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.
Your replies to these questions are great! I have a question for you. I’ve recently returned home after spending a week in a hotel and the day after I returned I noticed 4 red dots which could be bites on my waist line. They don’t itch or hurt but I’ve never had anything like this before. I can send you a picture if you tell me how. I’m worried that they may be bed bug bites.
Bedbugs are found all over the world. Bed bug infestations were common in the U.S. before World War II and became rare after widespread use of the insecticide DDT for pest control began in the 1940s and 1950s. They remained prevalent in other areas of the world and, in recent years, have been increasingly observed again in the U.S. Increases in immigration and travel from the developing world as well as restrictions on the use of stronger pesticides may be factors that have led to the relatively recent increase in bedbug infestations. While bedbug infestations are often reported to be found when sanitation conditions are poor or when birds or mammals (particularly bats) are nesting on or near a home, bedbugs can also live and thrive in clean environments. Crowded living quarters also facilitate the spread of bedbug infestations.
I have been getting a “bites” here and there the last couple weeks. Mostly on legs and a couple on my hip. They don’t itch and sort of look like pimples. I am stressed about bedbugs due to a scare a while back (turned out to be carpet beetles) and think it may be from stress. Anywho there is no evidence (cast,spots, ect) yet but could it be bedbugs if it is new infestation.
Hi can you respond to me privately? I inspected my bed mattress and linens for any signs of bed beg fecal matter and any grown bed bugs or spots of feces. I have not found any traces blood-type residue or brownish type feces in the mattress. Is it normal to find an occasional bites from something other than bed bugs? Sometimes after shaving, I will have red pimples where I have shaved.

It is important to remember that they have a very flat body that allows it to hide almost anywhere. During the initial onset of the infestation, they are only visible around the tufts and seams of the mattress. As the infestation grows, these bugs spread out and inhabit larger and larger areas. Generally they prefer rough surfaces like wood or paper for their harborages.

The Internet abounds with so-called miracle cures for bed bugs. But bed bugs are hard to get rid of, so anything that advertises an immediate solution is not accurate—it's snake oil. These "cures" have included (as reported by pest control operators who come in afterward to tackle bed bugs correctly) using bleach, ammonia and even DIY heat treatment, which carries fire risk.


Before you run off and buy every cream the pharmacy stocks, you’ll want to confirm that the marks are actually from bed bugs. Even if they match the description – round, red marks that may bump, swell, itch, and/or burn – the marks could be allergic reactions to food or fabric, irritations from a rough material, or bites from another pest like mosquitoes or carpet beetles.
Quote: Similarly, bed bugs will perish in extremely cold temperatures. If it is possible to keep a room unheated for a prolonged period of time, it may kill the population. All stages of the common bed bug, from nymphs to adults, can survive for up to five days in temperatures of fourteen degrees Fahrenheit. Prolonged exposure, however, to these temperatures, will kill them.

I know when you get infested with these, the bedding and mattresses all have to go. We are just barely scraping by as it is, and we have a bed for each kid no matter how often they come to see us – including ours, that’s SEVEN mattresses and bedding sets. Our landlord is not returning our calls, and although I know that he is responsible for not treating the problem which (per neighbor reports) the previous tenants had, too. But the lawyer wants $500 to even send a LETTER, let alone go to court. And I keep thinking that even if we go to court and win, the courts will make him treat the apartment…not replace the furniture that’s effected because of it. So…we sleep on floors, with newspapers?


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.
Zonalon and Prudoxin (doxepin) are topical creams that can be prescribed for relief from itching. The active ingredient in these products is a topical tricyclic antidepressant and seems to work against itching by reducing histamine. Histamines are chemicals your body produces in response to injury or when having an allergic reaction. A prescription-strength cortisone cream may also help. In some cases, a prescription antihistamine will be given. 
To prevent bringing bed bugs to one's own home, travelers are advised to take precautions after visiting an infested site: generally, these include checking shoes on leaving the site, changing clothes in a garage before returning to their home, and putting the used clothes in a clothes dryer outside the house. When visiting a new lodging, it is advised to check the bed before taking suitcases into the sleeping area and putting the suitcase on a raised stand to make bedbugs less able to crawl in. "An extreme measure would be putting the suitcase in the tub." Clothes should be hung up or left in the suitcase, and never left on the floor. [29] The founder of a company dedicated to bedbug extermination said that 5% of hotel rooms he books into were infested. He advised people never to sit down on public transport; check office chairs, plane seats and hotel mattresses, and monitor and vacuum home beds once a month.[30]

Specks of blood on bedding, mattresses, or upholstered furniture such as couches and headboards: Look carefully at your blankets, sheets, and mattress pads and then check the mattress and box spring. Are there specks of blood anywhere, especially near the seams? If so, there could be a bed bug infestation. You should also check for specks of blood on all upholstered furniture, including couches and headboards.


