Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.
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.
A bedbug is a small, blood-sucking parasite that feeds on mammals and birds.
Bedbugs belong to the insect family Cimicidae, and although there are several
different species, the most common species associated with human 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, and approximately 4-5 millimeters in length. Immature
bedbugs (nymphs) may be translucent or light tan in color. 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 which 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 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 sometime afterward. Though bedbug transmission of human diseases is theoretically possible, it has not yet been definitively established.
Bedbug bites usually do not require any treatment. If you develop itching of the skin around the site of the bite, you can use an over-the-counter antihistamine pill or cream such as diphenhydramine(Benadryl). Try to avoid scratching your skin, as this can cause skin breakdown and a subsequent skin infection. Some individuals may also experience relief from the itching by applying a hot washcloth directly to the affected area.