Bed bugs are small insects with an oval shape and brownish color. They live on the blood of animals and humans. They cannot fly but crawl and hide very fast after they feed. Female bed bugs reproduce three times a year. They hide in small tiny spaces during the day, and come out at night. They carry bacteria but are not shown to transmit any infectious disease.
Signs of bed bugs
Do you have bed bugs at home? You will have a higher chance if you answer positively to these questions:
- Have you visited outside recently?
- Have you purchased something 2nd hand?
- Have you moved to a new place?
- Have you had guests recently at home?
You may also want to stay alert for the following signs of bed bug infestation:
- Blood stains on the mattress: They are usually tiny, but sometimes when you roll on your bed at night and burst a bed bug, they leave a big blood spot.
- Bed bug droppings: They look like tiny black steaks. Sometimes they are clearly visible. Some other times, they would not be seen without a magnifier and a bright light.
- An unpleasant musty smell: Bed bugs are known to release pheromones. Also, they like high humidity spots that usually have a similar smell. Either way, this suggests the presence of a large number of insects.
- Bed bug shells: They will have the appearance of a white husk.
- Itchy skin and red spots: Waking up with an itchy skin and red spots all over the body can be a consequence of bed bug bites.
However, let’s dig deeper in how a bed bug bite looks like, because many insects could have different types of bites, and if you wake up with an itchy skin or red spots, bed bugs are not always to blame.
So why do I have bites all over after I wake up?
A bedroom is more than a sweet spot to sleep. It is a private sanctuary where we can relax and rest from the outside world. Getting bitten at night breaks that idea of security and comfort, and it is not uncommon. However, if you want to know the actual cause of the bite you should closely evaluate the symptoms. Here are some a picture of a Bed Bug Bite.
Bed bugs marks looks like a bump on the skin when you are bitten. Itchiness and swelling are the differentiating signs of these bites. However, they have the same appearance compared to other rashes and bites. So, if you have this problem, you’re likely to need a flash light and a magnifier because eggs cannot be seen with the naked eye, and some characteristics of rashes and bites are not clearly visible, either.
Among other causes you should consider, there are different insects, and maybe some skin issues not necessarily triggered by insect bites. For example, it can be fleas you have not seen. It can be mosquitoes coming to your house without notice while you are sleeping. It can also be caused by spiders, mites or some other small insects. If you are allergic, it could be a detergent which is causing the marks or can be caused by dyes and perfumes. There are also nerve disturbances which cause an epidermal reaction to temperature.
Thus, sometimes you will be able to figure it out by yourself. Some other times, your own experience won’t be enough and you will need professional assistance.
Other types of insect bites mistaken for bed bugs
As stated above, other bugs can also cause bites. Here’s a list with clear examples:
- Mosquito bites: These can also be mistaken with bed bug bites. They are both very itchy. Mosquito bites are usually seasonal, typically appearing during summer season and in hot weathers.
- Ticks: This type of insect attaches to the skin and bites painlessly. They usually stick to special parts of the body like the hairline, groin, armpits, and ears. In most cases, it stays in the same spot for several days, sometimes weeks unknowingly.
- Fleas: Unlike bed bugs, fleas jump and do not crawl. Fleas prefer animal blood, but when unavailable, they also attack a human host. Their marks look like red hollow spots in the skin.
- Spiders: In most cases, spiders do not bite unless disturbed. But if you roll over in your bed at night and there’s a spider in your sheets, she might bite. Spider bites are varied depending on the species, and they can cause other symptoms, sometimes potentially dangerous.
- Mites: These insects are very small, too. But their bites can be very painful. They are irritant to humans and also feed on animals and stored foods. They bite is usually very harsh and leave visible marks like those of a bedbug
- Trips: They are tiny insects that feed upon plants juice. They can also bite humans to suck on their blood.
- Fly bites: These are painful and harmless but can cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
Also, consider one additional explanation:
- Environmental causes: Consider the possibility of having an environmental cause if multiple people are experiencing the same symptoms at the same time. Bleaching products, pesticides, and other chemicals can cause a rash and red spots all over the body.
Bites taken from bed bugs and mosquitos are both itchy and red. Bed bug bites appear in clusters in a zigzag motion or a line while mosquito bites are usually single marks or placed in distant parts of the body. People allergic to mosquitos may also develop fever, blisters, and hives vs bed bug bites on skin.
What you can do?
If you wake up with redness, swelling, itchiness, and pain, the first step is to evaluate the symptoms and collect the data. Examine yourself and wash the affected area with soup and water. Apply cold cloth or ice to the affected area for some time.
If the marks are bothering you, visit a dermatologist and ask for his opinion. In some cases, the bite will have no relation to the insect you’re thinking about. In other cases, doctors will recommend pest control measures along with soothing creams. Investigating the case and finding professional help is what solves the problem ultimately.
Delaunay, P., Blanc, V., Del Giudice, P., Levy-Bencheton, A., Chosidow, O., Marty, P., & Brouqui, P. (2011). Bedbugs and infectious diseases. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 52(2), 200-210.
Harlan, H. J. (2006). Bed bugs 101: the basics of Cimex lectularius. American Entomologist, 52(2), 99-101.
Moffitt, J. E. (2003). Allergic reactions to insect stings and bites. Southern medical journal, 96(11), 1073-1080.
Morsy, T. A. (2012). Insect bites and what is eating you?. Journal of the Egyptian Society of Parasitology, 240(1410), 1-18.