Bed bugs are the brown-colored, oval-shaped insects which are of the size of apple seeds, and move very fast. Bed bugs survive on animals and humans, and after feeding, their body color changes to red. Female bed bugs lay hundreds of eggs at a time, and so it becomes difficult to get rid of them once they enter your house. These are generally active during the night and bite the exposed areas of the body, such as face, neck, and hands. They pierce the skin and withdraw the blood from the host body for about 3-12 minutes approximately. They can enter your house via clothing, luggage, bed, couches, etc. Their flat body enables them to hide in tiny space, cracks or holes. The bed bugs bites are generally painless, but may cause itchiness, swelling and redness. Here are some effective home remedies to treat bed bugs.
Home Remedies for Bed Bug Bites
1. Ice Pack
Application of the ice helps numb the nerves of the particular area, which, in turn relieves you from the itchiness and pain. It will also leave a soothing sensation in your body. Wrap some ice cubes in a cloth and apply it on the affected area (1, 2).
Note: Do not apply the ice directly on the skin.
2. Soap and Water
Washing the bitten area with mild soap will reduce the itchiness. Rub the soap on the bites and keep rubbing until lather is formed. After the soap dries, wash it off with the help of water (3, 4, 5). Soap and water behaves as mild antiseptic, that is why it is used to wash the affected area (6).
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a well-known remedy to treat the itchiness caused by stings and can be used to treat bed bug bites. Make a thick paste of baking soda by adding water, and apply it on the bite marks (7). Let it rest for an hour approximately and then wash off with cold water. Pat dry and apply a moisturise so that the area doesn’t become too dry and painful.
Lemon juice is a natural astringent and possess ant inflammatory properties that helps heal the itchiness and swelling resulted due to bed bug bites (8, 9). Apply lemon juice with a cotton ball on the affected area to get relief. Or else, cut a lemon wedge and apply it on the bed bug bite.
Note: Do not apply lemon juice on open wounds as it will worsen the situation.
5. Calamine Lotion
6. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Apple cider vinegar has anti-itching and anti-inflammatory properties which aid you in getting fast relief from the bug bite (13). Apply raw apple cider vinegar on your skin, using a cotton ball. After a few minutes, wash it off with water.
Note: Evidence for this remedy is lacking.
Oatmeal is another excellent remedy to treat the bed bug bites. It treats itching, irritation, and inflammation (14, 15). Use of oatmeal as skin protectant is confirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) according to the Over-The-Counter Final Monograph for Skin Protectant Drug Products issued in June 2003. The high content of phenol is responsible for anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties of oatmeal (16).
Make a paste of oatmeal by mixing some drops of water in it. Apply the paste for 10-15 minutes and then rinse it off with the help of the cold water.
- Alternatively, you can prepare oatmeal bath by mixing half cup of grounded oatmeal and a few drops of peppermint oil in the lukewarm water. Soak yourself in it for 15 minutes.
Toothpaste contains menthol which is a cooling agent and helps reduce the itching and irritation caused due to bed bug bites (17). All you have to do is apply white toothpaste on the affected area and wash after 10 minutes. Repeat the process regularly.
Cucumber gives soothing relief to the itching and inflammation (18). Take a chilled cucumber slice or its peel and put it on the affected area for about 10 minutes. For the effective results, repeat the process 4-5 times a day.
10. Cinnamon and Honey Paste
Mix cinnamon and honey together to form a paste-like consistency. Honey will moisturise the skin and cinnamon will give you relief from the irritation. Apply this paste and let it dry before washing. Repeat the process on a regular basis.
- Alternatively, make a paste by crushing some cinnamon and mixing some water in it. It will stop any further infection.
11. Banana Peel
According to a study performed on Banana peel contains bioactive compounds like carotenoids, polyphenols, etc. These compounds are very popular these days because of their therapeutic properties (21). Rub the inner side of the banana peel on the bitten area to alleviate the stinging feeling. For getting quick relief, try this remedy couple of times a day.
Mouthwash contains Ethanol that has antiseptic properties which make it a very good agent to heal the bed bug bites (22). Take a cotton ball and dip it into the mouthwash. Apply on the bitten area.
13. Preparation H
Mud contains clay and slit sized particles. Natural clay has antibacterial properties which make it one of the easiest remedies to cure the bed bug bite (24). Take some wet mud and apply on the bite. Let it dry. Remove it with the help of water.
Onion can provide you instant relief from bed bug bite as it has high content of sulphur which makes it an important therapeutic agent (25, 26). Cut an onion into half and rub it gently over the bite.
