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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Bedbugs
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Bedbugs are flat, wingless insects about 0.25 in. (0.6 cm) long. They range in color from almost white to brown. They turn rusty red after feeding. Like mosquitoes, bedbugs feed on blood from animals or people.
Bedbugs have that name because they like to hide in bedding and mattresses. Bedbugs usually hide during the day and are active at night when they feed. They can go for weeks without feeding. See a picture of a bedbug.
Bedbugs are not known 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. The bites can also cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Bedbugs are found worldwide. They are most often found in hotels, motels, hostels, shelters, and apartment complexes where large numbers of people come and go.
Because bedbugs hide in small crevices, they can come into your house on luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, boxes, and other objects. The bugs can hide in beds, floors, furniture, wood, and paper trash during the day.
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.
Look also for these other signs:
Home treatment can help stop the itching and prevent an infection. You can:
Bedbugs can be hard to kill. Bugs can hide in cracks and crevices in the mattress, bed frame, and box spring. They can spread into cracks and crevices in the room and lay their eggs. For these reasons, it is best to call a professional pest control company for treatment choices. The usual treatments include:
When the bugs are gone, be careful not to bring bedbugs back into your house.
Other Works Consulted
Schwartz RA, Steen CJ (2012). Arthropod bites and stings. In LA Goldman et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2599–2610. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Current as of:
July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineH. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
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