Person applying itch cream to an arm - Florida Pest Control, Gainesville FL

If you’ve ever experienced a bed bug bite, then you know how itchy and annoying they can be to deal with. Thankfully, there are a few at-home treatments you can try to get relief and make the healing process a little easier. Here are some tips for treating bed bug bites, as well as some situations where you may want to seek medical attention.

How to Treat a Bed Bug Bite

Itchiness is one of the most common side effects of a bed bug bite, and the urge to scratch can be pretty intense. But, it’s important that you avoid scratching as much as possible since doing so could worsen the wound, put you at risk of infection, and interrupt the healing process. Instead of scratching, follow these steps to treat a bed bug bite:

  • Wash the area with warm water and gentle soap. Thoroughly cleaning the area can reduce the risk of infection, especially if you accidentally scratched the bite. 
  • Place a cold compress over the area. An ice pack or other cold compress can reduce swelling and numb your skin to reduce itchiness. 
  • Apply an anti-itch cream, such as hydrocortisone. If you are still experiencing itchiness after the cold compress, an anti-itch cream may be a good solution. Hydrocortisone in particular can be helpful for insect bites.
  • Consider taking an oral antihistamine or OTC pain relievers. In addition to regular itchiness, bed bug bites can cause allergic reactions, pain, and swelling. Antihistamines and OTC pain relievers could offer some relief.

When using any store-bought product, be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe and effective usage.

Homemade Bed Bug Bite Remedies

You may not have to take a trip to your local drugstore to treat a bed bug bite. There are also some all-natural remedies that you can make on your own using things in your pantry or bathroom cabinet. A few of the most common DIY bed bug bite treatments include:

  • Lemon juice or witch hazel: As natural astringents, both of these products can reduce inflammation and clean the bite. Just soak a cotton ball with the liquid and apply it for a few minutes at a time.
  • Apply pure aloe vera gel: Aloe vera isn’t just for sunburns! It can help with itchiness and pain, and has been shown to prevent secondary skin infections. 
  • Mix baking soda and warm water: Baking soda has both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, which can help with the symptoms of a bed bug bite. Create a slurry using 50-50 baking soda and warm water, and apply it as a paste for 15 minutes.

Should I See a Doctor for a Bed Bug Bite?

In most cases, it isn’t necessary to seek medical attention for a bed bug bite. These insects are not known for spreading diseases, and the majority of bites are mild enough that they resolve on their own within a couple of weeks. That said, there are some instances where you should consult a doctor:

  • The bed bug bite isn’t healing, even after weeks. 
  • You experience severe swelling or other signs of an allergic reaction.
  • You develop rashes, blisters, or other concerning skin symptoms.
  • The pain is severe or radiates to other areas of the body.
  • You notice signs of a secondary skin infection, such as pus. 

When in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and contact your medical provider. 

How Long Do Bed Bug Bites Take to Heal?

With the right treatment and care, most bed bug bites resolve on their own within a week or two. Scratching or irritating the area can definitely extend the healing process, though, which is why it’s important to try and abstain from doing so. If it’s been a few weeks and the bed bug bite still hasn’t healed, it may be worth speaking to a doctor. 

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