No one wants to wake up in the morning and find what looks like a bug bite on their arm or leg. If this happens, you may suspect bed bugs, which are known to feed on human and animal blood. But there are many insects and health conditions that can leave bed bug-like results on your skin. Before you treat the issue, it’s important to find out the culprit so you can take the best form of action.
If the bites are from bed bugs, you may detect bloodstains on the sheets or see other indicators. What do you do when you’re getting bitten at night but there’s no sign of bed bugs? Here are some clues to look for while you call the local exterminator to help.
Signs of Bed Bugs in Your Home
Bed bugs could enter your home through luggage, mattresses, couches and old clothes and may climb on the floors, ceilings and walls. Female bed bugs can lay hundreds of eggs at once, and their offspring can live several months without a blood meal. While bed bugs can be a nuisance, they don’t spread disease.
To know for sure that you have a bed bug infestation, you need to see the bugs themselves. You may find bed bugs in groups in your mattress, headboard, box spring or bed frame. Bed bugs can also hide in cushions, curtains, drawers, loose wallpaper and appliances.
You may have bed bugs in your home if you notice:
- A musty odor from the bed bugs’ scent glands
- Bloodstains on bed sheets or pillowcases
- Bed bug fecal matter and shells on the bed or other hiding places
Having bed bugs in your house is not a sign of messiness or neglect. Because bed bugs feed on humans and are experts at hiding, even the cleanest homes and hotels are at risk for an infestation.
How to Spot Bed Bug Bites
At night, bed bugs can feed on exposed skin for as long as three to 12 minutes. You’re most likely to find bed bug bites on your:
Often, people don’t develop bed bug bite symptoms for at least two weeks. Bed bug bites are painless at first, but then they may develop an itch. Some people don’t develop symptoms at all, while others experience inflammation or discomfort.
The most common signs of bed bug bites include:
- Burning or pain
- Itchy bumps
- Small red bumps with blisters or hives
- Groups of red bumps forming a zigzag
Since bed bugs travel in groups, you’ll notice clusters of bed bug bites on exposed skin. In severe cases, overnight bug bites can cause flu-like symptoms and difficulty breathing. Call an exterminator immediately if you suspect you have bed bugs. While you wait for the exterminator to arrive, you can prevent the spread of bed bugs by washing your bedsheets and vacuuming your bedroom.
What Is Biting Me in My House?
What if you’re waking up with bites, but not bed bugs? If there are no signs of bed bugs but you have bites, you may have other types of bugs living in your home. The bug bites on your body could be due to any of the following pests.
1. Carpet Beetles
Carpet beetles and bed bugs have a similar appearance and size with a few distinctions. While bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, carpet beetles can be black, white and yellow. Unlike bed bugs, carpet beetles can fly.
A carpet beetle’s name is a little deceptive, as you may find these insects anywhere in your home. Though they don’t bite humans, coming into contact with carpet beetle hairs might cause an itchy, welt-like skin rash. If you suspect you have carpet beetles in your home, an exterminator can help you take care of them right away.
Spiders are timid arthropods, so they only bite when they feel threatened. You’ll typically only notice one spider bite, in contrast to a collection of bed bug bites. Though spider bites are generally harmless, they produce a variety of different symptoms. Spider bite symptoms may include swelling, red skin and pain at the site.
A spider bite allergy may cause difficulty breathing or tightness in the face. If you notice these symptoms, you should seek medical attention right away. You could also develop tetanus from a spider bite, so make sure you keep up with your tetanus shots.
It’s important to seek medical attention if a poisonous spider bites you, including:
- Black widow spiders: A black widow spider bite looks like two puncture marks on your skin. After 30 to 40 minutes, you could have pain or inflammation around the puncture marks. Within eight hours of the bite, you could also develop nausea, vomiting and muscle rigidity.
- Brown recluse spiders: Brown recluse spiders are also poisonous to humans. They tend to live in dark, unused spaces. A brown recluse spider bite causes a small pinch on the skin. Severe symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite — such as nausea, sweating and chills — develop hours later. Over time, the bite could result in kidney failure, coma or a seizure.
