What is are Bedbugs?

There are many species of tiny, flightless insects that feed on human blood collectively known as “bedbugs.” They can live in beds but also in any object in a home or business. Their narrow bodies make it easy to hide in narrow cracks. Although they do not spread disease, bedbug bites are dangerous for loss of blood to a person that is already sick. Bedbug bites are painless unless hundreds are biting at the same time. Some people are more allergic to bedbug bites than others.

Bedbug infestations are caused by traveling to a place infested with bedbugs and having them hitch a ride home in luggage or by bringing in a used piece of furniture that contains hidden bedbugs.

What are the Symptoms of Bedbugs?

Bedbug bites resemble bite marks from mosquitoes, fleas or other biting insects, but they usually are located on the arms, legs, feet, hands, or neck. Bites are often close together or in a straight line instead of spread out all over the skin. Bites can be itchy according to how allergic the individual is to bedbug saliva. Bite marks tend to be red with a dark red spot in the center.

Bedbugs Causes

Bedbugs are not a result of dirtiness or poor hygiene. In fact, bedbugs will go anywhere they can feed on human or animal blood. Bedbugs also do not stick to humans or skin except when feeding, so they mainly travel via clothing, bags, or other materials they can hide in.

One of the most common causes of bedbugs is from staying in a hotel room or other temporary accommodation with constant turnover, and carrying them into your home via luggage or clothing. There is no one action that will cause bedbugs to appear, but you should be most cautious if you live with many other people, are traveling often, or have people coming in and out of your home.

How are Bedbugs Treated?

The main concern is not to scratch the skin open or this will cause infections. To combat bite itchiness, use over the counter anti-itching creams containing hydrocortisone. To combat both swelling and itchiness, take over the counter anti-allergy medicine diphenhydramime (sold under the brand name Benadryl.)

The only way to effectively get rid of bedbugs and their bites is to hire a professional exterminator. Over the counter insecticides do not work against bedbugs. Usually at least two treatments are needed to eliminate the infestation. All rooms in a home or apartments in a building need to be done simultaneously or the bedbugs will simply move from the treated room to an untreated one and go back to infesting the whole building.

WARNING: Any broken skin area that begins to feel hot, drains puss or swells up suddenly may be infected. Go to the doctor at once.

Bedbugs Prevention

There are a number of steps you can take to lower the risk of carrying bedbugs into your home.

When traveling, check your hotel room, apartment, hostel, or wherever you are staying for any sign of bugs. Usually, they can be found in and around the bed, tucked in the headboards. Small red or brown spots around the bed and sheets could also be a sign of bedbugs.

Always use provided luggage racks to elevate your bag. This will lessen the chance of bugs getting into your things, even if they are in the room. It’s also a good idea to look at reviews of places you plan on staying, to ensure guests have not recently complained about bugs or symptoms that might indicate that the place you are staying might be infested.

At home, avoid bringing in second-hand or used furniture from sources you don’t know. Someone down the road throwing away a nice old armoire might have a bug infestation you don’t know about, and bedbugs can hide in wooded furniture. Check your home regularly for the signs of bedbugs as you would in any hotel, and seek professional help if you suspect an infestation.

Last Reviewed:
September 13, 2016
Last Updated:
November 15, 2017