Mattress bug bites: What they seem like, therapies, prevention ideas – Insider


  • Mattress bug bites seem as small pink marks or darkish spots in your pores and skin, typically in zig-zag patterns of three to five bites. 
  • You’ll be able to deal with mattress bug bites with anti-itch cream, antihistamines, or a chilly compress. 
  • It is essential to do away with mattress bugs and take steps to forestall infestations when you’ve got bites. 
  • This story is a part of Insider’s full information to Bug Bites

Mattress bug bites are itchy, annoying, and simply plain creepy. Though the bites are typically innocent, it is essential to establish and do away with mattress bugs, in any other case they may hold biting you. 

The factor is, it’d take some time to comprehend that you’ve mattress bugs. That is as a result of mattress bugs are tiny, and their bites can mimic different insect bites or pores and skin irritations. 

Here is every little thing it is best to find out about mattress bug bites and tips on how to do away with the pesky critters as soon as and for all.

What do mattress bugs seem like? 

Mattress bugs are large enough to be seen with the bare eye, says Tanya Nino, MD, a dermatologist with Windfall St Joseph Hospital in Orange County, California. They’re concerning the dimension of a tick (1 to five mm lengthy), oval-shaped, flat, and have a reddish-brown colour. 

bed bugs

Mattress bugs are very small and uncommon to really see.

dblight/Getty Pictures

Though they’re giant sufficient to see, mattress bugs will be extraordinarily troublesome to seek out. They’re active at night, slightly than through the day. If you’re away, they’re hiding away within the cracks and seams of bedding or upholstered furnishings. They’re fairly good about staying out of the way in which once you’re in search of them.

Due to that, it is uncommon to really spot a mattress bug. As a substitute, it is extra doubtless that you will discover mattress bug bites. 

What do mattress bug bites seem like?

Mattress bug bites seem as small pink marks on gentle pores and skin, and will seem as small darkish spots on pores and skin that’s darker shades, says Sharleen St. Surin-Lord, MD, medical director at Visage Dermatology and Aesthetics Middle in Washington D.C. 

Often, they’re going to seem in clusters of three to five bites in a zig-zag sample that displays the place the bug has moved in your physique. Though mattress bugs can chew anyplace, the bites are usually targeting the stomach and arms, St. Surin-Lord says. 

bed bug bites

Mattress bug bites typically seem on the stomach.

Joel Carillet/Getty Pictures

Mattress bug bites are usually a little bit smaller than mosquito bites, although it might be troublesome to inform them aside from flea bites

“The distinction is that you simply usually can see the fleas leaping round or the mosquitoes, after they’ve bitten you,” St. Surin-Lord says. “Mattress bugs are a little bit extra clandestine.”

This comparability desk will help you diagnose your kind of bug chew: 

bug bite comparison table

Yuqing Liu/Insider

In case your bites are most outstanding within the morning and seem in teams of three, that is an excellent indication that you simply could be coping with mattress bugs. 

“Typically, the bites will happen in a line of three, which is typically known as ‘breakfast, lunch, and dinner,’ Nino says. 


The first symptom of mattress bug bites is welts on your skin. Often, these welts are very itchy, and seem in teams. 

As with different bug bites, some folks could have a harsh response, together with redness and itchiness, whereas others will barely be bothered by mattress bug bites.

“Bedbugs change into harmful when a big a part of the physique is affected, inflicting intense itching and scratching, resulting in open, wounded, bleeding pores and skin,” St. Surin-Lord says. “This now creates a portal for micro organism and pores and skin infections.” 

Along with noticing mattress bug bites, you may spot symptoms of a bed bug infestation in your house. These can embody:

  • Rust-colored spots in your mattress or bedding (that is the mattress bugs’ excrement)  
  • Indicators of bugs together with shed exoskeletons which will seem like espresso grounds
  • The bugs themselves hiding within the folds and seams of your mattress
  • A candy, musty odor from the bugs

Keep in mind, simply since you do not see the bugs doesn’t suggest they don’t seem to be there, particularly for the reason that bugs have a tendency to cover through the day and change into lively at evening, Nino says.

