Bed Bug Bites: Pictures, Symptoms and Treatment

Bites from bed bugs are usually the first sign of an infestation in your home, and can be stressful to deal with. They are itchy, irritating, and unsightly! We can help you understand the first signs and symptoms of a bite, as well as how to properly treat them to reduce the chance of negative side effects.

What do bed bug bites look like?

Bed bug bites can cause a large range of symptoms, and vary from person to person. It can take anywhere from 3-5 days for symptoms to appear after the initial bite. Noticeable symptoms are:

  • Red bumps or marks along skin (most commonly arms, shoulders, and legs)
  • Intense itching that may last days along the bite site
  • Rashes
  • Painful swellings at the bite site

Some people may not be effected by bed bug bites at all, and show no visible marks. Reactions after being bitten numerous times tend to be increasingly brisk, possibly due to desensitization from the saliva of the bed bug.

Will I feel the bites?

Most people don’t notice they’ve been bitten until they start to develop symptoms! Bed bugs bites generally occur at night time, when you’re most likely to be asleep. Their bites also release a minor anesthetic, which numbs the area of the bite, so you are less likely to feel it.

Unfortunately most people do, however, feel intense itching that persists for days afterwards. That can make simple tasks like sleeping and relaxing stressful.

How can I treat my bites?

There are plenty of topical ointments that can reduce itching and swelling that can be applied directly on the site of the bite. Some of our recommendations are:

  • Benadryl Topical Itch Stopping Cream, Extra Strength
  • Aveeno Anti-Itch Cream, Maximum Strength
  • Cortizone-10 Max Strength

You can also purchase oral antihistamines (allergy medication), which will help reduce the swelling, itching, and general reaction from the bites, until you can find a permanent solution. We recommend:

  • Allegra Adult 24 Hour Allergy Tablets
  • Zyrtec Allergy Relief Tablets

Do bed bugs spread diseases?

Luckily, unlike a lot of other blood-sucking bugs, bed bugs are not known to spread any diseases. You should be able to sleep a little bit better with the knowledge that you are not likely to be seriously harmed due to their bites.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), we have no reason to worry:

Bed bugs should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard. Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

It’s important to remember not to scratch your bites. Doing so exposes your skin to infection, and can cause scarring. Treating the bites with an itch relief cream, or taking an oral allergy medication, can relieve the itching. Talk to your doctor about the best course of action.


Although incredibly frustrating, bed bug bites don’t pose any significant harm to humans. We recommend applying a topical ointment, and trying allergy medication if it helps. Always consult your doctor before starting on any medication.

Most importantly, killing bed bugs permanently is the best step in reducing your symptoms. Seek professional help from an exterminator, and try at-home treatments for bed bugs.