Bed bug bites: What you need to know Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed on human blood. They often bite humans during the night or early morning when people are asleep. While they don't carry disease, they can cause irritation, sores, and itchiness that might prevent a good night's sleep. Learn how to identify, control, and prevent bed bugs. Read now

^ Johann Friedrich Wolff; Johann Philip Wolff. "According to Scopoli's 2nd work (loc. cit.), found in Carniola and adjoining regions. According to Linnaeus' second work on exotic insects (loc. cit.), before the era of health, already in Europe, seldom observed in England before 1670". Icones Cimicum descriptionibus illustratae. p. 127. Retrieved 1 December 2016. fourth fascicle (1804)

Units that produce “dry” steam are less likely to damage household goods. Steam must be at least 113 degrees Fahrenheit (F), the minimum temperature to kill bed bugs, and care must be taken to reduce pressure so that bed bugs are not literally “blown away” before they can be killed by the steam. Steaming should be avoided around hazards such as electrical outlets.


Other types of bed bug traps include those that do not rely on humans as bait, but instead use CO2and/or other attractants. CO2 is thus far the most powerful lure for bed bugs, as it is the primary cue they follow to locate hosts. Traps that issue CO2 for a period of time are more expensive than Climbup™ traps, but can effectively trap bed bugs when no host is present, such as in common areas, vacant homes or units, offices, schools, and theaters. Thus they can help confirm infestation and eradication.
While most of the bed bugs were wiped out by the chemicals, three groups continued to thrive after being treated with chlorfenapyr, and five groups were still kicking after being treated with bifenthrin. That means that while some bed bugs will respond to these chemicals, others won't—and it's likely that more and more bugs will become resistant over time.
Bed bugs were once a common public health pest worldwide, but declined in incidence through the mid 20th century. However, bed bugs have undergone a dramatic, worldwide resurgence since they have now evolved resistance to common insecticides.[1] Bed bugs are one of the great travelers of the world and are readily transported via luggage, clothing, bedding, and furniture. To get rid of bed bugs, act at the first signs of infestation and use an integrated pest management approach involving prevention, sanitation, and chemical treatment. Bed bugs can be persistent, so you'll need to demonstrate a greater level of persistence if you want to eliminate them.

I work @ a hotel, and just found out that one of the rooms has a bed bug problem. I work at the front desk, and never go into the rooms. But i work third shift, and sleep in the chair in the lobby. Just wanted to know what my chances were of catching them? I will be going home and looking just to make sure. But since i work here, and its un-avoidable, what are some things i can do to protect myself from taking them home?

Low toxicity contact sprays like SteriFab™ or Bedlam® are likely to kill bed bugs only on contact. Alcohol- and soap-based sprays, are only partly effective. All of these products, once dry, are likely to provide no further control. Eggs will not be killed by alcohol-based sprays, so repeat treatments are usually needed. Be careful when using sprays containing alcohol because they may be flammable.
If you arrive home and discover that you have brought some unwanted guests home with you, immediately notify the hotel of your discovery. Having a possible infestation in hotels and motels can be a public relations nightmare for the owners. Politely ask them to pay for any and all costs incurred to rid your clothing and home of a possible new infestation.
I can definitely understand. This is has been going on with us for almost a year. My hands and arms look like I have leprocy or something. Horrible blisters, rash, scabs, and bunches of “bumps” especially in my right hand. I wind up with painful blood blisters some times. I am living on benedryl and calamine lotion. I hate going out because of what I look like. I have taken to using cover up and foundation on my hands to make the mess less noticable. i have a long-sleeved summer weight sweater that I wear whenever I do have to go out.
^ Kambu, Kabangu; Di Phanzu, N.; Coune, Claude; Wauters, Jean-Noël; Angenot, Luc (1982). "Contribution à l'étude des propriétés insecticides et chimiques d'Eucalyptus saligna du Zaïre (Contribution to the study of insecticide and chemical properties of Eucalyptus saligna from Zaire ( Congo))". Plantes Médicinales et Phytothérapie. 16 (1): 34–38. hdl:2268/14438.
Bedbug bites themselves are typically painless. However, the subsequent allergic reaction that may develop can cause intense pruritus. While feeding, bedbugs may inject one of several pharmacologically active substances, including hyaluronidase, proteases, and kinins. These compounds may induce different skin reactions, such as erythema, wheals, vesicles, or hemorrhagic nodules. Repeated bites may sensitize individuals, leading to more pronounced cutaneous manifestations or systemic hypersensitivity reactions. The local trauma from bedbug bites can lead to secondary bacterial infection, causing ecthyma, cellulitis, or lymphangitis. There is some evidence that bedbugs may also be a vector for hepatitis B and Chagas disease. Histologic findings from bite-site biopsy specimens typically show eosinophilic infiltrates, which are indicative of the allergic nature of the reaction. The image shown is papular urticaria, which may develop from bedbug bites.

