20% off £30

Code:GET20
Buy 1 Get 1 FreeSummer ShopOffersOffers HubBuy one get one 1/2 priceSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy 1 Get 1 Free25% off Online Only OfferOutletFlash Sale up to 50% offFree gift with purchase1/2 Price2 for £50Better than half priceShort DatedBuy 6 for £15 Mix & MatchVitamins & SupplementsVitamins & Supplements HubJoints, Aches & PainsGut HealthImmunityChildren's HealthEnergyHealthy HeartLow Mood & DepressionStress & AnxietyWeight ManagementExercise & RecoveryVitamins & Supplements Shop AllCBDShop all CBDCBD OilCBD CapsulesCBD SprayCBD GummiesCollagen & SilicaHair, Skin & NailsShop all Hair, Skin & NailsHair GrowthFunctional MushroomsVitaminsShop all VitaminsMultivitaminsVitamin AVitamin BVitamin CVitamin DVitamin EVitamin KVitamin DrinksMineralsShop all MineralsMagnesiumIronZincCalciumSeleniumChromiumSupplementsShop all SupplementsFibre SupplementsAcidophilus & Friendly BacteriaPeppermint OilGrapeseed ExtractLecithinCollagen & SilicaOmega & Fish OilsPlant Sourced SupplementsSuperfood SupplementsArnicaApple CiderRaspberry KetonesAloe VeraChondroitin & MSMCo Enzyme Q10Evening Primrose OilGarlicGinkgo BilobaGlucosamineGlucomannanSeaweed, Kelps and Aquaceuticals5 HTPDigestive EnzymesSaw palmettoCharcoalWomen's HealthShop all Women's HealthMenopauseMenstrual SupportUrinary Tract HealthPregnancy & ConceptionMen's HealthShop all Men's HealthProstate HealthChildren's HealthConditionShop all ConditionCholesterolAllergy & Hay Fever CareAnxiety SupportBone & Muscle HealthMuscle Support & Joint PainBrain & Memory SupportWomen's HealthMen's HealthChildren's HealthCold & Immune SupportFatigueDigestive HealthHair, Skin & NailsHeart & CirculationLiver CareMood SupportSexual HealthSleep & RelaxationStress ReliefVisionHerbal & Licensed RemediesShop all Herbal & Licensed RemediesSt John's WortRescue RemedyAshwagandhaEchinaceaMilk ThistleGinseng & GuaranaHomeopathic & Flower RemediesShop all Homeopathic & Flower RemediesRescue RemedyTissue SaltsFlower RemediesHomeopathic RemediesAt-Home TestsVegan Vitamins & SupplementsCBD Homeopathic Buy one get one 1/2 priceBuy 1 Get 1 FreeSave up to 1/2 PriceHolland & BarrettVitabioticsSolgarNew NordicBioglanBetterYouNatures AidGrass & Co.Nature's WayH&B ExpertDairy FreeGluten FreeSesame Seed FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeFish FreeKiwi FreeLupin FreeNew inFood & DrinkFood & Drink HubImmunityExercise & RecoveryGut HealthEnergyJoints, Aches & PainsWeight ManagementDental HealthFood & Drink Shop AllHoney, Jams & SpreadsShop all Honey, Jams & SpreadsManuka HoneyHoneyNut ButtersJams & ChutneysSpreadsPateSuperfoodsShop all SuperfoodsSuperfood PowdersMaca PowderGoji BerriesBaobabMoringa PowderFlaxseedSpirulinaChia SeedsDried Fruit, Nuts & SeedsShop all Dried Fruit, Nuts & SeedsNutsDried FruitSeedsMixesTeas, Coffee & Hot BeveragesShop all Teas, Coffee & Hot BeveragesCoffee & Coffee SubstitutesMushroom DrinksTeasSuperfood TeasMatcha & Green TeaSleep & RelaxationDairy AlternativesShop