When you are dealing with bed bug exposure, the first thing you have to do is to make sure it does not spread.
Educate yourself as well as the people in your home about bed bugs so everyone can identify an infestation early. This is important because catching an infestation in its early stages can save you months of stress.
Also, immediately wash all of the clothing you wore that day and dry them on the highest temperature setting on the dryer.
If you have been exposed to bed bugs and want to know how to keep it from infesting your own home, then keep on reading.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed solely on the food of people and animals, primarily while they sleep. Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, they have no wings, and are roughly the size of an apple seed. These pests can live multiple months without feeding.
Where are bed bugs commonly found?
Bed bugs are found all over the world. Even though it has traditionally been seen in developing countries, it has now become a problem in North America and Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.
Bed bug infestations usually occur in places where there is frequent human traffic and especially where people sleep. Places like hotels, apartments, cruise ships, trains, buses, and dormitories.
Bed bugs usually hide out during the day in the seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, behind wallpaper, between floorboards, bedside tables, or on any objects around your bed. They tend to live within eight feet of where their host sleeps.
Bed bugs are quite fast despite being unable to fly or jump. They can travel three feet in a minute, and can even travel up to 100 feet in one night. This is why they can come in for a blood meal and quickly scuttle back to their hiding place without you noticing.
What are the signs of a bed bug infestation?
One of the first and most noticeable signs that identify a bed bug infestation are through the bite marks on a person’s face, neck, arms, and ankles. These are the parts of a person’s body that are not covered by clothing while they sleep, so these are the areas that a bed bug can easily access for a blood meal.
Unfortunately, these marks can take as long as two weeks to manifest, so you might have had the infestation for much longer than you originally thought.
Other signs of bed bug infestation are the presence of bed bug nymph exoskeletons, adult bed bugs and bed bug eggs in the folds of mattresses and bed sheets, blood spots and fecal material stains on the mattress or on any of the nearby furniture, and a distinct musty odor.
Do bed bugs carry any diseases?
Fortunately, bed bugs are not known to carry any communicable diseases the same way other insects that feed on humans do, such as some ticks or mosquitoes. They can be annoying and their bites cause itching and loss of sleep. Their bites, when scratched too much, can lead to open wounds and even an infection.
Do bed bugs pose any health risks?
The way a person’s body reacts to a bed bug bite is relative. The body’s response to bed bug bites can range from a complete absence of any physical signs, a tiny bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction that may require a visit to the emergency room. Bed bugs are not considered dangerous, but if you are allergic to their bite, it could be a serious problem.
What do I do after bed bug exposure?
Before anything else, wash all of the clothing that you wore that day and dry them on the highest temperature setting on your dryer. If for some reason you tossed those clothes into a hamper, wash all of the clothes in the hamper.
Do your research and educate yourself and everyone who lives in your house about bed bugs and what signs to watch out for to identify an infestation.
If the exposure happened in a school, be sure you empty out your bags outside your house, or in your garage. Put the bag in the dryer for 30 minutes on the highest temperature setting safe for the bag’s material.
Inspect the books you had inside the bag. This is important because books can also become harborages for bed bugs. Isolate your books, or put them inside sealed bags, until they can be heat treated.
Remember that bed bugs are fast crawlers and they spread quickly because of their innate ability to hide in hard to reach places. They can hide in cracks and crevices and are willing to wait until the time is right for them to feed on their host. Even though they are called bed bugs because of their affinity for beds, they can still infest other areas of your home, such as couches, curtains, beddings, clothes, and luggage.
How are bed bugs treated and prevented?
Because bed bug bites do not pose a serious medical threat, the best way to treat it is to avoid scratching the area and to apply antiseptic creams or lotions, and to take an antihistamine if necessary.
Bed bug infestations can be treated by insecticide sprays, but more effectively by heat treatment.
When you have been exposed to bed bugs and you want to avoid bringing it back to your home, wash all of the clothes you wore when you were exposed. Place them in the washer and dry them on the highest temperature setting to make sure any bugs or eggs that may have gotten on your clothes will die.
If you were exposed in school, empty your backpack and place it in the dryer, also on the highest temperature setting safe for the bag’s material. Check the books inside said bag for any bugs or eggs. If there are any, seal the bags until they can be heat treated.
Do ample research and inform all the people in your home about what signs to look for in case you suspect a bed bug infestation.
Image: istockphoto.com / Benjamin Clapp