There has been a lot of media attention regarding bedbugs, recently. It turns out your grandma’s nighttime salutation, “Don’t let the bedbugs bite!” wasn’t just an idle warning. According to a 2011 survey by the National Pest Management Association, one out of five Americans has had a bedbug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bedbugs at home or in a hotel.
Bedbugs, a problem worldwide, cause property loss, expense and inconvenience. The good news is that bedbugs don’t transmit disease. The best way to prevent them is to regularly inspect for signs of infestation. You can see bedbugs, their eggs and fecal spotting from the bugs with the naked eye.
Bedbugs are found where people sleep, but they can also be found in other nearby areas, such as dressers, behind wallpaper or in cluttered areas by the bed. They’re commonly found in areas where there is a high occupancy turnover such as apartments, rental houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains and dorm rooms.
Bedbugs feed on human blood, so a sign of infestation could also be blood on bed sheets. They are known to have an unpleasant smell, which may be another sign of their presence.
Bedbugs bites cause itching. Hopefully you’re not itching already just from reading this article! Bathing, good hygiene and symptom relief is usually a sufficient treatment for most cases of bedbug bites. There are treatments available for more severe cases, including antibiotics, steroid creams and antihistamines.
If you suspect you have bedbugs, you should contact a pest control company. Bedbug infestations are normally treated with insecticides.
To help reduce the likelihood your home will be a long-term residence for bedbugs, it’s recommended that clutter be removed from sleeping areas. Wash and dry bedding at the hottest temperatue recommended for the fabric. It’s also a good idea to check second-hand furniture and other second-hand items that are brought into your home. Be sure to inspect your home more often if you have overnight guests or take frequent trips.
By Kris Ponto, MSN, RN-BC, RAC-CT
Clinical Nurse Consultant