Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites can be extremely annoying!  They’re also often the first sign of an infestation. Here you’ll find bite photos, learn about common symptoms and get treatment tips – including what really stops the itch!

The fact is, bed bugs need to feed on blood to survive, develop into adulthood, and reproduce.

So, here's what happens when bed bugs bite...

Under cover of darkness (usually) they creep out from their hiding places in search of a meal. Attracted to body heat and the carbon dioxide we exhale, they come in search of exposed skin on which to feast.  

They can't bite through clothing, so you will most often find bed bug marks on the face, neck, and shoulders or on arms and legs that were left uncovered.

It takes anywhere from 3 -10 minutes for an adult bed bug to extract a full blood meal. When it’s done feeding, the little sucker high tails it back to the shadows to digest the meal.

Often the person who was bitten doesn't wake up at all and is completely unaware they were bitten until later when bite symptoms develop.

Note: Bedbugs have a tendency to defecate (poop) right after they finish a blood meal. So they often leave a calling card on you sheets or mattress in the form of fecal stains.  

That's one of the first symptoms of a bed bug infestation

Bite Symptoms

Right about now you may be wondering…If their bites are painless, why am I so itchy?!? The common symptoms people suffer are an allergic reaction to bed bug saliva.  

Symptoms vary from person to person and reactions could be delayed as long as 14 days. Some people don’t react at all - lucky dogs! Others experience itchy red bumps or swollen welts.

Learn more about the range and severity of bedbug bite symptoms...

NOTE:  Some people may think they feel the bites in the moment, but this is most likely an anxiety response to previous bite reactions.  

IMPORTANT NOTE:  While they are a symptom of a bed bug problem, you can’t diagnose the situation by bites alone. Read more about detecting and identifying bed bugs here.

Pictures of Bed Bug Bites

One of the most often asked questions is what do bed bug bites look like?

Frankly, they look like a lot of other insect bites, which is part of why bite symptoms alone are not enough to determine whether it's bed bugs you’re dealing with.  (Learn how to detect bed bugs here)

bed bug bite marks on a woman's faceCredit: Raebrune (CC)

This picture of bite marks on a woman’s face is just one example of what bed bug bites can look like, and a pretty mild reaction at that. See more photos on the bed bug bites page of our picture gallery.

Bite Prevention

The itchy, irritating bites are what make bed bugs such a problem.

After all, if they didn't bite, would people really care so much about them?

There are some practical things you can do to reduce the number of bites you are experiencing, but there are also things that don’t work and will actually make things worse.  

Make sure you know what to do and what not to do! Learn more here...

Bed Bug Bite Treatment

You should treat bed bug bites much like any other kind of insect bite.

Bed Bug Bite First Aid

Use common sense and OTC (over-the-counter) remedies for best results.

These 5 bite treatment tips  will help you get relief and avoid complications like secondary infections.

You can also watch a video from The Doctors about treating bug bites with home remedies and find a link to even more unconventional ways to stop the itch. 

Learn more on the treatment page.

Bonus Video:

A Bedbug's Bite up close!

This highly informative BBC video covers lots of basic information about bed bugs and their habits as well as shows a bed bug feeding on a researcher's arm. Wanna know exactly how bed bugs bite? This video is a must-see!

This video is shared via our Bed Bug Bites Video Playlist on the Bed Bug Answers Channel on YouTube. You can pause the video at the end or let the whole list of related videos (displayed on other pages of the bedbug bites section of this site) play through. If you want to skip to another video, just click the playlist icon in the upper left corner to see the entire list.

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