Bed Bug Bites (How I Survived It) And Other Gross Facts

Our winter vacation was something the whole family had been looking forward to for months – two whole weeks of skiing in Colorado! The kids, Elaine, Todd and Stevie as well as John and I were all having so much fun that we never really noticed the bites initially. On our last day at the resort, Todd showed me a whole row of red dots on his skin that he said itched horribly, but we were packing and getting ready to leave so I’m afraid I didn’t pay the attention I should have.

Of course we bought some souvenirs while we were there: some cute animals on skis and some hats with the resort name on them. Unfortunately, we never knew that we were bringing home some very unwanted and disgusting souvenirs without knowing it.

Everything settled down like always after we came home, the kids went back to school and John and I returned to work. However, after a couple of weeks, the mysterious bites started again. At first we had no idea what was causing all these bites on us, not only did they look ugly, but they itched like crazy. I also noticed some brownish spots on the sheets and pillows that I couldn’t explain.

Bed Bug Bites

We thought mosquitoes might be biting us, or maybe fleas. John came home one day with bug spray and we sprayed around the beds, thinking that we’d solved the problem. The next morning, I swear we had more bites than ever – whatever was biting us seemed to regard the spray as a garnish.

Finally, I took Stevie to the doctor; as he had developed a terrible rash on his arm. When the doctor told me he had bed bug bites, I was speechless. We’d never had anything like this in the house, and I keep a pretty tight ship. Our doctor asked if we’d been away from home and I told him about our vacation, and it was then that I remembered the bites we’d gotten at the resort. The doctor said we’d probably brought some stowaways home with us, and that they’d established themselves in safe nooks and crannies in the house.

Bed BugsHe gave me some cream for Stevie and anyone else who needed it and told me to get in touch with our local health department. I called as soon as I got home with Stevie and they had plenty of information for me. The first thing I found out was that typical ‘bug sprays’ will do nothing against bed bugs, and that they are now immune from most of the pesticides used against them. The folks at the department told me where to look for cast off bed bug skins and now I understood what those brown spots on the bedding were.

I followed the advice of the health department people and called some exterminators. I asked a lot of questions and finally settled on a pest control company that would come and heat up our home enough to kill off the bed bugs. It seems that high heat is the only thing that really kills these little vampires, and there aren’t any chemicals left behind, either. Since the house was treated, we haven’t been bitten again, but you can be sure that we’ll be very careful the next time we go on vacation.

Click here to get FREE quotes for a qualified bed bug exterminator in your local area.

Bed Bugs Bites FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)

I know I had a lot of questions about bed bugs especially after been bitten by them, so I’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions about bed bug bites that might help anyone out there who may be victimized by these tiny bloodsuckers.

  1. How do you know if you have been bitten by bed bugs?
  2. How to tell if bed bugs are in my bed?
  3. How long does it take for bed bug bites to show?
  4. What other bugs make bites that look like bed bug bites?
  5. Are bed bug bites dangerous? Do they transmit disease?
  6. If a bed bug bites someone who is HIV positive and then bites me, could I get HIV?
  7. Do bed bug bites cause a spreading rash?
  8. How can I stop bed bug bites from itching and swelling?
  9. Can wearing pantyhose while sleeping prevent bed bug bites?
  10. Does alcohol help bed bug bites go away?
  11. What natural remedy works best on bed bug bites?
  12. Is there something I can put on my skin to prevent bed bug bites?
  13. How long does it take bed bug bites to heal?
  14. Do bed bug bites leave a scar? If so, what kind of cream should I use to fade the scar?
  15. Bed bug bites from a hotel; what are the chances I can bring them home with me?
  16. Can people sue hotels over bed bug bites?
  17. Bitten by bed bugs at home. How do I prevent more bed bug bites from occurring?
  18. If someone has bed bug bites, can they pass them from hugging or close contact? If yes, what should I do to prevent it?


1. How do you know if you have been bitten by bed bugs?

Since bed bug bites leave red, itchy, highly visible welts on your skin, usually in groups or rows of three or more, there is little doubt when you’ve been bitten.

Red Itchy Welts On Arm

2. How to tell if bed bugs are in my bed?

Bed bugs often live nearby rather than in your bed – in an electric wall socket, behind loose wallpaper, in a crack or behind baseboards. Sometimes they do lurk in a mattress seam – look for the bugs itself, plus droppings (red-brown stains) and shed skins.

3. How long does it take for bed bug bites to show?

Most bites appear within two to three hours after been bitten, but sometimes don’t show up for several days or even two weeks, depending on the individual.

4. What other bugs make bites that look like bed bug bites?

Spider bites can be any size, but usually appear alone. Flea bites are concentrated on the legs, where bed bugs can bite any where on the body when the skin is exposed during sleep particularly on the arms, neck, face as well as on the legs. Mosquito bites appear one at a time and last an hour or less. Some symptoms of bed bug bites can be similar to a mosquito bite, but they are somewhat smaller, last longer, and come in groups or lines; they also continue to itch for days and sometimes weeks.

