A common phrase is, “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs please!” But what are bed bugs and how do you get them? Bed bugs are oval-shaped insects that are about 5 millimeters long as adults. They come out at night and can’t fly, though they can crawl very quickly.
Bed bugs feed on human blood which causes itchy bites. Outside of bites, signs you have bed bugs are live bugs themselves, shell casings, fecal spots, eggs, bloodstains on sheets and an “unusual, musty odor,” according to M&M Pest Control in Long Island City, New York.
How do you get bed bugs?
Bed bugs can travel quickly and have an ability to latch onto furniture and other items. They can be brought into the home from places where people are dormant for periods of time, like bus seats, airplanes or theater cushions, etc. They can sneak into your home through purses and luggage as well. Once they are in the home, they can hide in bedroom furniture such as a mattress, box spring and bed frame.
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How to get rid of bed bugs at home
Here is how to get rid of bed bugs at home, according to WebMD.
- Wash bedsheets, clothing, linens and curtains in hot water. Then, put them in the dryer on the hot setting for at least 30 minutes.
- To remove bedbugs and their eggs, use a stiff brush on mattress seams.
- Vacuum your bed and the area around it often. Place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and put it in a trash can outside.
- Encase your mattress in a bed bug mattress cover. Keep this on for at least a year since bed bugs can survive up to a year without feeding.
- Repair cracks in walls or plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to limit the places bed bugs can hide.
- Get rid of clutter surrounding the bed.
Though these tips can stave off bed bugs, it is best to use chemicals to exterminate bed bugs. For the best results, WebMD suggests hiring an exterminator with experience dealing with the pests.
The Environmental Protection Agency has a detailed version of home remedies to get rid of bed bugs.
How to treat bed bug bites on skin
Although they can be annoying, bed bugs bites are not something to fret over. They’re not contagious and don’t carry diseases.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends treating them by washing gently with soap and water, then applying an anti-itch product to the bites (like hydrocortisone 1%). But, you shouldn’t use it on your face.
If the bites itch, apply the product one to two times daily. If the itching is more persistent, your doctor might be able to prescribe you a stronger cream or advise you to take a different medication.
While scratching is tempting, the Cleveland Clinic also advises to not scratch your bites because it can cause skin tears or infections.
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Can bed bugs live in your hair?
Bed bugs cannot live in your hair.
According to ABC Home & Commercial Services, located in Central Florida, Texas and Oklahoma, bed bugs are attracted to bare skin and are more likely to bite you on your face or neck.