for you: if bites are on the legs and ankles, chances are it is flea bites. Bed bugs tend to bite the upper part of the body.

Also, bed bug bites do not have a red dot in the middle, whereas flea bites do.

Flea bites do not leave a pattern on the skin, whereas bed bug bites are in groups.

Flea bites can be treated with creams from the drugstore, the same as bed bug bites. Avoid scratching a flea bite to prevent infection of the skin.

Fleas have been known to spread disease; look at the bubonic plague for instance.

Bed bug bites vs. Chiggers bites

Chiggers generally bite around the waist location and like to be outside, so chances are they are not in your bed biting you.

They like to attach themselves to other animals, unlike bed bugs who will take blood for 10 minutes and leave.

Bed bug bites tend to be smaller in size than chigger bites.

Bed bug bites vs. Tick bites.

Ticks like humans and animals to dine on.

Ticks can carry the disease called Lyme disease, so they are not good for your health.

Unlike bed bugs, ticks will stay attached to the skin of their host after feeding. They will bite just once and continue to consume blood in that same location.

The area of the bite will be red and itchy with some pain. If you develop flu-like symptoms and the area becomes redder and swollen, it is time to visit a doctor to check if you have Lyme disease.

Bed bug bites vs. Scabies

Scabies is a burrowing itch mite that creates tunnels under the top layer of the skin. The tunneling leaves raised marks like tunnels on the skin which can be itchy, and more of a rash than the raised bumps you get with bed bug bites.

Scabies is very contagious, so treatment is recommended quickly.

Bed bug bites vs. Cockroach bites

Cockroaches can bite, as they have a very powerful bite. They will typically bite the hands and face because of food left on them.

The bite can be up to 4mm and appear as a red inflamed area of skin. The area will be very itchy.

Reactions to the bite can include an infection caused by symptoms leading to itching.

Thankfully cockroaches bite very rarely.

Bed bug bite vs. Spider Bites

A bite from a spider is like a puncture wound on the surface of the skin from the spider’s fangs. Spider bites have various levels of toxins depending on the species.

A non-venomous spider bite will take just a few minutes to ease. Venomous bites will take a few days with an antidote.

Some spider bites can kill humans, the recluse spider being the most dangerous in the United States.

Bed bug bite vs. Head Lice Bites

Head lice live close to the scalp of humans and can spread easily to other people through the head to head contact of an infected person.

Their bites are very itchy, and if you notice someone repeatedly scratching their head it could mean lice.

Due to the location of the bites, they are often difficult to see through the hair. If you look carefully, you may see red bumps around the neckline area.

To get rid of head lice you will need to buy a treatment from the drugstore. You may find two treatments are needed to kill them completely.

Always read the instructions carefully.

How to treat bed bug bites

Apply a hydrocortisone cream available from a drugstore or doctor to the bed bug bites. You can also take an oral antihistamine to soothe the itching.

Calamine lotion is also a good remedy to help relieve the itch on the skin when you have been bitten.

Top tip

Wear clothing in bed that covers as much skin up as possible. This will help you get bitten less.

The differences between mosquitoes and bed bugs are that a mosquito can bite the skin through thin clothing, while a bed bug cannot.

Unfortunately, there is no skin repellent that can be bought for bed bugs, like there is for mosquitoes.

How to prevent bed bugs in the home

Bedbugs will hitch a lift by crawling into luggage, rucksacks, purses, and on clothing.

With this in mind, be very careful when away on vacation, and check your hotel room carefully before you unpack.

Look for evidence of bedbugs. This could be empty egg cases or the insects themselves.

You may find them in the seams of the mattress, box spring, or headboard.

Should you find any, let the manager know and either ask for another room or check out!

Place your luggage on the rack rather than the floor to avoid bedbugs getting inside.

On returning, vacuum the luggage bag whether you found the bugs or not, then launder and tumble dry all clothes, even unworn ones, at a high temperature, which will kill the bedbugs. This is the best form of treatment to get rid of bed bugs.

Use a mattress encasement to protect it from bed bugs.

How to get rid of bed bugs in the home

  • Launder all the sheets on the bed, including the duvet and pillows. This should be done at as high a temperature as possible to kill the bed bugs.
  • Launder all clothing. Dry cleaning will kill bed bugs.
  • Vacuum thoroughly throughout the house, include baseboards and cupboards. This particular insect loves to hide in dark quiet places. When you empty the vacuum cleaner, place the contents in a bag, seal it, and place it outside in the trash.
  • There is no need to throw out your mattress. Give it a good vacuum and treat it with a pesticide.
  • De-clutter your home. A good old fashioned clear out will reduce the hiding places for the insects.
  • Bed bugs will lay eggs in the cracks and crevices in the home. Check around the home and seal them up if you find any to stop the pest laying eggs in your home.

Home remedies

Have a go at these home remedies. All are fairly inexpensive and do have good results.

Freeze the Pest

Bed bugs do not like the cold, so clothing can be put in bags and placed in the freezer.

Leave in the freezer for at least 10 hours or more and ensure the temperature is below 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. This will kill the bed bugs.

Steam cleaning

Steam cleaning will kill off bed bugs. The temperature needs to be above 140 Fahrenheit.

Steam cleaning should be done regularly to keep bed bugs at bay. They vary in price. Click here to find out more.

Diatomaceous earth

The shape of the crystals in this white powder damage the exoskeleton of a bed bug, causing dehydration and death.

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on infected areas, particularly along the seams of the mattress, bed frames, and other furniture. Leave for 1-2 days and vacuum. Click here to find out more.

Borax

Borax suffocates insects like bed bugs. Sprinkle over the mattress and leave for 24 hours to work and then vacuum off. This is a good pest control method. Click here to find out more.

Talcum powder

Sprinkle the talcum powder around bed areas and on furniture. Like baking soda, it causes dehydration and death. Vacuum up after 2 days. Reapply if needed.

Rubbing alcohol

This is a popular home remedy thought to kill and repel bed bugs and other insects.

You can buy a bottle from the drugstore. Place it into a spray bottle and apply it to areas affected.

90% alcohol will kill bed bugs, but such a high percentage is not good for the health and is also a fire hazard.

Mothballs

Place a handful of mothballs around bed bug hideouts, like under the bed, couch, and other furniture you have. The smell repels bed bugs.

In New Jersey, a university studied this theory and found that 45-60% of the adult bed bugs died. However, nymphs and eggs survived.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is known for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Tea tree oil can be used on insect bites, like flea bites and bed bug bites.

It does have a strong smell which a lot of insects do not like, repelling them.

Try applying some diluted on sheets and furniture. Do a test spot on furniture.

Peppermint oil

Most insects detest peppermint oil, so it will repel them. Mix 20 drops with water in a spray bottle and apply to areas where the bugs reside.

Baking Soda

Baking soda will kill these awful pests by dehydrating them, damaging the digestive system and harming the exoskeleton.

Baking soda is not harmful to humans, is natural, and cheap to buy.

Mix up a paste with baking soda and water and place on areas of furniture etc.

Or sprinkle in gaps carpets and furniture, vacuuming after a couple of days.

Professional pest control services

If you cannot get rid of the bed bugs, then call on the service of a professional who will have the expertise to deal with the pest problem.

Prices will vary, so get some quotes and ask what products are used. Some can be harmful to pets and children.

And finally,

You now know the differences between various bites, and how to tell what a bed bug bite looks like, how to treat the symptoms, and how to get rid of bed bugs.

We hope we have helped with our article on bed bug bites vs. other bites.

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to drop us an email. We do our best to reply as quickly as possible.

Sleep tight!

Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each pest control method, product and process. 

Read more here.

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