Bed Bugs

Overview

Bedbugs are small parasitic insects that feed on the blood of sleeping people. No larger than a pencil eraser, these brown, oval bugs hide in mattresses, headboards, curtains and clothing. Their bites cause small, itchy welts similar to mosquito bites. While annoying and uncomfortable, bedbugs do not transmit diseases, and treatment for bites is very simple. Bedbug infestation is concerning, but there are several simple steps to prevent these parasites from moving in.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Bedbug bites are similar to many other insect bites. Itchy and found in clusters, bites often appear red with a darker spot in the middle. Bites often appear on the arms, hands, neck and face. While these are common symptoms, some have no reaction to bites and others react more severely due to allergy. Allergic reaction may present as severe itching, hives or blisters on the skin.

Because bedbug bites are so similar to other insect bites, they cannot be diagnosed by visual inspection. The best way to diagnose bedbug bites is to inspect the home for evidence of the parasites. Mattresses, sheets, crevices in furniture, curtains and other hiding places should be inspected. Examining the home at night when the bugs are more active is recommended. Evidence of bedbug infestation includes dark specs or small amounts of blood on the mattress, the shed exoskeletons of bugs or the small brown bugs themselves.

Causes

Bedbugs had been mostly eradicated in the United States, but have reappeared in recent years. There are likely many causes for this resurgence including an increase in worldwide travel, the discontinued use of DDT pesticides and resistance to current insecticides. These bugs are also adept at hiding and can easily travel from place to place on clothing, in suitcases or on their own. Continue reading for Prevention and Treatment information . . .

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