Bed bugs are parasites. They need to feed on the blood of mammals in order to survive. Their preferred hosts are human beings. In a pinch, the bed bug might feed on other warm-blooded animals. But all things being equal humans remain their primary source of sustenance.
When a bed bug feeds it naturally needs to pierce their victim’s skin. A feeding tube is extended from the insect’s proboscis, piercing their host’s skin. A natural anesthetic in the bed bug’s saliva helps to numb the victim, allowing the parasitic insect to safely feed for up to ten minutes until they’ve had their fill. The resulting bite mark typically presents as a small welt, often appearing in clusters on the victim’s body.
Itch but Don’t Scratch
The good news is bed bugs don’t pose much of a health risk for most people. According to the Centers for Disease Control they don’t carry any transmittable diseases. Beyond the bites marks, mild irritation, and subsequent itching the bite of a bed bug doesn’t really pose much of a threat.
However, the itching and irritation that often accompanies bed bug bites can be hard to ignore. While the bites themselves may not pose a health risk scratching at those bites can lead to trouble. Not only does scratching further irritate the rash it also raises the risk of contracting a secondary infection.
When you continually scratch at a cluster of bed bug bites you run the risk of breaking the skin and transferring bacteria into the wound. Depending on your natural ability to neutralize bacteria this can lead to an infection that can be worse than the initial bite.
That’s why it is so important to relieve the itch and reduce the temptations to scratch.
How to Stop Bed Bug Bites from Itching
If you’ve been the victim of bed bugs there’s a good chance you’re going to suffer some itching and irritation before the rash of bites subsides. To help reduce the itching and avoid any scratching fits we’ve put together a list of handy home remedies to help you cope with the irritation so often associated with bed bug bites.
These tips are cheap, easy, and (best of all) effective…
1 – Keep the Area Clean
The first thing you need to do is keep the bite marks clean. Regularly wash the affected area with soap and warm water. If you have sensitive skin try a fragrance free soap to minimize dryness or irritation.
Once the bite rash and surrounding areas are clean you can start to address the itching itself.
2 – Ice
One way to help ease the itching associated with bed bug bites is to apply ice to the affected area. Simply wrap some ice in thin towel and press it against the area for a few minutes at a time. This should help sooth the itch and reduce any swelling. Be sure to wrap the ice in a towel before applying it to the affected area. You want to avoid applying ice directly to the skin.
3 – Baking Soda
Baking soda has been a home remedy for skin irritations for generations. There’s a good reason for that. It works. Simply take a couple tablespoons of baking soda and mix it with a few drops of water to form a paste. Apply the paste to the bed bug bites and leave it on the area for several minutes. Rinse with warm water and repeat as necessary.
4 – Toothpaste
Topical ointments like calamine lotion are often used to treat bed bug bites. But what can you use if you run out of calamine lotion and you’re between visits to your local pharmacy. Simple – toothpaste.
Most commercial toothpaste contains menthol, which is a natural anesthetic. Just apply a liberal amount of toothpaste to the bite area and wait for the itching to subside. Once you feel some relief simply wash away the past with warm water.
5 – Lemon Juice
Lemon juice has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also a natural astringent. Consequently it can be used to reduce the itching and swelling so often associated with bed bugs bites while drying out the bites so they can heal more quickly.
Simply dab cotton ball in lemon juice and apply it to the affected areas several times a day as needed. Keep in mind, however, that lemon juice can accelerate sunburn. So if you use this remedy in the summer try to avoid exposing the affected areas to sunlight.
6 – Cucumber
Cucumber and cucumber peel contain vitamin C and Caffeic acid, both of which are natural anti-inflammatories. They can help to reduce the itching and burning that comes with a rash of bed bug bites.
Simply apply some sliced cucumber or cucumber peel directly to the affected area and for several minutes. This can be repeated throughout the day as needed. A quick tip – use a cold cucumber for your compresses as that will provide an extra soothing effect.
7 – Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another of those age-old home remedies that have proved to be perennially effective. It contains an abundance of acetic acid giving it a natural anti-inflammatory property that can help to relieve the itching and swelling of bed bug bites.
Just dip a cotton ball in the vinegar and apply it to the affected area. Allow the apple cider vinegar to dry. This should help relieve the itching for a few hours at a time and can be repeated as needed.
Keep in mind you will want to use raw and unrefined apple cider vinegar to achieve the best results.
Home Remedies for the Win
These are just a few of the more popular home remedies we’ve found for bed bug bites and rashes. These treatments have been handed down in families for generations. They’ve stood the test of time and we can recommend them here for one very simple reason – they work (and they’re cheap and easy…so maybe three simple reasons).
If you are suffering with the itching that comes with bed bug bites these simple home remedies should help to relieve the irritation and allow you to get on with the business at hand – eliminating the infestation in your home.
If you find you have bed bugs in your home or workplace contact a professional bed bug inspection and removal service as soon as possible. The quicker you address the problem at its source the sooner you can dispense with the home remedies and sleep soundly once again.