Childr Health Information

Bed Bugs

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Topic: General Child Health

This handout was written to answer some of the questions most often asked about bed bugs. Feel free to ask your child’s health care provider to go over any information you do not understand.

What are bed bugs?

The bed bug is an insect that feeds on human blood. The adult bed bug is a rusty red colored, wingless insect about the size of an apple seed (1/4 – 3/8 inch long). When viewed from the side, they are flat. Newly hatched bugs are white or yellowish and resemble the adults, only smaller. Bed bug eggs are white, about the size of a pinhead. They are found in clusters of 10-50 eggs. A typical life span of a bed bug is 10 months, but they can live up to 18 months between feeds.

Can bed bugs cause disease?

Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. The bites are harmless and usually happen at night while you are asleep. A bed bug feeds for about 3-10 minutes before crawling off to a crevice. They will bite anywhere on the body, but especially on exposed areas such as the face, neck, arms and hands. The welts from the bite do not have a red spot in the center.

Some people may develop an allergic reaction from the bite. The bite area may become painful, swollen and itch. The itching may last up to 2 weeks. Do not scratch. Scratching may cause a bacterial infection. Wash the bites with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection.

Where do they hide?

They are often found in sleeping areas in the seams of mattresses, box springs, and cracks and crevices of the bed frames. These bugs are very active and will go behind baseboards, pictures, wallpaper and electrical outlets. They hitchhike into a home in luggage from hotels, computer cases from conferences, used furniture, clothing, purses or other items from infested areas.

How can I tell if there are bed bugs?

Signs of bed bugs include fecal spots on mattresses or box springs. The little dark spots look as though a dark magic marker was used to dot the mattress. Do not confuse the droppings with cockroach droppings which are tiny rectangular pellets. Check pillowcases and sheets. Check a room thoroughly, especially the wall, baseboard, headboard and furniture near the bed. Use a flashlight to look behind and under the furniture and woodwork. Inspect new and used furniture before bringing it inside by looking in tight spaces along seams, around buttons and under cushions.

How do I get rid of bed bugs?

  • You will need the help of a professional pest exterminator.
  • You can remove clutter such as boxes, pictures, books and clothing from the area so there are fewer places for the bugs to hide.
  • Vacuuming can remove some of the bugs, but not the eggs. The eggs are glued in place and cannot be removed by vacuuming. Vacuum wherever you saw signs of a bug – furniture, mattresses, bed frames, floors or baseboards.
  • When done vacuuming, remove the vacuum bag and place it in a sealed plastic bag right away. Throw the bag away outside.
  • Place a paper towel in the end of the vacuum hose in case there are bugs in the hose. Clean any brush attachment with hot water and detergent. Store the vacuum in a large heavy-duty plastic garbage bag that is closed tightly. Check the vacuum before each use to be sure no live bed bugs are on the outside.
  • Steam treatments when done properly will kill bed bugs. Steam will only kill bed bugs in places where the steam can reach. Move the nozzle slowly to increase deepness.
  • Infested items such as clothing, shoes, bedding, blankets or anything that can be placed in a dryer should be place in the dryer on the highest heat for 45 minutes.
  • Mattresses and box springs can be enclosed in a bed-bug proof zippered cover to kill the bugs inside. This cover should remain in place for more than a year because a bed bug can survive up to 18 months without feeding.
  • Items that cannot be used with heat can be placed in an empty freezer or outside if the temperature is below 25° F. Temperatures below 25° F will freeze and kill bed bugs. Leave the item frozen for a long time – a month if possible.

What about using pesticides?

Use a licensed professional if using chemicals. They have pesticides and are properly trained in using the most effective treatments against bed bugs. If you plan to use pesticides yourself, be sure to get products labeled for indoor use and apply only to areas listed on the label. Always follow label directions. Using chemicals incorrectly is dangerous and can make matters worse. For example, bug bombs are not effective and may scatter the bed bugs to other rooms or your neighbors. Repellents such as DEET do not work against bed bugs.

Who do I contact to have a bug identified?

If you find a bug and would like to have it identified, you may call a professional exterminator or you can call the Ohio Department of Health’s Zoonotic Disease Program which offers a free insect identification. Their phone number is (614) 752-1029 and press option 1 for information.

PDF: Child Health Information - Bed Bugs

Derechos de autor(c) de The Children's Medical Center, ano 1999. Este material unicamente tiene fines educativos. No puede ser reproducido, distribuido ni modificado sin previa autorizacion de The Children's Medical Center of Dayton, One Children's Plaza, Dayton, Ohio, 45404-1815. Llame al 937-641-3666 para solicitar autorizacion o para obtener un juego maestro para copias. Para obtener mas informacion puede visitar (consulte la seccion de informacion legal).

La informacion contenida en este material es unicamente informacion de tipo general. No debe considerarse como completa. Para obtener mas informacion acerca de los complementos para leche materna, por favor pidala a su doctor.
Preparado: 2010

The information contained in this handout is for general information only and should not be considered complete. For specific information about bathing your baby, please ask your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Additional information may be located in the Family Resource Center, 2nd floor, near the Outpatient Surgery Center. Hours of the center vary; please contact the Family Resource Center at 937-641-3700.

Copyright(c) The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. This material is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced or distributed without permission from Dayton Children's.
Formulated: 2010


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