Some oils like tea tree and neem oil can't kill bedbugs, but they work well to repel them. Tea tree oil is an extract from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant—it can cause various health problems with pet birds, cats, and small dogs. If there are pets in the house, look for other safer choices. If you use the oil, apply it in small quantities to the skin to repel bed bugs. Since bed bugs are active at night, apply it before bedtime.
Susceptibility to arthropod bites depends on many external factors, such as occupation, conditions of employment, cohabitation with a variety of domestic animals, housing, climate, and clothing. An arthropod is usually attracted to its host by body heat, carbon dioxide in exhaled air, vibration, human sweat, and/or odor. The Cimex (bedbug) genus attacks both mammals and birds. C hemipterus (the tropical bedbug) bites mostly humans and is found in warm climates, whereas C lectularius (the common bedbug) also attacks bats and domestic animals, such as chickens.
If all other options have been exhausted, you may need to seek a professional PMP (Pest Management Professional). There are pesticides that are approved for professionals to use during a infestation. These pesticides, however, are not always effective, and typically not as effective as steam cleaning, excessive heat, or excessive cold. The exterminator may opt to treat the area with carbon dioxide.
Bed Bugs can re-infest your freshly treated bed, so be sure to stop them from crawling up the bed posts by using Climb-Up Bed Bug Insect Interceptors. The Climb-Up Insect Interceptor is a small dish that is placed under the bed post and captures bedbugs in a a powder coated ring. These type of bed bug traps are very effective and should be used on every bed to help make a complete bed bug proof bed.
Most people use a combination of bed bug sprays and bed bug powders to kill off bed bugs fast. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of and finding the right spray to eliminate bed bugs is not always easy. Many natural residual bed bug sprays contain natural ingredients that have a proven repellent and insecticidal action against these infesting bugs. Some feel that they have to resort to commercial bed bug sprays to completely get rid of an infestation of bed bugs.

