Why Do Bed Bug Bites Itch?

Originally posted on May 25, 2023 @ 4:37 am

Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood while you are sleeping. Their bites can be irritating and uncomfortable, causing redness, swelling, and itching. In this essay, we will explore the reasons behind the itchiness of bed bug bites.

Understanding Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small, brownish insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. They are flat and oval-shaped, and their bodies swell after a meal. Bed bugs are nocturnal and prefer to feed on their hosts at night, which makes them difficult to detect. They can live anywhere from a few months to a year or more, depending on the environmental conditions.

Life Cycle of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs go through several stages of development, from eggs to adults. The eggs hatch into nymphs, which then molt several times before becoming adults. Bed bugs need blood to molt and reproduce, so they must feed on their hosts at each stage of development.

Identifying Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites are often mistaken for other insect bites or rashes, making them difficult to diagnose. They are usually small, red, and itchy, and may appear in a line or cluster on the skin. Bed bug bites can take several days to appear, and some people may not react to them at all.

One key takeaway from this text is that bed bugs can be difficult to identify and diagnose, and their bites can be very itchy due to the histamine reaction caused by the saliva injected into the skin. Scratching the bites can make them worse and even lead to infection, so it’s important to avoid scratching and seek treatment if necessary. Prevention is also key, including inspecting hotel rooms for signs of infestation and keeping homes clean and clutter-free.

Histamine Reaction

When a bed bug bites, it injects saliva into the skin to prevent blood from clotting. The saliva contains proteins that can trigger an immune response in some people. The body releases histamine, a chemical that causes inflammation and itching. The more histamine that is released, the more severe the reaction.

Sensitivity to Bed Bug Bites

Some people are more sensitive to bed bug bites than others. People who have had previous exposure to bed bugs may develop a stronger immune response, making their reactions more severe. Additionally, people with allergies or asthma may be more susceptible to bed bug bites.


Scratching bed bug bites can make them itch more and increase the risk of infection. It can also cause scarring and discoloration of the skin. To relieve itching, apply a cold compress or take an antihistamine. Avoid scratching the bites, and keep the affected area clean and dry.

Prevention and Treatment

Preventing Bed Bugs

The best way to prevent bed bug bites is to avoid exposure to bed bugs. When traveling, inspect hotel rooms for signs of infestation, such as blood spots on the sheets or mattress. Use a protective cover on your mattress and box spring to prevent bed bugs from hiding in the crevices. Keep your home clean and clutter-free, and vacuum regularly to remove any bed bugs or eggs.

Treating Bed Bug Bites

Most bed bug bites will heal on their own within a few days to a week. To relieve itching, apply a cold compress or take an antihistamine. Over-the-counter creams and ointments can also be used to reduce inflammation and itching. If the bites become infected, seek medical attention.

FAQs – Why Do Bed Bug Bites Itch?

What causes bed bug bites to itch?

The itchiness that comes with bed bug bites is caused by the insect’s saliva. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anticoagulant and an anesthetic into the skin. The anesthetic numbs the area around the bite, making it less likely to be noticed. The anticoagulant, on the other hand, keeps the blood from clotting. The insect then feeds on the host’s blood. The body reacts to the saliva by releasing histamine, which causes swelling, redness, and itching.

How long does it take for bed bug bites to start itching?

Bed bug bites can start itching right away or some days later. A person who is allergic to bed bug saliva may have a reaction that starts within an hour or two. But, for most people, the itchiness starts after a few days. The severity of the itching depends on the individual’s sensitivity and the number of bites they have received.

Can bed bug bites cause infection?

While bed bug bites typically do not result in infection, scratching the bites can increase the risk of infection. Overly scratching the bite can break the skin, making it more susceptible to bacterial infections. To reduce the risk of infection, try to avoid scratching the bites. Applying an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or taking an antihistamine can help to relieve the itchiness.

Are bed bug bites dangerous?

Bed bug bites are not dangerous, but they can be uncomfortable and itchy. While bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases, scratching the bites can increase the risk of infection. If you are experiencing an allergic reaction to bed bug bites or are finding it difficult to resist scratching, it is best to seek medical attention.

How can I prevent bed bug bites?

The best way to prevent bed bug bites is to deter bed bugs from entering your home. Bed bugs can enter homes on used furniture, clothing, or other belongings. Inspecting new and used items for bed bugs before bringing them into the home can help to prevent an infestation. If you think you have an infestation, it is best to contact a professional pest control service to help you get rid of them. You can also use mattress and box spring encasements to help prevent bed bugs from accessing your bed.