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Bed Bugs: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. They hide in dark places near where humans sleep and usually crawl out to feed while people are fast asleep.

If you have bed bugs in your home, you are unlikely to see one unless you look for them.

Bed bugs hide in the crevices of mattresses, box springs, headboards, sofas, and other places. They only go out to feed.

While bed bugs are feeding on you, you are unlikely to notice. Most people sleep when they are bitten.

Also, before the bed bug draws your blood, it injects you with a substance that prevents you from feeling the sting. When you wake up, you may notice itching.

What are the signs of bed bugs?

Bite marks on your body are among the most common signs of bed bugs. Most people get bitten in their sleep and don't know they have been bitten until the next day when they notice one or more of the following:

  • Multiple bruises, often appearing in a zigzag line
  • Bruises that cause intense itching
  • Blood stains on bed

Bed bug bites The bites often appear in a zigzag pattern as shown here.

The first time you are bitten, the bites may not itch right away. It may take time for your body to react to the stings.

Some people experience itchy bruises within a few days of the first bites, but it can take up to 14 days before the bites cause. People tend to become more sensitive to bed bug bites.

If you have a bed bug infestation and the bug bite recurs, you may get itchy within seconds. You will not see bed bugs living on your body.

Unlike the lice and mites that cause scabies, bed bugs do not live on humans. Bed bugs come out of their lair to feed on human blood. Feeding takes about 4 to 12 minutes. After the bed bugs feed, they return to their hiding place.

Are bed bug bites dangerous?

Although bed bug bites are less common, it is possible to develop a serious or even life-threatening reaction. These interactions include:

  • Breathing is difficult
  • Heartbeat irregular or strong
  • swollen tongue
  • Pimples, especially large pimples
  • Fever
  • Feeling very ill
  • Scratch injury
  • Anemia (rare, but can occur when a person has many bedbug bites)

Serious reactions require immediate medical attention.

Who gets bed bugs?

Anyone can get bed bugs. Infection can occur even if your home is clean. Getting bed bugs has nothing to do with good hygiene and housekeeping.

How do bed bugs come about?

People get bed bugs when they bring bed bugs home with them. It's easy to do, and you probably won't notice until you've had a few bed bug bites. Insects can crawl into luggage, clothing, and other personal items unnoticed.

Places where bed bugs can spread include:

  • Hotels, motels and cruise ships
  • Residential buildings and condominiums
  • Shelters
  • Hospitals and nursing homes
  • Buses and trains

You can also bring bed bugs into your home in a used mattress or other piece of used furniture.

Bringing a few bed bugs home can quickly turn into an infestation for the following reasons:

A female bed bug lays between 200 and 500 eggs during her lifetime. Bed bugs have a lifespan of 6 to 24 months. Bed bugs can live for 12 months or more without feeding.

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How do you know if you have bed bugs?

To find out if you have bed bugs, you need to look for two things:

  • Bites on your body
  • Bed bug signs

1- Bites on your body: If you have bed bugs, you are likely to be bitten. Bed bug bites usually cause itchy bruises. These bruises usually appear in a zigzag pattern as shown in the image below.

You will rarely see bed bugs, so many people mistakenly believe that they are bitten by mosquitoes, fleas or spiders. Sometimes people mistake bed bug bites as a common skin condition such as an itchy rash, hives, or chickenpox.

To confirm that you have bed bugs, you will need to look for signs of bed bugs.

Although bed bugs do not usually require serious medical attention, they can cause a great deal of anxiety and restless nights.

To help find bed bugs before they find you (and your belongings), dermatologists recommend looking for the following signs near the places where you sleep.

2- Signs of bed bugs: This step is important. If you have had a bed bug infestation, you need to know so you can get rid of bed bugs. Getting rid of bed bugs is the only way to stop the bites.

