Emergency advice

Bedbug bites:

  1. Try not to scratch.
  2. Keep them clean and cool.
  3. Can take recommended dose of antihistamine or ask a pharmacist for advice.
  4. Seek medical help if the bites get worse. 

What are bedbug bites?

Bedbugs are small insects that feed on blood. They may seem to appear from nowhere but they ‘hitchhike’ on clothing or furniture brought into the house from a place where they are present. For example, from a hotel, hostel, or second-hand items. They can be found in beds, furniture, carpets, and other soft furnishings.

Bedbugs usually come out and bite at night. Their bites are not dangerous and do not cause any health problems, but some people react to these bites more than others. They can leave multiple red, itchy spots. Very rarely someone could have a severe allergic reaction, leading to anaphylactic shock.

You may need to contact your local council or pest control service to get rid of bedbugs.

Signs and symptoms

Look for:

  • Small itchy red spots on the skin usually in a line or cluster and often found on the face, neck, and arms
  • In more severe cases, there may be severe itching and some swelling.

What to do

  1. Avoid scratching the bites as this will increase the risk of infection.

  2. Keep the area with the bites cool and clean.

    • Apply a cool damp cloth to help relieve any itchiness and swelling.
  3. If the bites are very itchy, you can take the recommended dose of antihistamines. Ask a pharmacist for advice about creams that can be used to help.

  4. Bedbug bites usually clear within a week or do.

    Seek medical advice, if:

    • the bites become red, hot, or painful (signs of infection)
    • you’re worried that the bites are getting worse despite treatment
    • you have signs of an allergic reaction.

Related first aid advice

Insect stings

Insect stings can be painful but are not usually dangerous. However, stings to the mouth or throat can be more serious. Find out what to do.

Severe allergic reaction

An allergy is an abnormal reaction to an allergen or ‘trigger’ substance. A severe allergic reaction is called anaphylactic shock. Find out what to look for and what to do.

Tick bites

Ticks can carry diseases and so should be removed as soon as possible. Find out what to look for and what to do.

St John Ambulance volunteers providing support