Bedbugs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Picture of Bedbug Bites

The first sign of bedbugs may be red, itchy bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. Bedbugs tend to leave straight rows of bites, unlike some other insects that leave bites here and there.

Bedbugs do not seem to spread disease to people. But itching from the bites can be so bad that some people will scratch enough to cause breaks in the skin that get infected easily.

Quick GuideBed Bug Bites: Fighting Back Against Bedbugs

Bed Bug Bites: Fighting Back Against Bedbugs

Bedbug facts

  • Bedbugs are small, oval insects that feed by sucking blood from humans or animals. Bedbugs do not fly.
  • Bedbugs can live anywhere in the home. They can live in cracks in furniture or in any type of textile, including upholstered furniture. They are most common in beds, including the mattress, box springs, and bed frames.
  • Bedbugs are most active at night. They may bite any exposed areas of skin while an individual is sleeping. Common locations for bedbug bites are the face, neck, hands, and arms.
  • A bedbug bite is painless and is generally not noticed. The bites may be mistaken for a rash of another cause. Small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin are the most common sign. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and itching.
  • Typically, no treatment is required for bedbug bites. If itching is severe, steroid creams or oral antihistamines may be used for symptom relief.
  • Home remedies for bedbug bites include measures to combat itching, such as oatmeal baths or cool compresses.
  • Fecal stains, egg cases, and shed skins (exuviae) of bedbugs in crevices and cracks on or near beds are suggestive that bedbugs may be present, but only observing the bugs themselves can confirm an active infestation. A professional pest-control company may be required to help identify and remove bedbugs from the home. Continue Reading
Reviewed on 5/6/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Greenberg, L., and J. H. Klotz. "Pest Notes: Bed Bugs." Oakland: Univ. Calif. Nat. Agric. Res. Publ. 7454. Sept. 2002.

Harvard School of Public Health

Kolb, A., G.R. Needham, K.M. Neyman, and W.A. High. "Bedbugs." Dermatol Ther. 22.4 July-Aug. 2009: 347-352.

Potter, Michael. "Bed Bugs." University of Kentucky Entomology. Aug. 2008.

Schwartz, Robert A. "Bedbug Bites." Medscape.com. Mar. 19, 2014. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1088931-overview>.

Thomas, I., G.G. Kihiczak, and R.A. Schwartz. "Bedbug Bites: A Review." Int J Dermatol 43 (2004): 430.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Bed Bugs FAQs." Jan. 10, 2013. <http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Parasites - Bed Bugs." Jan. 10, 2013. <http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/>.

United States. Environmental Protection Agency. "Bed Bugs: Get Them Out and Keep Them Out." Nov. 26, 2014. <http://www2.epa.gov/bedbugs>.

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