Data Sources: A PubMed search was completed in Clinical Queries using the key terms bedbug, rash, bites, and infestation. The search included meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, clinical trials, case reports, and reviews. We also searched the online databases of the Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Jefferson Clinical Images. Lastly, we used Essential Evidence Plus. Search dates: February through June 2011.
When it comes to controlling bed bugs, "do it yourself" should not be anyone's motto. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to eradicate - 76 percent of pest professionals say they are the most difficult pest to control.  As such, people who suspect a bed bug infestation should turn to a qualified pest professional with expertise in treating these pests. The pest professional will evaluate the extent of an infestation and recommend the best course of treatment.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorses that appropriate control of a bed bug infestation requires an experienced pest management professional and recommends that victims be advised against attempting to control measures themselves.
the Red bug bite is just as painful and itches with no let up like the Bed Bug bites,,,only difference is the Red Bug is in your skin living under your skin until you kill them. I remember my mom and dad use to say when fresh grass is cut not to roll around on the ground because the Red Bugs ( or Chiggers) would get ALL OVER YOUR BODY, and they were right so back in the 60″s we had only few treatments and the old remedies were passed down from family to family. ( you can buy Chigger ointment from pharmacies like Polks or old timers Drug Stores) we used Micureocome and Methilate for bites and scrapes. My spelling isn’t great.
CrossFire Bed Bug Concentrate has two different active ingredients for dual modes of action (both a quick kill and residual activity). Mix 3 oz of CrossFire Insecticide with one gallon of water or 0.75 oz per quart (Remember to use what you mix-within 24 hours.) Adjust the spray pattern to a mist by turning the nozzle. A low fine mist is best for most spraying, but you may need to use a stream to get into some cracks and crevices. If you can't get into the cracks and crevices use one of the aerosols described below with it's crack and crevice tips to reach into these areas.
my concern is i am homeless and staying at a mission for now downtown Seattle there are thousands of these things in our city and biting a lot of sick people …”CAN YOU GET AIDS FROM A BED BUG???”i guess this is a major concern for a lot of people and how do we go about eliminating them in our city???..what do we put on the bites or do we just leave it alone???
If possible get your treatment from a local outlet like Home Depot, a hardware store or an agricultural/farm supply store. If you can afford it get one of those steam mops like Shark has. It comes with a unit designed for hand steam treatments of the bed and the hot steam will kill the bugs. You will also need it if you have to treat carpeting. Professionals use a combination of treatments and you will too in order to be successful. Good luck!

