How long do bed bug bites last?

“Sleep tight, Don’t let the bed bugs bite” is a saying you’ve most likely heard expressed by a loved one and probably from your childhood. 

Did you wake up this morning with rashes and itchiness over your body? If so, you’ve most likely been a victim of bed bugs. 

​In this article, you will learn:

  • What do bed bug bites look like?
  • How long do bed bug bites last?
  • What are the symptoms and treatment?
  • And how to prevent bed bug bites?

What do bed bug bites look like?

Bed bugs are small, nocturnal blood suckers that feed on the blood of animals and humans. 

Bed bugs are attracted to bite anywhere on your body where there is skin. Bed bugs are unable to bite through clothing, but they will crawl inside to find skin that is vulnerable. Normally, they bite exposed areas such as: face, neck, hands, shoulders, arms and legs.

When they bite it is usually painless but results in a red, itchy welt similar to that of a  mosquito and sand fly. The difference being that bed bugs tend to bite in clusters. If you notice lots of little clusters of red bumps on your skin, the culprit is most likely a bed bug.

When a bed bug bites, it injects the host with an anesthetic and anti-coagulant so they won’t feel a thing. This gives the bed bugs a 10 minute window of blood sucking while their host is blissfully unaware.

How long do bed bug bites last?

Once you’ve been bitten by a bed bug bite itself can take anywhere up to 14 days to develop on the skin and roughly another 14 to completely disappear, these reactions are dependent on the person.

For people who are less sensitive to insect bites, the red spots and itchiness will fade after 3 days. However in some cases people develop a severe allergic reaction which is called anaphylaxis and requires medical attention right away.

It’s useful to know the signs and identify bed bug activity in your home instead of relying on skin reactions.

Just remember, don’t scratch your bites! If you scratch the affected areas the wounds are more prone to infection.

Bed bug bite symptoms

  • Painful burning sensation
  • Raised itchy bump with a clear center
  • A red itchy bump with a dark center and lighter swollen area
  • Small red welts or bumps in clusters or a line
  • Small spots of blood on the sheets or bedding
  • Bed bug droppings on the bed

What are the treatments?

Before seeking to apply a cream it is recommended that you clean the wound and area around the wound with soapy water.

To deal with the itchiness, the following may help to reduce minor symptoms:

  • Hydrocortisone
  • Anti-itch creams
  • Antihistamines

 

To further help with the healing process you could also use calamine lotion on the affected area. Calamine lotion helps to protect the skin and dry out the rash. It provides symptomatic relief from the continuous itching as well. 

Most bed bug bites fade away after a few weeks, however if the red welts haven’t disappeared, it’s recommended to seek medical attention.

How to prevent bed bug bites while sleeping?

A single female is capable of laying hundreds of eggs in its lifetime, so bed bug prevention is the best defense against this pest.

During the day, bed bugs will look to seek refuge in the cracks and holes of furniture, walls and mattresses. Often found in the seams and folds of upholstered furniture can be a good hiding place. Bed bugs have been known to live in vacuum canisters.

It’s recommended to buy a tear-resistant white mattress cover to eliminate potential hiding spots where these bed bugs take refuge. A lighter shade or light-colored sheet will expose bed bugs. Keeping a clean home is a good prevention strategy, especially around the bed or if you’ve purchased second hand furniture. Make sure you clean and vacuum it thoroughly. 

We recommend vacuuming your mattress at least twice a month. 

 

Places where bed bugs are commonly found:

  • Hotels
  • Vacation homes
  • Cruise ships
  • Hostels
  • College dorms
  • Rented homes
  • Urban areas
  • Nursing homes

 

Objects commonly infested with bed bugs:

  • Second hand furniture
  • Luggage or baggage
  • Chairs
  • Bedding
  • Storage boxes
  • Shipping items

Summary

So there we have it, each person is affected differently from bed bug bites with some less severe and the bites fading after a few days while others who suffer from an alergic reaction require longer to heal.

Whether you’ve had an allergic reaction or not, it is important not to scratch the wounds as they could become infected. 

Finally the best way to prevent bed bugs is purchasing a light-colored mattress cover and regular cleaning, especially vacuuming hiding areas such as cracks and folds of bedding and mattress. Also if you ever purchase second hand furniture make sure you clean it before using it!

Learn more about Bed Bugs 

We have numerous other bed bug guides. Each of these guides are written by our specialists to help live a pest free life.