Who are You Sleeping With?

Bedbugs are small wingless insects with a flat body.  Like all insects, they have six legs.  Their color can range from whitish to brown, but after feeding on blood they appear rusty red.  Bedbugs grow to about 0.5 cm in length and you can see them with the naked eye. Their name comes from the fact that they often hide in bedding, mattresses or behind bed boards.

During the day, bedbugs tend to hide away in furniture, floors, beds and in wood or paper trash. They typically feed on humans at night.  Yes, you may be sleeping with them. Most bites occur just before dawn.  After taking their meal, which can last as little as three minutes, and now with their stomachs full,  they drop off the host and crawl to a hiding place. Bedbugs can live for up to 10 months and can go without feeding for weeks.

Once Bitten

Bedbug bites typically are not felt by the host.  This is because they inject a numbing substance into the skin along with an anticoagulant agent which prevents blood from clotting at the feeding site. Itchy, red bites on the skin may be the first and only sign that you’ve been bitten. Bites are more common on the arms,  neck and shoulders and often occur in a straight row.

Unlike Scabies, the bites of a bedbug do not usually require medical treatment. Secondary bacterial infection of the skin may develop in areas that become irritated due to prolonged scratching. Topical antibiotic creams or ointments may relieve the symptoms of the secondary infection.  If you have had an allergic reaction to the bedbug bite, your doctor may recommend oral antihistamine medications or corticosteroids.

Try as You Might

Although all encounters with this parasite may not be preventable, there are a number of ways to decrease your encounter with them and stop the spread of bedbugs.

. Use a protective cover over your mattress and box spring

.  Always keep your bedroom clean and free of clutter

.  Avoid purchasing second furniture

.  Vacuuming of your rooms regularly is recommended

So be aware when you are traveling. If you need to stay in a hotel or motel, make it your habit of inspecting the bed and back board very carefully. Some of the most expensive hotel chains have had out breaks of infestation. Remember, you want to be very careful who you get in bed with.

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