Health A to Z
Bedbugs are small blood-sucking insects that live in cracks and crevices in and around beds. They crawl out at night and bite exposed skin to feed on blood.
Adult bedbugs are oval-shaped, flat and up to 5mm long – similar to an apple seed.
Their colour varies between dark yellow, red or brown.
Bedbugs aren't dangerous and don't spread any diseases, but some people experience a reaction to their bites and they can be stressful to live with.
This page covers:
Signs of a bedbug infestation can include:
Bedbugs tend to prefer fabric or wood over plastic and metal, and often hide near to where you sleep – for example, under the mattress or along the headboard.
But they can be found away from the bed in other furniture, along the edges of carpets and even behind mirrors or inside smoke alarms.
Bedbugs can be very difficult to get rid of. Your best chance of successfully treating an infestation is to get professional help.
A technician will carry out an inspection to confirm an infestation. They can then use special treatments such as insecticide, a steamer or rapid freeze system to get rid of the bugs.
They may also advise about things you can do to help, such as:
Bedbug bites are painless, but some people experience a reaction to them. This can occur from a few minutes after being bitten up to a week or two later.
See your GP if you develop signs of a skin infection (pain, redness and swelling). You may need antibiotics.
It can be difficult to avoid bedbugs, as they can be transported easily in luggage, clothing and furniture.
Once in your home, they can quickly spread from room to room. They don't jump or fly, but can crawl long distances.
It can help to:
Bedbugs aren't attracted to dirt, so they're not a sign of an unclean home, but clearing up any clutter will reduce the number of places they can hide.