Bed Bug Bites vs. Mosquito Bites: Similarities and Differences

Last Updated on December 8, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford

Of all the pesky insects in the home, mosquitoes are perhaps the most common of all. Unlike some bed bugs, fleas, and more, mosquitoes can fare alone, sucking human blood when they can, where they can. They are dangerous because they transfer from one host to the next and they bring fatal diseases to humans like dengue and malaria. 

Bed bugs on the other hand are equally dangerous because of their blood sucking nature. These insects niche collectively, good hiders and are nocturnal.

While mosquitoes and bed bugs differ generally in appearance, the bite they leave are often mistaken for one another. As is the case, there is a need to differentiate and, in this post, we shall do that. 

Related: Bed Bugs Vs. Ticks Side By Side: Differences and Similarities

The similarities between bed bug bites and mosquito bites

Mosquitoes are mostly mistaken as bed bug bites because they have so many similarities. In terms of the effect on the victim, both have the same degree of itchiness, redness, and swollen bite that is why when people are bitten by insects, mosquitos are the first to blame. 

The differences between a mosquito bite and a bed bug bite 

bed bug bites vs mosquito bites
MOSQUITOA tiny red bump with a puncture wound in the middle. As soon as the mosquito penetrates the skin. Single bite; anytime of the day. 
BED BUGLikened to a ring of fire; red and itchy with a blister on top. Can take days before the bitten area becomes red. Three to five bites; only at night. 

Bed bug bite symptoms

bed bug bites

Unlike other insect bites, bed bug bites can penetrate human skin and leave it without any immediate symptoms. They bite anywhere where there is skin like the legs, arms, shoulders, neck, and so forth. So, if you are wondering about signs that would let you know that you have been bitten by bed bugs, it would be the following.

1. Burning pain sensation

Although tolerable, you will feel a burning and sometimes painful sensation when bitten by a bed bug so it is best to put on some ointment for an early aid to lessen the pain. 

2. Raised itchy bump with a clear center

The bitten area will look like a ring of fire where the sides of the circle will be very itchy. The bitten area tends to be so doubly itchy compared to mosquito bites and the equally doubled effort to scratch that part would tell you that it was a bed bug bite and not mosquito bite.  

3. Small bumps or welts

Bed bug bites often appear in 3-5 bites and usually in a zigzag pattern. In some cases, bed bug bites will look like repeating traces of red bumps in the skin. 

4. Spots of blood

You would also know that it was bed bugs who bite you if you find small spots of blood from bites often dried or stained onto sheets or bed clothing. Because they have been penetrating at night when the victim is asleep, they can also be killed without the victim knowing it. Thus, the blood stains found on a certain area where they have fed. 

Related: How Big is a Bed Bug? (Sizes At Different Life Stages)

What do bed bug bites look like?

bed bug bites on hand

Before we get any further, one of the most fundamental questions to address is what do bed bugs look like. Below are some of the fundamentals when it comes to distinguishing the look of bed bug bites to that of other insects. 

Signs & Characteristics

Having bites all over your body

Bed bugs live inside the home and see humans as food, therefore, they live near where they can survive.

When having bites all over your body and keep on asking yourself as to when or where have you been going, do not blame yourself or allergies but the bed bugs living in your home. 

Getting itches at night

Bed bugs are nocturnal. Given that they stay close to their food, they go and fill in themselves with human blood whenever the host is already in deep sleep and you cannot do anything about it.

Nonetheless, you could be awakened by itchiness too thanks to their bites so if you experience this to the point of insomnia, you have bed bugs around for sure. 

Prolific feeders

Bed bugs are very loyal to their host. When they start feeding from you, it is likely that you will find a lot of bites all throughout your body.

With this being said, bed bugs will feed more than once or twice a day as long as they want to fill themselves with blood.

When having a patterned reddish bed, know that there are a set of big bites penetrating your body that is why you should be careful or prevent it as early as you can. 

The bites worsen over time

When it is not prevented early, the bites can worsen overtime. Bites start off fewer to multitudes which feed on humans. An interesting fact about bed bug bites is that when newer bites come, the older ones are more visible than the new ones that is why it is hard for them to notice even when seeing reddish and feeling itchy. 


