“Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!”

What was once a harmless goodnight poem has now become a huge problem.  In the last couple of years bedbugs have made a comeback in the U.S. showing up in such places like hotels, motels, movies theaters, summer camps, the Empire State Building and even in retail stores like Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch.

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They are much more likely to be picked up when traveling, so it is important to know about them and what you can do to prevent carrying them home. It has been estimated that the bedbug population in the U.S. has increased by 500% in the last couple of years.

What are Bedbugs?

Bed bugs are parasites that bite your skin and then eat your blood. They are about the size of an apple seed and are reddish-brown in color.

Although bedbugs do not cause any disease per se, when bitten they itch like crazy and may cause an infection if they are scratched too hard. They have also been known to be the cause of some public health and economic issues.

Unlike mites you can see bedbugs. Bedbugs hide in cracks and crevices of box springs, headboards, bed, bed frames and any other objects around a bed.

Bedbugs are most active at night and will bite any area that is not covered by some sort of clothing. The bites most often appear on the face, arms, hands and neck.

The more time you spend time in places with high turnovers of nighttime guests such as hospitals, homeless shelters and hotels the greater the chance you will pick them up and take them home.

Common Bed Bug Symptoms

The most common symptom is the bite from the bedbug.  The bite marks may be from other bugs such as mites or fleas.  So make sure the bites have the following characteristics:

  • Red with a darker spot in the middle
  • Located on the neck, face, hands and arms
  • Appear in an a line
  • Itchy

It is important to note that some people do not react to bedbugs like others. Some people actually break out in hives, severe blisters and itching. You don’t need to see a doctor unless you are experiencing one of these symptoms.

Getting Rid of Bedbugs

If you think you have bedbugs, you should take a close look at you your bed. Look for blood stains in the cracks and crevices because this is where they are most likely to be.

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If you confirm that you have them you will want to get rid of them right away. The best thing to do is call an exterminator to do this for you to make sure it is done right.

Prevention

The best bet is to try and prevent bringing bedbugs home.  When you go to a hotel examine the bedding for bedbugs. Know what you are looking for before you commit to staying there.  Also examine any other furniture in the room and make sure there are none.

If you find any ask for another room and then examine that room too. Refrain from putting the clothes in the drawers or closet. Be really careful to make sure you have a disposable plastic bag to store your suitcase in so that they cannot get into it.

When you get home, make sure you wash all of your clothing in hot water to further kill any that might have gotten through.

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