Categories: Diseases and Conditions

How to Treat Bed Bug Bites: Home Remedies for Relief

If you go to sleep perfectly healthy and fine but find yourself waking up with tiny, red and swollen bites or patches of skin covered with angry red spots, your mattress may be infested with bedbugs.

Bed bugs are tiny parasites that often infest mattresses. They feed exclusively on blood and are most active at night when they emerge to feed on their hosts.


Apart from the bed, these pests can be found in cracks and crevices in your house; in your sheets; and behind furniture, headboards, picture frames and electrical outlet plates.

There has been a return in the number of bed bug infestations globally over the recent years with increased numbers of infestations reported for America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and Africa. (1)

Bed bug bites often cause the skin to become red and inflamed

Bed bugs are notoriously fast breeders, with the females laying up to five eggs per day. As the juvenile bugs grow into adults, they shed their skin, which is a highly visible sign indicating a bed bug infestation. Fully grown adult bed bugs are roughly the size of apple seeds.

Their bites often cause the skin to become red and inflamed. They can also be quite painful and itch like crazy. Resist the urge to scratch and irritate these sites, as doing so can lead to secondary bacterial infections.

Note: Consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of this condition: Use home remedies only as an adjunct to treatment.

The other health impacts of bed bug infections include cost and safety. Hospitals have closed down due to infestations which lead to lack of provision of healthcare services. Also, people may end up using hazardous ways out of desperation to get rid of bed bugs. Other health impacts may include social and mental health issues resulting from having bed bug infestations.

Natural Ways to get Relief from Bed Bug Bites

Here are 10 incredibly easy methods and home remedies to treat bed bug bites at home.

Method 1: Ice

Applying an ice pack is one of the simplest and most effective ways to manage bed bug bites. Ice helps numb the site, providing relief from pain. It is also highly effective at reducing inflammation and soothing the red, swollen skin to prevent itching.

Single-Step Treatment: Apply an ice pack on the bites

Apply the ice pack on the affected area
  • Wrap some crushed ice in a clean, thin towel. Draw the ends together and bundle it up.
  • Apply the ice pack on the affected area for about 10 minutes.

You can reapply the ice pack throughout the day as needed to relieve pain and itching.

Method 2: Cinnamon

Cinnamon has potent antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that make it a highly effective remedy for treating insect bites, especially bed bug bites.

The ground spice can be made into a paste that acts as a highly effective Band-Aid, sealing the bitten areas, preventing infection and helping to heal the inflamed skin.


Single-Step Treatment: Apply a paste of cinnamon powder & water

Cinnamon powder & water paste is a good home remedy for bed bug bites
  • Put 1 tablespoon of organic cinnamon powder in a bowl.
  • Add enough water to make a thick paste.
  • Mix well.
  • Apply the paste on the bites. Cover them completely and let the paste dry.
  • Reapply the paste throughout the day to prevent the bites from worsening.

At the end of the day, the bed bug bites will be drastically reduced. If needed, you can apply the cinnamon paste again the next day to completely heal the bites.

Method 3: Calamine Lotion

Calamine lotion is another incredibly effective remedy to treat bed bug bites. It acts as a skin protector; reduces pain, redness, and inflammation; and has a cooling or soothing effect on the inflamed skin.

Another major advantage of calamine lotion is that it also prevents itching. In fact, calamine is prescribed to chicken pox patients to help them control the urge to scratch their sores.

Zinc oxide is the active ingredient in calamine lotion and is also used in several antiseptic ointments to both heal and treat rashes. You can also use calamine lotion to get rid of mosquito bites.


Single-Step Treatment: Apply a thick coat of calamine lotion on the bitten areas

Apply a thick coat of calamine lotion to treat a bed bug bite
  • Shake the calamine lotion bottle well before use.
  • Apply a thick coat of the lotion over the red and inflamed bites.
  • Allow it to dry on its own. As it dries, it forms a solid protective covering over your skin. Take care not to get the lotion-covered areas wet.

Reapply the lotion throughout the day as needed to control the pain, swelling, and irritation.

Method 4: Baking Soda

Baking soda is alkaline in nature and can be used to neutralize the acidic chemicals contained in insect bites. It’s also good for bed bug and chigger bites, due to its anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the redness and swelling.

Single-step treatment: Apply a paste of baking soda and water

Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it on the bite
  • Put 2 teaspoons of baking soda in a small mixing bowl.
  • Add 4 teaspoons of water as well.
  • Mix well to form a smooth, runny paste.
  • Apply the paste on the bed bug bites for quick relief from the pain and itching.
  • Leave it on for 10 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with water and gently pat dry your skin.

If you do not get the desired results, you can reapply the baking soda paste after 45 minutes.

Method 5: Rubbing Alcohol (Repellent)

Isopropyl rubbing alcohol can be used successfully to repel bed bugs and avoid getting new bites.

