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What Every Mom Needs to Know About Bed Bug Bites on Babies

bed bug bite on babies

Being a mother means looking out for your baby and ensuring they are healthy and safe. While it may not be everyone’s concern, bed bugs can be a menace when you have an infestation. You can find them anywhere, ranging from the bed and couches to the carpet. You can also pick them up in public spaces.

If you have spotted changes on your baby’s skin and suspect bed bugs, it is only normal to be worried as babies have sensitive skin. In this post, you’ll learn more about bed bug bites on babies and how to deal with them and prevent future occurrences.

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

Numerous parasites and pests can attack your baby. The ability to identify bed bug bites on babies allows you to give your little ones the care and treatment they need.

So how does a bedbug bite look like?

Bed bugs usually attack the parts of your baby that are exposed while they sleep. Therefore, you may notice bed bug bites on the baby’s face, neck, arms and shoulders, hands, as well as legs. Look out for the following symptoms:

  • Red itchy rashes or bumps on the skin, usually occurring in a straight line, zigzag manner, or clusters.
  • Bumps with a clear center or a dark center surrounded by a lighter and swollen skin
  •  Small red bumps surrounded by hives or blisters
  •  Small spots of dried blood on the skin

All bed bug bites may cause itchiness, inflammation, or discomfort for your baby. If you suspect your baby has been exposed to bed bugs, look out for the above signs so you can take appropriate action.

Bed Bug Bites vs. Other Pests Bites

Most pests cause itchy red bumps or rashes when they bite. However, you may differentiate bed bug bites on your baby from other pest bites by observing the resulting rashes. Usually, bed bug bites appear in a straight line, zigzag manner with clusters of 3 to 5 bites. Below are the differences between bed bug bites and common pests.

Bed Bug Bites vs. Flea Bites

Bed bug bites usually appear on the upper part of the body, such as the baby’s face, neck, arms, and shoulders. Fleas, on the other hand, attack the lower part of the body. You can find flea bites on warm and moist areas like the armpits, joints inside the knees and elbows, legs, and feet.

Bed Bug Bites vs. Mosquito Bites

If you notice bites on a small area of your baby’s skin that appear to have some order, they are bed bug bites. Mosquito bites are random and don’t have a pattern.

Bed Bug Bites vs. Spiders Bites

While bed bugs bite the same area multiple times, spiders seldom bite more than once. What’s more, spider bites take more time to heal than any other bite and may lead to skin damage in case of infections.

Other telltale signs of bed bugs include the presence of fecal matter or stains on the sheets or mattress, brown exoskeletons, and small blood spots or stains on your baby’s pajamas. In case of severe infestations, bed bugs come with a strong musty smell.

Early Stage of Bed Bug Bite on Baby

The earlier you can catch bed bug bites on your baby, the faster you can take measures to manage and prevent them. Early-stage bed bug bites on babies will appear as itchy, red patches on the skin. The patches then progress to red bumps. The bumps may appear in a pattern or clusters. In severe cases, bed bug bites may result in large welts, anaphylaxis, or blisters.

Since the bites are painless, your baby may not wake up immediately. Also, every baby is different, and some may not react to bed bug bites at all. While some babies may show symptoms of bed bug bites after 30 minutes, others may take 3 to 4 days.  

How Long Do Bed Bug Bites Last?

The severity of bed bug bites depends on the nature of the bite, as well as the baby’s sensitivity. Wondering how long do bed bug bites last on babies? You can expect bed bug bites to go away without treatment after one or two weeks. Treatment can shorten the duration of bed bug bites on babies.

Once the bites go away, they may leave a dark spot on the affected area known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. They may also cause scarring. To avoid infections, prevent your baby from scratching the bumps. You can do this by cutting the baby’s nails and advising older kids to refrain from the habit.

Can Bed Bug Bites Make Babies Sick?

Pests like mosquitoes carry diseases, and it’s understandable if you worry about whether bed bug bites making your baby sick. So, are bed bug bites harmful to babies? Fortunately, bed bugs do not transmit diseases. However, this doesn’t make them any safe for your baby.

Bed bug bites can get infected, especially if the baby keeps scratching them. Thie scratching may lead to impetigo or cellulitis. Signs of infection include tenderness and pain on the bite spot, drainage or pus, skin dimpling, chills, and fever. Redness, swelling, and warmth on the bite area can also indicate an infection.

