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Bed Bugs: Sleeping Alone?

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Bed bugs are becoming an increasing problem in apartment complexes, hotels and dorms. Their bite does not hurt but will cause a skin lesion similar to a mosquito or flea bite and it may itch. Nasty as it sounds that you may be sleeping with bugs, there is some good news. Bed bugs are not known to transmit any infectious agents.

These small wingless insects feed solely upon the blood of warm-blooded animals (you and your pets). Hatchling bugs are about the size of a poppy seed and the adult the size of an apple seed. They are flat and vary in color from a light gray to dark brown. They are called bed bugs because they actively seek shelter in dark cracks and crevices. Mattress seams are a perfect hide out for them by day. At night, bed bugs seek out people and animals while you are asleep.

While feeding, they inject a tiny amount of their saliva into the skin. When exposed to bites over an extended period, a person may become sensitive to the saliva of these bugs causing an allergic reaction. The urge to scratch the bites should be resisted because it may intensify the irritation and itching or lead to secondary infection. Severe symptoms may be treated with antihistamines and corticosteroids to reduce allergic reactions and inflammation.

How do bed bugs get into the home, hotel, dorm or cruise ship? Bed bugs like small places and hide as stowaways in luggage, furniture, clothing, pillows, boxes, and other such objects when these are moved between apartments, homes and hotels. If you buy used furniture on Craigslist, particularly bed frames and mattresses, carefully consider the history of the furniture and inspect it thoroughly.
It is important to keep in mind that bed bugs can survive for many months without feeding. For this reason, it is possible that they may be present in apparently "vacant" and "clean" apartments. Bed bugs can wander between adjoining apartments through voids in walls and holes though which wires and pipes pass.

You should not be afraid to sleep at night but if you complain of bites that occur while sleeping, it is time to consider a bed bug infestation. Folds and creases in the bed linens, and seams and tufts of mattresses and box springs may be the home of bed bugs or their eggs. They may also be found within pleats of curtains, in corners of furniture and in laundry or other items on the floor or around the room.

If you suspect bed bugs, don’t throw away your furniture quite yet. Investigate and then create a plan. If you find evidence of bed bugs, thoroughly clean the infested room and others as these bugs will migrate. Scrub infested surfaces and power vacuum all cracks and crevices. Dismantle bed frames to expose additional bugs that are hiding. Remove drawers from desks and dressers and turn furniture over. Mattresses and box springs can be permanently covered with special mattress bags once they have been cleaned.

Prevent the pests by reducing clutter and keeping items off of the floor where they can hide.

Add a Comment2 Comments

We spent the next three months tearing our apartment apart, throwing away dozens of Bed Bug Bites of our clothes and belongings away, sanitizing and resanitizing what we were able to keep

April 28, 2011 - 6:45pm

The Bed Bugs Handbook has some helpful tips on how to get rid of bed bugs.

March 20, 2010 - 6:28am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.