Bed Bugs Bites

Woman's back with bed bug bites
By Aleksey Boyko /

Irritation? Little sores? Itchiness? These are the commonly reported symptoms of bed bug bites.

Bed bugs are tiny little insects that feed on human blood, typically at night. In Australia, they're a not uncommon problem.

Here's everything you need to know about bed bug bites, what they look like, and what to do about them and the little guys that cause them.

What do bed bug bites look like?

Bed bug bites vary in appearance and feel depending on many different factors such as the maturity of the insect, the bitten location and the skin of the person. For example, people with allergies and sensitive skin will have a more severe reaction than others.

In general, all bites from bed bugs will cause some level of discomfort. They will usually itch and become inflamed and, in some cases, be the source of a burning sensation.

Let’s take a closer look at them.

What do bed bug bites look like on humans?

If you're wondering what bed bug bites look like on skin, it's essential to know that there is quite a high degree of variation. These bites can look like:

  • Raised, irritated bumps with a clear centre;
  • Red and irritated bumps with a dark centre and a lighter surround that may be swollen;
  • Small red bumps in a line or zigzag;
  • Small red bumps accompanied by hives or blisters;
  • Raised or flat patches of inflamed skin.

Where do bed bugs bite?

One of the best ways to know if you have bed bug bites as opposed to some other insect is the location of the bites.
Bed bugs will attack any areas of skin that are exposed while you are sleeping, while many other insects will have preferred spots. This means that the most common places to find bed bug bites are the following:

  • Face and neck;
  • Shoulders, arms, and hands;
  • Legs.

How to know if you have bed bug bites

In addition to the signs of bed bug bites themselves, there are other things you may notice that can tell you whether you have a bed bug problem.

  • Small spots or smears of blood on your bedding (from tiny bites);
  • Bed bug droppings (unpleasant reddish smears also look a little like dried blood, only a little darker);
  • Bed bug skins that are shed as they grow (these are white or transparent in appearance).

What do bed bug bites look like on pets?

It can be difficult to spot bed bug bites on pets because of their fur. But it is worth checking for bites when you notice your pet showing:

  • Changed behaviour – if you see your pet biting, scratching, or licking itself and generally appearing quite irritated, that's a good sign of some insect troubles. Often, these will be either bed bugs or fleas.
  • Visible signs in bedding – much like an infested human's bed, look for signs of dried blood, smears of blood from bites or the slightly darker bed bug droppings around your pet's bed.

Less common reactions to bed bug bites

Though these are not commonly reported symptoms associated with bed bug bites in Australia, it is worth noting that in some rare cases, it is possible to develop much worse reactions to a bite than irritation. If you are hypersensitive to this kind of bite, you can have an allergic reaction which might include:

  • Blisters;
  • Nausea;
  • Fever;
  • Breathing difficulties;
  • An irregular heartbeat.

Most people experience this reaction to bites immediately or over the course of the following day. The symptoms usually desist within a week, but it's essential to seek out medical advice as soon as you notice them.

How to tell a bed bug bite from other bites

If you're wondering how to identify bed bug bites and distinguish them from the bites of other insects, there are a few things you can do to tell them apart. The first has to do with the location of the bites, while the second is related to their appearance.

Flea bites vs bed bugs

You will generally find flea bites on your lower legs or ankles or occasionally in the bend of your knees or elbows. This can help you tell whether you have flea bites or bed bugs, as the latter will happily bite any part of you that is exposed while in bed.

Flea bites also tend to look more like mosquito bites than those of bed bugs. This means they are pink with a dark red centre and will usually swell within an hour or so of the bite taking place. However, similar to bed bug bites, flea bites can be very itchy and grouped into lines or clusters.

Read more: Flea Bites VS Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs or mosquito bites

Mosquitoes have the ability to bite through clothing. This distinguishes them from bed bug bites, which are only found in areas of exposed skin.

Another key difference between mosquito bites and bed bugs is that those of mosquitoes tend to be singular or in no fixed pattern, while bed bugs are often clustered or formed into a line.