all Dairy AlternativesOat, Rice & Hemp DrinksSoya DrinksNut DrinksCoconut DrinksFood CupboardShop all Food CupboardHoney, Jams & SpreadsBreakfast CerealsSuperfoodsApple Cider VinegarCondiments & SaucesTinned FoodsRice, Pasta, Pulses & GrainsBreakfast CerealsShop all Breakfast CerealsCereals, Bran & FlakesGranolaMuesliOats & PorridgeBreakfast BarsVegan FoodSnacksShop all SnacksProtein BarsLow Calorie SnacksChocolate, Cakes & BiscuitsCrisps & ChipsSavoury SnacksSweet SnacksSnack BarsFlapjacksPopcornDrinks & JuicesShop all Drinks & JuicesNatural Energy DrinksKombuchaJuicesSoft DrinksWaterProtein ShakesAlcohol Free DrinksCookingShop all CookingCooking IngredientsApple Cider VinegarCondiments & SaucesSoya & Meat AlternativeSoup & Ready MealsRice, Pasta, Pulses & GrainsHerbs, Spices & SeasoningGravy & StockHome BakingShop all Home BakingBaking MixesBreadFlourSweeteners & Sugar AlternativesEgg SubstitutesNutritionally Complete FoodBuy one get one 1/2 priceSave up to 1/2 Price25% off Online Only OfferHolland & BarrettNaturyaGrenadeHeath & HeatherPukkaMeridianNakdTwiningsBionaHuelGluten FreeDairy FreeWheat FreeEgg FreeMilk FreeSugar FreeSoya FreeMustard FreeCelery FreeFish FreeNew inSports NutritionSports Nutrition HubExercise & RecoveryEnergyWeight ManagementLow Mood & DepressionStress & AnxietySports Nutrition Shop AllProteinShop all ProteinWhey ProteinClear ProteinMass GainersVegan ProteinDiet ProteinCaseinSports SupplementsShop all Sports SupplementsTestosteroneElectrolytesEnergy GelsSports CollagenPre Workout & EnergyShop all Pre Workout & EnergyPre WorkoutCaffeine-free-pre-workoutAmino Energy PowdersBars, Drinks & SnacksShop all Bars, Drinks & SnacksEnergy BarsProtein BarsProtein ShakesProtein SnacksNutritionally Complete FoodMeal Replacement ShakesIntra WorkoutKetoPost WorkoutAmino AcidsShop all Amino AcidsAmino Energy PowdersBCAAL-LysineGlutamineCarnitineArginineCreatineShop all CreatineCreatine PowderCreatine CapsulesVegan Sports NutritionShop all Vegan Sports NutritionVegan ProteinVegan Protein BarsVegan Pre Workout & EnergyVegan Amino AcidsVegan CreatineSports AccessoriesShop all Sports AccessoriesBottles & ShakersFitness EquipmentFitness GoalShop all Fitness GoalRecoveryMuscle & StrengthLean MuscleEnergy & EnduranceDiet & Weight LossSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy one get one 1/2 price2 for £50Optimum NutritionPE NutritionUSNGrenadeApplied NutritionPhDSiSHuelFoodspringYfoodDairy FreeGluten FreeSugar FreeSoya FreePalm Oil FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeFish FreeNew inBeautyBeauty HubSkin Health - by skin concernDental HealthWomen's Health - Cycles & MenstruationSexual HealthWomen's Health - PregnancyJoints, Aches & PainsChildren's HealthExercise & RecoveryLow Mood & DepressionStress & AnxietyNatural Beauty Shop AllAromatherapy & HomeShop all Aromatherapy & HomePure Essential OilsBlended Essential OilsBase & Carrier OilsHolisticSkincareShop all SkincarePremium SkincareFace CareBody CareSun CareTanning & BronzingEye CareLip CareFoot CareHand & Nail CareSkin AilmentsSkin OilsCBD BeautySun CareShop all Sun CareMineral Sun CareSun Lotion SPFAfter SunHair Skin & NailsWashing & BathingShop all Washing & BathingShampoo & ConditionerBathing AccessoriesShower Gel & Body WashDeodorantDentalHand WashSoapBath Soak & OilBody ScrubBath Bombs & SaltsFeminine CareIncontinence SupportHair CareShop all Hair CareShampoo & ConditionerHair ColouringHair MasksHair Oil & SerumHair Spray, Gel & MousseHair AccessoriesMother & BabyShop all Mother & BabyBaby Skincare & ToiletriesElectrical WellnessSexual WellnessSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy 1 Get 1 FreeBuy one get one 1/2 priceDr OrganicFaith in NatureWeledaNaturtintTisserandMiaromaSukinQ+AEthiqueSo EcoAlcohol FreeParaben FreeSLS FreeParfum FreePalm Oil FreeGluten FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeNew inCBDWeight ManagementWeight Management HubExercise & RecoveryWeight ManagementEnergyHealthy HeartWeight Management Shop AllFat Burners, Binders & Appetite SuppressantsShop all Fat Burners, Binders & Appetite SuppressantsFat BurnersFat BindersAppetite SuppressantsSlimming TabletsShakes & Weight Management ShotsShop all Shakes & Weight Management ShotsMeal Replacement ShakesDiet ProteinDiet Food & DrinkShop all Diet Food & DrinkDiet FoodLow Calorie SnacksSlimming TeaExercise SupportShop all Exercise SupportFitness EquipmentMeal Replacement ShakesDiet ProteinProtein BarsSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy one get one 1/2 price2 for £50GrenadeOptimum NutritionHolland & BarrettUSNPulsinPhDEat WaterNew NordicSlimExpertNatures AidDairy FreeGluten FreeSugar FreeWheat FreeNew inVeganHealth & WellnessShop all Health & WellnessGut HealthSkin Health - by skin concernEnergyWomen's Health - Menopause & PerimenopauseExercise & RecoveryJoints, Aches & PainsWomen's Health - Hormonal HealthImmunityLow Mood & DepressionSleep & RelaxationJoints Bones & MusclesGut HealthHair Skin & NailsStress AnxietySleep & RelaxationBuy one get one 1/2 priceSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy 1 Get 1 FreeHolland & BarrettDr OrganicNaturtintVitabioticsSolgarWeledaOptimum NutritionNew NordicEthiqueWildDairy FreeGluten FreeParaben FreeSLS FreeAlcohol FreeSugar FreeParfum FreeWheat FreeSoya FreeSesame Seed FreeNew inShop for your WellnessWomen's HealthMenstrual HealthMenopauseSkincareJoints, Bones & MusclesGut HealthHair, Skin & NailsImmunitySleep & RelaxationFood & DietChildren's HealthStress ReliefHealthy HeartEnergyLow Mood & DepressionConcentration & AlertnessEye HealthSexual HealthLearn about WellnessWomen's HealthPeriods & Cycle HealthMenopauseJoints, Bones & MusclesImmunityGut HealthFood & DietSports & FitnessSleep & RelaxationHair Skin & NailsArticlesAll articlesHealthFood & nutritionGut healthImmunityJoints, bones & musclesWomen's healthWellnessHair & skinMental wellbeingSeasonalSleep & relaxationSports nutritionRecipesAll recipesGluten freeLow sugarVeganDairy freePodcast

