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Why am I getting bitten every night?

If you find yourself waking up with mysterious bites or welts on your skin every morning, you’re not alone. Getting bitten repeatedly at night can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and a little scary. The key to stopping nighttime biting is identifying the culprit. Here are some of the most common causes of nighttime bites and how to prevent them.

Bed bugs

Bed bugs are one of the most notorious causes of bites at night. These sneaky pests feed on human blood while you sleep. Their bites often occur in clusters or lines on exposed skin and may look like small, red, itchy welts.

Bed bugs are master hitchhikers, traveling into homes on luggage, clothes, furniture, and more. Once inside, they take up residence in cracks and crevices near sleeping areas. Bed bugs are most active at night when they emerge to feed.

To prevent bed bug bites at night:

  • Inspect your mattress and bed frame for signs of infestation like dark spots, egg casings, and live bugs.
  • Use encasements on mattresses and box springs to trap any bed bugs inside.
  • Keep bedding and linens clean and change them frequently.
  • Reduce clutter like books, papers, and fabrics around your bed.
  • Have a pest control professional treat your home if bed bugs are present.


Mosquitoes are another prime suspect for nighttime biting. Female mosquitoes use human blood to develop their eggs. They are most active from dusk till dawn and often sneak into homes through open doors and windows.

Mosquito bites cause small, red, swollen bumps that often feel itchy. They will bite any exposed skin not covered by a mosquito net or blanket.

To deter nighttime mosquito bites:

  • Use screened windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent before bed.
  • Wear lightweight, long-sleeve pajamas and socks if mosquitoes are getting in.
  • Use a bedside mosquito net or canopy for protection.
  • Remove any standing water sources in your yard to disrupt mosquito breeding.


If you have pets that go outdoors, fleas could be sneaking into your bed and biting at night. Fleas survive by feeding on the blood of their hosts. They can jump long distances and may hitch a ride on your clothes or shoes.

Flea bites usually occur around the ankles and legs in clusters. They can be identified by small, red bumps that may have a red halo or dot in the center.

To stop flea bites while sleeping:

  • Treat pets with an effective flea control product.
  • Vacuum and wash pet bedding frequently.
  • Use an insect growth regulator in your home.
  • Apply diatomaceous earth to carpets and pet areas.
  • Bathe and groom pets regularly to control fleas on their skin.

Spider bites

Some spiders like brown recluse and hobo spiders occasionally bite people while they are sleeping. These nocturnal spiders may crawl into beds or hide in sheets and blankets.

Spider bites usually feel like a pinprick pain and cause minor swelling. In rare cases, they can cause severe reactions that require medical care. The venom of recluse spiders can damage skin tissue at the bite site.

To avoid spider bites at night:

  • Shake out bedding and check mattresses for signs of spiders.
  • Keep beds away from walls and tight corners where spiders build webs.
  • Seal cracks or crevices where spiders may enter.
  • Install insect screens on windows to keep spiders out.
  • Keep bedrooms clutter-free and vacuum regularly.


Scabies is an itchy skin condition caused by microscopic mites that burrow into the top layer of skin. An infestation can spread quickly between people through prolonged skin contact.

The mites are most active at night and bite repeatedly to feed on skin and lay eggs. This causes severe itching that often prevents sleep. Scabies typically spreads to the hands, wrists, elbows, armpits, and genital area.

To treat a scabies infestation:

  • See a doctor for diagnosis and medicated creams/lotions that kill scabies mites.
  • Wash clothes, towels, and bedding in hot water and dry on high heat.
  • Thoroughly clean and vacuum furniture, mattresses, and floors.
  • Apply medication as directed until the infestation clears.

Allergic reactions

In some cases, nighttime bites and itching may not come from pests at all. They can be caused by allergic reactions to products or fabrics used on the bed or pajamas.

Allergy symptoms tend to improve after leaving the bedroom and worsen at night. Reactions can range from mild redness to severe swelling and discomfort.

To determine if allergies are the culprit:

  • Pay attention to when symptoms improve or worsen.
  • Take antihistamines to see if they reduce bite reactions.
  • Have allergy testing done to pinpoint the allergen.
  • Switch to fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products and fabrics.
  • Cover mattresses and pillows with dust mite covers.

Other causes

Skin conditions like eczema or dermatitis can also cause burning, stinging, and itching that worsens at night. The symptoms may resemble insect bites. See your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

In very rare cases, biting sensations at night could signal a more serious neurological issue like delusional parasitosis. Consult your doctor promptly if symptoms persist despite treatment.


No matter the cause, there are some general precautions you can take to avoid nighttime biting:

  • Use bed bug mattress encasements and mosquito netting.
  • Wash sheets and blankets regularly in hot water.
  • Vacuum and declutter sleeping areas often.
  • Seal cracks and crevices where pests enter.
  • Consider pest control treatment if an infestation is found.

Diagnosis and treatment

Figuring out what’s biting you at night is the first step toward relief. Consider when symptoms improve or worsen and inspect your sleeping environment for signs of pests.

Bite reactions can also vary by culprit:

Bite Culprit Bite Appearance Other Signs
Bed bugs Small, red, clustered welts Blood spots on sheets, bed bug fecal stains, live bugs
Mosquitoes Swollen, red, itchy bumps Buzzing at night, seeing live mosquitoes
Fleas Red bumps with red halos Flea dirt on skin and bedding, pets scratching
Spiders Pinprick bite marks Visible spiders or webs in bedroom
Scabies Severe itching and rash S-shaped mite burrows visible on skin
Allergies Bumps, hives, itching Symptoms improve away from bedroom

See your doctor if bites do not improve with self-care or you experience severe reactions. Skin infections may require antibiotics. Steroid creams, antihistamines, medicated lotions, and pest control treatments can also provide relief depending on the cause.


Nighttime biting and itching can have many sources ranging from pests to skin conditions. Carefully inspect your sleeping area and pay attention to when symptoms occur to help identify the offender. Reduce clutter, wash bedding regularly, and take preventive steps to keep biting pests like mosquitoes and bed bugs away from your bed.

If self-care strategies don’t resolve the issue, seek medical advice. Doctors can diagnose any underlying conditions and provide prescription treatment options to help you sleep pest-free.