Bed bugs: The tell-tale signs you’ve been bitten – what to look for on your skin

Swarm of BEDBUGS crawl all over bus seat

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Bed bugs are tiny insects, with adults reaching 5mm long. Adept at hiding in dark crevices, they are often not noticed by most people but there are definitely signs they are there. What symptoms found on the skin could indicate you have an infestation?

Bed bugs can feed on human blood for up to 10 minutes in one meal, but many bites can leave no mark and can go completely unnoticed.

It’s also worth mentioning that one bed bug might bite multiple times throughout the night.

A large bed bug infestation can lead to a “musty, sweet smell – often likened to berries”.

“When bites do show, they will most likely appear as small red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters,” explains pest control body Terminix.

According to the website, these bites can also be mistaken for the bites of other insects, like mosquitoes.

“Unlike flea bites, which are primarily around the ankles, bed bug bites can appear on any part of your exposed body,” it says.

The bites will cause localised itching, which in some cases can be severe.

As the NHS explains, a severe reaction can also cause painful swelling, although, in most cases, bed bug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so.

There are things you can do to alleviate your symptoms in the meantime.

Putting something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area can help with the itching and any swelling, says the NHS.

The health body also recommends:

Keeping the affected area clean

Not scratching the bites to avoid getting an infection.


While bed bug bites clear up on their own in a week or so, the NHS confirmed, there are things you can do to help ease physical discomfort.

This can include putting a clean, cool and damp cloth on the affected area to help ease any itching and swelling.

Antihistamines can also be taken to reduce the itchiness of the bite.

Unlike other insects, bed bug bites can appear in tight lines of multiple red marks.

These small spots show where multiple bed bugs have fed from the skin.

Although bed bugs do bite humans, they are not thought to cause any major health consequences.

However, initially affected skin may feel itchy or have a slight burins sensation.

The skin can then develop red bumps, known as papules.

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