Bed bug reports in the United States have tripled since 2005. Many factors have affected these growing numbers, including increased international travel, increased mobility in general, and our lack of vigilance and understanding of the habits of these pesky creatures. Knowledge of bed bugs will empower you to prevent further spread of bed bugs and prevent them from having the ability to bite you.
Bed bugs like to live in mattresses, couches, cushions, or even on wooden surfaces, as long as they have handy access to food. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide emitted by warm-blooded animals and attack when the victim is still, so that they can inject a bit of anesthesia under the skin in order to suck the blood of the unsuspecting victim. We are the food these creatures crave and they will crawl out of their hiding places at night to feed.
Most people do not know there are bed bugs present until they have been bitten. Awakening in the morning with itching and red, sometimes raised bites brings a feeling of horror at having shared your bed with them. These bites are usually found in groups or rows on skin that was directly exposed to the bedding or chair. The itching can be quite severe for those that have a hypersensitivity to the anesthesia secretion of the bug.
The treatment for bed bug bites is usually simple, something to stop the itch and reduce the reaction, like Benedryl ointment. A more severe reaction may require a visit to the doctor for a prescription anti-inflammatory, such as Prednisone, but most people heal within a few days to weeks without medical care. Scratching should be avoided, as this can introduce a secondary skin infection into the bites that may need to be treated with an antibiotic. There is no fear of disease transmission from bed bug bites, such as HIV or Hepatitis, as they do not seem to be able to transmit blood borne pathogens like a mosquito or tick can do.
Prevention of the bites is the best treatment. When traveling or sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings, check the crevices of the mattresses, couches, and chair cushions for sightings of the small beetle-type bugs. They like to hide in dark places until they sense food in their midst. Another telltale sign is the presence of spots on the sheets or mattress that resemble pepper or rust. These are the droppings of the bugs and upon close observation, may even contain blood. Obviously, when any of these signs are spotted, alerting the management of the facility is imperative, and if in a hotel, moving to a different thoroughly inspected room may be all that is required.
If you find that you have bed bugs in your home, it is not because your house is dirty or unkempt. These bugs can be found in the cleanest of environments. There is no reason to be ashamed or fearful. It is time to take action, though. To rid your home of bed bugs is not an easy task but it can be done. After finding them in a room, thoroughly vacuum all the carpet, upholstery, mattress, and any surface that you can reach. This will remove the bugs, eggs, and larva. After physical removal, a good dose of heat will take care of the rest. Using the hottest heat setting in your dryer for pillows, and cushions, use a hot steam cleaner to clean the same surfaces that you vacuumed. In addition to heat, there are sprays and traps that can be purchased to specifically target bed bug extermination.
Because bed bugs can travel from place to place attached to clothing, bedding, and luggage, it is important to treat these exposed items with hot water or heat before letting them come in contact with a different area of the house. Although inconvenient and time consuming, removal of bed bugs from your home can be done without the use of dangerous pesticides, or spending thousands of dollars on an exterminator.
Now that you know what to look for when traveling, how to recognize and treat the bites, how to prevent the spread of bed bugs, and how to remove them from your home, you can relax a bit. There is too much hysteria in the media concerning bed bug infestations in the United States, but now you can combat that emotional reaction with information and approach the subject rationally and with a peace of mind.

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