Take a wet cloth and crush a sugar cube inside it. Apply it on the affected area to get faster relief.
To remove pain and itchiness from the bite, you can cut a raw potato and rub the juicy part on the skin gently. Repeat the process as per need.
Water helps a lot in alleviating the pain and inflammation caused due to bed bug bite. You can put your hand under cool or lukewarm running water, to soothe the pain (28).
- Alternatively, you can damp a piece of cloth in water and put it on the affected part.
Deodorant can remove the swelling and pain instantly. Just spray a little amount of deodorant on your skin and see the magic.
21. Nail Paint
Weird, but it works well! Apply nail paint on the skin and it will remove the pain in a moment.
The toxins from the bed bug bite can be easily removed with the help of an egg. All you need to do is apply the egg skin on the bite and let it dry.
Using a spoon is one of the easiest and effective remedies. Take some hot water and dip a steel spoon in it for about 20 seconds. Take the spoon out and apply it on the bite for some time. Repeat the process regularly, 2-3 times.
Note: Do not put a very hot spoon on the skin as it might burn your skin and irritate you more.
Application of salt will give you relief from the pain and quickly heal the bed bug bite. Take some salt and mix it with water. Apply the resultant paste on the bite until it dries off. It might sting a little bit, but will prevent further irritation (32).
Herbal Remedies to Treat Bed Bug Bites
26. Tea Bags
Tea bags control the intensity of itchiness, irritation and swelling. It has mild anesthetic properties which make it a very good home remedy for bug bites. Tea also contain Polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties that aids in getting fast relief from bed bug bites (33). Keep a used tea bag in the refrigerator. Place the chilled bag on the affected area for 15 minutes, 2-3 times a day.
Chamomile is a plant which is traditionally used to treat skin irritations because it possess anti inflammatory, mild astringent and healing properties. You can use chamomile tea bags for soothing bed bug bite irritation (34).
27. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel has high content of carbohydrate polymers like glucomannans or pectic acid. It also contains essential amino acids and vitamins and various other organic and inorganic compounds which make it one of the best remedies for bed bug bites (35). Extract the gel from the aloe vera leaf and apply it on the affected area. Aloe vera being a Demulcent makes stinging sensation and inflammation go within a few minutes (36, 37).
28. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a very strong astringent and a natural remedy to cure the bitten area (38). Dip a cotton ball in the witch hazel and place it on the affected area for about 10 minutes. Afterwards, rinse off with water. Repeat the process regularly to obtain the best results (39).
29. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has been traditionally used by the people of Australia to treat skin problems (40). It is most trusted bed bugs bite treatment as it has anti-fungal and antiseptic properties (41). Apply and massage the diluted tea tree oil on the skin, 2-3 times a day.
- Do not use tea tree oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Don’t apply it without diluting as it may cause irritation.
30. Marshmallow Roots
Marshmallow is a herb with various medicinal properties. It is applied to the skin to reduce skin inflammation. Its roots and leaves are of prime importance, that is why they are part of many herbal remedies (42). Make marshmallow poultice and apply it on the bed bug bite (43).
Note: Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult doctor before using it. Also, this herb may lower blood sugar levels, so people with diabetes should also seek doctor’s advice before using it.
31. Natural Oils
Natural oils help cure bed bug bite fast. You can use peppermint oil, tea tree oil or lavender oil for this purpose. They have cooling, disinfectant and natural anti-inflammatory properties (44, 45). Apply any of these on the bitten area to reduce the pain and swelling.
Herbalists use lavender oil to treat skin problems (46).
33. Drink Herbal Tea
Herbal tea can help heal the pain and inflammation caused by bed bug bite. Drink herbal tea daily 2-3 times a day to get rid of it in a day or two.
Chamomile Tea contains essential oil that soothes skin inflammation (48).
34. Lemon Balm
This herb is a member of the mint family. It has been used traditionally to treat bug bites. Lemon balm leaves have lemon smell and they are the main ingredient of many homeopathic remedies. Oil of this herb can also be used in aromatherapy (49, 50).
- Vacuum clean the whole house so as to reduce the chances of the invasion of bed bugs in your home (51) (52).
- If the bites occur very frequently, ask a pest controller of your area to check the home.
- Apply cold milk on the area to get a soothing relief.
- Put a light-colored and clean mattress and sheet on the bed.
- Avoid using secondhand furniture and mattresses as they have more probability of bed bugs (53).
- Washing clothes or linens on high temperature will kill bedbugs (54).
- Do not scratch the bitten area as it may worsen the situation (55).
- Don’t make use of garden and farm insecticides since they are highly toxic (56).