Bed bug bites are seen on every part of the body where there is skin where they can feed on with blood. Bites are seen on the arms, neck, legs, and anywhere else where they think is consumable.

Reaction time

Unlike most insect bites, bed bug bites often react one or two days after penetration. However, the reaction time varies from one person to another.

Those with underlying allergies and sensitive skin might have a reaction time of just minutes to hours. It depends on your skin too, basically and of course, the frequency of bites and level of infestation in your home. 


Bed bug bites are likened to the ring of fire where the circle is reddish and itchy while its center is clear. They are seen as a reddish bump that is seemingly inflamed, like the ring of fire. 

Bite itchiness

It has been said that bed bug bite does not have noticeable effects immediately but days after. Therefore, bite itchiness happens also after a day or two.

Just like any other bite, they come in reddish and are very itchy; however, they are rarely painful. Also, the effects are hardly noticeable because they take time to be seen. 


Bed bug bites can result in skin being swollen. But just like the itchiness, the effects will be seen after a day or two making them hardly noticed.

When this happens, you might want to get an aid or even apply ointments and other treatments you know which can help you relieve the swelling caused by bed bug bites.


Bed bug bites alone do not cause infection. However, if you keep on scratching the penetrated area, this may result in an infection. That is why it is advisable that when you think you are bitten by any insect, keep yourselves from scratching but rather treat it immediately. 

Related: What Do Bed Bug Eggs Look Like? and How To Kill Them

How long do bed bug bites last?

Bed bug bites can naturally go away but it always depends on a person’s skin type. Typically, a bed bug bite takes one or three days to a week to heal and they do not cause any serious illness to a person aside from skin itchiness and redness. 

When a slow healing process is observed, it is best to take in over the counter drugs or prescribed ointments that could hasten the relief. For those who sustain the bite, along with its redness and itchiness for more than three weeks, it is best to consult your doctor. 

Related: 10 Bugs That Look Like Bed Bugs But Aren’t


bed bug bites prevention

If it has become noticeable and felt with so much itchiness, it can be that it is a bed bug that has penetrated in your skin.

Even after saying that their bites are not harmless to humans, it is still advisable to have it treated using either home remedies or seeking the help of a professional. Nonetheless, for natural first aids, here are some tips which you can employ. 

For home remedy

  • High temperature: Bed bugs hate too much heat. As such, use steam washing to kill the bugs in your sheets, bed covers, pillow covers and other more. While it is not an instant extermination process, steam washing shall truly help in alleviating bed bug bites in the coming days. 
  • Essential oils: Be it on your diffuser or for your skin before you sleep, the strong scents of natural essential oils will keep the bed bugs away, hence, preventing bed bug bites overall. Lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and lemongrass are considered as the most potent bed bug deterrents. 
  • Exterminators: If you have had sleepless days and have plenty of red bumps in your skin and you do not know when or where you get them, best contact a reputable exterminator to intervene for you. 

For the itchiness, here are some points to remember:

  • Do not scratch them. They might become itchier in the coming days and scratching them might irritate the skin which may lead to more serious disease. Health wise, there is a need to keep your hands away from the penetrated area.
  • Use ice packs to keep off the itchy sensation. It is undeniable that you will keep on wanting to scratch the penetrated area one you start scratching them. One home remedy which you might want to consider is the use of ice packs to keep the itchy sensation. 
  • Moisturize the affected skin. This is an underrated remedy but if you want to veer away from the use of ointments, you can use skin moisturizer to soothe the bitten area. It is even said that opting for moisturizer would avoid the onset of scars even when the skin was scratched. 
  • Over the counter medicine: If you are more comfortable with the use of over-the-counter medicine and ointments, look for anti-itch and anti-allergy drugs and ointments like cetirizine, calamine lotion, colloidal ointment. You can also ask the pharmacist for recommendations depending on the severity of the bites in your skin. 

However, even with this prevention, the effect of bed bug bites is still a case-to-case basis. That is why when having severe effects already, it is best to seek the care of professionals and directly hear from them on what caused the redness and itchiness to your skin. 

