Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are of two species one that is normally found (Cimex lectularius) and the second found in the tropical region (climex hemipterus). Bed bugs are mostly found in beds, and mattresses area they are very small in size and may range from 1mm to 7 mm.

Bed bugs are most common in the beds of soldiers, hostels, wet places, box springs, bed frames, cracks, headboards, etc. They do not fly or jump but can crawl rapidly. They develop in like communities. The most common active hours of bed bugs are midnight to 5 am.

Bed bugs can only be eliminated, and the only way is to kill them. Blood is their meal, and they require it to shed their skin for their development. They get developed very fast when fully fed and can produce 04 to 05 generations in a year. Bed bugs while sucking blood produces a hormone that causes numbness and reduces pain which helps them to suck more blood.

Bed Bugs: Causes

The probable causes of bed bugs may include −

  • Bed bugs can happen anywhere as they are very adaptable and require corners or damp areas to grow. They move with luggage while someone checks into an infected area and it gets into shoes, socks, or whatever. They travel to the host’s pace and grew there and grew in number and suck the blood of the hosts.

  • Bed bugs also are more common in rooms of army hostels and school/ college hostels. As they are not cleaned or maintained properly.

  • The common areas of bugs reside and grow in our mattresses, sheets, blankets, corners of beds, headboards, furniture, clothes that are not frequently used, etc.

  • They can live in vacant houses or apartments too as they get a long survival system even without feeding. And they can move from one place to another through ropes, cables, etc.

Bed Bugs: Symptoms

Bed bugs bite doesn’t get discovered immediately but later develop into red spots or infection or may not leave any sign. But it itches when it bites on all parts of the body, particularly in the back because it happens at night during sleep. Since the bug releases a hormone that acts to prevent pain, the individual realizes late that he is being bitten.

Some of the common symptoms of bed bites are −

  • Red spots in the body with itching.

  • Small cluster of spots at a particular spot.

  • A pimple-like of skin infection.

  • Blisters with red bumps.

  • Small blood spots from bug bites and sheets getting all bloody.

  • White eggs in mattresses or bed corners.

Although bug bites are not very serious in nature, some of the symptoms are to be viewed seriously like difficulty in breathing, high temperature, falling nauseous, and restlessness.

Bed Bugs: Risk Factors

The major risk factors include −

  • The most common group of people to be affected by Bed bugs are frequent travellers. People who travel to different places due to work or vacation are mostly affected by bed bugs. The bugs get into their luggage or shoes or clothes and then they get carried to a person’s home.

  • Students who stay in the common room and share the same toilets and laundry do get most of the bugs.

  • Soldiers living in barricades are mostly affected by bed bugs. They live in close quarters and travel a lot get difficulty maintaining hygiene are therefore get the best places for bugs to build colonies.

  • People purchasing second-hand furniture are also on the major risk factor list.

  • Hospitals and their staff room are also among the common area of bug habitat.

  • People using public transport, and traveling on cruises can also be a carrier of bugs.

Bed Bugs: Diagnosis

Bed bug bites do not require any diagnosis by blood tests or lab experiments. The most common way is to look into the bites and the pattern of bites. The infection in any, itching type and days required for it to go away. Some of the common observations to look for are given below.

  • Itchiness with red spots in the body

  • Spots of blood on the bed sheet

  • White spots in the corner of the bed and mattress

  • Raised skin with a pimple kind of look

  • Sensation in the bite place

  • Live bed bugs in the bed of the person

Bed Bugs: Treatment

Major methods of treatment are: The only way of treating bed bugs is to exterminate them. The first step in getting rid of bed bugs is to first find the areas of penetration and then take action for treatment. The following steps may be useful −

  • Whenever you get a bug bite wash the area with soap and look for any infection.

  • Bug bites are not necessarily complicated and they may not require treatment.

  • Consult a doctor for requirements for any type of cream.

  • Clean your bedsheet and vacuum the mattress regularly.

  • Clean the affected area with a hard brush with soaps for cleaning all the eggs.

  •  Apply boiling water to the corners and keep it under the sun.

  • Use of plastic sheets can also help to reduce the bed bugs entering the bedsheet and mattresses.

  • Bug bites get easily treated but if there is a sign of infection or swelling it is better to visit the doctor.

  • Get the help of a professional exterminator for killing bugs.

  • Bugs can also be killed by cold but it requires a cool temperature for a couple of days to properly eradicate them.

  • Uses of chemicals like spray, biochemical, desiccants such as boric acid, insect growth regulators, etc can also be effective.

Bed Bugs: Prevention

The most prominent method of preventing bed bugs is to stop them from entering the house or spreading. Bed bugs normally rest during the day in hall cracks or some corner of the room and get active during the night.

Some of the methods of prevention are listed below −

  • During travels do not allow your belongings to get in touch with infected areas. Do wash them when returning back and also expose them to heat.

  • Take excessive care while purchasing or moving second-hand furniture.

  • Clean bedsheets regularly and expose the bed and mattress to sunlight.

  • Use of plastic cover in bed can also help in prevention.

  • If the bed is full of bugs, try to cloth yourself completely.

  • Look for any cracks in walls and seal them.

  • Bed bugs can also be eliminated by using boiling water.

  • Use of regular pesticides can also help to prevent them from spreading.

  • Bed bugs grow colonies so even if a single bed bug is found be ready to compete with an entire army of them.


Bed Bugs or Cimex lectularius are small insects that suck blood and get active at night. Bug bites do not cause any severe danger or illness to a person but may cause sleeplessness which further affects a person’s mental health and activeness.

Bed bugs live in any nook and corner of the room or bed and travel to one place Often bugs are confused with other pests. Eradicating or killing them is not easy as they crawl very fast. They can be killed by either excessive heat or excessive cold for a couple of days. Following the prevention method like washing the affected place with soap and following all the safety procedures can help to prevent them.

Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha
Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha


Updated on: 04-Apr-2023


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