Bedbugs: An Update on Recognition and Management

Robyn S. Fallen, BHSc; Melinda Gooderham MD, MSc, FRCPC


Skin Therapy Letter. 2011;16(6) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) is increasingly prevalent and a source of concern and questions for patients. In addition to a range of cutaneous presentations and potential for serious sequelae, bedbug bites cause significant psychological distress and create an economic burden associated with infestation control. Recognition of characteristic entomology, clinical presentation, diagnostic features and differential diagnosis can support expedient identification of patients exposed to infestations and support their appropriate management.


The common bedbug, Cimex lectularius (C. lectularius), is a hematophagus arthropod. A pest to mankind for centuries, bedbug populations in industrial nations declined steadily with the advent of novel pesticides, improved sanitation practices, and economic conditions.[1] In contrast, infestations in developing countries have persisted.[2] However, pest control companies in Canada and the United States are reporting overwhelming increases in the number of new bedbug encounters compared with 10 years ago.[3] This recent bedbug resurgence has been attributed to evolving pesticide resistance coupled with increased rates of international trade and travel, as travellers can bring the insects home in their clothing and luggage.[4,5] Bedbugs have since established more widespread infestation of environments serving transient populations such as hotels, dormitories, hospitals, cruise ships, and homeless shelters.[6–9] In addition to this increased prevalence, bedbugs are also widely discussed in popular media and may be presented as a concern by patients.[10] Awareness of the entomology, diagnosis, and management of bedbugs can assist physicians in detecting affected individuals and providing concerned patients with education on this topic.


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