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How Real People Deal With Bed Bug Itching

Updated on April 1, 2017
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Melody has volunteered with the CDC and is a member of the Medical Reserve Corps. She brings awareness to public health concerns.

These bed bug bites are so itchy!
These bed bug bites are so itchy! | Source

Treating Bed Bug Bites Naturally

In my experience, bed bug bites feel itchy, scratchy, kooky, and make you go crazy. In the moment, soothing that itch only comes second to wanting blood sucking crawling insects to die. You can learn about bed bug bites below, or scroll down for natural herbal and home remedies.

The first step to soothing the itch is to identify your rash

Bed Bug Bite Identification tools:

What to do for bed bug bites depends on how you wish to treat them, there are lots of options.

Treating the itching is a secondary necessity. Prevening the bites means treating the bed bug infestation. In the mean time, don't suffer from the itching and irritation.

Wats to treat bed bug itching:

  • Herbal treatments, such as essential oils and oats
  • Over the counter medicines and creams
  • Prescription medicines and creams

Explore each method to help you choose the quickest route to comfort. Knowing how annoying and distracting bed bugs can be, it's essential to treat the itch. Scratching is not an answer and could be dangerous.

Bed bug bites are not dangerous; however, the concern is that the bites could become open sores and/or get infected.

As annoying as bed bug bites are, do not scratch them! Focus on stopping the itch, and then focus on getting rid of your bed bugs.

Do not let the bed bug bites distract you from the task at hand, gaining freedom from the most devilish bugs around! With natural treatments, this can be done cost effectively.

Bed bug bites come in clusters, usually of threes.
Bed bug bites come in clusters, usually of threes. | Source

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel, a member of the family Hamamelidaceae, is the most popular natural treatment for bed bug bites. It works well without leaving strange smells behind.

Buyer beware: The witch hazel astringent found in the drug store (the stuff used for removing makeup and as a facial cleanser) does not contain a decent dose of the active ingredient.

The active ingredient in witch hazel is tannin. That is what causes cessation of itching and redness. Witch hazel is an ingredient in hemorrhoids products and some hydrocortisone products.

True witch hazel, the type with high levels of tannin, kills the pain and shrinks tissue. This is why it is one of the best natural treatments for bug bites.

I know this suggestion sounds odd, and of course consult your doctor, but some people like to buy hemorrhoids pads and wipe bed bug bites with them to stop itching.

Alternatively, you can get the liquid and make your own pads by soaking pads in witch hazel and then sealing them in zip lock baggies.

Over the Counter Creams

A more traditional way to treat itchy bed bug rashes is with over the counter creams. There are tons on the market, and you may already have a favorite. Out of the entire over the counter creams, my favorite is Maximum Strength Cortisone.

Cortisone is one of many hydrocortisone products.

You can find a full list of them at These products work by inhibiting the natural inflammatory response.

To use:

  • Wash rash
  • Dry rash completely
  • Apply cream to rash

The benefit of using cortisone over other products is how quickly it reduces redness. This product is also prescribed by doctors. The con is that it is not considered to be a natural treatment, which turns some people away.

Baking soda can be used as a home remedy for many itchy bug bites.
Baking soda can be used as a home remedy for many itchy bug bites. | Source

Baking Soda Paste, Juniper Berries, Aloe Vera

The following section covers these natural treatments for bed bug bites.

  • Baking Soda
  • Juniper Berries and Cloves
  • Aloe Vera

Skin is affected by an anticoagulant injected during the bite. Clean the bite with soap and water before applying the treatment.

Baking Soda and Water

Baking soda is a mineral. Its medicinal use is well documented, including as an anti-itch medicine. It is the cheapest natural treatment for bites.


Use 1 Tsp of water for every 3 Tsp of baking soda. Apply this to the skin, letting it dry, or use it as a compress.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a plant that helps with everything from athlete’s foot to sunburn. Mother nature gifted humanity when she created this plant.

You can get aloe from almost any store; however, using aloe fresh from the plant a great way to harness the anti-itch properties.

You can get the plant from most Home & Garden centers. Thankfully, this is a versatile indoor-outdoor plant. It grows fast enough to provide as much aloe as you need. Of course, most people chose to buy prepared aloe.