When should you seek medical attention for bed bugs?

Seek help when the itchiness is already not tolerable and if the red bumps are continuously creating patterns all over your body.

You should also seek medical attention when the blisters are not relieved within three weeks after they have become noticeable. And if there is a burning sensation around the blister, make sure that you consult your doctor before applying anything. 

Mosquito bite symptoms

mosquito bites

Just like bed bug bites, mosquito bites also have major symptoms. While you may say that they do not require a lot of attention, those with sensitive skin would know that they are more than just insect bites sometimes. As such, here are some of the mosquito bite symptoms which you should note. 

  • A puffy and reddish bump appeared a few minutes after the bite. Unlike the bed bug bites that can see its effect after a day or two, mosquito bites are immediately seen and felt via having a puffy and reddish bump.
  • A hard, itchy, reddish-brown bump, or multiple bumps appearing a day or so after the bite or bites. After days, the bite gets puffier and goes reddish brown or may sometimes have another bump appearing which can be longer to treat.
  • Small blisters instead of hard bumps. A mosquito bite can cause small blisters which look like a small pocket liquid that can be popped over time. When popped, they may result in a bit of pain, but still tolerable.
  • Dark spots that look like bruises. Mosquito bites leave a trace of penetration through dark spots that stay on the skin over time. They look like tiny bruises and for some mistakes it to a big pimple mark.
  • Fever, fatigue, headache. When these are being felt, it is most likely that the mosquito bite has been causing a major effect on your body, thus, the need to seek the help of professionals as you might be having a major problem like malaria, dengue fever or anything that goes with it. 

What do mosquitoes look like?

Because they are very common, there might be no need to even characterize them. But since we are comparing bites here, it is still essential to give description to what their bites look like. 

Signs & Characteristics

  • Mosquitos are mostly found in tropical and temperate areas because these are where they can easily survive. Just like other insects, they feed on human blood, thus penetrating the human skin. 
  • Mosquitoes suck blood at any time of the day. Female mosquitoes particularly suck blood only at night like bed bugs. However, they do not wait until the host is asleep but just attack whenever there is an opportunity. The longer they stay and suck blood, the puffier, redder and itchier the blisters shall be.
  • Mosquitos move from one host to another especially when faced with death. This is their primary defense mechanism when humans feel their presence and attempt to swat them. 
  • Just like the bed bug bite, when not treated immediately can cause larger problems that give harmful effects to humans’ health, not just a single number of humans but a large number which might be the reason for getting your surroundings clean so that they cannot penetrate in your area. 


Anywhere you go, mosquitos are there. They are just higher in number in temperate climates and in tropical regions. They can survive in various locations though, as long as there are humid spaces in the home. 

Reaction time

Unlike the bed bug bite, mosquito bites appear immediately after they stop sucking blood from you. This would also bring about immediate redness, itchiness, and puffiness on the skin that is why they are easier to recognize. 


They are seen anywhere a host is present, especially in places where they see dirt and dust. It is from here that they begin feeding themselves until they form a group. Nonetheless, they work, suck, and survive independently at a general level. 

Bite itchiness

Mosquitos have an immediate effect on the penetrated part that is why a high chance of a major bite itchiness can be felt just seconds after. You may want to scratch it every now and then until the scratch becomes puffier and sometimes can bring out a bit of blood. 


A swollen part of the body is inevitable with a mosquito bite and the bite depends on how old and big the mosquito penetrates on the skin. The bigger it is, the larger amount of blood it needs, thus giving reasons for severe diseases to attack the human world.


Too much scratching can lead to infection but more than the infection is some of the major diseases which mosquitos bring such as Chikungunya, Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue fever, West Nile Virus and other more. 

How long do mosquito bites last?

Mosquito bites are immediate and effective and can last very long depending on skin type. The itchiness will last 20 to 60 minutes depending on what type of mosquito penetrated your skin.

However, some mosquito bites can last up until a week with itchiness and redness depending on the insect bite. Nonetheless, do not wait for days to keep the redness and itchiness in your body. Remember to keep yourself and your surroundings clean to ward them off from the home. 

Are mosquito bites dangerous?

