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How Do You Get Rid of Bed Bug Bites Fast?

Reviewed on 9/2/2020

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bedbugs are good at hiding in crevices and immune to many pesticides. Removal of an infestation involves heat, steam, oxygen deprivation and potentially discarding infested mattresses and furniture.
Bedbugs are good at hiding in crevices and immune to many pesticides. Removal of an infestation involves heat, steam, oxygen deprivation and potentially discarding infested mattresses and furniture.

The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) does not transmit or spread disease but they are considered a public health pest. Bed bugs are small, brown, oval-shaped insects that feed on blood and their bites cause itching and irritation in humans. 

Bed bugs typically enter a home undetected through luggage, clothing, used furniture such as beds and couches, and other household items. They tend to live in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards, and bite people during the night.

What Are Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites?

Symptoms of bed bug bites include: 

  • Red, itchy bite marks on the face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, or other body parts that occur while sleeping. 
  • Because bed bugs feed at night, their bites are usually not felt or noticed until redness and itching occur. 
  • Bite marks may take up to 14 days to develop so other signs to look for include:
    • Bed bugs in the folds of mattresses and sheets
    • Bed bug exoskeletons after molting
    • Rust–colored blood spots on mattresses or furniture
    • A musty odor

What Causes Bed Bug Infestations?

Bed bugs are small and can easily hide, and they are often carried from place to place during travel. They can be problematic in hotels, dorm rooms, and other kinds of temporary residences.

Bed bugs hide in the seams of luggage, in overnight bags, folded clothing, couches and other furniture, bedding, and many other hiding places.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Adult bed bugs are small, about the size of an apple seed with a flat, oval-shaped body that becomes more extended and balloon-like after feeding. They are brownish in color before feeding and reddish-brown after feeding. Bed bugs have a beak, antenna, wings that are not used for flying, and short golden hairs. They produce a smelly, musty odor. 

Young bed bugs (nymphs) are smaller and translucent or white to yellow in color. If they have not fed recently, they can be nearly invisible to the naked eye. 

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How Can You Tell If Your Home or Car Has Bed Bugs?

Signs of bed bugs in the home include:

  • Bites on your skin
  • Small blood spots on the sheets or pajamas
  • Unusual musty odor 
  • Presence of shed insect shells (exoskeletons) 
  • Fecal stains (appear as black-ish spots) on areas where the bugs live 

Adult bed bugs can be seen with the naked eye. Check common spots where they may infest, such as: 

  • Mattress seams
  • Baseboards
  • Headboards
  • Loose wallpaper or paneling
  • Bedside tables
  • Couch crevices 

In the car, check the same way you would in the home, and see if you can spot any dark spots or blood stains, or insect shells. First remove all trash and clutter where bed bugs may hide. Check:

  • The seams of the seats
  • Under the seats
  • In the glove compartment
  • Under the floor mats

How Do You Get Rid of Bed Bug Bites Fast?

Unfortunately, you cannot get rid of bed bugs fast. Treating bed bugs is complex and it can take weeks to months to completely eliminate them from the home. Depending on the extent of the infestation a pest management professional may need to take care of the problem. 

Treating bed bugs is complicated and the chance of success depends on many factors, such as: 

  • The extent of the bed bug infestation
  • How cluttered the home is (bed bugs hide in clutter)
  • Whether the neighbors have bedbugs
  • If everyone in the house or building participates in the treatment

Non-chemical methods that kill bed bugs may be helpful in some situations, but they may not entirely rid your infestation. 

Heat

  • Put clothing and bedding in a clothes dryer on high heat.
  • Place infested items in a black plastic bag in a closed, hot car in the sun (dependent on climate).

Cold

  • Place infested items in a sealed bag in a freezer set to zero degrees F and leave the items in the sealed bag in at that temperature for four days.

Steam cleaners

  • These can be used to get into cracks and fabrics to treat carpets, baseboards, mattresses, headboards, bed frames, and other furniture. 
  • The steam temperature must be at least 130 degrees F, but there should not be a forceful airflow which may cause bed bugs to scatter.  

Chemical methods include pesticides

 

Use only EPA-registered pesticides that have bed bugs listed on the label. 

Use foggers (bug bombs) with extreme caution and only if bed bugs are listed on the label. 

If used improperly foggers can be harmful to your health or cause a fire or explosion. 

If used, foggers should not be the only method to control a bed bug infestation as the spray does not reach cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide.  

 

To get rid of bed bugs in a car: 

 

Remove all floor mats, rugs and seat covers, shampoo thoroughly and leave them out in the sun to dry.

Vacuum the entire car thoroughly. 

Pay attention to cracks, crevices and dark places where bed bugs hide. 

A powerful HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) model may be more effective.

Steam clean the car’s interior or have it professionally done.


After treating the home or car, check areas for evidence of bedbugs. Retreatment may be needed.
 

How to Prevent Bed Bug Infestations

To prevent bed bug infestation:

  • Inspect mattresses in hotel rooms for bed bugs before using
  • If you buy used furniture, check all used beds, couches, and furniture for signs of bed bug infestation before bringing them home
  • Use protective covers on mattresses and box springs to eliminate bed bug hiding places
  • Keep the home clean and eliminate clutter so bed bugs have fewer places to hide
  • Vacuum frequently 
  • Use care in shared laundry facilities. 
    • Bring items to be washed in plastic bags, and if you have an active infestation use a new bag for the clean clothing when done. 
    • Use the dryer on high heat to kill bed bugs. 
  • If you live in a multi-family home, keep your unit isolated by installing door sweeps and sealing all cracks and crevices

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Reviewed on 9/2/2020
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