Mix 3 oz per gallon or 0.75 oz per quart and spray with a low pressure sprayer into the areas where the bed bugs are hiding. Typical areas include bed frames, headboards, under beds, baseboards, moldings, behind pictures,etc. Remember to apply in the joints and crevices of furniture. If the crack and crevice is too small, use an aerosol with a crack and crevice tip (recommendations are below.)
Jump up ^ Anderson, J. F.; Ferrandino, F. J.; McKnight, S.; Nolen, J.; Miller, J. (2009). "A carbon dioxide, heat and chemical lure trap for the bed bug, Cimex lectularius" (PDF). Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 23 (2): 99–105. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2915.2008.00790.x. PMID 19499616. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 August 2017. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
It was stated in 2012 that no truly effective insecticides were available.[6] Insecticides that have historically been found effective include pyrethroids, dichlorvos, and malathion.[4] Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time, and harm to health from their use is of concern.[3] The carbamate insecticide propoxur is highly toxic to bed bugs, but it has potential toxicity to children exposed to it, and the US Environmental Protection Agency has been reluctant to approve it for indoor use.[33] Boric acid, occasionally applied as a safe indoor insecticide, is not effective against bed bugs[34] because they do not groom.[35]
Bring a little flashlight—hotel room lighting is always pretty poor and the dimmer the lighting, the harder it is to see small bed bugs or their fecal spots. I would pull back the bed covers and look all around the head of the bed. Pull back the sheets, too, and look at mattress seams and edges that are exposed. bed bugs love to hide under mattress tags. Look all around the box springs, too. If there's a dust ruffle, pull it up and look under it as much as possible. Look for moving bugs and stationary, hiding bugs.
Hi, I am from the United states and have recently travelled to Poland. Decided to stay in an AirBnb in Warsaw. Everything was okay until a couple of days into the stay when I noticed what seemed like a very small cluster of small bites in the crook of my neck. Stranger still, on the opposite side of my neck, in the same location, there was another very small cluster of small bites. Ofcourse, I panicked. Washed everything three times, etc. The next few days, it seemed a couple of more would appear in the same area. In the crook region of my neck. But, NOT on my legs, feet, stomach, hands. Keep in mind, I sleep with very little clothes and thought it was weird that this “skin reaction” was not any where else. I did start wearing a new product in my hair and exactly where my hair falls usually, is pretty much where these little “bumps” appeared. I did try to do little experiments to test out the theory that I may just be having a skin reaction to a hair product. One night, after donning almost little to nothing sleepwear, I rubbed lemon juice all over my neck. The next morning, I did feel slightly better but I believe maybe one or two very small bites after I washed it. Lately, I’ve been securely wrapping my neck and covering it when I go to sleep and have recently stopped using said new product in my hair. The bumps seem to be darkening and going away and as usual, found nowhere else on my body. Occassionally, after running the crook of my neck area, it feels like one or two very small bumps will appear. I dont know. Is this a new level of highly sophisticated bed bugs that I’m dealing with? Or is it just a skin reaction and my mind is playing invisible bug warfare on me? Please note. I do not have lice and these very small bumps I mentioned before are way further down from my scalp. Crook of neck area. Just a little higher than where my collar bone is. Please advise. Have you heard of anything like this?
Just came back from a hotel stay, have one VERY itchy bite on my wrist. I don’t know for sure that it is a bed bug bite butI haven’t unpacked my bags yet, so hopefully everything is safe. Right now I have an aloe and lidocaine gel over the bite, but when I get home I may try soaking it in tea bath. the tannin in black tea can also help with itching and swelling.
This morning, I stood in front of the mirror for my daily grooming routine when the most gruesome red bumps appeared before me and it’s at the side of my neck! Thankfully it’s Saturday coz I will not spend my time with my co-workers! I researched and stumble upon your website. I wish you could help me The bites are getting itchy and what would you recommend? Natural or modern medicine? Thanks i’ll be waiting for your answer…
I have been getting bit maybe once a week but the bite marks disappear within a hr and no longer itch I have not found the culprit and I have bed bugs climb up interceptors under my bed for almost 4 months and still don’t see anything do you have an idea what could be biting me the marks appear in a row of three sometimes just one bite on my arms and in my face but no where else im clueless
Bed bug eradication is challenging and it’s prudent to hire a professional when resources allow. However treatment can be expensive, often costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Those who cannot afford this often must cope with the problem themselves. A useful step that anyone can take to combat bed bugs is to install bed encasements. Covering the mattress and box spring can help eliminate a substantial portion of the bed bug population -- especially if discovered early while most of the bugs are still confined to the bed area. Extra care should be taken when installing budget encasements since these can tear easily, especially on metal bed frames. Ideally both the mattress and box spring should be encased. If only one encasement is possible it’s often best to cover the box spring which is harder to subsequently inspect.
Caregivers, firefighters, and other service providers are sometimes required to enter and work in bed bug-infested dwellings. In doing so, there is the potential to transport some bugs home or to the workplace. It should be noted that bed bugs do not fly, nor jump onto people/pets as fleas do. During the day, bed bugs usually remain hidden and immobile, becoming more active at night when seeking a host. Consequently, the chance of picking up bed bugs by merely walking into an infested dwelling during the day is unlikely. The risk may increase while providing care but can be lessened by taking some precautions. 
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.
Bed bug bites do not typically require treatment. It is best to clean the bite site(s) with soap and water and avoid scratching so as to prevent secondary infection. Progressive swelling, warmth, tenderness and sometimes (albeit rarely) fever may be signs of secondary infection, which should be managed with antibiotics as appropriate. Much more common are complaints of itching. For how to treat bed bug bites that cause severe itching, topical steroid creams or oral antihistamines may offer relief from itching and thus decrease the risk of infecting the bite site.
Before you run off and buy every cream the pharmacy stocks, you’ll want to confirm that the marks are actually from bed bugs. Even if they match the description – round, red marks that may bump, swell, itch, and/or burn – the marks could be allergic reactions to food or fabric, irritations from a rough material, or bites from another pest like mosquitoes or carpet beetles.
Hi please help me out Natasha! A few days ago I woke up at midnight to find 3 bites in a almost straight line and I was afraid that it was a bed bug my mom said that there was a chance of it being a misquito since I was outside all night long but I’m still getting this weird feeling that it could be bed bugs what do you think it is can you take a guess. Help!
Jump up ^ John Southall. "That soon after the Fire of London, in some of the new-built Houses they were observ'd to appear, and were never noted to have been seen in the old, tho' they were then so few, as to be little taken notice of; yet as they were only seen in Firr-Timber, 'twas conjectured they were then first brought to England in them; of which most of the new Houses were partly built, instead of the good Oak destroy'd in the old". A Treatise of Buggs [sic], pp. 16–17. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
"We originally thought the bedbugs might prefer red because blood is red and that's what they feed on," study co-author Corraine McNeill, an assistant professor of biology at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, said in a statement. "However, after doing the study, the main reason we think they preferred red colors is because bedbugs themselves appear red, so they go to these harborages because they want to be with other bedbugs, as they are known to exist in aggregations."
Seattle Children’s complies with applicable federal and other civil rights laws and does not discriminate, exclude people or treat them differently based on race, color, religion (creed), sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin (ancestry), age, disability, or any other status protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Financial assistance for medically necessary services is based on family income and hospital resources and is provided to children under age 21 whose primary residence is in Washington, Alaska, Montana or Idaho.