5. Are bed bug bites dangerous? Do they transmit disease?

Though disgusting, there are no medical evidence to proof that bed bug bites transmit diseases from person to person. They can cause an allergic reaction, though.

6. If a bed bug bites someone who is HIV positive and then bites me, could I get HIV?

No, you can’t catch HIV from bed bugs. A hepatitis outbreak in Gambia and independent laboratory research proved that bed bugs can’t transmit infectious viruses. Isn’t this a relief?

7. Do bed bug bites cause a spreading rash?

To some degree, yes. Bed bugs inject anesthetic when they bite you. This causes a rashy allergic reaction sometimes. People also give themselves skin infection by scratching the extremely itchy bites hard enough to break the skin. If the rash spreads, visit a doctor; you may need an antibiotic cream for a mild infection.

8. How can I stop bed bug bites from itching and swelling?

Applying calamine lotion to bed bug bites can help soothe away the itching and swelling. Alternately, try cortisone cream or a paste of wet baking soda (also good for wasp stings). Use a cold pack for extra relief.

9. Can wearing pantyhose while sleeping prevent bed bug bites?

Technically, no. Bed bugs bite any exposed skin anywhere – arms, hands, neck, face, and so on. You can’t cover your skin everywhere 24 hours daily. If you want to prevent being bitten by bed bugs, the only solution is to exterminate them.

10. Does alcohol help bed bug bites go away?

Yes, rubbing alcohol can help relief bed bug bites. The alcohol dries the bites, and plus helps sterilize the area, lessening the chance of infection. Don’t use rubbing alcohol near your eyes or your mouth. Note that rubbing alcohol does not repel bed bugs.

11. What natural remedy works best on bed bug bites?

If you want to try natural ways to help soothe your bed bug bites, St. John’s wort, witch hazel, oatmeal soaks, or lemon juice are recommended.

12. Is there something I can put on my skin to prevent bed bug bites?

No, many people have claimed fail-safe bed bug repellents, but there’s no scientific evidence these work. Insecticides used as repellents can poison you, while essential oils like tea tree oil are also hazardous, and do nothing.

13. How long does it take bed bug bites to heal?

Bed bug bites last longer than mosquito bites, but they usually go down in a few days if no new bites appear. They may take two weeks if you’re sensitive to them.

14. Do bed bug bites leave a scar? If so, what kind of cream should I use to fade the scar?

Most of the time, bed bug bites go down without leaving a scar. Injuries that you inflict by scratching at them can leave scars on your skin, however. There are some ways to deal with bite scars:

  • Chemical peels take off skin and possibly scar tissue
  • Silicone scar sheets help
  • Prescription scar creams have a stronger effect
  • As a last resort, use laser treatment (costly but effective)

15. Bed bug bites from a hotel; what are the chances I can bring them home with me?

If you aren’t careful, you can easily bring bed bugs home from an infested hotel. Bed bugs were reintroduced to the U.S. by travelers, in fact, and in many cities, the worst infestations are in hotels. Try the below tricks to prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking home with you.

  • Put luggage on a folding rack or in the bathtub
  • Keep most clothes inside your luggage zip-locked or sealed in a trash bag
  • Back home, isolate clothing inside trash bags until washed, with a long dryer cycle

16. Can people sue hotels over bed bug bites?

Yes, people can sue hotels for being bitten by bed bugs, and some have actually won settlements of $300,000. Success is not guaranteed, however.

17. Bitten by bed bugs at home. How do I prevent more bed bug bites from occurring?

Don’t try to wipe out the infestation yourself if you are not sure or have never dealt with bed bugs – instead hire a professional exterminator who uses specialized chemicals or thermal treatment to do the job. These people may use bed bug detection dogs to check for residual infestations, too.

18. If someone has bed bug bites, can they pass them from hugging or close contact? If yes, what should I do to prevent it?

Bed bugs aren’t external parasites like lice or fleas, and don’t spend much time hanging out on people other than a quick foray to bite followed by an equally quick retreat to their favorite crack in the wall. Bed bugs don’t remain on their victim like fleas or ticks. Most bed bug infestations come from luggage or second hand furniture. So, hug away, shake hands, dance a waltz with them if you feel like it – people bitten by bed bugs aren’t infectious.

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Comments

  1. Heather says

    Yuck! I have the creepy crawly feeling all over my skin now after reading about this! Thankfully, I’ve never had to deal with bed bugs. (Knock on wood). But I remember reading about the super bed bugs in the news a little while ago. The super bugs were in hotels up and down the east coast and being spread to other parts of the country. It was really difficult for people to get rid of them. It’s really sad actually. Those people suffered from the bites, had to sterilize their clothing and their homes. It was so bad that bed bug extermination companies started popping up all over the place. I believe that has calmed down now. But I know where to return to if I ever have to deal with them myself…this blog post!

