Bed Bugs – Not Harmful, But What a Nuisance!

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Do you wake up with red, itchy bug bites on your legs, arms or around your ankles? Are you noticing tiny reddish-brown spots or round ink-like dark spots on your sheets or mattress?

Bed bugs could be the culprit.

These annoying bugs won’t infect you with disease, but they will cause a nuisance in your home.And they can hide in the smallest places, anywhere on earth, in developed and developing countries. They are a tough itch to scratch.

How to Identify Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are reddish-brown, oval-shaped, have no wings and look slightly flattened. They are roughly the size of an apple seed.

Bed bugs can exist in the cleanest of homes and hotels. Everyone is at risk for getting them. Your risk increases if you travel frequently.

People and animals attract bed bugs, because they eat blood. They come out at night and hide during the day. And they can live for several months without a blood meal.

The pests prefer dark spaces where humans and pets sleep and are easily transported from place to place because they like to hide in tiny crevasses or folds of cloth, such as in your clothing or luggage.

Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation

The best way to prevent a bed bug bonanza in your bedroom is to regularly check for them.

Signs of a bed bug infestation:

Bed Bugs small
  • Pale yellow exoskeletons left behind in bedding
  • Bugs in the folds of mattresses and sheets
  • Rusty colored blood spots (bed bug fecal matter) on mattresses or furniture
  • A sweet, musty odor
  • Red, itchy bumps from bed bugs bites (for some, but not all, people)

Use a flashlight to check the places where bed bugs like to hide:

  • The seams of all mattresses and box springs
  • Bed frames
  • Headboards
  • Dresser tables
  • Inside cracks or crevices
  • Behind wallpaper
  • In clutter around a bed

If you travel:

  • Do not put your luggage on the bed.
  • Use a luggage rack or a dry bathtub.
  • Keep travel clothes separate and wash in hot water when you return home.
  • Vacuum luggage when you get home.
  • Empty the vacuum outside into a sealed plastic bag and dispose right away.

Bed Bug Bites: Symptoms and Treatments

It can take up to 14 days for the marks from bed bug bites to appear. Most people get skin reactions similar to mosquito or flea bites. Your skin may become red and itch, but some people have no signs or discomfort from the bites.

In rare instances, people with allergies to bed bugs could have a severe allergic reaction and need immediate medical help.

Bed bug bites often appear in a straight line but can be random. Other symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Skin problems from excessive scratching

The most effective treatment for a bed bug bite is to avoid scratching the area. Other treatments that help include:

  • Applying antiseptic creams or lotions
  • Taking an antihistamine

If you have numerous bites or if a bite appears to be infected, see your doctor or dermatologist. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for the infection. Medicines can also help relieve itchiness and irritation. 

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

If you see bed bugs or signs of bed bugs, tell your landlord or hotel staff right away.

If you spot bed bugs in your home, do not try to get rid of them on your own. You could end up spreading the bed bugs to other parts of your house.

Instead, call a professional exterminator with experience in bed bugs. Bed bugs can be killed with heat, cold steam or pesticides. Bug bombs and foggers do not get rid of bed bugs. 

Bed bug eggs hatch about every seven days. You should continue to check for bed bugs after treatments are applied. And it may take several treatments before all bed bugs are destroyed.

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