It can be difficult to distinguish bed bug bites from other insect bites or rashes. In general, the sites of bed bug bites usually are:
1. Red, often with a darker red spot in the middle
3. Arranged in a rough line or in a cluster
4. Located on the face, neck, arms and hands. Some people have no reaction to bed bug bites, while others experience an allergic reaction that can include severe itching, blisters or hives.
At-Home and OTC Treatments for Bed Bugs
For the bed bug bites themselves, there are a few steps you can take to soothe the itch and prevent them from becoming infected:
1. Don’t scratch them. Scratching can cause them to be inflamed and you run the risk of an infection and can sometimes leave a dark mark on skin that you might not want there.
2. Use ice packs several times a day to soothe the bites and help take the itchy sensation away.
3. Moisturize the affected skin. Moisturizing can have a cooling effect, which also should help cut down on itching.
4. Use over-the counter topical creams or products that can help address itching. These can include products with:
— Calamine lotion.
— Colloidal oatmeal.
— Hydrocortisone 1%.
— Lanolin, but not if you’re allergic to it.
— Sarna, a cream that contains camphor and menthol in its original formula.
These products work best when applied to damp skin. Usually, the bites will go away after a week or two.
When to See a Doctor for Bed Bug Bites
Most bed bug bites require no medical treatment. Talk to your doctor if you experience an allergic reaction to the bites or if you develop swollen red skin with hives, they are oozing puss or a skin infection after scratching the bites.
Doctors often will use a prescription-strength steroid cream for bug bites or an antibiotic if there’s an infection.