Bed bugs usually bite people at night while they are sleeping. Hungry bed bugs may also feed during the daytime, especially if this is when the occupant normally sleeps. They feed by piercing the skin with an elongated beak through which they withdraw blood. Engorgement of the bed bug takes roughly three to 10 minutes, but because the bite is painless, the person seldom realizes they are being bitten. Bed bugs normally do not reside on people like head or body lice do; instead, immediately after feeding, bed bugs crawl to a secluded location to digest their meal. Symptoms after being bitten by bed bugs vary from person to person. Many develop an itchy red welt within a day or so of the bite. Others have little or no reaction. Sometimes the reaction is delayed days or even weeks after the actual bite occurs, which can make it difficult to determine where or when bites actually occurred. Studies conducted in bed bug-infested apartments suggest about 30 percent of people do not react even when bitten repeatedly over time, and there is still higher incidence of non-reactivity among the elderly. Unlike flea bites, which occur mainly around the lower legs and ankles, bed bugs feed on any skin exposed while sleeping (face, neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, etc.). The welts and itching are often wrongly attributed to other causes, such as mosquitoes. For these reasons, infestations may go a long time unnoticed, and can become quite large before being detected. 
If you suspect an infestation, experts recommend finding a professional exterminator who has experience dealing with bedbugs. Sprayed insecticides are commonly used to treat infestations, and exterminators may also use nonchemical methods, such as devices to heat a room above 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius), a lethal temperature for bedbugs, according to the Mayo Clinic. Freezing infested items for a few days at temperatures below 0 F (-18 C) may also put bedbugs to permanent rest, according to the University of Minnesota. But you may have to throw out heavily infested mattresses and other items of furniture.
Wash the bites with soap and water. Wash the area with mild soap and water; use a bar of soap and enough water to wet surface of your hands. Work the soap in your hands into thick, soapy lather. Rub the lather over the affected area liberally. Repeat until the entire area is covered. Leave on and do not rinse. Allow the soap lather to dry over the bitten areas. You should experience immediate relief from itching.[5]
Killing all bed bugs on your bed frame and headboard. Normally this would be done by a pest control professional. Approximately 70% of all bed bugs in the typical infestation are located on the mattress, box spring and bed frame.  You’ve encased the mattress and box spring and taken care of that problem.  Now you have to make sure that your bed frame is bed bug free. Vacuuming alone won’t do this.  Vacuuming can remove many bed bug adults and nymphs, but it isn’t very good at removing eggs.  For this job you’ll need insecticide sprays and possibly dusts to treat every crevice and void in your bed.  For insecticide spray and dust options see below. Remember that insecticides can be hazardous if you don’t follow label directions.  Read the whole label before spraying or dusting.  The label directions are the law and failure to follow the label not only puts you and your family at risk, it is against the law.  Homemade sprays, by the way, are usually less safe than commercial insecticides.  Stick with the legal stuff.
Dismantling bed frames in infested areas typically exposes bed bug hiding sites. Having access to these areas during cleaning is important. Stand up the box spring and shine a flashlight through the gauze fabric and look for bed bugs. If the fabric is torn (possible hiding place), remove fabric to prepare for spraying. If the mattress and or box springs are infested, you may want to consider Encasements by Mattress Safe. Once covered with these encasements, bed bugs can not enter or exit. There is no need to treat the mattress or box spring when using these encasements. Keep them on for a year.
It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.
Scrub infested surfaces with a stiff brush to dislodge eggs. Vacuum the room extensively. Use a vacuum hose attachment to thoroughly vacuum cracks and crevices on furniture and along baseboards on the walls. Vacuum along baseboards, furniture, bed stands, rails, headboards, foot boards, bed seams, tufts, buttons, edges of the bedding, as well as the edges of the carpets (particularly along the tack strips). A good vacuum cleaning job may remove particles from cracks and crevices to encourage greater insecticide penetration. Bed bugs cling tightly to surfaces, so it is best to vacuum by scraping the end of the vacuum attachment over the infested areas to pull out the bed bugs. Caution: It is not good to use a bristle attachment, because you may transfer bed bugs to other areas since they cling to the brush. Dispose of vacuum cleaner bags after you are finished in an outdoor trashcan.

Nightstands and dressers may need to be emptied and examined inside and out, and tipped over to inspect the woodwork underneath. Oftentimes the bugs will be hiding in cracks, corners, and recesses. Other common bed bug hiding places include: along and under the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting, especially behind beds and sofas; cracks in wood molding; ceiling-wall junctures; behind wall-mounted pictures, mirrors, outlets and switch plates; under loose wallpaper; clothing and clutter within closets; and inside clocks, phones, televisions and smoke detectors.


Español: matar chinches, Italiano: Liberarsi delle Cimici da Letto, Русский: избавиться от постельных клопов, Deutsch: Bettwanzen loswerden, Français: se débarrasser des punaises de lit, Nederlands: Bedwantsen bestrijden, Čeština: Jak se zbavit štěnic, 中文: 清除床虱, Português: Acabar com os Percevejos, Bahasa Indonesia: Membasmi Kutu Busuk, हिन्दी: खटमलों से छुटकारा पायें, العربية: التخلص من بق الفراش, ไทย: จัดการตัวเรือด, Tiếng Việt: Diệt trừ rệp, 한국어: 빈대 퇴치하는 법, Türkçe: Tahtakurularından Nasıl Kurtulunur, 日本語: トコジラミを退治する
Disclosure: Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant or trustee for: University of Alabama at Birmingham; University of Alabama Health Services Foundation
Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Ferndale Laboratories
Received research grant from: NIH, Veterans Administration, California Grape Assn
Received consulting fee from Astellas for review panel membership; Received salary from Massachusetts Medical Society for employment; Received salary from UpToDate for employment. for: Astellas.

