It seems that that bed bug bites have become even more common in recent months than news reports last year predicted. There’s no doubt that these little menaces are taking over entire regions, especially in large cities but the question is why. Bed bug bites have been unheard of at most doctor’s offices and clinics since the 1950s for the most part unless you live in a developing country. Why the sudden boom?
The basic reason is simply the fact that we’ve overlooked them and they became a cute little thing we said to our children at night. “Don’t let the bed bugs bite”. We’ve all heard this and for the most part it was harmless. Today, it’s actually something to worry about and it’s time to start getting rid of bed bugs everywhere.
A large factor in their return is actually a combination between overlooking them for years, a decline in the economy and booming tourism in many cities. People may come visit from places that do have bedbugs and all it takes is a couple stowaways in a piece of luggage and one room in a hotel becomes infested. From there, they creep around the whole building, and then new visitors take them to other areas and so on.
Identifying Bed Bugs
What’s that little bite on your arm? Flea? Mosquito? It could very well be a bed bug bite and you might not even know it, especially if you’ve done a bit of traveling lately. Unless you specifically look for signs of these little creatures, you’ll probably just write that bump off. Bed bugs are basically oval shaped and can be a shade of yellow, red, brown or a mix of them. They almost look like baby cockroaches. They are mostly active at night so it’s easy to miss them.
A good way to find out whether or not you have them isn’t to look for live ones but instead focus CSI style on evidence. Run a flashlight over your sheet when your ready to change your bedding and look for tiny brown specks (feces), translucent exoskeletons from growing, tiny blood spots, and maybe you’ll see a little critter or two tucked in a fold. Getting down to eye level with your bed can help spot anything uneven as well. Once you know you have them, you can start to take action.
Identifying Bed Bug Bites
This is actually extremely hard to do so using the technique above to search your bed (or couch, futon, etc..) is the best way to confirm it’s bed bugs. The bites will look very similar to a random spider or mosquito bite. It will be a small raised red bump, a red blotchy area or small rash in most cases. This is why it’s often overlooked. Many of us wake up with a tiny unknown “bug bite” here and there and think nothing of it. Bed bugs often bite in a line pattern. Here are some pictures of various bites to help you out.
Treating Bed Bug Bites
Like any bite, these can vary greatly depending on how many bites you have and your body’s reaction to them. In severe cases, this can be life-threatening and you will have to go to the ER. For most of us, it will be an irritating bump or rash. To help ease the pain and itchiness, you can use anything from aloe vera to Campo-Phenique to a Benadryl type cream. Whatever you prefer for other itchy bites should work well here. Some Tylenol or anti-inflammatory tablet or cream can also help if you feel you need it. Everyone has a particular remedy so use what you’re familiar with and comfortable with. Some people swear by tooth pain creams in addition to an allergy cream. Treating bites shouldn’t be something you need to do all the time so get rid of these pests quickly.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
As with any little critter that moves into your home, there are some steps you need to take to get rid of them successfully and permanently. Bed bugs are a little challenging as they are resistant to many types of bug spray you can buy on the shelf. That can of super powered roach killer smells and looks like it should wipe out anything with six legs but this isn’t always the case. Those sprays are formulated to work specifically on the insect on the can usually. Spider spray might just make cockroaches angry for instance. To truly tackle this problem your best options are:
Identification – Make sure this is actually the problem and you don’t have a spider nest hiding in your wall or floorboards. The bites can be similar and the method to get rid of them is very different. Triple check to make sure or call in a professional.
Cleaning – Insects don’t like clean areas much. Use a mild bleach mixture to clean your linoleum and tile and vacuum your entire house multiple times using a bug repellant carpet powder if available. Multiple times per day for a week or so is a great idea. Wash all your bedding, drapes, couch cushions and clothes near your floor in hot water. Dry them for an extended time on HOT settings.
Elimination – This is the most important step of course. Get rid of them for good. You might be able to combine this with cleaning if you only have a few but keep in mind, where a couple are, more may be hiding. Large infestations will absolutely need the help of a professional exterminator.
Repellants – Consider an all-natural repellant device or two. These are often very cheap and double as air fresheners. You slide them under your mattress or couch or in areas you think critters may hide. These work for multiple insect types making them very versatile.