Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Bed Bug Bite

Definition

  • Bites from bed bugs

Call or Return If

  • Bite looks infected (redness gets larger after 48 hours)
  • Large red bumps last more than 7 days
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • Usually cause itchy, red bumps in a group or line
  • Often they look like a hive or mosquito bite
  • Bite may have a red dot (puncture) in the center. This is where the bed bug bit through the skin.
  • Occasionally, a small blister can occur in the center
  • Bites are usually on exposed skin (arms, legs and face)
  • Bites are usually first noted in the morning

Diagnosis

  • Live bed bugs hide and are not usually seen. Close inspection of the mattress may find some.
  • They are 1/4 inch (6 mm), flat, oval shaped, reddish-brown bugs.
  • Suspect bed bugs if over 3 red bumps in a row are on exposed skin. The bumps or bites are very itchy.
  • Bed bug waste (feces) are found on bedding or mattress seams. It looks like dark brown flecks or coffee grounds.
  • A blood stain on the sheet may sometimes be found. This is from a bug smashed after feeding.

Cause

  • Bed bugs are small visible blood-sucking bugs. They are about ¼ inch (6 mm) in length.
  • During the day, bed bugs hide in the corners of mattresses. They may also be found in bed crevices, floors, and walls.
  • At night, the bed bugs come out of hiding. They feed on humans for about 5 minutes.

Prevention of Getting Bed Bugs

  • Over half of bed bug infestations within homes start after recent travel.
  • Avoid hotels and hostels where bed bugs have been reported. (see bedbugregistry.com)
  • When you check into a hotel room, look for signs of bed bugs. Look for flecks of their waste (like coffee grounds) in the bedding and mattress. If present, ask for another room.
  • Keep your luggage and clothing on a luggage rack off the floor.
  • When you return from a trip, place all travel clothing into the clothes dryer. Run the dryer for 20 minutes. (Reason: The heat will kill any bed bugs or their eggs that are present). One pregnant bed bug can spread bed bugs to an entire house.

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Bed bug bites cause itchy red bumps.
  • They are usually less than ½ inch (12 mm) in size.
  • Some are larger (like a hive). These are normal reactions to a bed bug.
  • A large hive does not mean your child has an allergy.
  • The redness does not mean the bite is infected.
  • Bed bugs do not carry any infectious diseases.
  • Don't panic: You can get rid of bed bugs from your home.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Steroid Cream for Itching:
  • To reduce the itching, use 1% hydrocortisone cream (no prescription needed).
  • Apply 3 times a day until the itch is gone.
  • If you don't have, apply a baking soda paste until you can get some.
Allergy Medicine For Itching:
  • If the bite is still itchy, try an allergy medicine by mouth.
  • Benadryl is a good one. No prescription is needed.
Try Not to Scratch:
  • Cut the fingernails short.
  • Help your child not to scratch.
  • Reason: Prevent a skin infection at the bite site.
Bed Bug Repellents - Not Helpful:
  • Insect repellents do not keep bed bugs from biting.
  • Repellents containing DEET (used on skin) and permethrin (used on clothing) do not help.
Removing Bed Bugs from Your Home:
  • Getting rid of bed bugs requires a licensed pest control service.
  • Look in the phone book or on the internet under Pest Control.
What to Expect:
  • Any pinkness or redness usually lasts 3 days.
  • The swelling may last 7 days.
  • The itch may last for 2 weeks.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
Article 2646