Pesticides alone are not the answer to bed bugs. Most of the commonly used pesticides today, including professional products and consumer products advertised for control of bed bugs, are at best moderately effective at controlling these pests. Pesticides must be used with care for safety and with attention to proper application to work well. Aerosol “bug bombs” or “fumigators” are also mostly ineffective in eliminating bed bugs. Aerosol insecticides mainly kill insects that are exposed, and out of their hiding places, not those hidden behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices of the bed, under carpet edging and in walls.


Unlike cockroaches and flies that feed on filth, there is often no relationship between bed bugs and cleanliness. Since the bugs feed solely on blood, pristine dwellings can be as vulnerable to infestation as are places of squalor. That said, poverty and privation can lead to increased risk of bed bug problems, as can the inability to hire a professional exterminator.    
Start in the corners and along edges of an open wall.  With the card, see if you can dig things out of the cracks and crevices. Work your way along the cracks and crevices. For example, if you are checking a baseboard along the floor, see if you can get the card between the baseboard and the floor, as well as the top of the baseboard and the wall. If you have a bare tile or wood floor, consider using a damp cloth or map to wipe the floor.  Don’t use too much water as floors can be slippery.  Look for anything moving after you wipe the floor. If you have carpeted areas vacuum the clean area. See Vacuuming Items to Capture Bed Bugs.  Don’t forget to check pictures and other items on this wall.
To treat an allergic reaction, the doctor may prescribe an antihistamine, corticosteroid, or epinephrine injection. If the area is infected, he or she might prescribe an antibiotic or recommend an over-the-counter antiseptic. Finally, if it’s severe itchiness that you’re dealing with, applying corticosteroid or taking an antihistamine in pill or liquid form may be able to help.
We are often asked, "How do you kill bed bugs?" While we would love to give a simple answer, this is actually a loaded question. There are many ways to kill a bed bug but, if you want to kill all of the bed bugs in your home or business, it is important to pay attention to the details. Here are some ways you can kill bed bugs, and what you should know about each.

If, after everything is thoroughly taken apart and cleaned, you still have an infestation, other measures may need to be taken. If you have an infestation of bats, you may also have a serious infestation of “bat bugs” which are very similar to the common variety. Often, the infestation is not as strong as those caused by their cousins as they are more apt to wander and relocate.

As mentioned earlier, applying insect repellent at bedtime will probably not deter bed bugs from biting. When working in severely infested dwellings, there may be some benefit to spraying tops and bottoms of shoes with DEET-based repellents. Those working in bed bug-infested environments may also want to hot wash or run clothing, etc. through a dryer upon returning home or to the office.    
You can make a natural bed bug bite treatment by putting 1 cup distilled water in a spray bottle and adding 10-15 drops tea tree oil. Shake well and spray on areas of skin that have clusters of bed bug bites. Or, you could spray the remedy on a cotton pad and apply to the itchy bumps on your skin. You can also dilutes tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil (a few drops of tea tree per one tablespoon of carrier oil).
Killing all bed bugs on your bed frame and headboard. Normally this would be done by a pest control professional. Approximately 70% of all bed bugs in the typical infestation are located on the mattress, box spring and bed frame.  You’ve encased the mattress and box spring and taken care of that problem.  Now you have to make sure that your bed frame is bed bug free. Vacuuming alone won’t do this.  Vacuuming can remove many bed bug adults and nymphs, but it isn’t very good at removing eggs.  For this job you’ll need insecticide sprays and possibly dusts to treat every crevice and void in your bed.  For insecticide spray and dust options see below. Remember that insecticides can be hazardous if you don’t follow label directions.  Read the whole label before spraying or dusting.  The label directions are the law and failure to follow the label not only puts you and your family at risk, it is against the law.  Homemade sprays, by the way, are usually less safe than commercial insecticides.  Stick with the legal stuff.