Besides skin infections, bed bug bites may lead to severe reactions in babies with allergies. In addition to intensive itchiness, bed bug bites may trigger asthma as well as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction characterized by breathing difficulties, nausea, vomiting, chills, and fever.

If your baby shows any symptoms of infection or anaphylaxis after a bed bug bite, seek medical attention immediately. A severe case of bed bug bites may cause anemia due to the loss of too much blood.

How Do You Treat Bed Bug Bites On Babies?

Treatment of bed bug bites aims at addressing the itchiness, preventing infections, and soothing the affected area. The best way to treat your baby bed bug bites is by washing the area with soap and warm water. Other treatments options for bed bug bites on babies include:

  • Calamine lotion or an anti-itch cream to reduce the itching.
  • Topical corticosteroid ointment or cream of low strength such as hydrocortisone
  • Antihistamines like Benadryl administered orally can help with intense itching.
  • Prescription-strength topical steroids.
  • Oral antibiotics for skin infections

Be careful not to use over-the-counter steroid creams for bed bug bites on the baby’s face or skin folds. Always consult a doctor or pharmacist before using antihistamines or topical creams to treat bed bug bites on babies.

Home Remedies to Relieve the Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites                      

Most times, bed bug bites on babies heal without treatment. They do not require medical attention unless infections or severe allergic reactions occur. However, you can manage baby bed bug bites at home without medications to accelerate recovery. Here are home remedies you can use to relieve the symptoms of bed bug bites on your child.

1. Essential Oils

Lavender is the best remedy for reducing swelling and the itchiness of bed bug bites on babies. You can dilute the oil with coconut or olive oil and apply it to the affected area twice or thrice daily.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apply Apple Cider Vinegar on the bite area and let it sit on the skin for some time before rinsing it off. ACV contains acetic acid and has anti-inflammatory properties that ease itching. This treatment is suitable for babies above three years.

3. Oatmeal bath

Oatmeal contains Phenol, which is an effective treatment for inflammation and irritation. Add oatmeal colloidal powder to your baby’s bathwater and let it soak in for some time before bathing the baby.

4. Baking Soda

Mix baking soda with water to form a paste and apply to the affected area. Leave the paste to dry before washing it off. Remember to moisturize the skin as baking soda may cause dryness and cause leading to itchiness.

5. Cold Cloth or Ice Pack

Press a cold cloth or ice pack on the bites to induce a cooling effect on the area and minimize swelling.

6. Teabags

Just like a cold compress, applying chilled teabags has a cooling and numbing effect on bed bug bites. Teabags contain tannins and astringents that ease the bites’ discomfort.

7. Neem Leaves

Crush neem leaves into a paste and apply on the bites for faster recovery.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs in Your Home

The best way to keep your baby safe from bed bug bites is by eliminating bed bugs from your home. You can identify the pests by personally searching for them or scheduling a professional inspection. After you have established the presence of bed bugs, use the following tips to get rid of them from your home.

  • Seal any joints or cracks to reduce hiding spots for  bed bugs
  • Thoroughly vacuum the mattress, carpets, dresser, your furniture’s joints, and seams, as well as any other area with signs of an infestation
  • Clean all garments, linen, and beddings in the affected areas using hot water and dry them on high heat. For items like cushions that you can’t wash, steam them to kill the bugs
  • Since extreme temperatures kill bed bugs, you can stuff affected garments and clothing in a bag and put them in a freezer below 0 Fahrenheit for four days
  • Use insecticides such as pyrethroids and pyrethrins.
  • Alternatively, you can use desiccants that kill bed bugs by destroying their outer shells.
  • For items that you can’t clean, such as furniture, throw them away
  • In cases of widespread infestation, consider hiring professional pest control services for help

Bed bug bites can be a source of discomfort and may lead to serious complications for your baby. With the above information, you can identify and manage any bed bug bites on babies and keep your loved ones safe.

Sources: EPA, Bed Bugs: A Public Health Issue, May 2021, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Bed Bugs FAQs, Sept 2020, New York Times, How to Get Rid of Bedbugs, July 2021 and Mayo Clinic, Bed Bugs: Diagnosis and Treatment, Oct 2019.

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