Some people have no reaction whatsoever to bed bugs. In addition to not having much of an effect on the elderly, some are just not allergic. Since the irritation and welting appears as the result of an allergic reaction, it is possible to not even know that you were bitten at all. It is entirely possible for several people to live in the same house, and have one person not be affected.

Bedbug bite reactions are self-limited and typically resolve within one to two weeks without intervention.15 There is no evidence that any treatment alters the natural history of bedbug dermatitis.8 If pruritus is present, nonprescription topical antipruritic preparations containing the active ingredient doxepin, or intermediate potency corticosteroids may be beneficial. Mupirocin (Bactroban) and/or systemic antibiotics should be considered in the treatment of superinfected bites.8
Scabies is very common in shelters. Permethrin. Cream applied head to toe then wages off in the shower the next morning should clear it up. Also ALL bedding must be washed in hot borax and ammonia water the best day. All surfaces must be wipe down with 50% water and 50% rubbing alcohol. Thorough vacuuming of the bedroom washing curtains and miniblinda. All clothes must be washed in hot water. Good luck
I have been divorced from my ex for 4 yrs now but remain friends with him and see him often. I recently learned that my ex in laws have a heavy bed bug infestation. My ex lives 3 houses away but is at his mothers every day as they are elderly. He has been dealing with the bugs and my ex’s petulance about the bugs. They have doctors appointments coming up and I wonder if they should tell the doctor about this. My ex has tried to get them to bathe more, treat the bites, wash the clothes but they act as if it is a big imposition to them. I have not asked him over since I found out about them and am reluctant to do so. Am I wrong in thinking that the ex in laws can spread them to others at the doctors office and is it possible for my ex to bring them here?

my concern is i am homeless and staying at a mission for now downtown Seattle there are thousands of these things in our city and biting a lot of sick people …”CAN YOU GET AIDS FROM A BED BUG???”i guess this is a major concern for a lot of people and how do we go about eliminating them in our city???..what do we put on the bites or do we just leave it alone???
Reports of bedbugs can be found in the popular press and on hotel and travel review sites, and they appear to be making a comeback. The good news is that they typically do not pose serious health risks, even though their bites may be uncomfortable. These slides show you how to recognize bedbugs, know where they're hiding, and learn what to do to prevent getting bitten.
Scratching can cause superinfection, leading to impetigo, cellulitis, or folliculitis.27–32 Reactions typically resolve within one to two weeks without treatment.32 Systemic reactions have been described, including asthma, generalized urticaria, angioedema, iron deficiency anemia, and, very rarely, anaphylaxis.33–36 Although bedbugs have been suspected to be vectors of more than 40 microorganisms, there is no evidence that they are involved in the transmission of disease.5

