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Bedbugs

Bedbugs Quick Information

Facts About Bedbugs

A bedbug is a small, blood-sucking parasite that feeds on mammals and birds. Bedbugs belong to the insect family Cimicidae; although there are several different species, the most common species associated with human bedbug infestations are Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus. There has been a recent resurgence in bedbug infestations worldwide, particularly in developed countries, including the United States.

Adult bedbugs are reddish brown in color, flat, oval-shaped, wingless and approximately 4-5 millimeters in length. Immature bedbugs (nymphs) may be translucent or light tan in color and therefore very difficult to see. Bedbugs are often more red in color after feeding. Bedbugs are attracted by warmth, and they generally feed during the night, often just before dawn. They tend to feed every five to 10 days, though they can survive without feeding for several months. Bedbugs pierce the skin and inject saliva that contains anesthetics and anticoagulants into the host, which often make their bites painless initially. After feeding on the host's blood for several minutes, bedbugs will retreat back to their hiding place. They will generally try to remain within close range of their warm-blooded host. Affected individuals may feel and see the consequences of the bedbug bite afterward, though many individuals will not develop any physical signs of a bite. Bedbugs do not transmit human diseases.

Picture of an adult bedbug
Picture of an adult bedbug
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/24/2016

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Bedbugs:

Bedbugs - Prevention

What prevention measures do you use to avoid getting bedbugs bites?

Bedbugs - Experience

Please describe your experience with bedbugs.

Bed Bugs - Initial Symptoms and Signs

What were the initial symptoms and signs of your bedbug bites?

Bedbugs - Treatment

How did you treat your bedbug bites?

Bedbug Bite Home Treatment

Home treatment can help stop the itching and prevent an infection. You can:

  • Wash the bites with soap to lower the chance of infection.
  • Use calamine lotion or an anti-itch cream to stop the itching. You can also hold an oatmeal-soaked washcloth on the itchy area for 15 minutes. You can buy an oatmeal powder, such as Aveeno Colloidal Oatmeal, in drugstores. Or you can make your own oatmeal solution. Wrap 1 cup (0.2 L) of oatmeal in a cotton cloth, and boil it for a few minutes until it is soft.


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