Bed bug bites

Lady waking up with a morning stretch
Think you have some unwelcome visitors biting you while you’re asleep in bed? Bed bugs may be the culprits! Discover the tell-tale signs of bed bug infestations, how to identify, soothe and treat bed bug bites and find out how to get rid of bed bugs for good.

What are bed bugs?

Cimex lectularius, aka bed bugs, are small insects that often live on our bedding (hence the name) or in our furniture. They rely solely on blood to survive, and feed on us while we sleep (gross, we know!), and will often target other warm-blooded animals to feed from, too. Bed bug bites can be itchy and annoying, but they don’t often cause any other health problems.

What do bed bugs look like?

Can you see bed bugs? Well, it depends on how old they are and how good they are at hiding. Adult bed bugs are usually visible to the human eye, especially when they are in box springs and mattress seams. However, baby bed bugs (nymphs) can be harder to see due to their smaller size and paler colouring. Here are some bed bug stats1: 
  • Size of bed bugs: Adults are usually around 6.5mm and nymphs grow from around 1mm to 5mm.
  • Colour: Well it depends if they’ve had a meal or not! Adult bed bugs are mahogany before they are fed and turn to a red-brown colour when they have eaten. Nymphs have no colour.
  • Shape: Before they’ve fed, bed bugs have a flat, oval shape, which becomes elongated and swollen after they have fed.
  • Body: The body of a bed bug is split up into three segments which features short yellow hairs.
  • Antennae: Bed bugs have antennae with four parts
  • Legs: Bed bugs have 6 legs.
  • Smell: Bed bugs have a stale-sweet, musty smell released by their glands
  • Wings: Bed bugs have wings, but they can’t use them

Where can you find bed bugs?

Bed bugs have been bothering humans for thousands of years and you can find them in virtually every place where people gather, including homes, hotels, offices, shops, schools and even on the bus! They are the great hitchhikers of the bug world, latching onto items like bed linen, clothes and suitcases, to name a few. Being able to survive long distances helps them to infest their destination, which is why bed bugs can spread so easily.

How do you know if you have bed bugs? How to check for bed bugs


How to tell if you have bed bugs signs include:
  • You can see some bedbugs chilling out in your bed!
  • Look for all the stuff bed bugs leave behind, like their moulted skins, their eggs and empty eggshells – all of which appear pale white
  • Spots of blood on your bedding – from squashing a bed bug or from it biting someone
  • Small brown dots of bed bug poo on furniture or bedding
  • Bed bug bites – we’ll expand on this in more detail below
How to find bed bugs – where to look: 
  • Your bed linen, especially in the seams and around buttons / zips Inside box springs 
  • Headboards 
  • Picture frames 
  • Wallpaper 
  • Sofas 
  • Rugs
Bed bugs are often spread by the following items:
  • Second hand or used furniture 
  • Luggage items New textiles or furniture exposed to bed bugs while being shipped 
  • Loungers or chairs where people fall asleep 
  • Storage / moving boxes 
  • Bedding or bed clothes Items that are shipped to your house
They usually come out at night to feed, and that 5-10-minute feeding process is usually the only time you will see them exposed like this, so if you’re going to search, wait until its darker. It’s also worth knowing that adult bed bugs can go multiple months without a blood meal and can survive in near-frozen conditions all the way up to 50°C, so they’re quite robust.

How to identify bed bug bites

Bed bugs can bite you anywhere on your body where there is skin. As they operate mainly at night, they usually target areas we expose when we sleep like the:
  • Neck 
  • Hands 
  • Face 
  • Shoulders 
  • Arms 
You probably won’t feel the bite when it happens, and it most cases you will only develop a small dot where you have been bitten with some minor irritation and inflammation around it. Rarely, some people can have severe reactions to bedbug bites, with symptoms that need medical attention including 2 :
  • Blisters
  • Fever
  • Difficult breathing
  • Swollen tongue
  • Nausea
  • Flu-like feelings
  • Irregular heartbeat
Please contact your GP if this is the case.

What do bed bug bites look like, and how do you know if you have been bitten by bedbugs?

Bed bug bites usually cause a small raised area of the skin with a dark red spot in the middle. You’ll probably find them in a cluster shape or a line, and they often get worse if you scratch them.

Where do bed bugs usually bite?

You will usually find them on the upper half of your body around the face, neck, arms and hands.

Bed bug bites vs flea bites

Flea bites leave small red marks on your skin too, but these bites are more likely to cause intense itchiness. You’ll sometimes find flea bites in groups of threes. Fleas tend to go for the lower half of your body and small skin folds and crevices, like:
  • Feet
  • Lower legs
  • Waist
  • Armpits
  • Ankles
  • The bend of your elbow
  • The bend behind you knees
  • Other folds of skin
Just like bed bugs, you will experience more intense symptoms if you are allergic to them. Fleas can also burrow into your skin and cause tungiasis – a type of infestation which always occurs around the toes and feet. 3 This is quite rare though, so don’t worry too much! You can find pictures of bed bug bites online if you’re still not quite sure what is potentially biting you and family.

