Skip to main content

Bed Bugs

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

Bed bugs are small, flat insects that bite your exposed skin and feed on your blood while you sleep. They can spread from person to person. They hide in the folds and seams of bed linens, furniture cracks, and electrical outlets. They are common in areas of frequent travel or buildings with shared walls, such as hotels or apartments. Do not scratch bite marks. Scratching can cause a skin infection.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have swelling in your lips, tongue, or throat.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You feel lightheaded, dizzy, or faint.
  • Your heart is beating faster than usual.
  • You are vomiting and cannot stop.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have very swollen, painful bite marks.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have open sores that are draining pus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines may be given to help decrease itching and inflammation. These may be given as a pill, cream, or ointment.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Prevent bed bugs:

  • Protect your clothes and luggage when you travel. Inspect them often for bed bugs. Keep your luggage closed tightly when you are not using it. Keep your luggage in the bathroom, or place contents in sealed plastic bags.
  • Inspect any used items you bring into your home. You may need to fumigate used furniture. Examine cardboard boxes or other items with small cracks where bed bugs could hide.
  • Remove clutter from the area where you sleep. Place your mattress or box spring in a sealed bag. Seal any cracks or molding in the walls or furniture.
  • Wash bed linens and clothes in hot, soapy water. Wash the items in water that is at least 130°F (50°C) for 2 hours, or 20°F (-5°C) or colder for 5 days. Dry them in a dryer on the hot setting for at least 20 minutes. Dry cleaning is also effective to get rid of bed bugs.
  • Tell someone about the bed bugs. This may include a landlord, hotel manager, or pest control company. Insecticide sprays are used to get rid of bed bugs.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Bed Bugs

Care guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.