Sleep Tight, Don’t Let The Bed Bugs Bite!

There is something about the goodnight rhyme “Sleep tight don’t let the bed bugs bite!” that people should know – bed bugs are not a myth and boy, can they bite!

These tiny 6-legged insects grow up to around half a centimeter long and are reddish-brown in color. The infestation of bed bugs in a home normally takes time to be discovered as these suckers hide during the day and only come out when the lights are out. What’s more is that when these insects bite, they release a chemical that numbs the skin and impedes the person from feeling anything while the bugs are doing their business.

The most common indication of bed bug infestation is having tiny red bites on the skin. Clustered red spots or bites in a linear order is a sign of repetitive “feeding” by a single bug while red spots in different parts of the body is a sign of several bugs feeding on a person’s blood. Disgusting as it sounds, bed bug bites are usually harmless but it is best to eradicate these creatures from a home as there are instances when they cause more than just a bite.

The first complication of bed bugs is allergy. After repetitive bites, a person is susceptible to develop an allergic reaction that manifests on the skin. A common symptom of allergy from bed bugs is the presence of skin inflammation, similar to a blister, a cluster of tiny pods of pus, rashes or a larger round patch of itchy skin! As bed bugs target any mammal, there is also a chance for bed bugs to transmit disease.

There have been cases when Hepatitis B and Chaga’s disease were transmitted to human by bed bugs. With the current trend of globalization the risk of transmitting different diseases through bed bugs is higher. As bed bugs can travel in suitcases and articles of clothing, Western countries that once thought they have eradicated bed bugs are now at risk again. Another factor that contributes to this is that the pesticide DDT that was once used to eliminate bed bugs has been proven to have negative effects to human beings as well and have been banned from usage. Current pest control only targets specific rodents that normally exempt bed bugs.

While bed bugs can survive in all types of climates, tropical countries run a greater risk of bed bugs infiltration. Hostels and other shelter facilities with a high turnover of inhabitants are also more prone to bed bugs; this includes households with pets that roam around the neighborhood.

There are steps to avoid bed bugs infiltration. Bed sheets, night wear, pillows, stuffed toys and other items on the bed should be washed regularly in water with a temperature of at least 36 C. Cracks on the walls and the floor must first be sprayed with insecticides and then sealed. When traveling, inspect hotel rooms for signs of bed bugs, to be safe, wash all clothes used in the trip with warm water and vacuum the luggage in case the bed bugs are there. Bedrooms must be kept clean at all times, bed sheets must be changed regularly and clothes used outside must go straight to the bin – do not sit on the bed with used clothes or place bags, books, laptops and other items that have been on different surfaces! You never know when a bug or two have hitched home with you.


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