To avoid spider bites indoors, clean out cobwebs in your home. You can also wear long sleeves and pants when you’re working outside. If the pests pose a continual problem in your living space, call an exterminator to get rid of them immediately.
Mosquitoes are the same size as carpet beetles at about 2 to 4 millimeters long. Though they live outdoors, they can fly into your home and get trapped there. If this happens, the mosquito may be active at night or in the early morning.
Mosquito bites cause itchy, pink bumps to appear on your skin at the bite location. In some cases, mosquito bites can carry malaria, West Nile virus and Zika virus:
- Malaria: While malaria is rare in the United States, it’s possible to develop this disease from a mosquito bite. Flu-like symptoms can develop 10 days to four weeks after the bite.
- West Nile: Symptoms of West Nile virus can appear between two and 14 days after the bite occurs. These symptoms include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, skin rashes and body aches. Severe cases of the West Nile virus cause convulsions, disorientation and neck stiffness.
- Zika: Zika virus causes flu-like symptoms in most people. The Zika virus could harm a pregnant woman’s unborn child or a woman trying to get pregnant.
If you find mosquito bites on your skin, mosquitoes could be drawn to standing water in your home or crawl space. Call an exterminator to diagnose and deal with the issue properly.
The word “mite” indicates a group of insect-like organisms that can irritate humans. The following types of mites can bite you and cause skin reactions:
- Scabies mites: When microscopic scabies mites burrow into human skin, they cause rashes and itchiness. A scabies rash looks like a cluster of bed bug bites, which makes it easy to confuse mite bites with bed bug bites. Unlike bed bugs, you won’t be able to see scabies mites on your skin or in the bed. Scabies is contagious, so be careful interacting with those who show signs of scabies.
- Chiggers: Chiggers are microscopic mites that live outdoors. You may find chigger bites on areas near tight clothing, such as around the waist and under socks. You can differentiate chigger bites from bed bug bites by their location on your body. If the bites are from bed bugs, they will likely be on the exposed areas of your body, like your neck or face.
- Rodent and bird mites: These types of mites enter the house through birds or mice. When their host dies or leaves the nest, the mites travel indoors and bite humans. Domestic pets, such as chickens and hamsters, can also host rodent and bird mites. Like bed bug bites, rodent mite bites often appear in groups. Rodent mite bites also appear in the same spots on your body as bed bug bites, especially the neck and the face. Rodent mite bites are less common than bed bug bites, but they carry disease. You should check with an exterminator to make sure the bites aren’t from rodent mites.
Fleas are a similar reddish-brown color to bed bugs, but they are smaller and more ovalish. They favor the blood of animals over human blood. You are more likely to find fleas near your pets than in your bed.
Fleas jump high when they encounter humans and pets, which can make them difficult to identify. You can detect fleas by:
- Trapping them with glue traps
- Taking your pet to the veterinarian
- Walking around with white socks
If fleas do bite humans, they tend to focus on the lower leg. Since fleas travel in groups, flea bites would result in several small, red and itchy welts. Flea bites usually appear after a couple of hours and may cause a skin infection if you keep scratching them.
To prevent flea bites, keep your pets off of your bed and vacuum often. In case of an infestation, you should bring your pets to the veterinarian to check for fleas. An exterminator can give you the best recommendations to rid your home of pests for good.
If Not Bed Bug Bites, Then What?
Sometimes, what people think are bed bug bites are actually caused by these conditions:
- Eczema: This skin condition is often hereditary and related to asthma or seasonal allergies. Symptoms of eczema include patches of itchy, red skin. Bed bug bites don’t cause rashes unless you’re allergic to them. A doctor can confirm whether you have eczema or another skin condition.
- Hives: Hives are raised, itchy skin welts anywhere on the body that may be triggered by certain foods, medications and allergens. About 20% of people will develop hives at some point in their lifetime. Hives can appear at any time of the day, while bed bug bites usually appear in the morning. Pay attention to when the bumps form on your skin to determine if you have hives from a potential allergen.