Some bed bug products cannot be used where others can. Also, bed bugs can build up a resistance to certain pyrethroids, making them difficult to treat. This is why using a variety of products to kill and control bed bugs will produce the best results. We recommend using one of our bed bug kits. These kits include our most powerful and effective products for a variety of applications to save you time and money.
If all other options have been exhausted, you may need to seek a professional PMP (Pest Management Professional). There are pesticides that are approved for professionals to use during a infestation. These pesticides, however, are not always effective, and typically not as effective as steam cleaning, excessive heat, or excessive cold. The exterminator may opt to treat the area with carbon dioxide.
Pesticides alone are not the answer to bed bugs. Most of the commonly used pesticides today, including professional products and consumer products advertised for control of bed bugs, are at best moderately effective at controlling these pests. Pesticides must be used with care for safety and with attention to proper application to work well. Aerosol “bug bombs” or “fumigators” are also mostly ineffective in eliminating bed bugs. Aerosol insecticides mainly kill insects that are exposed, and out of their hiding places, not those hidden behind baseboards, in cracks and crevices of the bed, under carpet edging and in walls.
Prior to the mid-20th century, bed bugs were very common. According to a report by the UK Ministry of Health, in 1933, all the houses in many areas had some degree of bed bug infestation.[65] The increase in bed bug populations in the early 20th century has been attributed to the advent of electric heating, which allowed bed bugs to thrive year-round instead of only in warm weather.[66]
Insecticides might also have their work cut out for them: Entomologists have known that the common bedbug has built up resistance to some typical insecticides such as those containing certain pyrethroid chemicals like deltamethrin, according to Entomology Today. Deltamethrin apparently paralyzes an insect's nervous system, according to Cornell University.
The size of bed bug bites varies with a number of different factors. Bed bugs inject an anti-coagulant along with their saliva when they pierce the skin to take a blood meal. This anti-coagulant is mostly responsible for how a person reacts to the bite and determines the size of the bug’s bite. Since people will have various sensitivities to the bed bug’s bite, the size of the bite will vary, as well. Another factor that influences the size of a bed bug reaction is the number of times a person is bitten. Bite reactions of people bitten many times are also variable, and their response may be either more or less intense as the number of bites increases.
Waking up with bites might be the first indicator that you have a bed bug problem. Their bites are often arranged in lines or clusters on the face, neck, arms or hands. Where there are bed bugs in large numbers, you might smell a sweet, musty odor (from the bugs’ scent glands) or see rust-colored spots on your bedding or mattress caused by bed bug blood or excrement. If you look closely, you might see adult bed bugs themselves, usually in mattress folds or seams or on the wall behind the headboard. Bed bugs prefer to stay close to their food source and are typically found hiding out within 1 to 5 ft of infested beds or furniture.

We are often asked, "How do you kill bed bugs?" While we would love to give a simple answer, this is actually a loaded question. There are many ways to kill a bed bug but, if you want to kill all of the bed bugs in your home or business, it is important to pay attention to the details. Here are some ways you can kill bed bugs, and what you should know about each. 

Blood spots found on one's sheets, bites and the presence of bed bug feces and cast skins are some of the indications of a bed bug infestation. Bites are commonly found on the parts of the body that are more likely to be exposed to bed bugs during sleep - the hands, neck, face, shoulders, legs and arms. While not always the case, bed bug bites are often grouped together in a small area and at times may occur in a line or a zigzag pattern. Bites normally look like small, flat or raised areas that may become inflamed, itchy, red or blistered. Bed bug bite reactions don’t always appear immediately after you’re bitten and may take a few days to begin causing symptoms. However, not everyone reacts to bed bug bites in the same manner.
Bag and launder (122°F/50ºC minimum) affected items. Smaller items that cannot be laundered can sometimes be de-infested by heating. Individual items, for example, can be wrapped in plastic and placed in a hot, sunny location for at least a few days (the 122°F/50ºC minimum target temperature should be monitored in the center-most location with a thermometer). Bedbugs also succumb to cold temperatures below freezing, but the chilling period must be maintained for at least two weeks. Attempts to rid an entire home or apartment of bed bugs by raising or lowering the thermostat will be entirely unsuccessful.[12]
Checking beds for bed bugs was a common practice long ago, especially while traveling. Travelers today should consider doing the same, preferably before unpacking. This would entail examining the bed sheets and seams of the mattress and perhaps box spring for signs of bed bugs, especially along the head (pillow end) of the bed. Experts also remove and check behind headboards since this is a frequent hiding place for bed bugs in hotels. Headboards are heavy and cumbersome, however, and untrained persons should not attempt removal themselves.

Check the mattress throughly, paying close attention to seams and tufts along the edges. Flip the mattress over and inspect the bottom carefully as well. Pay particular attention to any rips in the fabric. View the fabric on the bottom of the box spring and shine a flash light to verify that bed bugs have not penetrated the interior of the box spring.

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