There are no documented cases of bed bugs transmitting diseases in humans or pet animals; bed bugs are not vectors of diseases. However, they do lead to intense itchiness which must be countered using antihistamines and corticosteroids. These over-the-counter or prescription drugs can help reduce allergic reactions as well as secondary skin infections which could stem from scratching the site of the bites.
Psychological issues related to bed bugs
There is a great deal of social stigma associated with bed bugs. Many a homeowner is known to panic at their sight and use any available pesticide to kills the bed bugs. Many of these sprays are extremely toxic, especially to pregnant women, children and elderly people. Many household insecticides are known to actually harm pets. Several registered and EPA approved pesticides are sprayed in areas where they have a high probability of coming in contact with humans causing toxicity and heightened problems of exposure.
Many of the commonly used pesticides used for treating household insects are known to be extremely toxic:
- Bifenthrin-Neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, skin irritation, asthma related problems etc.
- Chlorfenapyr- Carcinogenic
- Hydroprene- Sensitizer and irritant
- Permethrin-Moderately toxic, possible cancer, kidney or liver damage
- Propoxur- EPA has banned this drug which is however still used for treating bed bugs. It is highly toxic, a possible carcinogen and could also lead to Neurotoxicity.
Bed bug bites are also known to lead to sleepless nights which could, in turn, lead to anxiety, memory problems, and lack of concentration and so on. We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep; needless to say that bed bugs deprive us of much needed sleep leading to fatigue, restlessness etc.
The problem lies in lack of education regarding bed bugs
Since the very fact that having bed bugs is associated with a social stigma, most people do not wish to talk about it. Many wait until days to report the problem to their landlord or to a pest control company. Majority of the people also use improper home remedies for getting rid of bed bugs.
In several cases, people mistaken bed bug bites for mosquito bites. It is important to know the difference between bed bug bites vs. mosquito bites in order to accurately pin point what is causing the welts and itchy bumps on the skin. Bed bugs also tend to leave a sweet sickly odor, almond like odor in the environment. You might even be lucky enough to catch one in action; bed bugs come out at night to feed on humans; they typically appear as tiny brown insects that are as small as an apple seed. You might see them around your furniture, headboards, and mattress edges or even in the box springs.
Detecting bed bugs
As stated above, bed bugs are nocturnal insects. So the best time to find them is at night. You can use a red light to detect bed bugs. Carefully check linen, furniture corners, cracks and crevices for rust colored or orange stains left behind by discarded exoskeletons of growing bed bugs.
You could even use duct tape with its sticky side out on the legs of the bed to trap the bugs. Alternatively, you could buy pheromone traps to catch bed bugs-many are readily available online. Once you have found a single bed bug, know for sure that there are others- because, a single female bed bug lays hundreds of eggs in her lifetime. You could take a look at bed bug pictures online as well as bed bug bite pictures to know for sure if you have these critters in your home. If needed, you could take the bed bug specimen to an entomologist for identification. Dogs can also be trained to detect bed bugs. It is also not a bad idea to seek professional help from pest control companies; they can inspect your home and also inform you about ways to get rid of bed bugs permanently.
Bed bugs and bed bug eggs are most likely found in the following areas:
- Cracks and crevices of headboards, floor boards, along the seams and edges of mattresses and inside box springs.
- They could be present behind picture or photo frames, in old books or clothes, inside luggage bags and even in ceiling moldings
- Inspect the edges of the carpeting where bed bugs like to hide.
- You might sight then under loose wall paper or peeling paint, in the upholstery of sofas
- Bed bugs may even reside inside electronic gadgets, clocks, TV, phones, smoke detectors and switch plates.
I have bed bugs-what do I do?
Before using any techniques to get rid of bed bugs, do the following:
- Eliminate clutter
- Wash all bedding, linen, curtains etc in hot water
- Seal all clean clothes (without infestation) in plastic bags and keep them in a safe place such as your office or another room where there are no bed bugs for the entire duration of the treatment.
- Vacuum your house thoroughly
- Use approved pesticides to get rid of bed bugs.
- Call professionals who can use heat treatment or other modern methods to effectively kill bed bugs.
- Use an integrated bed bug management approach to keep bed bugs away.
Treating mild bed bug bites
If you are wondering how long bed bug bites last, the answer varies. In most people though, the bed bug bites could form a scab within a day or two. Scratching the scab can lead to reopening of the wound. So avoid it strictly and educate kids about it as well. Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to soothe the itchiness and treat mild bed bug bites.
In conclusion: Can you get sick from bed bugs and bed bug bites
Bed bug bites will not make you sick, but they can cause itchiness and discomfort. If you are feeling feverish, the likely reason behind it could be the lack of sleep or a secondary skin infection. So use the above methods to detect bed bugs first. Next, call a reliable pest control company to get rid of them in order to regain your peaceful night’s rest.