Health Effects of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are tiny insects that infest bedding and feed on sleeping humans. They are very small, flat, brown wingless bugs. Bed bugs are commonly found in beds of hotels or other public sleeping quarters, but can also infest bedding in the home. They are not known to carry diseases, but can have a negative impact on the physical and mental health of those who are dealing with an infestation.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs also hide in walls, on headboards and behind electrical outlet switchplates.

The bites of bed bugs are not usually serious, but can cause discomfort. These bites resemble mosquito bites and tend to cause red whelps on the skin. The bites may be itchy, but this can normally be relieved by applying calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream. Since bed bugs are blood suckers, the bites may cause anemia in someone who is already anemic or malnourished.

Rare Health Risks

Some people can be allergic to bed bug bites. Though this is rare, having an anaphylactic reaction is not unheard of. This type of reaction is dangerous and requires immediate professional help. Other rare health risks include a development of infections such as impetigo or eczema. These diseases can develop if a person with a weak immune system has been bitten by bed bugs.

Mental Health Issues

The most severe health risk of a bed bug infestation may be mentally. Those who have dealt with this problem commonly suffer from anxiety. They may "feel" the bugs crawling on them or in their beds even after the infestation has been destroyed. This may also lead to not being able to sleep or having nightmares long after the problem has been resolved.


A bed bug infestation can also bring tremendous amounts of stress into a person's life. This can include the embarrassment of having bed bugs, the worry of how to get rid of them and the financial expense of treating the problem. Usually a bed bug infestation requires multiple treatments to ensure the home or business is bed bug free. The cost can vary depending upon the dwelling and the severity, but treating this problem is generally quite expensive.

About the Author

Susan Steele has been an avid writer for more than 25 years. Steele's articles covering gardening and other topics have been published on a variety of well-known websites, such as eHow, Garden Guides and Answerbag. She graduated from Ashland Community and Technical College with a degree in data-entry operation.