Skip to Content
Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Bedbugs
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
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. 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 insect 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
Hwang SW, et al. (2005). Bed bug infestations in an
urban environment. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 11(4):
Steen CJ, Schwartz RA (2008). Arthropod bites and
stings. In K Wolff et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2054–2063. New York:
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Send Us Your Feedback
North Kansas City Hospital.