Are bed bug bites a risk to your health?

These sneaky critters are only really a serious risk to your health if you are allergic or have an intense reaction to bed bug bites. Allergic reactions to a bite may cause intense itching and painful swelling in the affected area. In more serious cases it could also cause your body to go into anaphylaxis. Please seek emergency medical help if you start to feel the following symptoms after a bed bug bite:
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness

Can bed bugs cause disease?

A study on bed bugs and their potential to transmit disease to humans was conducted by the American Society for Microbiology in 2012. They found that although 40 pathogens had been detected in bed bugs, there is no definitive evidence that they transmit any disease-causing organisms on to humans by biting them. 4

How long do bed bug bites itch?

Bed bug bites tend to stick around for a week or so, and if you are not using any creams or ointments to help the itchiness subside, the itchiness could last for the whole duration.

How do you get rid of bed bug bites and how long does it take for bed bug bites to fade?

Most bed bug bite wounds heal by themselves in a week or two. If swelling, itchiness and inflammation persists then medical assistance is recommended.

How to deal with bed bug bites / treating bed bug bites

Bed bug bite treatment is fairly simple when it comes to uncomplicated bites. Here’s how to treat bed bug bites:
  • Always start by cleaning any wounds with soap or disinfectant and water 
If your bites don’t heal and your symptoms persist then you should visit your GP, who can help you find out what treatment for bed bug bites is best for you.

Where do bed bugs come from and how do you get bed bugs?

As we have already discussed above, bed bugs feed on human blood and come out at night to feed, which is why it is quite common to find them in our beds. They love to travel, so people travelling, and the sale of second-hand furniture helps them to spread around.

What causes bed bugs?

They’re small, travel well and want to survive, so the main cause of bedbugs is people and items like furniture entering different buildings and houses. Other potential bed bug causes include: Having a lot of cracks, crevices and seams, etc for them to hide in Dirty bedding that different people sleep in Washing infested clothes and bedding at low heat may allow bed begs to survive Luggage left on floors, beds and furniture while travelling Wearing little or no clothes in bed will give bedbugs more opportunity to feed off you

How do you get rid of bed bugs?

Now you know all about these small, sneaky blood suckers, here’s some tips on how to get rid of bed bugs from your home so you can sleep in peace!
  1. Make sure to fill or seal crevices, cracks and seams around your house with products like glue or calking – as bed bugs love to hide away in these areas during the day, waiting to come out at night to feed.
  2. Make sure to clean all bedding and bed clothing on a regular basis.
  3. Try vacuuming upholstered items like mattresses and pillows thoroughly on a regular basis
  4. When it comes to heavier bedding items like pillows, mattresses, duvet covers and blankets, use high heat settings on your washing machines – if you have a ‘dry steam’ option on your machine, go for that one.
  5. If you can see eggs and bugs in your luggage, bedding or upholstered items, use a hand steamer to kill them.
  6. Keep your luggage on racks when travelling, if possible, as leaving them on the floor, bed or other furniture can increase the risk of a bed bug infestation.
  7. Always make sure to check for tell-tale bed bug signs when you get to a new hotel room or other bed bug hot spots.
  8. If you do spot a bed bug, please be aware that there are likely a lot more where it came from. Make sure to check all around the infected room and the areas surrounding it to see if there are any more lurking about.
  9. When in a hotel room, sleeping somewhere unfamiliar or somewhere you know may have bed bugs, try to cover as much skin as possible while you are sleeping to lessen the chances of you getting bit or the bed bugs infesting your clothing.
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • PayPal
  • AmericanExpress
  • ApplePay
  • ClearPay
  • AliPay
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Copyright © Holland & Barrett Retail Limited, 2024. All rights reserved. hollandandbarrett.com is a trading name of Holland & Barrett Retail Limited,. Registered office: Samuel Ryder House, Barling Way, Nuneaton, Warwickshire CV10 7RH. Registered in England: company no. 2758955. Registered VAT no. 211727395.