If you have a large number of bed bugs, you may see bedbugs. However, most people only see signs of bed bugs. To look for signs of bed bugs, check the places where people sleep for the following:

  • Sweet and musty smell. take a deep breath. If you notice mold and sweetness in your room or other sleeping area, there may be an infestation of bed bugs in the room. Bed bugs produce chemicals that help them communicate, although not everyone will notice the smell.
  • Blood stains on bedding, mattresses, or upholstered furniture such as couches and headboards. Look carefully at the blankets, sheets, and mattress pads, then check the mattress and box of springs. Are there blood spots anywhere, especially near the seams? If so, there could be a bed bug infestation. You should also check for blood stains on all upholstered furniture, including sofas and headboards.
  • External structures. Bed bugs have an outer shell that sheds and is left behind. Do you see shell-like residue on your mattress, mattress pad, or under sofa cushions?
  • Small black spots. If you see black spots on the mattress, mattress, headboard, or under couch cushions, it may be bed bug excrement.
  • Egg. After mating, the female bed bug lays white oval eggs in cracks and crevices. Keep in mind that these will be small, because bed bugs are only the size of an apple seed. The photo below shows bed bugs near the eggs. The image has been enlarged so that you can see bed bugs and eggs.

If you catch bed bugs and have several bites or one that looks contaminated, see a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can treat the infection and help relieve itching.

If you see bed bugs, they will likely rush to the nearest hiding place. Any dark place like inside a mattress or even a picture frame makes a good hiding place.

As you watch bed bugs move, they can appear to be flying or jumping because they can crawl quickly. Bed bugs cannot fly or jump; They can only crawl.

If you find signs of bed bugs, contact the pest control company or your property manager. You should not use insect sprays or insecticides. These products have little effect on bed bugs.

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Bed bug bites treatment

You should see a dermatologist for treatment if you have:

  • Many bites
  • Blisters
  • Skin infection (a feeling of being bitten or a runny discharge, such as pus)
  • Allergic skin reaction (redness, swelling, or chills)

Your dermatologist may prescribe the following to treat bed bug bites:

  • Allergic reaction. Some people may need an injection of an antihistamine, a corticosteroid, or an epinephrine (adrenaline) for a severe allergic reaction.
  • Infection. The infection may require an antibiotic. If the infection is mild, your dermatologist may recommend an antiseptic medication that you can buy without a prescription. Your dermatologist will tell you which type to use. A dermatologist may also recommend an antiseptic to prevent skin infection.
  • Itch. Prescription pills or liquids can help. You can also apply a corticosteroid to the bites. Your dermatologist will tell you what is best for you.

If you don't have any signs of an infection or a serious reaction, you can often treat the bites at home.

Dermatologists at the American Academy of Dermatology recommend following these tips [s]. To treat bed bug bites:

  • Wash the bites with soap and water. This will help prevent skin infection and help reduce itching.
  • If the bites itch, apply a corticosteroid cream to the bites. You can get a weakened form of this medication without a prescription from your local pharmacy. Stronger corticosteroids require a prescription.

Bed bug bites usually heal and go away within a week or two.

How to prevent catching bed bugs while traveling

Bed bugs are great mobiles. They can move from an infested site to a new home by traveling on furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, and clothing.

Here's how to find bed bugs before they find you and your belongings.

When checking in at a hotel, your bedroom, or anywhere else, you'll want to check your room before unpacking.

Here's what you want to do:

1. When you enter the room or cabin, take a deep breath. Do you notice a sweet or musty smell? If there is a severe infestation, you may notice this smell. Bed bugs produce chemicals that help them communicate.

2. After that, check the bed. Look carefully at blankets, sheets, pillows, and mattress pads. Next, check the mattress and box springs. do you see:
  • Black spots, which could be bed bug excrement
  • Blood spots anywhere, especially near the seams
  • Shell-like residue on the bed, bedding, or furniture? Bed bugs have an outer shell that sheds and is left behind as they grow.

You will also need to inspect all upholstered furniture. During the examination, you may see bed bugs or their eggs. Bed bugs the size of an apple seed.

