Bedbug Bites: Treatment for Itching and Inflammation

Travelers became concerned about bedbugs in the early 2000s when the tiny biting insect started turning up in some high-end hotels. Bedbugs had pretty much disappeared from the U.S. lodging scene until a 1972 DDT insecticide ban was implemented. The powerful insecticide was used to kill bed bugs and other insect pests and after it was banned, we started hearing about bedbugs again.

Bedbugs didn't discriminate. They showed up in the folds of mattresses in hostels as well as fine hotels. And it took quite a bit of work to eliminate them. The media was full of stories about bedbug infestations and the travelers who suffered from the itchy red bumps on their skin. While alternative means to destroy the small bugs have reduced the number of incidences reported, there are still travelers who encounter them, get bitten and need to deal with the bites.

When it comes to bedbug bites, everyone reacts differently. Some people just have small red marks, while others have a more severe allergic reaction to the bedbug bites. The best treatment options for bedbug bites include anti-itch cream, topical antiseptics (to ward off infection), and oral antihistamines. These treatments for bedbug bites are over-the-counter. 

If you have a severe reaction to bedbug bites, see a doctor; you may need a corticosteroid. In general, bedbug bites are not dangerous but if you scratch them, you could end up with an infection and scarring. 

If you are not certain your attackers were bed bugs, these pictures of bedbug bites will help you find out.

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Neosporin + Plus Pain Relief

Feeding - Before First and second instar nymphs feeding.
lou_bugs_pix/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

For mild bedbug bites, an antibiotic cream is recommended. I like Neosporin + Plus Pain Relief. This maximum strength first aid antibiotic cream is available over the counter in a variety of sizes and can be taken along while traveling.

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Neosporin Neo To Go! First Aid Antiseptic/Pain Relieving Spray

Many like the Neosporin spray for small children who don't want to have a cream rubbed on them, or are sensitive to you touching their boo-boos. It's also extremely convenient to carry, as you can throw it in a purse or a pocket and even add it to a keyring.

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Hibiclens Antimicrobial and Antiseptic Skin Cleanser Liquid

Hibiclens is a respected product often used in hospitals. Use this antiseptic skin cleanser to wash your bedbug bites in the shower every day. Hibiclens will help prevent infection. 

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First Aid Only Antiseptic Cleansing Wipe

These wipes work best for small areas. Wipe them right on the bedbug bites to guard against infection. Some like the no-sting variety best.

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Benadryl Topical Itch Stopping Cream

It's always a good idea to keep a tube of this handy. You can rub it right on the bedbug bites and it will stop the itch almost immediately. It​'s perfect when you just can't stop yourself from scratching (or need to get some sleep).

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Oral Antihistamine

There are a number of good antihistamine tablets on the market, including Benadryl Ultratabs and Tylenol Severe Allergy Antihistamine. This type of product is recommended if you have an allergic reaction to the bedbug bites. Be cautious, as these can make you very drowsy.

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