Bed bugs can be a serious problem, being more harmful to certain people than others. It causes health concerns ranging from itchiness to allergic reaction, and regardless of your susceptibility, you should take the necessary steps to prevent bed bugs from entering your home.
Seek extermination if you discover them, because, you put yourself at risk of various health problems if you allow an infestation to develop.
Bed Bugs Health Risks
For most people, bed bugs are going to be an annoyance as opposed to a serious health hazard, as these pests bite whatever host is nearby, sucking blood for nourishment, leaving behind red bumps that can get itchy.
Mild treatments are available to stop the itching, but other problems can come up with bed bugs if you are not careful.
The following health issues can result:
- Allergic Reaction: Some people have mild to extreme reactions to getting bitten by bed bugs that are similar to what some people experience when stung by a bee. If you are allergic, then you need to seek medical attention right away for treatment when bitten.
- Infection: It is rare for a bite from a bed bug to lead to an infection, but it has been known to happen from time to time. This usually occurs when the individual scratches and then germs and other pathogens are introduced into the wound.
- Insomnia: Bed bugs are nocturnal, which is why they generally wait until you are asleep in your bed before launching a feeding attack on you. The bites may not be painful but can cause you irritation at any time of the day or night. You may have to wake up in the middle of the night to scratch the affected areas, leading to a lack of sleep, which has been linked to a variety of health issues, like depression, irritability, loss of appetite, anxiety, difficulty focusing etc…
- Stress and Depression: Constant sleep deprivation combined with itchiness and unsightly scabs on your skin can result in stress which can lead to depression and immune system weakening if left untreated.
- Latent Illnesses: The weakening your immune system may lead to the manifestation of other latent illnesses.
If your place is infested with bed bugs, not only you suffer physically and emotionally, you may also become socially isolated. People may stop coming to your place, or send their kids to your place to play with your kids for fear of bringing back to their houses those disgusting bugs of the bed.
You also stop going to other people places feeling guilty about possibly contaminating unsuspecting people homes.
Bed bugs can attach themselves to clothing, so it is not difficult for them to spread throughout a town. Thus, it is best for you and everyone around you to deal with the infestation soonest.
When bed bugs infestation occurs, it’s not going to be a onetime bite attack. The bugs are going to “eat” you systematically, every night, and there will be no place to hide.
There is no other treatment except for complete extermination.
Prevention and Control of Bed Bugs
As is so often the case with pest control, a few simple precautions EPA lists to help prevent bed bug infestation are:
- Test secondhand pieces of furniture, beds, and couches for any signs of bed bug infestation before bringing them home.
- Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs which eliminates many hiding spots.
- Use Light colored encasements that make bed bugs easier to see, and be sure to purchase a high-quality encasement that will resist tearing. Check it regularly for holes.
- Reduce litter in your home to reduce hiding places for bed bugs.
- Use luggage racks to hold your luggage when packing or unpacking rather than setting your luggage on the bed or floor, and upon returning home, unpack directly into a washing machine and inspect your luggage carefully.
- Check the mattress and headboard before sleeping, and educate yourself on bed bugs and their prevention
Integrated Pest Management
If you do get a bed bug infestation, EPA recommends an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach. Such approaches include:
- Inspect infested areas, as well surrounding living spaces
- Correctly identify the pest as being a bed bug
- Keep records of the infestation
- Clean all items within a bed bug infested living area, and physically remove bed bugs through cleaning
- Use approved, bed-bug-labeled pesticides carefully, according to all label directions and follow up with after-treatment inspection, and possible treatments
- Wash and dry bedding and clothing at high temperatures to kill bed bugs, and heat infested articles and/or areas through to at least 113 ºF for 1 hour. A high temperature is needed to kill bed bugs at all life stages.
- Cold treatments (below 0 ºF for at least 4 days) can eliminate some infestations, and the cooler the temperature, the less time needed to kill the bed bugs.
- As already stated, use a mattress, box spring, and pillow encasements to trap bed bugs and help detect infestations.
Other Tips to Prevent or Control Bed Bugs
- Make sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas, ticks or other insects by comparing your insect to known bed bug pictures
- Don’t panic, and don’t throw out all of your things because most of them can be treated and saved. It can be difficult to eliminate bed bugs, but it’s not impossible, and throwing stuff out is expensive, and may spread the bed bugs to other people’s homes.
- Think through your treatment options, and don’t just reach for the spray can.
- Be wide-ranging in your approach. Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques may reduce the number of bed bugs and limit your contact with pesticides.
- Regularly wash and heat-dry your bed sheets, blankets, bedspreads, and any items of clothing, to reduce the number of bed bugs. Bed bugs and their eggs can hide in laundry containers/hampers, so remember to clean them when you do the laundry.
- Kill bed bugs with heat, but be very careful. Bed bugs die when their body temperature reaches 45°C (113°F), and to kill bed bugs with heat, the room or container must be even hotter to ensure sustained heat reaches the bugs.
- Reduce the number of bed bugs to reduce bites, thorough vacuuming. Carefully vacuum rugs, floors, upholstered furniture, bed frames, under beds, around bed legs, and all cracks and crevices around the room, and change the bag after each use so the bedbugs can’t escape. Place the used bag in a tightly sealed plastic bag and in outside garbage bin or you can burn them if you have an incinerator.
- You can turn to the professionals if needed since an experienced, responsible pest control professional can increase your chance of success in getting rid of bed bugs.