If you use aloe from a store, simple massage an ample amount of the bed bug bite after you wash it and let it dry.

To use aloe straight from the plant, snap off a portion of the plant. You can squeeze it in an upward motion towards the base where it was snapped from the plant.

A clear, gooey liquid will ooze out. Apply this directly to the wound.

You can also make a small incision down the edge of an aloe leaf, and open the plant. Then apply it directly to the skin.

If you are allergic to aloe, obviously, chose another method.

Juniper Berries and Cloves

*Not For Pregnant Women

Juniper Berries and cloves are an old world natural treatment for rashes, and also happen to work on bed bugs.

These berries are dark purple and are a member of the family Cupressaceae. They contain copious amounts of vitamin C, and the byproduct is regarded as an oil.

Not only do the oils reduce itching, vitamin C can actually be taken to help fortify the immune response.

Cloves, like basil, contains eugenol, which also helps numb bed bug bites.


A great recipe for an anti-itch salve you can use on your bed bug bites comes from the Farmer's Almanac.

Melt two tablespoons of beeswax in a saucepan, add about 1/3 cup unsalted butter, 1/3 cup ground juniper berries, and a tablespoon of ground cloves and stir. Allow the salve to cool before applying to itch skin,

Herbal Bed Bug Remedies

Many herbs help with skin conditions, such as itching and swelling.
Many herbs help with skin conditions, such as itching and swelling. | Source

Mint and Other Members of Lamiaceae

Lamiaceae is a family of plants that naturalists use for thousands of medicinal purposes.

Each member of this family has specialized properties, each one working to heal bed bug bites in one way or another. These plants are mint, basil, lavender and a few others.


Menthol is the active ingredient in mint. It is a remedy for a number of illnesses, such as upset stomach and inflammation.


Having your own mint plant is optimal, but most drug stores sell peppermint oil for under $7 a bottle.

Having your own plant is best because you can also use leaves to make tea. The expense of mint turns some people off. Growing your own plant is far more economical.


When most people think about basil, they think about the little jar of it on the spice rack. It is widely used to spice foods, but can also be used to cure bed bite itching.

Basil is more amazing than most people realize. It contains a substance called Eugenol.

It is a painkiller because it numbs the nerves. It is also an analgesic and antiseptic.

It is so good at what it does that it is used in dental work. If it can stop the dental pain, it will certainly work to help stop bed bug bite itching.


To use basil to stop bed bite itching you can either use basil essential oil or make a paste with dried basil leaves. If you use the essential oil, dab it onto a cotton ball and then apply to the bed bug bite.

To make your own basil paste for bed bug itching, you can either add basil to a baking soda paste mixture or dampen the basil and apply a compress.

Cinnamon and Honey

You probably have cinnamon and honey in your kitchen. They are much more than popular food items.

Both have unique properties, which make them a perfect mix for treating bed bug bites. Honey is quite amazing and can help relieve, prevent and even cure allergic reactions of all kinds.

When you get honey, you should always make sure that it came from a local honey farm.

Bees make this miraculous nectar from local pollen, which means that not all honey is the same. To get protection from local allergies, you need to use local honey.

Honey does many things when it comes to curing bed bug bites. First, it moisturizes the skin, reducing the chance that the bed bug bite will become dry, crack and turn into an open sore that could get infected.

Honey is also known to work with the body, helping it to heal itself faster. Using honey helps reduce the redness of a bed bug, and reduces the length of time it will be visible.

These are just a few of many reasons you should use honey in this mixture. There are two main reasons that you want to use a mixture of cinnamon and honey on itchy bed bug bites.

One reason is that you want to mix a dry item and a wet item to make a paste which will dry on the skin. Honey is the wet item and cinnamon is the dry item.

An even more important reason to use cinnamon is because it is known to be a prostaglandin inhibitor. They reduce inflammation, soothe itchiness, and alleviates pain.

What do you think?

Would you be comfortable enough to tell a doctor about having bed bugs?

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Lavender: Pleasant Smelling Cure


Lavender is an interesting remedy for bed bug bite itching. It treats itching but doesn't leave an odd smell.

It immediately stops the itch, plus many people claim that taking a lavender bath before bed wards of bed bugs through the night.

