What the Yuck: Can I catch bedbugs?
An inspector points to bedbugs that are biting his arm to feed.
July 22nd, 2011
11:37 AM ET

What the Yuck: Can I catch bedbugs?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: A guy I just started dating has bedbugs. Can I catch them from him?

Indirectly, yes. Bedbugs, or Cimex lectularius, are not passed person to person - they are only attached to humans for 5 to 10 minutes while they feed on blood (yuck, I know).

The rest of the time they hide out and lay eggs in cracks and crevices on mattresses, bed frames, and sofas.

Bedbugs could jump onto your clothes or into your bag, though, and hitch a ride to your place. And these critters bite.

The bites look like tiny round red spots; they're usually very itchy. Buy an anti-itch lotion (look for ones with 1% hydrocortisone) to ease the intense itchiness.

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Copyright Health Magazine 2011

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. The_Allergy_Guy

    Get him a floor steam cleaner so he can kill the bedbugs and their eggs. I recommend the Vapamore brand: http://bit.ly/oRPidP

    July 22, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. It's my body

    As important as it may be, nobody wants to talk about bedbugs.

    July 22, 2011 at 17:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. sandramac

    If you can't talk about bedbugs, and help with the cleanup of his place, don't go there, and you probably shouldn't be dating, in the first place. They can hitch hike on his clothes and shoes. Our first priority among friends, is to protect one another, especially from disease or infestations. Its a kindness that should be part of each person's self preservation, and a caring thing to do for one another. The_Allergy_Guy is right, steam cleaning is a good first step, tho' not the only one. And these days, it doesn't have to mean your new guy should feel anything more than unlucky for having bugs in his place, but lucky to have you to help him!

    July 24, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. AJDnykr

    chears to Sandramac your points on how we humans should act towards one another are right on. Getting bedbugs has nothing to do with you as a person. People need to get over themselves and just address the problem. Clothing can be ran through a dryer cycle at the laundromat and a steamer can help kill bed bugs and there eggs but the problem with even industrial steamers is getting deep into th fabric of our matress & furniture which may be impossible. So a treatment by a reputable pest control company that provides a treatment protocol and than uses all the pest control products at his disposal to eradicat these pests is highly recommended. The application of conventional pest control prodcuts can be reduced by using natural products like diatomaceous earth and steaming. You can also have personal belongings treated in a heat chamber. I used a company called Magic Exterminating I highly recomend them http://tinyurl.com/4ykuqpf

    July 25, 2011 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. GizLee

    Bed bugs were the worst experience of my life. Anti itch creams dont even work...i had to keep ice packs on my bites. And my landlord stopped taking my calls after about the 5th time the exterminator came to treat our building. Most chemicals that exterminators use won't actually kill bed bugs or the eggs. So it was pretty useless. Silica dust is one of the best treatments. I sprinkled my entire apartment, between every single floor board, around switch plates, door frames, etc. Apparently, the silica dust breaks through their shell and dries them out. This plus using a steam cleaner and vacuuming constantly kept my infestation relatively light compared to the other units in my building. Other remedies include extreme heat or cold (but heat is better). I would suggest leaving a suitcase or other luggage in a garage for an entire winter or summer when returning from a hotel or vacation. Washing clothes and keeping them in sealed space bags until you need to wear them can reduce the chance of you spreading bed bugs to other peoples homes too. Even if you haven't had a bite or seen bed bugs lately does not mean you have gotten rid of them as they can live up to 18 months without biting someone.

    July 29, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Mary Jones

    I hate bugs! This thought just disgusts me. I am so paranoid that if I do not clean enough I will get bedbugs in my home. No visitors, no going to hotels any more, what is the world coming to?

    September 28, 2011 at 11:57 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.