How you can deal with mattress bug bites

You’ll be able to treat mattress bug bites by first washing the chew web site with soapy water to take away any filth or particles. Then, you’ll be able to attempt these at-home cures:

  • Anti-itch cream. These over-the-counter medicine embody steroid ointments, like Cortisone, or antihistamine lotions, like Benadryl. Each scale back itching and swelling and may present aid from mattress bug bites when utilized topically. 
  • Oral antihistamine. An over-the-counter oral antihistamine pill, like Benadryl, counteracts your physique’s manufacturing of histamine, which is what causes bites to itch. Nevertheless, these oral antihistamines could cause drowsiness — it is best to take Benadryl proper earlier than mattress to alleviate itchiness and aid you sleep. 
  • Chilly compress. A cold compress can provide non permanent itch aid. Apply a chilly compress or ice pack wrapped in fabric for not longer than 20 minutes, and wait at the very least an hour earlier than reapplying. 

The itching from mattress bug bites can final for as much as two weeks, St. Surin-Lord says. That is typically extended if the infestation hasn’t been addressed and the individual continues to get new bites. Should you’re coping with extreme itchiness regardless of utilizing the cures above, you’ll be able to attain out to your physician for a extra highly effective prescription anti-itch cream. 

In some circumstances, St. Surin-Lord prescribes oral steroids to individuals who have extreme itching attributable to mattress bug bites. The oral steroids can scale back irritation and itchiness in individuals who do not get aid from topical lotions. They will additionally assist forestall additional well being issues from the overwhelming itchiness. 


A mattress bug infestation can occur to anybody, irrespective of how clear your private home is. That is as a result of most individuals inadvertently deliver mattress bugs dwelling after touring, or sometimes from buying used furnishings. 

Throughout or after journey, you’ll be able to take these steps to scale back your threat of bringing mattress bugs dwelling:

  • Verify for indicators of mattress bugs. Look at the lodge room or dwelling that you’re staying in for indicators of mattress bugs, together with black or pink spots on the mattress or upholstered furnishings. 
  • Wash your garments. If you return dwelling, wash all of your clothes in scorching water, together with gadgets that you simply did not put on. It will kill any stowaway mattress bugs. 
  • Vacuum or use a hand steamer. Do that for any furnishings, baggage, or different gadgets which are too cumbersome to be washed. This will even kill mattress bugs and forestall you from bringing them into your private home. 
  • Rethink shopping for second-hand mattresses or upholstered furnishings. Because the bugs can dwell for as much as a yr with out consuming, it may be not possible to find out via a visible inspection whether or not a chunk of furnishings has mattress bugs.

Basically, it is best to usually check your home, particularly your bed room, for indicators of mattress bugs. Pay additional shut consideration after journey or after sleeping at another person’s dwelling, and do not forget that it might take as much as two weeks for signs of an infestation to look. 

How you can do away with mattress bugs 

Ridding your self of mattress bugs just isn’t a fast or simple job. It might take weeks or months to do away with mattress bugs, so attempt to be affected person and put together your self for the lengthy haul. 

Here is an summary of tips on how to do away with mattress bugs:

  • Comprise the infestation by bagging up any sheets and bedding that has been uncovered to mattress bugs. 
  • Vacuum your mattress paying shut consideration to appears and folds, the place mattress bugs conceal. 
  • Cowl your mattress with in mattress bug-proof mattress protector, which can hold any lingering mattress bugs from escaping. 
  • Proceed to sleep in your room, to scale back dangers of spreading mattress bugs via your home. 
  • Methodically break down and clear any furnishings within the room that has mattress bugs, paying significantly shut consideration to the mattress, field spring and mattress body. 

Usually, it is a good suggestion to name an expert exterminator, who is ready to use extra highly effective pesticides and get the infestation below management extra shortly.

“Elimination of mattress bugs could be a troublesome endeavor,” Nino says. “You might want a licensed skilled.”

Insider’s takeaway

Though mattress bug bites are typically innocent, they are often very uncomfortable. Should you’re not getting aid from at-home therapies, attain out to your physician. 

As well as, it is essential to deal with the infestation and do away with the mattress bugs — they may doubtless hold biting folks till they’re professionally exterminated. 

“It doesn’t matter what you determine to do, you should rid your private home of the mattress bugs,” St. Surin-Lord says. “Should you had been at a lodge and really feel that you simply had been bitten of their mattress and had been identified with mattress bugs, it is best to contact that lodge in order that they’ve their rooms handled.”


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