How Long Do Bed Bug Bites Last: Your Quick Guide to Recovery

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Bed bug bites can be a bothersome experience for many people.

These small, parasitic insects feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep, leaving behind itchy red marks on the skin.

Bed bug bites may appear in a line or cluster, and the intensity of the itchiness can vary based on an individual’s sensitivity to the bites.

The duration of bed bug bites typically depends on factors such as the person’s skin type, their immune system, and the environment.

In general, bed bug bites may last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

How Long Do Bed Bug Bites Last
Bed Bug

It is essential to avoid scratching the affected areas to prevent potential infection and prolong the healing process.

It may be helpful to apply soothing remedies such as calamine lotion or aloe vera gel to the bites, as these can provide relief from itchiness and promote faster healing.

Keep in mind that while bed bugs can be a nuisance, they do not transmit diseases.

However, it is essential to address a bed bug infestation promptly to prevent further bites and the potential spread of the insects.

Identifying Bed Bug Bites

Appearance and Symptoms

Bed bug bites typically appear as small, red, and itchy bumps on the skin.

They tend to affect exposed areas like the face, neck, arms, and legs. People often experience a range of symptoms, including:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Burning sensation
  • Itchiness

In some cases, individuals might develop blisters, hives, or even infections from excessive scratching.

The bite marks can appear randomly or in a straight line.

Children may experience more severe reactions, including extensive hives or large, dark spots. Some people may not react at all, showing no visible signs.

Bed Bug

Comparison to Other Insect Bites

Comparing bed bug bites to other common insect bites can help determine the culprit.

Bed bug bites are often mistaken for other insect bites, such as fleas and mosquitoes, due to their similar appearance.

However, flea bites tend to appear in clusters or zigzag patterns, while mosquito bites are more random and raise the skin more prominently.

Understanding the differences in appearance and symptoms can help with proper identification and treatment of bed bug bites.

Remember to keep the affected area clean and avoid scratching to prevent infection and aid in the healing process.

Here is a summary comparison table:

Bed BugSmall red bump or weltRandom or straight lineItchy, redness, swelling
FleaRed bump with a haloClustered or zigzag patternItchy, inflammation, sometimes hives
MosquitoRaised, white or red bumpRandomItchy, mild swelling, redness

How Long do Bed Bug Bites Last?

Factors Affecting Bite Duration

There are several factors that can impact how long bed bug bites last, such as:

  • Skin sensitivity: Some people may experience mild symptoms, while others may have stronger reactions.
  • Allergic reaction: Those with allergies to bed bug bites may experience more severe and longer-lasting symptoms.

In general, bed bug bites can last from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the person’s reaction and how effectively they manage the symptoms.

Bed Bug

When to Seek Medical Attention

It is important to know when to seek medical attention for bed bug bites in case of complications, such as:

  • Anaphylaxis: Severe allergic reaction causing difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, and swelling of the face and throat.
  • Infection: Excessive scratching may break the skin and introduce bacteria, causing infection.

Some common remedies for bed bug bites include over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl and applying a cold compress to soothe the itching and swelling.

Treating Bed Bug Bites

Home Remedies

  • Soap and water: Gently washing the affected area with mild soap and water can help relieve itching and prevent infection.
  • Cold compress: Applying a cold compress to the bites can help reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort.
  • Baking soda paste: Mixing baking soda with water to create a paste and applying it to the bites may help reduce inflammation and itching.

It’s essential to avoid scratching the bites, as this can lead to further skin damage and increase the risk of infection.

Over-The-Counter Options

There are several over-the-counter treatment options available for bed bug bites:

  • Antihistamines: These medications, such as Benadryl, can help reduce itching and inflammation.
  • Anesthetic creams: Topical anesthetic creams that contain pramoxine or benzocaine can help numb the skin and relieve itching.
  • Steroid creams: Using a hydrocortisone cream can help alleviate itching and reduce inflammation.

As with home remedies, it’s essential to avoid scratching the bites when using over-the-counter treatments.

Professional Treatments

In some cases, bed bug bites may require more advanced treatments, especially if symptoms become severe or an infection develops.

Examples of professional treatments include:

  • Prescription-strength antihistamines: For persistent or severe itching, a doctor may prescribe a stronger antihistamine.
  • Oral steroids: In cases of severe inflammation and hives, a doctor might prescribe a course of oral steroids to reduce swelling.
  • Antibiotics: If an infection develops, a medical professional may prescribe antibiotics to treat it.

In addition to treating the bites themselves, it’s essential to address the bed bug infestation.

This may involve thoroughly inspecting mattress seams, seeking the help of a professional exterminator, or following guidelines from reputable sources like the Mayo Clinic.

Bed Bug


Bed bug bites can be a distressing experience, often manifesting as itchy red marks on the skin. These bites may appear in lines or clusters, with the itchiness varying based on individual sensitivity.

Typically, the duration of bed bug bites ranges from a few days to a couple of weeks, influenced by factors like skin type, immune response, and environmental conditions.

To alleviate symptoms, remedies such as calamine lotion, aloe vera gel, and over-the-counter antihistamines can be beneficial.

It’s vital to avoid scratching to prevent potential infections and to address any bed bug infestations promptly to prevent further bites.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about bed bugs. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Bed Bug and Bites

Subject: Found it on my pillow
Location: Anaheim, CA
July 27, 2013 12:56 pm
Last night (7/26/13) I was getting ready for bed and went to fluff my pillow. Under the pillow I noticed some specks on the mattress that looked almost like lint. And then a bug crawled out from under the pillow.

I caught it and tossed it in a ziploc bag. I did squish it and blood came out. For the past few weeks I have been finding unexplained bites all over my arms and back. I have nee outside a lot and attributed the bites to mosquitoes. Now I am wondering, is this a bed bug?
Signature: Sarah Beth

Bed Bug
Bed Bug

Dear Sarah,
Most requests we get to identify alleged Bed Bugs are for Carpet Beetles or other creatures.  Sadly, this is not the case for you. 

This is certainly a Bed Bug and based on the number of bites you have, we fear it is not alone in your bed.  You should seek professional assistance with this situation.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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