You may have experienced it before; we've all had it — waking up to new red, raised spots on the skin, which may be itchy. If you have had a bite, you may want to know how to treat it. That's what I'm about to share with you.

But, first, you need to know if you've been bitten by bedbugs. You know you've been bitten by an insect but which one? Could it be a bedbug? How do you know, and what can you do? To get the answers to these questions, keep reading!

What are bedbugs?

Bedbugs are tiny, oval, and often brownish parasitic insects that feed on human blood. They usually live on bedding, clothing, and furniture. These insects often stay hidden and come out in the middle of the night — when people are sleeping — to bite. Their bites may be very itchy but rarely require serious medical attention.

There are two species of bedbugs that feed on human blood. Their scientific names are Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus.

How to know if you have been bitten by bedbugs

To know if you have been bitten by bedbugs, you need to consider the nature of the marks on your skin and also check for evidence of bedbugs in your home.

Usually, the bites are invisible and painless. In fact, most people don't even know they've been bitten until several days after. But when the marks appear, they look like red welts in small clusters or zigzag patterns. They tend to be itchy.

Though it may be difficult, seeing bedbugs in the room or evidence of their presence is the only way to know for sure that you're bitten by bedbugs. Things to check out for include:

  • Presence of bedbugs
  • Their eggs
  • Their shell-like exoskeletons
  • Their excrement
  • Specks of blood

How to treat bedbug bites

The bites rarely require serious medical attention, and in most cases, you can treat them at home. Here're the things you can do to relieve the symptoms:

  • Wash the bites with soap and water
  • Avoid scratching them
  • Apply calamine lotion or another anti-itch cream if the bites are itchy
  • Take an oral antihistamine to help with the itching
  • You may apply an over-the-counter corticosteroid cream if the itching is much
  • You may also use an over-the-counter pain reliever to take care of swelling and pain

However, if you notice any sign of allergic skin reactions, such as redness and hives, go see your doctor. If the allergic reaction is beyond the skin, call 911 immediately.

Furthermore, if you scratch the bites a lot, the place may get infected, causing cellulitis — the skin becomes very painful and may discharge pus. If you notice any of these, go see your doctor.

What you can do to prevent bedbug bites

Prevention is very important. To prevent bedbug bites, you need to eliminate the bugs from your home. Here's what you should do to eradicate bedbugs from your home:

  • Call a pest control company to fumigate your home
  • Wash all clothing, linens, and drains with the hottest setting on your washing machine
  • Heat items that can be safely heated to 122ºF (50ºC)
  • Freeze items that can't be washed for several days

While waiting for the pest company to fumigate your home, you can vacuum all the gaps and crevices in your home. Furthermore, put all newly washed items in a plastic container with an air-tight cover.

Author's Bio: 

Emmanuel Ifeanyi Ekwomadu is a medical doctor and a writer who has a great passion for helping people enjoy healthy lives. He writes to enrich people with his compelling and educating articles on various health topics.
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