  2. Brandon Martin says

    I’ve been bitten by bed bugs at a hotel. I never even considered how easy it might be to bring them home with me until I read this blog post. From now on out, I’m keeping my luggage on a folding stand away from the bed… and, maybe, jumping in the washing machine with my luggage before venturing back inside my house.

  3. Shavon says

    OMG! Really needed this ! Thank you so much , I recently dated with my boyfriend for a week and the first two days I was fine and then I started waking up with bites and at first we thought that the dog out fleas on the bed cause she’s always itching . So his aunt suggested we check the bed for bed bugs, come to find out it’s bed bugs and they’ve been biting the dog as well ! So now we have to shave the dog and we had to get rid of his mattress, clothes blankets alot of stuff . It sucked cause he never got bite but I have the bites all over my body . I should go to the doctors I guess

  4. Dawn says

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. My family and I took a trip to North Carolina in July. We discovered bed bugs in the condo we rented on our 4th day. The bug guy who came to assess the situation said it was an infestation of about 2-3 months based on what he found. We were relieved to find a place to move to mid-week. We also felt REALLY lucky that we discovered the problem while we were there so we could take steps to keep them out of our home. We spent the rest of our trip doing laundry, steaming shoes and other belongings, and actually threw away our luggage and some of our kids toys just to be on the safe side. Two weeks later, I’m hoping if was enough to keep bed bugs out of our home. Time will tell.
    It helps to know of others who have had their vacation derailed by bed bugs and lived to tell about it. I wish there was a way for travelers to share experiences and warn others of places that have a history of bed bugs.

    PS We live in Colorado. Wondering what resort you were visiting?

  5. Jen says

    Sad part. I never delt with bed bugs till i moved to live with my bio mom. They have been suffering for 12 years. I moved in last year. Im being bitten at all hours of the day. No joke. I killed three a few mins ago. My legs itch like mad. Sleeping is hard for me because of them.

  6. Julie says

    So I spent the night at my sisters house and I slept on her bed. And I woke up with a few bumps on my arms. They didn’t start to itch until about an hour later. They seem to have appeared on my arms, hands, legs, feet, and on my eyebrow and cheek. Im having a really tough time sleeping and ive tried rubbing down the bites with alcohol. I really cant stand the swelling and itchyness, and school starts next week. :/ any ideas on how to get rid of the itchyness and make them go away quicker?

  7. francis says

    Thanks for the info! I had a really bad experience with these bed bugs from pagoda hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii. Got bites all over my body! I have such a hard time sleeping at night, reaching for things in my pockets, and walking! Somehow, they bit all under my feet so it’s painful to walk and all over my hands so it’s painful to rub against my pockets. Most of the bites are on my feet, knees, hands, arms, back, and neck. I made a complaint through email and got no response from the hotel. I didn’t ask for anything, but for them to do something about it because it’s a really painful, itchy and embarrassing experience. Hopefully laws make hotels do thorough extermination whenever people complain so the next person(s) doesn’t have to experience what I’m going through right now. I know it’s impossible to control, but I really wish there was a solution. Most of my bites turned into blisters, maybe because I’m allergic? Oh well, I just hope the next people that stay in my room don’t have to suffer like how I am and the hotel responds to my email soon to take care of the situation. Thanks for reading!

  8. Sue says

    Went on my annual Gatlinburg Tennesse Mountain trip and came home covered with bed bug bites. I went to the dermatologist got a steroid shot and prescription to put on the bites. Hired a bed bug sniffing dog for $200.00 and yes he alerted in 3 spots in my house. Hired the exterminators to heat my house cost over $1,400.00. Bought aller-zip bed bug encasements for my mattress, pillows and box springs. Bought blackout interception barriers for my bed frame legs. No more bites! The hotel said they would refund half of my money but it’s been 6 weeks and no refund. I was highly allergic to the bites. My bites swelled, blistered, seeped, oozed, and itched like crazy, absolute misery. I tried every remedy posted on the web and the only thing that helped me was a very hot shower with soapy wash cloth followed by a cold rinse. The hot hair dryer remedy helped me so so much for the itch! Yes hot heat, be careful. I held it close to the skin and then pulled it away when it got to hot and then back over the bite again. You feel immediate relief from the itch and the relief lasts for quite a while. Alchol on a cotton ball burns but it does have a cooling effect and helps dry the bites. That’s my story….

  9. Robert says

    I’m loosing so much sleep because of these things, how do I convince my parents I have bed bug bites, because they dont believe me. I am the only one getting marks, although not quite as bad as the ones in that picture above.

  10. Maria says

    I have been researching how to get rid of the bedbugs and the bites, it sounds like extermination is the only solution. How long do this bites last? I am dying here. I am not sure if I can afford another night this way. Yes, it also seems that I am getting bitten all day not just at night. Is that true? or is it my imagination? I am so full of this bites. It has been about two days since this started. I went on a holiday over a week ago, is it possible that I brought them and it took them a week to come to bite me? or what else can it be?

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