A bed bug is a small, blood-feeding parasite that often infests areas where humans frequent. Adult bed bugs are reddish brown in color, flat, oval-shaped, wingless and approximately 4-5 millimeters in length. Bed bugs are attracted by warm blooded mammals, and they generally feed during the night, often just before dawn. They tend to feed every week or so, though they can survive without feeding for months. Bed bugs pierce the skin and inject saliva that contains anesthetics and anticoagulants into the host, which often make their bites painless. After feeding on blood for several minutes, bed bugs will retreat back to into hiding. They will generally try to remain within close range of their food source. Some people feel and see bites immediately after, though others may not see or feel any results at all.
Bed bug bites resemble many other insect bites and consist of raised, reddish bumps or even a blister. While similar to other insect bites, bed bug bites do have a unique bite pattern like a row of three to five bites or a zig zag pattern. Sometimes a rash like area appears as a cluster of red bumps. These bites will usually be found on exposed areas of the body and usually go away on their own in a couple of weeks. But if the infestation isn’t controlled by a professional bed bug control company, the bites will continue to occur as long as there are bed bugs in the vicinity.
Bed Bug Bite First Aid
- Use soap and water to wash infected areas. Work the soap and water into a lather and spread liberally over bite areas. Do not rinse. Allow the solution to dry and there will be a noticeable decrease in itching right away. The soapy solution will also help minimize the likely-hood of infection as well.
- Create a thick paste of baking soda and water. Apply a thick covering of the paste to bite areas and allow to dry. Leave the paste on for an hour or more for the greatest amount of relief and then wash off with warm water.
- Aloe vera gel makes a great treatment for bed bug bites because it contains antibiotic and anti-fungal properties that help keep the risk of infection to a minimum.
- Over the counter creams that contain hydrocortisone are readily available and help reduce itching and inflammation. If stronger measures are needed, a doctor can prescribe similar creams with a higher cortisone content.
- Calamine lotion can be applied to bite areas to greatly reduce itching and provides a minimum barrier over the infected areas.
- If the itching can’t be brought under control using the above measures, oral antihistamines are available that can control the allergic reactions such as swelling and itching.