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Health Issues

Bedbug Bites

​Bedbugs are small insects that feed on human blood by biting through the skin. They are most active between 2:00 and 5:00 am. They can travel 10 to 15 feet to feed and go without feeding for up to 6 months. They cause itchy bites. Bedbugs are not known to spread disease.

Signs or Symptoms of Bedbugs

Itchy insect bites, which often occur in a row, on areas of skin that are exposed during the night.
  • Bites often have a red dot where the bite occurred in the middle of a raised red bump.
  • Bites typically occur on face, neck, arms, and hands.
  • Look for specks of blood, rusty spots from crushed bugs, or dung spots the size of a pen point on bed sheets and mattresses or behind loose wallpaper.
  • Look for reddish/brown live bugs, about 1/8 of an inch, in crevices or seems of bedding.

Incubation and Contagious Periods

Bedbugs do not reproduce on humans like scabies or lice. They bite humans at night, then hide in cracks or crevices on mattresses, cushions, or bed frames during the day.

How Bedbugs are Spread

Bedbugs are not spread on people. They are not a sign that people are dirty. They do need to feed on people and may hide in belongings or clothing that allow them to spread to others in group care settings. They crawl at the speed of a ladybug.

How to Control Bedbugs

  • Avoid overreacting. One bedbug is not an infestation. For example, it is not necessary to send a child home from child care. An inspection and any pesticide application should be done by a trained pest control operator.
  • Educate your family about bedbugs.
  • Reduce clutter and limit items that travel back and forth between home and school, child care facility, etc.
  • Seal cracks. Clean up any bedbug debris with detergent and water.
  • Extermination involves vacuuming and one of the following approaches:
    • Application of the least toxic (preferably “bio-based”) products, heating the living area to 122°F (50°C) for about 90 minutes, freezing infested articles, or (if necessary) use of synthetic chemical insecticides.
    • Use Integrated Pest Management, which involves a combination of nonchemical strategies such as maintenance and sanitation followed by pesticides, if other methods are not effective.
    • Wash bedding and clothing (hot water and hot drying cycle for 30–60 minutes), vacuum cracks and crevices, and freeze articles that may have been used as hiding places for bedbugs may reduce infestation until extermination can be performed. Vacuum with special attention to cracks and crevices in furniture, equipment, walls, and floors. Vacuuming some talcum powder will reduce the chance that the bugs will crawl out of the vacuum cleaner. Dispose of the vacuum cleaner filter and bags in a tightly sealed plastic bag.
    • Use mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements to trap bedbugs. These encasements are readily available by searching the Internet for “mattress or pillow encasement.” They are marketed for bedbug or allergy control.

Additional Resources:

Last Updated
Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools, 3rd Edition (Copyright © 2013 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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