You are probably cringing right now, just thinking of bed bugs. These pests are among the most feared by homeowners and, unfortunately, they are on the rise in the US. How can you protect your family from these pests? We will help you understand the health problems that bed bugs cause and develop a plan of action to prevent bed bugs from invading your home.
Can Bed Bug Bites Make You Sick?
Bed bugs do not directly make humans sick. In most cases where humans have become ill after bed bug bites, the underlying cause was due to allergies, blood loss, or infection. We’ll discuss that more in a section down below.
But just because bed bug bites don’t directly sicken those who suffer from them doesn’t mean they can’t negatively impact your wellbeing. Medical studies have documented multiple side effects and concomitant ailments that may arise when dealing with bed bugs. In short, getting rid of bed bugs will help you avoid current discomfort and potential future health problems.
Do Bed Bugs Spread Disease?
According to a 2012 study published by the American Society for Microbiology, 40 different disease-causing organisms have been detected in bed bugs, but we have no evidence that they transmit these diseases to humans. For most of us, the fact that these diseases have been detected is enough to cause concern. We don’t want these bugs near our families or homes.
Even without disease transmission, bed bugs are known to affect your health in ways that can become serious. Here is just a short list of dangers that bed bugs present:
- Many bites over time can cause significant blood loss and potential anemia
- Allergies to their droppings and remains can cause asthmatic attacks in susceptible people
- Allergies to the bite, caused by bed bug saliva, can trigger hives, rashes, itching and burning
- Bites can become infected, causing additional problems
- Scarring can occur and persist for months or longer
- A few patients develop severe systemic reactions including trouble breathing, severe infections, and anaphylaxis
Possible Effects of Bed Bug Bites, Are Bed Bugs Contagious?
You may not have a reaction the first time you are bitten; however, 70 percent of people will have a reaction. Usually the reaction becomes more severe over time. So, while some people may have no reactions, others will have moderate to severe reactions. The symptoms of a bed bug bite include:
- Red welts on the site of the bite
- Itching or burning at the site
- Bites in a line or grouping
- Widespread rash where bites are numerous
Bed bugs are not “contagious” in the way that diseases are contagious; people sometimes wonder do bed bug bites spread when scratched, and thankfully the answer is no. However, if you visit a home, hotel, or office that is infected, they can hitch a ride home on your clothing or possessions and begin a new infestation at your house. Even the cleanest homes can become infested, so do not hesitate to ask for an inspection and treatment, if you feel you may have bed bugs.
How Do I Know If I’ve Been Bitten by a Bed Bug?
If you’ve faced problems with biting insects, you understand that trying to identify the particular bug that’s bothering you can prove challenging. Trying to recognize flea bites vs bed bug bites may seem impossible without prior training, and suffering from spider bites in bed could also be an option, particularly if they’re itchy. And while it’s dangerous to discuss “absolutes” in the world of pest control, when people ask, “Are bed bug bites always itchy?”, we can almost always reply with an affirmative. In general, itchiness and inflammation serve as base-level symptoms that you have bed bugs.
Looking at pictures of bed bug bites also offers another insight, namely that of bite patterns. These insects most typically leave welts in patterns of three that typically cluster in a vague triangle shape or in a straight line. In an ongoing infestation, these bites will multiply over time and often do so in a stop-start pattern. (Bed bugs don’t feed every night.)
The final sign involves what you feel when you initially get bitten: nothing. The CDC states that, “when bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten.”
Health Problems that Arise from Bed Bugs
As we stated above, bed bugs don’t directly cause diseases or make you sick. Still, they can cause more than simply itchy bites. While it doesn’t happen often, bed bug bites may lead to allergic reactions in some susceptible individuals. Additionally, repeated scratching sometimes leads to an ordinary secondary infection or (in some cases) cellulitis. Scientific American even reported, “In very severe infestations people can become anemic. That takes a lot of bugs though—maybe 100,000 feeding once a week or more.”
While not quite as frightening as physical effects, bed bug bites often impact sufferers’ mental health. Distracting itching and the anticipation of more bites typically leads to insomnia and increased stress.
Treating a Bed Bug Bite on Your Own
Because bed bug bites aren’t normally serious on their own, you can often treat them with over-the-counter remedies. Calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, pramoxine ointment, or an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine, cetirizine, loratadine, or fexofenadine can all help. Some even swear by home remedies such as putting lemon juice, baking soda, tea bags, or toothpaste on bed bug bites.
Treating a Bed Bug Bite with the Help of a Doctor
Sometimes, though, you should seek the help of a medical professional if you find yourself getting bitten by bed bugs. If you find yourself suffering from a skin infection or having a strong allergic reaction, you should definitely make an appointment with your doctor. Additionally, a physician may be able to prescribe you highly effective treatments such as topical corticosteroids.
Protecting Yourself from Bed Bugs
We spend a good amount of time away from home, in offices, our workplace, and other public places. The risk of picking up bed bugs in these spaces is low, but it can happen. It is important to inspect your home when you clean, looking for signs of bed bugs. If you find bed bugs or suspect them, take action quickly to get rid of them. A small infestation can grow to be severe over time.
According to the EPA, there are steps you can take to avoid bringing bed bugs home with you and to prevent an infestation in your home. Consider these tips for preventing bed bugs at your home or workplace.
- Reduce clutter. Clean, clutter-free surfaces give bed bugs nowhere to hide
- Store your personal property in a plastic bin away from the belongings of other people
- Watch for signs of bed bugs in common areas like break rooms, storage areas, upholstered furniture, and other places where people spend time
- Vacuum your area daily to pick up stray bugs and take the vacuum bag all the way to the outside trash area.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Do you have a bed bug problem and find yourself wondering how to get rid of bed bugs overnight? Unfortunately, getting rid of bed bugs for good can be difficult. There are three methods that have been shown to be effective: treatment with pesticides, thermal treatment, and freezing bed bugs with cryonite. With any of these three treatments, skill is required to make sure the treatment is thorough and effective.
Many people try to treat their homes themselves and it can be done. If the infestation is small and contained, you may be successful in eliminating the bed bugs. However, many people spend a lot of time and effort in treating their homes, only to have the bed bugs return later. This may be a new infestation, or it may mean that the bugs were not completely eradicated.
Smithereen’s bed bug services are unmatched. We provide an inspection to find the extent of the problem and ensure that all infested surfaces in your house will be treated. We teach you how to recognize the signs of bed bugs, how to prevent re-infestation. Our team is skilled in bed bug eradication and we work to wipe out the entire colony, and ultimately how to prevent bed bug bites. We want you to be successful in eradicating bed bugs from your home permanently.
If you suspect you might have a bed bug problem or if you just want to be sure that you don’t, give us a call at 1-800-336-3500 or contact us. We would be happy to discuss the problem and solutions with you.