While we love the smell of it, bed bugs avoid lavender.


Take a warm lavender bath.

Some suggest using a mixture of juniper berries and lavender oil in your bath to increase the healing powers of lavender.

Ayurvedic Home Remedies

Why People Develop Bed Bug Rashes and Others Do Not

Just for kicks, let's go over the biology of a bed bug bite, and learn a little bit about allergic reactions.

These bites are considered allergic reactions because bed bugs inject a numbing chemical agent into the skin. When this happens bed bugs expose the body to antigens. Do not panic, an antigen is a term used to describe any substance that your body sees as a threat.

Sometimes the body perceives the proteins in the anesthetic and anticoagulant bed bugs inject as a threat, and the immune response is activated.

It is interesting to note that not every person has an allergic reaction to bed bug bites.

This would indicate that people who do not develop bed bug rashes do not react to the antigens (substance) that bed bugs inject.

Everyone’s body is different, and each person reacts differently to foreign substances in the body. If you are reading this article, you are probably experiencing an allergic reaction.

This is most likely a hypersensitivity to proteins in the anesthetic and anticoagulant bed bugs inject into their prey when they eat.

If you are seeing a bed bug bite for the very first time, there is something interesting that should be pointed out.

Your body goes through the process of sensitization to have a hypersensitivity to any antigen. The very first time you are exposed to an antigen you may not have a reaction.

Over time, your body can change. If your body produces IgE antibodies, you will then begin to experience an allergic reaction to bed bug bites the next time you are bitten.

Some people will never develop an allergic reaction. Either because their body does not sense threat, or because macrophages (which are kind of like Pack Man) will engulf and destroy the substance.

When To See A Doctor For Bed Bug Bites

Medical Care For Bed Bugs

Consult a doctor if you cannot positively identify your rash. Due to the nature of rash diseases, it is vital to rule out other causes of the rash, especially in children.

Once a rash is identified, your doctor will probably not have you come in for each bed bug bite.

However, if the itching is intense you may wish to go to the doctor to get prescription creams or a shot to reduce the allergic reaction.

Preventing itching is important because scratching the bed bug bite can open it up, which can lead to an infection.

If the bed bug bite does open, it is a sign you need to go to the doctor to get something to help stop the itch.

You may also be given antibiotics if there is a worry about infection. Bed bug bits do not cause fevers. Any rash accompanied by a fever needs to be treated by a doctor.

Most doctors will ask you to purchase a bed bug bite mattress cover, which is not covered by insurance. They will then give you resources that you can use to address the bed bugs themself.


What to Do After You Stop Bed Bug Itching

The key to preventing further irritation is exterminating the pests that caused them. If you feel anxious about bed bug bites read about Bed Bug Stress and Anxiety.

If you are worried about your children, check out Bed Bugs and Children. If your relationship is suffering read Bed Bugs and Relationships.

If stopping the itch is all you needed, then head over to the Free Bed Bug Check List to learn how to eliminate bed bugs.

No matter what you do, after you stop the itching of bed bug bites you need to take another step in the right direction.

*This Hub is for general advice only and should not be used as medical Advice. You should seek a doctors opinion before trying anything you see here.

Offline Works Cited

Ph. D., Martini, Frederic and Judi L. Nath, Ph. D. Anatomy & Physiology 2nd Ed. San Francisco: Pearson. 2012. Print.

© 2012 Melody Trent


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    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 4 years ago from London, UK

      Very interesting and useful read. How many years do you think people should keep Mattresses? For Kids and For Adults. It's probably the best way to avoid these bugs.


    • website-redesign profile image

      website-redesign 5 years ago from califronia

      hmm this is one of those articles i don't need now but will hit the bookmark pile for when i do need it :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      You have listed some really good natural remedies here for easing the itching from bedbug bites. I have tried aloe vera for burns and cuts and it does work miracles. Baking soda is so useful for so many other ailments, including bedbug bites. Well done and voted way up!

    • Jenn-Anne profile image

      Jenn-Anne 5 years ago

      Lots of useful info!

    • CCahill profile image

      CCahill 5 years ago from England

      Great Hub, by the looks of the pics im glad to say i don't have them but i hope this may be of use to anybody that does