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Bedbugs

Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.

Bedbug on end of cotton bud with a ruler underneath showing millimetres.

Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

Signs of bedbugs include:

A cluster of red bedbug bites at the top of a person's left thigh.

Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling.

A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is also possible but rare.

Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so.

Things you can do include:

You can ask a pharmacist about:

Do

  • contact your local council or pest control service – it's unlikely you'll be able to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be resistant to some insecticides

  • wash affected bedding and clothing – use a hot wash (60C) or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes

  • put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer (-16C) for 4 days (alternative to hot washing)

  • clean and vacuum regularly – bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early

Don't

  • do not keep clutter around your bed

  • do not bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first

  • do not take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if you have come from somewhere where you know there were bedbugs