If you find signs of bed bugs, you should immediately ask for another room or cabin. The other room should not be near the current room.

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How to prevent bed bugs from being brought into your home after traveling

If you are concerned that you have caught bed bugs, you should check everything you bring home (luggage, purse, other belongings) for signs of bed bugs. You want to look for black spots, drops of blood, and shell-like residue.

If possible, check everything before bringing it into your home.

If you see signs of bed bugs or strongly suspect that you may have brought bed bugs home, you should immediately:

  • Wash all the clothes you brought home in the washing machine. Even clothes that you haven't worn should be washed in hot water. If you can't wash something in a washing machine, you can put it in a hot dryer or seal it in a plastic trash bag. If you seal things in a trash bag, leave the bag tightly closed in a very cold or very hot place for a few months.
  • Dry your clothes after washing them in the clothes dryer using the hot setting.
  • Use a handy steamer to clean your luggage. According to the National Pest Management Association, a clothes steamer will kill bed bugs and their eggs [s].
  • Use the vacuum cleaner frequently.

How to prevent bed bugs when buying used things and other furniture

Bed bugs can be hard to find in second-hand items and other furniture. If you haven't eaten bed bugs for some time, you may not see signs of them. Bed bugs can live for about a year without eating.

You can prevent catching bed bugs from used furniture by not bringing used furniture into your home.

How to kill bed bugs

While cleaning infested areas will be helpful in controlling bed bugs, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments.

Since treating your bed and bedroom with insecticides can be harmful, it is important to use products that can be used safely in bedrooms.

Do not treat mattresses and bedding unless the label says you can use it on the mattress.

Here are some ways to kill and prevent:

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1. Make sure the methods you choose are safe, effective and legal

Preparation for treatment is very important; It will make it easier to monitor for bed bugs that have not been eradicated. This preparation must be completed whether you are doing the treatment on your own or using a professional.

2. Consider non-chemical ways to kill bed bugs

Some will be more useful than others depending on your condition. These and other methods can be helpful, but they may not get rid of the infection completely [s]:

  • Heat treatment: You can use a clothes dryer on high heat. You can also use black plastic bags in a hot car and closed in the sun, but success depends on your climate and other factors. Heat treatments that are done on your own may not work. Professionals have access to denser, more stable methods that can even heat entire homes. You can also buy a portable heating chamber, which is usually very efficient.
  • Cold Processing: Cold processing can work in a home environment if the freezer is set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. You should leave items in a sealed bag in the freezer at this temperature for four days. Always use a thermometer to check the temperature, as home freezers are not always set to 0°C.
  • Steam Cleaners: Steam cleaners (wet or dry) can get into cracks and fabrics to treat carpets, baseboards, bed frames and other furniture. The steam temperature should be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit but it should not have a strong air flow, or this could cause the bed bugs to spread. Use a diffuser to prevent scattering.

3. If necessary, hire a pest management professional or use pesticides carefully as directed on the label:

  • Look for EPA-registered insecticides that contain bed bugs listed on the label.
  • Use insecticides (insect bombs) only with extreme caution and only if bed bugs are listed on the label. Improper use can harm your health or cause a fire or explosion. Mist should not be the only means of controlling bed bugs. The spray will not reach the cracks and crevices where bed bugs are hiding.

4. Carefully look for any evidence of bed bugs every few days after completing the initial cleaning and control operations.

If you see bed bugs, either some insects have missed the initial cleaning or the eggs have hatched. Re-treatment may be required.

5. Consider using different types of insecticides if frequent treatments are needed.

Desiccants (chemicals that dry things out) can be particularly effective in some situations because they work by drying out the insect (which means that bed bugs cannot develop resistance).

6. Keep checking for bed bugs at least every 7 days if any eggs remain.

You can use interceptors, traps, or other monitoring methods. Traps are placed under furniture legs to catch bed bugs and prevent them from climbing up the legs. Commercial and do-it-yourself interceptors are options.

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