Bedbugs have resurged worldwide and these blood-sucking insects (both the Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus) are a problem in many homes and hotels. Fortunately, bedbugs aren't known to spread contagious diseases. However, it is difficult to eradicate an infestation and you will want to take steps to prevent bringing bedbugs home. Learn how to identify and treat these pests.
I’ve been getting bites as well and I am extremely allergic. It is super itchy and now I have scars that will never go away. I am the ONLY one in my family getting bitten so no one understands my pain. I have 2 hours of sleep max at night because of both paranoia and getting bitten. I am up to the point that I cry almost every night from the pain. I’ve tried a lot of solutions, the one that is currently working for me is Vaseline. I apply several thick layers of the jelly and it stops the pain and itching. It also helped a lot with the swelling. I noticed it sped up the healing process a lot more than over-the-counter drugs that I’ve tried. I hope this helps!
About five weeks ago bed bugs were found out work, then two weeks ago they spread, pest control has seen continuously coming to check and yesterday they gave the place the green light. I work with a largely indigent populace, the office I work at was not sprayed, during the night at some point, I will feel painful stings, hours later I have been finding small lumps or even large and hard ones, Could it be bed bugs? There is a particularly painful lump on the back of my thigh, it’s very hard too.
Hello! I am not sure if we have bed bugs or not. It seems like I am the only one getting bit. We co-sleep with our children and neither of them have signs of any kind of bites. I wake up with bite marks underneath my breasts and sometimes behind my knees. The bites itch for only a few minutes and disappear a few minutes after. We have looked through our mattress and have found no signs of anything. No blood smears nor any fecal matter. Could my bites be caused by something else.
I recently stayed at a nice resort and ended up with bed bug bites. Since I was on vacation, I had nothing with me for itching except (and don’t laugh) hemorrhoid wipes. I was desperate so I tried one and the itching would stop for a few hours (unless something touched the bites). Now after reading the posts here I see that witch hazel and aloe, both of which are in these wipes, are one of the better treatments for the itching. The wipes were great, they are “wipes to go” which means individually wrapped so I could carry one in my purse and use it throughout the day as needed and then just fold it up and put it back into the wrapper til next time. These can be bought OTC at any pharmacy and I have the store brand, not name brand.
As for traps, these capture methods may not be full-proof for all bedbug species. Researchers have found that while both the common and tropical bedbug species have hairy feet, C. hemipterushas denser foot hairs, making this tropical insect an expert climber on slick surfaces. In the study, detailed on March 15, 2017, in the Journal of Economic Entomology, the researchers found that adult tropical bedbugs were much better at escaping traditional pitfall traps, which held onto most of the common bedbugs in the study.

It’s been over a week since the first attack. I did not know where or when I got bit. Then a few days later in the night, I connected the dots. At 3 am I was up comparing bite pics on the internet and sure enough my fear was confirmed. I slept on the couch which is only 10 feet away in my studio with no problem. I did not see the actual bugs. I went and bought Steri-Fab spray–a gallon of it. I cleaned, vacuumed, sprayed the crap out of everything. I washed all my bedding in hot water. I threw out a throw rug. Sprayed baseboards again and around that side of the apartment.
After I noticed the first bites on the center of my back, I moved to the living room, thinking that would be fine. But obviously not because I have three more to the collection. I don’t know if I can fix the bedbug problem or not, but I only have a little under a month until I move out. I just wanna make the pain go away. Not to mention they look awful.
That's very possible. I have heard of couples reporting that only one partner is getting bitten. The truth is that both are getting bitten, but only one has a reaction to the bites. Thirty percent of people or more don't react to bed bug bites at all, and the elderly are less reactive than the rest of the population. Among those people who do react to the bites, most of them don't respond to early bites, but develop a sensitivity to subsequent ones. Those individuals who are not sensitive to bed bug bites may not know they have an infestation. Because bed bugs are nocturnally active, it's hard to see other signs of their presence—unless you're accustomed to waking up at 3 A.M. and taking a census. With a huge infestation, bed bugs start to move away from the bed, so you're more likely to see one in an exposed place during the day. In very severe infestations people can become anemic. That takes a lot of bugs though—maybe 100,000 feeding once a week or more.

Don't assume your bites are bedbugs. Bites can be hard to identify, even for doctors. Rule out mosquitoes, fleas, mites, and biting gnats by conducting a visual inspection. It's best to collect and identify bedbugs to confirm bites. Look for the bugs themselves or their bloodstains, especially along the seams of mattresses. Further, look for dark spots of insect waste where bedbugs might crawl into hiding places on furniture, walls, and floors.
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