In appearance, mosquito bites look red and raised. They're usually small but can be larger or even blister if your reaction to the bite is particularly severe.

Sandfly bites vs bed bugs

Sandflies (or “midges”) are mostly a problem for non-local people, and tourists as ongoing exposure to them usually renders someone immune.

Sandfly bites appear small and usually inflamed, often becoming blisters or weepy. They can also stick around for several days or even a week or more. Their natural habitat is pools of running water, so if you find some bites after being close to one, the chances are that they come from a sandfly and not a bed bug.

Dust mite bites vs bed bugs bites

Dust mite bites are fairly easy to tell apart from the other bites listed here due to the simple reason that they don't actually leave bites behind. They are too small for that, so you're more likely to develop reactions such as a skin rash, sneezing or a runny nose rather than bites.

What to do about bed bugs bites

There are several vital steps you need to take when dealing with bed bug bites when you need to figure out what to do about bed bug bites – treat them, prevent them from reoccurring, and exterminate the pests themselves.

Bed bug bite treatment

There isn't really any official bed bug bite treatment besides cleaning the wound as soon as you notice it. Use an antibacterial soap with lukewarm water and gently wash the bitten area This usually is enough to make the bites fade away over the next week or two at the most.

If you are really struggling with the itching, you might want to buy an antihistamine or anti-itch cream from your local pharmacist.

Consult your doctor if your bites swell up, become inflamed, or the itchiness is severe and does not go away. They will know how to treat bed bug bites without the risk of irritating the skin further.

Preventing bed bug bites

Treating bed bug bites is important, but it’s even more essential to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here is what you can do:

  • Clean all bedroom fabric – Wash all your bedding, curtains, clothes, and more in hot water and dry them in a tumble dryer on the hottest setting, if the material allows it. Any other fabric items, such as stuffed toys or shoes, should also receive the hot dryer treatment if they can't be washed.
  • Kill the eggs – Bed bugs lay their eggs in the seams of mattresses. Get a brush and scrub the seams before using a vacuum to remove them. Repeat this process regularly and make sure to empty the vacuum cleaner outside after each time.
  • Protect your bed – Get a mattress cover to protect your bed and make sure it zips up on all sides. Annoyingly, bed bugs can live for up to a year even if they can't feed. This means those protections need to stay in place unless you get them professionally exterminated.
  • Clear the area – Remove all mess or clutter around your bed, so the bed bugs have nowhere to hide. If you have any peeling wallpaper or cracks in your wall plaster, glue them down and fill them to prevent bed bugs from hiding there.
    Consider replacing your mattress – In many cases, it can be worth replacing your mattress if it's infested. Just be sure that all of the insects are eliminated before your new mattress arrives. Otherwise, the problem will persist.

Getting rid of the bed bugs

Bed bug infestations are no joke. These bloodsucking insects spread incredibly fast, which makes them very hard to get rid of. And if you try DIY bed bug elimination methods, chances are you won’t be able to kill them completely.

The safest way to go about this is by calling a professional pest control company. The experts will be able to assess the situation and choose the best possible treatment for your property, using eco-friendly and child-safe products.

Have you noticed bed bug bites on you or signs of these annoying pests around your home? Fantastic Services delivers guaranteed bed bug removal for both domestic and commercial properties. The certified exterminators will arrive promptly and fully equipped to deal with your bed bug problems for good.


  • Bed bug bites can vary in appearance but usually look small, red, and raised;
  • There are several signs of bed bugs – including shed skins, blood smears, and droppings – that can support signs of bites even if you can't see the bugs;
  • You can tell bed bug bites apart from the bites of other insects by checking their appearance and the part of your body they're on;
  • Treatment for bed bug bites is often simple, but preventing them from reoccurring can be challenging;
  • The only solution to ensure complete removal is a professional bed bug extermination service.

Don’t risk your health, and book a pest control inspection today!

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