How to Identify Bedbug Bite Rashes

May 7th 2016

Since finding an infestation of bedbugs can be difficult, it's important to take action as soon as you suspect that the bites you're experiencing come from bedbugs. Treat the bites, but take steps to identify and trap the actual bedbugs so you can move on to exterminating them.

Symptoms and Signs of a Bedbug Rash

Bedbug bites frequently appear in clusters of three to five bites, often in an irregular zigzag pattern. For many people, these bites turn into angry red welts. However, there's nothing about the bites to identify them specifically from bedbugs. As a result, bedbug bites are often misidentified as mosquito bites, hives, flea bites or even chicken pox. Many people have a very mild reaction to bedbug bites, and some people have no reaction at all.

One further clue that you may have bedbug bites is waking up in the morning with hives or welts that weren't there when you went to bed. The bites are most likely to appear on the parts of your skin that are in direct contact with your sheets, which typically include your face, hands, feet and legs. Bites can appear and become itchy an hour to several days after the actual bite occurred.

Signs of a Bedbug Infestation

Because a medical professional can't confirm that they're seeing bedbug bites just by observing the bites themselves, you need to ascertain if you have a bedbug infestation to provide definite identification of the bites. Look for spots of blood on sheets and mattresses, especially around the seams of mattresses. Bedbug droppings appear as tiny black specks and often smear if you try to wipe them off with a wet cloth. In addition, sometimes small bedbug exoskeletons are visible around the area of an infestation.

While not everyone is sensitive to it, some people are able to smell the presence of bedbugs, which produce a musky, sweet smell when an infestation is heavy. The substances bedbugs produce to communicate with each other create this smell.

Confirming a Bedbug Infestation

It's usually very difficult to confirm the presence of bedbugs by visual inspection since they hide well, burrowing inside mattresses. Bedbugs are very small, usually smaller than the seed of an apple. Installing interception devices around mattresses, box springs and the legs of beds can often make it possible to confirm low level bedbug infestations. These devices trap bedbugs, thus confirming their presence. Encasing mattresses and box springs can make these devices even more useful. A pest control specialist can also confirm the presence of bedbugs.


Bedbug rashes can be very difficult to identify, since they look very similar to rashes caused by other insect bites or due to completely different causes. A medical professional can't identify a bedbug bite based on its appearance. This means that bedbug identification has to extend beyond just the bite itself and must include finding and trapping the actual bedbugs at the site of infestation.

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