Single-Step Treatment: Apply rubbing alcohol to prevent new bed bug bites

Dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and apply on the affected areas
  • Soak a clean cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and apply it on the exposed areas of your skin to avoid getting more bed bug bites.
  • You can also spray rubbing alcohol all over your sheets, bedspread, mattress and even the bed frame itself to drive these pests away. Just ensure that you do not smoke or light up anything else in your room, as the alcohol is flammable.

Repeat as needed to get rid of bed bugs and avoid getting bitten by these parasitic pests.

Method 6: Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel has natural antiseptic, soothing and healing properties that make it an excellent remedy for bed bug bites. You can learn how to extract and make your own aloe vera gel here.


Single-Step Treatment: Apply aloe vera gel to soothe the bitten areas

Apply aloe vera gel directly on the bitten areas
  • Apply aloe vera gel directly on the bitten areas for instant relief.
  • Let the gel dry. It will heal and protect the inflamed skin.

Keep reapplying the gel throughout the day as needed to soothe the irritated skin.

Method 7: Apple Cider Vinegar

Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar has powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a wonder remedy capable of treating a wide variety of diseases and conditions.

You can apply it on the insect bites to get rid of the redness and inflammation. It also helps prevent bites from becoming infected and promotes faster healing.

Single-Step Treatment: Apply raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar on the bites

Dip a cotton ball in unfiltered apple cider vinegar and apply to get rid of bed bug bites
  • Soak a clean cotton ball with raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
  • Apply it directly on the insect bites. This may sting a little.
  • Keep it on for about 5 to 10 minutes, then wash it off.

If you do not find complete relief, you can apply the apple cider vinegar again after 5 to 7 hours.

Method 8: Toothpaste

White toothpaste is the best when it comes to treating bed bug bites. It acts as an astringent and has a cooling effect on your skin. You can also use toothpaste to treat minor burns.

Preferably use a peppermint flavored toothpaste as its menthol component acts as an anesthetic, numbing the pain from the bug bites while also reducing the swelling and itchiness.

Note: Stick to using a white toothpaste only as any other gel-based toothpaste won't be effective.

Single-Step Treatment: Apply toothpaste on the bites

Apply toothpaste on the bed bug bites
  • Squeeze out a smear of toothpaste and dab it on the affected skin.
  • Leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with water.
  • Repeat as needed to treat bed bug bites.

You can also leave the toothpaste on the affected areas until it dries completely. Doing so will provide longer relief from the swelling and itching.

Method 9: Warm Spoon

Another effective way to reduce the swelling from bed bug bites is by applying a warm compress to reduce the sting, redness, and inflammation.

One simple trick to prepare a warm compress is to heat it with hot water instead of directly over a cooking flame. This not only reduces the chances of accidental burns but also makes it much easier to reheat for repeated application.

Single-Step Treatment: Apply a warm compress on the bite

Warm spoon home remedy to get rid of a bed bug bite
  • Dip a clean metal spoon in a bowl of hot water.
  • Leave it in the water for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Remove the spoon from the water and touch it to ensure that the temperature is bearable.
  • Press the warm spoon against the bug bite until the spoon cools down.

You can repeat the process several times a day until you find relief.

Method 10: Witch Hazel

Witch hazel acts as a natural astringent and also has anti-inflammatory properties that work to soothe irritated skin, especially insect bites. You can also apply witch hazel to get rid of varicose veins without surgery.

You can apply witch hazel extract topically on your skin to get relief from irritation caused by bed bug bites. You can also make a DIY repellent spray with it.

# Treat the Bites

Single-Step Treatment: Apply witch hazel extract directly on the bites
Dip a cotton ball in witch hazel extract and apply it on the bedbug bite
  • Soak a clean cotton ball with witch hazel extract.
  • Apply it directly on the bed bug bites to reduce inflammation and itchiness.

Repeat application as needed until you get relief.


# Prepare Bed Bug DIY Repellent Spray

Things you’ll need:

  • Witch hazel extract – 2 tablespoons
  • Cinnamon essential oil – 3 or 4 drops
  • Water – 1 cup
Single-Step Treatment: Combine witch hazel and cinnamon oil in a spray bottle
Mix witch hazel extract and cinnamon oil to prepare a DIY repellent spray
  • Fill a spray bottle with 1 cup of water.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of witch hazel extract.
  • Add 3 or 4 drops of cinnamon essential oil and put the nozzle back on the bottle.
  • Shake the bottle to mix all the ingredients before you begin spraying.
  • Spray this solution directly on your skin before going to bed at night to repel bed bugs.

You can also spray the prepared solution all over your bedspread to ward off bed bugs and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Tips to keep in mind

  • Do not scratch the bites under any circumstances. Doing so can further aggravate the skin.
  • You can also use peppermint, lavender or tea tree essential oils to soothe the irritated skin. Simply dilute 3 drops of any of the essential oils in 1 tablespoon of a carrier oil like coconut oil, then apply the blend on the bitten skin.
  • You can also apply a mixture of equal amounts of cold milk and water to get relief from itching.


  1. Doggett SL, Dwyer DE, Peñas PF, Russell RC. Bed Bugs: Clinical Relevance and Control Options. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. Published January 1, 2012.

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