LiveMD gives you all of the information that you need to know on how to treat or avoid a bed bug infestation
What is a bed bug?
Bed bugs are small, round, brown insects that feed off of human blood. They are tiny until after they have fed, when their bodies will swell up and turn a reddish colour. These bugs can climb onto clothing or into suitcases and due to their ability to rapidly breed, can quickly infest a home. They prefer to live on bedding, mattresses and box springs and will feed on their human prey during the night while they are asleep. Bed bugs can be found anywhere where there is access to blood and are not a sign of a dirty environment. Although they bite humans and draw blood, they do not carry or spread disease.
How will I know if I have been bitten?
Bed bugs tend to bite at night, feeding on the blood of humans while they are asleep. They pierce the skin with a long, beak-like appendage that acts like a straw to suck the blood through. This feeding can last for up to 10 minutes, until the bug is engorged with blood. These bites are usually painless at first, and most people sleep through night completely unaware that they are being bitten. Afterwards, these bites can turn into red, raised welts, similar to a mosquito bite, that can be quite itchy.
How do I know if I have an infestation?
Here are some common signs that you may have a bed bug infestation:
- There are spots of blood on your bedding or pajamas
- You wake up with red, itchy welts that you didn’t have before going to bed
- You see rusty, brown fecal spots, egg shells or shed skin from the bugs in your bed or in other areas of your room
- You smell a musty odor that the bugs excrete from their scent glands
What should I do if I have an infestation?
A good, thorough cleaning should help to remove most bed bugs and leave your home free of unwanted guests. All bedding, blankets, clothing and curtains should be washed in hot water and placed in the dryer on the hottest setting. Any items that cannot be washed should be put in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes. Vacuum your mattress, box spring and surrounding carpets, making sure to get into all corners and crevices and underneath any furniture. Make sure to immediately empty your vacuum cleaner and dispose of its contents in a tightly sealed bag, outside of the house. Make sure to vacuum frequently.Your pillows and mattresses should be replaced but if this is not possible you can purchase mattress and pillow covers that will keep any remaining bugs inside. These covers should be kept on for at least a year to be sure that any bedbugs inside are no longer alive. Calling in an exterminator, who will use a chemical pesticide is a fast and easy way to ensure that all bed bugs have been killed and your home is no longer infested.
How can I prevent an infestation?
Anytime that you are away from home and sleeping in a different bed, you should check for bed bugs before going to sleep. Pull back the sheets and examine the mattress for any blood, excrement stains, eggs or bugs themselves. If you notice any evidence of an infestation, find a new place to sleep. When you return home, examine the contents of your suitcase to look for any signs of bugs and wash all of its contents immediately in hot, soapy water.
If you have experienced a bed bug bite or have questions about dealing with an infestation, LiveMD can help. Our doctors are on call to assist you, 24 hours a day, all week long. Visit www.mylivemd.com to speak with one of our team members today by phone, video chat, text, or in-person.
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