Bedbugs are small, reddish-brown parasitic insects that bite the exposed skin of sleeping humans and animals to feed on their blood. Although bedbugs aren't known to spread disease, they can cause other public health and economic issues.

About the size of an apple seed, bedbugs hide in the cracks and crevices of beds, box springs, headboards, bed frames and any other objects around a bed. The risk of encountering bedbugs increases if you spend time in places with high turnovers of nighttime guests — such as hotels, hospitals or homeless shelters.

If you have bedbugs in your home, professional extermination is recommended.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Prevention

It can be difficult to distinguish bedbug bites from other insect bites or rashes. In general, the sites of bedbug bites usually are:

  • Red, often with a darker red spot in the middle
  • Itchy
  • Arranged in a rough line or in a cluster
  • Located on the face, neck, arms and hands

Some people have no reaction to bedbug bites, while others experience an allergic reaction that can include severe itching, blisters or hives.

When to see a doctor

If you experience allergic reactions or severe skin reactions to bedbug bites, see your doctor for professional treatment.

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