Yes. Mosquito bites are annually in the limelight because of the dengue and malaria season which they are associated with. During these times, death tolls are high in some places. Hospitals are also on alert because of the serious conditions that some types of mosquitoes inflict. 

The serious medical conditions that they bring are specifically fatal to kids. There have been assertive measures to ward them off but at the end of the day, it is still hygienic practices that shall tender them down. 

How to treat mosquito bites

There are a lot of ways to treat mosquito bites especially the redness and itchiness that they bring to the skin. If you are looking for home remedies which you can turn to immediately, here are some tips to consider. 

  • Honey: Honey contains anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which can help you ease the pain of having an insect bite. To use this, easily apply it to the penetrated area and wait until the bite stops itching.
  • Apple cider vinegar: This home remedy has been used by many in several health problems including a mosquito bite. It helps ease the burning and itching feeling right after a mosquito penetration. To use this, simply apply an amount of apple cider vinegar to the affected area and when you still feel it, you may add another pinch until it eases the pain and itchiness. 
  • Toothpaste: As traditional as it may sound, toothpaste is the most common cure in curing a bump found in the body. The menthol which provides a cooling sensation gives a chance to ease the bumpiness and burning sensation of the area affected that is why many use it for a home remedy. 
  • Aloe Vera: This one is a natural antiseptic you can use as a home remedy. Many have been keeping aloe vera plants in their homes so that they have a source of remedy in case of situations like a mosquito bite. The liquid it provides helps the affected area lose the itchiness, especially the redness over a short period of time. 
  • Ice: Ice reduces inflammation and numbs the skin. Using this and having it on the affected area for a short period of time helps you ease the pain because it numbs the skin. This might be a surprise treatment for many but ice helps not only for the pain but for the burning feeling a bite causes. 

Related: 11 Plants That Repel Mosquitoes: Keep Those Pesky Biters Away!


mosquito bites prevention

Indeed, an ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure. To avoid mosquito infestation in your home and the danger their bites could potentially bring, here are some basic prevention tips to follow. 

  • When you are at home, especially at night, wear pajamas or anything that can cover up your body to prevent them from sucking your blood. 
  • It is always nice and good to keep your homes as clean as possible and make sure to also clean containers where they might be creating a home with. 
  • Empty all possible containers where they can find a comfortable place to niche on. This should especially be done during rainy seasons when mating and egg-laying are most prolific. Never leave stagnant water in containers and more. 
  • Keep yourself from going to unhygienic places or wear protective gears when hiking because there is a hundred percent chance that they may be living in that area. So as long as you can, keep yourself out of places where they can attack you anytime.

How many times will a mosquito bite in its lifetime? 

There is no limit to how many times a mosquito bite in its lifetime. Their only goal is to be satiated so they would not stop until they are full. However, female mosquito bites are said to rest for a couple of days when they have become full in preparation for egg laying. 

What essential oils do mosquitoes hate? 

Another home remedy to ward off mosquitoes would be the use of essential oils. Like bed bugs, mosquitoes also hate strong smells. The most potent essential oils to deter mosquitoes would be lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus. Mosquitoes also hate the following smells: 

  • Geranium
  • Catnip
  • Rosemary
  • Pine oil
  • Cinnamon bark oil 
  • Lemon oil

What scent attracts mosquitoes? 

It would be human sweat. The presence of lactic acid in human sweats particularly attracts mosquitoes to feed on them.  

When should you seek medical attention for mosquitoes?

Seek medical treatment when you are already feeling fatigue, restlessness, anxiety, shortness of breath and other more beyond the tolerable itchiness and redness because mosquitos have long been giving humans severe cases like the mentioned above.

Do not wait for a day or two especially if you are sure that the mosquito bite is causing you a lot of discomfort. Always remember that dengue or malaria are fatal. 


The long history of human civilization records how insect bites have been a major problem to populations. While bed bug bite can be considered less harmful, they still provide a lot of inconvenience to people and even allergic reactions if the bites remain untreated. 

On the other hand, no matter how trivial mosquitoes are, they can still pose harmful diseases to people. As is the case, indeed, there is an importance in knowing how to distinguish bed bugs and mosquito bites.