Bedbugs have feasted on sleeping humans for thousands of years. After World War II, they were eradicated from most developed nations with the use of DDT. This pesticide has since been banned because it's so toxic to the environment.
Spurred perhaps by increases in international travel, bedbugs are becoming a problem once again. The risk of encountering bedbugs increases if you spend time in places with high turnovers of night-time guests — such as hotels, hospitals or homeless shelters.
Bedbugs are reddish brown, oval and flat, about the size of an apple seed. During the day, they hide in the cracks and crevices of beds, box springs, headboards and bed frames. It's a daunting task to eliminate bedbugs from your home. Professional help is recommended.
Bedbugs are reddish brown, oval and flat, about the size of an apple seed. During the day, they hide in the cracks and crevices of beds, box springs, headboards and bed frames. ...
It can be difficult to distinguish bedbug bites from other insect bites. In general, the sites of bedbug bites usually are:
Some people have no reaction at all to bedbug bites, while others experience an allergic reaction that can include severe itching, blisters or hives.
When to see a doctor
It can be difficult to tell bedbug bites from other types of insect bites. However, they are typically itchy, and they may appear clustered or lined up in rough rows. ...
The resurgence of bedbugs in developed countries may be linked to:
A female bedbug can lay more than 200 eggs in her lifetime, which typically lasts for about 10 months. Newly hatched bedbugs are nearly colorless, so they are hard to spot. They shed their skin five times as they grow, and need a blood meal for each molt.
Where do they hide?
They also can be found:
How do they spread?
While bedbugs may hitchhike on your belongings, they also can crawl about as fast as a ladybug. So they can easily travel between floors and rooms in hotels or apartment complexes.
Some varieties of bedbugs prefer to feed on birds or bats, so they may take up residence in your attics or eaves. If their preferred prey migrates south, these bedbugs will settle for feeding on the humans in the house.
Sign of uncleanliness?
Bedbugs are more common in crowded lodgings that experience high turnover in occupancy, such as:
By feeding on infected people, bedbugs can be infected with some bloodborne diseases. However, there is no evidence that bedbugs can transmit these diseases to other people.
Preparing for your appointment
Most bedbug bites require no medical treatment. You may want to consult your family doctor if you experience an allergic reaction to the bites or if you develop a skin infection after scratching the bites.
What you can do
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
If you suspect that you're being bitten by bedbugs, immediately inspect your home for the insects. Thoroughly examine crevices in walls, mattresses and furniture. You may need to perform your inspection at night when bedbugs are active.
Look for these signs:
Treatments and drugs
The redness and itch associated with bedbug bites usually goes away on their own within a week or two. You might speed your recovery by using:
If you develop a skin infection from scratching bedbug bites, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.
Treating your home
Nonchemical treatments may include:
Some professional exterminators use portable devices to produce steam, heat or freezing temperatures to kill bedbugs. In some cases, you may have to throw out heavily infested items such as mattresses or couches.
Last Updated: 2010-09-02
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