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Bedbugs: Care Instructions

Bedbugs on foot of sleeping person, with close-up showing bedbugs and bites on skin


Bedbugs are tiny bugs that feed on blood from animals or people. They have that name because they like to hide in bedding and mattresses.

Bedbugs are not known to spread disease to people. But itching from the bites can be so bad that you may scratch hard enough to break the skin. That can lead to infection. The bites can also cause an allergic reaction in some people.

The bugs can spread into cracks and crevices in the room and lay their eggs in anything that is in the room, including clothing and furniture. This makes them very hard to kill.

Getting rid of bedbugs

The best way to get rid of bedbugs is to call a professional pest control company. They use special pesticides and other equipment to kill the bugs and their eggs.

If you decide to buy your own pesticide, check the label. Make sure it says that it is for bedbugs. Be sure to follow the directions carefully. You may have to use the pesticide more than once.

Do other cleaning steps such as:

  • Vacuum often. Be sure to empty the vacuum after each use. If you use a vacuum bag, seal it and throw it out in an outdoor trash can. If you don't use a vacuum bag, empty the container and clean it with hot, soapy water.
  • Launder things that might hide bugs. Washing and then drying items in a dryer on a hot setting is adequate to kill bedbugs in clothing or linens. Turn the dryer to the hottest setting that the fabric can handle.
  • Use mattress, box spring, and pillow (encasement) sacks to trap bed bugs and help get rid of them. Be sure to follow the directions on the package.

After your mattress has been cleared of bedbugs, you can buy a special mattress cover that is made to keep bedbugs out of your mattress.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Wash the bites with soap to lower the chance of infection. Try not to scratch.
  • Use calamine lotion or an anti-itch cream to stop the itching. You can also hold an oatmeal-soaked face cloth on the itchy area for 15 minutes. You can buy an oatmeal powder, such as Aveeno Colloidal Oatmeal, in drugstores.
  • Use an ice pack to stop the swelling.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from a bite area.
    • Pus draining from a bite area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Anyone else in your family has itching.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.