- Dermatitis herpetiformis: This skin condition is related to celiac disease and typically causes blisters and bumps on the skin. Dermatitis herpetiformis affects 10% of people who suffer from celiac disease, and affected individuals are typically 20 years or older. If you have celiac disease and don’t see signs of bed bugs, consult with your doctor about the possibility of dermatitis herpetiformis.
- Grover’s disease: This skin condition involves red spots breaking out on a person’s torso or back. Most people who exhibit this are middle-aged or elderly men.Other symptoms of Grover’s disease include fatigue, chills and fever. Talk to your doctor if you notice these symptoms, as bed bugs typically don’t bite on the torso or back.
- Miliaria: Also known as “prickly heat” or “heat rash,” this skin condition is most common in the summer due to the retention of sweat. In children and infants, miliaria manifests as pink, itchy skin rashes. Bed bugs don’t cause rashes, so your child may have miliaria if there’s a rash on their skin.
- Prurigo: Prurigo consists of itchy red lumps on the arms and legs. Doctors can identify Prurigo if you have lumps on your legs since bed bugs typically aim for the arms, neck or face.
- Food allergies: You could develop hives, itchiness, swelling or redness on the skin from eating certain foods. You may start to notice a rash almost immediately after you eat something you’re allergic to. You may also experience abdominal cramps, swelling in the throat or itchy eyes. If you notice symptoms soon after you eat rather than first thing in the morning, the culprit may be food and not bed bugs.
- Chickenpox: This skin condition is contagious among children. Along with rashes, chickenpox causes fever, drowsiness and poor appetite that may persist for five to seven days. If your child exhibits these symptoms, a doctor visit can give a clearer diagnosis.
- Staph infections: Staphylococcus is a strain of bacteria that most people carry on their skin. Any break or cut in the skin can cause the bacteria to enter your body and give you an infection. Staph infections can appear as red, painful boils, which are usually much larger than bumps from bed bug bites.
- Household products: Soaps, detergents, makeup, hair products and clothing can cause skin reactions. Pay attention to where the “bug bites” occur. If you try out a new soap and then develop bumps, the culprit might be the new soap. A dermatologist can confirm that your skin rash is from household products.
- Environmental factors: Small fibers of paper, insulation and fabric travel through the air and can stick to your skin. The resulting rash can create symptoms like a crawling sensation or intense itching. Old carpet, drapes and upholstery could also shed fabric that may harm your skin. If you’re exposed to these materials and develop a rash, you can likely rule out bed bugs as a cause.
Not Sure If You Have Bed Bugs?
If you suspect you have bugs in your home, you should try to find them right away. The sooner you discover the source of your bites, the better you can prevent the issue from growing. If you notice signs of bed bugs or need help diagnosing pests, follow these precautionary steps:
- Trust the professionals to kill the bugs: Calling an exterminator should always be your first line of defense. You could make your infestation worse by trying to remove bed bugs or other pests on your own with pesticides. An exterminator can pinpoint the issue, give you the best recommendations for eliminating the bugs and protect your home efficiently.
- Prevent the pests from spreading: Depending on the type of bugs you’re dealing with, you’ll want to take steps to keep them from spreading. Pests enjoy hiding in clutter. Instead of giving them a home, kick them out by cleaning and vacuuming your living space. You can also wash your clothes and bedsheets. If you suspect bed bugs, it’s important to note these pests can travel with you. Sleeping on the couch might prompt the bugs to move to your living room, which could make the infestation more difficult to handle. When you call an exterminator, be sure to ask about the safest way to handle the issue without encouraging the bed bugs to spread.
- Save any bugs you find: If you find any bugs in your home, try to capture some in a container or plastic bag. Your sample can help an exterminator confirm that bed bugs or some other pests are the source of your bites.
Trust Spectrum Pest Control, Inc to Exterminate the Bugs in Your Home
If you’re in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area, we’ll help you tackle the bugs that have infiltrated your home. We offer unlimited service calls, and we treat our customers like family. Protect your home from pests with Spectrum Pest Control, Inc.
Whether you have bed bugs or other types of pests in your home, we will help you deal with any unwanted guests. We offer year-round protection that follows the life cycle of pests. For a same-day service appointment, fill out a contact form on our website today. You can also call our team at 724-285-1950.