8 Simple Remedies for Treating Bed Bug Bites

May 7th 2016

While bed bug bites are not considered life-threatening, they can cause significant discomfort and allergic reactions in certain individuals. Treating the bites at home with simple remedies and seeking medical treatment in the event of a severe allergic reaction or infection can help to ensure a full recovery.

Calamine Lotion

Over-the-counter topical lotions containing calamine work well to minimize symptoms of itching caused by bed bug bites. The lotion also works to dry up weeping fluid if blisters are present. Itching can also be relieved by soaking a clean cloth in a mixture of colloidal oatmeal and warm water and applying it directly to the skin.

Soap and Water and Ice Applications

Washing the affected skin with soap and water can help minimize the risk of secondary skin infections that can occur from intense scratching. Keeping the area clean and dry also helps to soothe itching skin.

Corticosteroid Creams

Bed bug bites that cause inflammation and swelling can be treated with nonprescription topical corticosteroid creams. The medication should be applied to the skin as often as directed on the packaging. If itching does not improve with nonprescription creams, stronger formulations are available with prescriptions.

Colloidal Oatmeal

Bed bug bites that cause severe itching can often be soothed by applying a washcloth soaked in a solution of colloidal oatmeal and warm water to the skin. Make oatmeal compresses at home by wrapping 1 cup of oats in a cotton cloth and boiling the compress in water for 1 to 2 minutes. Once the compress has cooled, apply it directly to the affected areas.

Antihistamine Medications

Oral antihistamine medications containing the ingredient diphenhydramine can help to minimize itching and swelling caused by bed bugs. Apply antihistamine creams directly to the skin for quick relief.

Ice Applications

Pain and swelling caused by bed bug bites are often relieved by applying ice packs to the skin. If swelling does not go down with ice applications, or if the skin surrounding the bed bug bite becomes red or inflamed, it is imperative to seek medical attention as this can signify an infection.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel contains natural antibacterial properties and works well to minimize itching caused by bed bug bites. Aloe is gentle and natural, so it can be applied directly to bed bug bites. Purchase the gel in a drug store or take it directly from the plant.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Nonprescription anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can help to decrease swelling and minimize pain caused by bed bug bites. The medications should only be taken as directed. If swelling is not relieved or becomes worse, seek medical attention because an infection may be present.


Bed bugs are tiny insects that make their way into homes, apartments and hotel rooms via objects such as luggage, used furniture, moving boxes and grocery bags. Once inside, the insects hide between mattress seams, along baseboards and inside electrical sockets. The insects feed on human blood and tend to be most active at night.

Bed bug bites are commonly found on the back, arms and legs with symptoms ranging from mild itching to painful red welts and skin blisters. While bed bug bites do not usually require medical treatment, there are cases in which the bites can cause severe allergic reactions, and continual scratching can cause significant discomfort and pain. Fortunately, bed bug bites can often be treated with simple remedies that help to relieve uncomfortable symptoms and encourage fast healing.

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