Bed bugs are insidious parasites that feed off the blood of their human hosts. The sneak out in the middle of the night, bite their unsuspecting victims, and then scurry back into hiding. The resulting bites typically present as small welts, often appearing in zigzag clusters on the victim’s body.
The effect of a bed bug bite varies among victims. For some, there is little to no reaction. For most of us, however, the bites remain an itchy and irritating reminder that we are sharing our beds with blood-hungry parasites.
Bed bug bites are hard to ignore. Beyond the red welts and swelling the itchiness can easily drive you to distraction. Finding some relief from the irritation quickly becomes the chief concern. Fortunately, there are some simple and effective treatments for bed bug bites that will help to ease the pain while you wait for the pest control experts to answer your call.
1 – Wash with Soap and Water
The first thing you should do is wash with mild soap and water. Work the soap into a thick lather and apply it to the affected area. Don’t rinse off immediately, but rather allow the lather to dry. This will bring some quick relief from the itching. Once the itching subsides you can rinse off with cool water.
Washing your bed bug bites with soap and water does more than just alleviate the itch. It also keeps the area clean and helps to prevent skin infections.
2 – Home Remedies
There are a few handy home remedies that are effective at relieving the itch and irritation associated with bed bug bites:
Make a paste from baking soda and tap water. Apply to your bed bug rash in a thick coat. Allow the paste to dry and remain on your skin for at least an hour before washing off with warm water.
Dip a cotton ball in lemon juice or witch hazel. These are natural astringents. Dabbing the bites with the cotton ball will help to dry out the rash eliminate the itch.
Aloe Vera gel has both antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. Applying to the affected area can help ease the itch and prevent a secondary skin infection.
3 – Over-the-Counter Steroid Creams
Over-the-counter creams containing hydrocortisone or cortisone can reduce the inflammation and itching associated with bed bug bites. Look for a brand that contains 1% hydrocortisone and simply follow the directions on the package. If the over-the-counter skin creams fail to bring relief you should contact your doctor and ask for a stronger corticosteroid cream.
4 – Calamine Lotion
Calamine lotion is an old stand-by for bug bites, poison ivy and poison oak. It remains an important part of any home’s first-aid kit. Simply apply a thin layer of calamine lotion to your bed bug bites. This will provide some immediate relief from the itching and will also help to dry the rash out while protecting the skin while the bites heal.
5 – Oral Antihistamines
The itching and irritation associated with bed bug bites is actually an allergic reaction to the insect’s saliva. As with all allergies some people react more severely to exposure than others. An oral antihistamine such as Benadryl or Zyrtec can help control the allergic reaction and alleviate some of the swelling and itching that comes with a rash of bed bug bites.
As always you should follow the instruction on the package for proper dosage recommendations. You should also be aware that antihistamines can cause drowsiness and you should avoid driving while taking them.
6 – Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
For some bed bug victims the bites and rash can cause long lasting discomfort. If you fall into this category an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory analgesic can help relieve the pain. The most common over-the-counter pain medications include ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin.
As always follow the instructions on the package for correct dosage and side effects information. When in doubt consult a doctor for advice on over-the-counter pain relievers.
7 – Consult Your Doctor or Health-Care Provider
Bed bug bites generally clear up over the course of a week or two. In some extreme cases the rash and itching can become sever and may need medical intervention. If you fall into any one of the following categories you should consult your family health-care provider:
Signs of skin infection
Signs of allergic skin reaction (swollen skin, hives, etc)
Experiencing a severe allergic reaction
Bed Bug Bites and You
If you wake up covered in bed bug bites you will want to take action quickly. Treating the bites and the rash is a good start. But following that you need to take steps to eliminate your bed bug problem. The next step is to contact a licensed bed bug detection and removal service and schedule an appointment at your earliest opportunity.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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