What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are tiny, flat, tiny, oval shaped insects that can hide easily from our view during the day when they are inactive. Their most common hiding places are in the seams of mattresses, carpets, sofa sets, and inside box springs.
With their small size and an annoying penchant for hiding in nooks and crannies of our homes, controlling a bed bug infestation becomes very difficult. The presence of one healthy, blood-fed fertile female bed bug in either single or multiple family dwelling spaces is an enormous infestation that is just waiting to happen. A female bed bug can produce anywhere from 200-500 healthy eggs during her lifetime and may lay 2-5 eggs each day; hence, the likelihood of a bed bug infestation very high unless bed bug control efforts by pest management professional are appointed to eliminate the infestation.
What Causes Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are hitchhikers. It is not difficult for them to hitch a ride from one place to another. There are, however, some places which demand you to be on extra alert for these insects.
- If you’re staying overnight in a hotel, motel, or resort, no matter how neat and tidy the place looks, do be sure to do a thorough inspection for bed bugs. Such places are usually at the top of the list of likely places where you will find bed bugs.
- If you’re using public transportation, be on the look-out for these bugs as well as the signs they leave behind.
- If you’re having guests coming over to stay with you, they may unknowingly bring in bed bugs with them. A good precaution is to wash all their bedding in the hottest temperature possible, immediately after their departure.
- When your children visit their friends’ houses to play, they could bring bed bugs home with them. It’s a good practice to ensure you examine all items brought back into the house including things like bags and shoes, especially around the seams.
- Bed bugs can also come home with you from work. If you are well aware of what bed bug bites look like, you may recognize the threat even before you bring it home, thereby preventing an infestation.
Symptoms And Signs Of Bed Bugs
If you find your bedroom smelling like an unclean locker room, it’s probably time for a bed bug inspection.
- Red, Itchy Bites – People don’t often notice bed bugs until they start biting and leaving their mark. The appearance of flat, red welts or swellings in small clusters or zigzag lines is a key sign of bed bugs on humans. These bites can cause irritation and scratching them can cause plenty of bleeding and infection.
- Bites On Arms, Neck, And Shoulders – Bed bugs tend to feed on the exposed skin which you usually tend to leave uncovered while sleeping. The sides of your face, neck, arms, and shoulders are the first places to suffer from bed bug bites. This is the key point that helps distinguishing bed bugs from fleas, which tend to bite around the ankles and calves.
- A Sweetish, Stale Odor – Breathe in deep. If you notice a sweet, musty smell around your bed space or your sleeping area, it may be a sign of a heavy bed bug infestation. Bed bugs produce chemicals called pheromones that help them communicate, although the smell is not always noticeable by everyone.
- Tiny Specks Of Blood – Inspect your blankets, sheets, and mattress pads and then do a thorough check of the mattress and box spring. If you notice specks of blood, especially near the seams, there could be a bed bug infestation. Make sure to also check for specks of blood on every piece of upholstered furniture like sofas and headboards.
- Exoskeletons – Bed bugs have an outer shell that they shed and leave behind. The process of molting (also called ecdysis) leaves this telltale bed bug evidence behind. The next time you see tiny shell-like remains on the mattress, sheets, or beneath couch cushions, you know you’ve hunted out a bed bug infestation.
- Tiny, Black Specks – If you see tiny blackish spots on your mattress and sheets, or on your couch, it’s a large possibility that it is bed bug excreta.
- Eggs – After mating, female bed bugs start laying white, oval eggs in cracks and crevices. These are very small in size as a bed bug is only about the size of an apple seed, so it may be tough to spot bed bug eggs.
Treating Bed Bug Bites
Visit A Dermatologist
In the case of serious bed bug bites, where the skin starts suffering from blisters, skin infection (where the bites feel tender and start oozing discharge like pus), or an allergic skin reaction (like red skin and swollen hives) visiting a dermatologist is recommended.
Your dermatologist may prescribe one of the following treatments to cure bed bug bites.
- Allergic Reaction –Some people may need an antihistamine injection, a corticosteroid, or epinephrine (adrenaline) to cure a severe allergic reaction.
- Infection – Infections may require an antibiotic treatment. If the infection is very mild, your dermatologist may suggest an antiseptic medication that can be bought without a prescription.
- Itch – A prescription antihistamine pill or liquid can come to your rescue to relieve your skin from the constant itching. You also can apply a corticosteroid to bring down the swelling of the bites.
If you do not have any signs of a serious reaction, you can often treat bed bug bites at home using the following steps.
- Wash the bite area with soap and water. This will stop a skin infection from spreading and help bring down the itchiness.
- If the bites continue to itch, apply an antihistamine or corticosteroid cream to the affected area. A weaker form of this medicine can be bought from the local chemist’s without a prescription while stronger corticosteroids require a prescription.
- Avoid scratching the affected area as much as possible. You can make use of cool compresses, oatmeal baths, or a paste made of baking soda and water to relieve yourself of the itching.