Bed bugs are blood-sucking insects. They usually survive on the blood of other creatures. Bed bugs live usually in the cracks and crevices of beds. When they sense that a person is asleep, they move towards them and feed on their blood. Bed bugs can also be found in sofas, mattresses, chairs, sheets, blankets, suitcases, cardboard boxes, cluttered areas, and other similar furniture items.
The most common causes of bed bugs are described below:
- Population: As bed bugs live on human beings, it is logical that with the growth in the human population, bed bugs will also increase.
- Travel: Travel is one of the most common causes of bed bugs. This includes airplanes, buses, trains, and ships. Usually, bed bugs reside on the seats and may crawl on an individual or their belongings. Then these bugs may travel to their houses.
- Hotels/Motels: When an individual moves into a hotel or motel, there is an increased risk that bed bugs may crawl on them or their belongings and move with them.
- Urbanized living: Urban cities have increased travel frequency and houses may be closer to each compared to rural ones. This gives bed bugs a better opportunity to spread from one place to another.
- Secondhand furniture: Bed bugs can often be introduced to a property when an infested piece of furniture is brought into a home or business. Likewise, rented furniture can also have bed bugs. Bed bugs may survive for many months without a blood meal.
What does a bed bug bite look like?
The bite of a bed bug looks like a cluster of red spots. They are painless at the start but later may become reddish welts.
- The red spot may be much darker in the middle. Bites will eventually produce itchy red bumps and welts on the surface of the skin.
- The bites spots are itchy, and due to the scratching, you may get a bacterial infection.
- These bites may be often arranged in clusters or in a line which may indicate the path the bed bug took while it kept biting.
- Bed bug bites are normally located on the exposed areas, such as the face, arms, hands, and neck of individuals.
Bed bugs feed on humans and other warm-blooded hosts to survive and reproduce. They find a host by detecting carbon dioxide emitted from warm-blooded people or animals. They respond to warmth/moisture. To feed, they penetrate the skin of the host and inject a salivary fluid that contains a blood thinner to help them obtain blood.
How does a bed bug bite affect an individual’s health?
Below are common health issues an individual may develop due to bed bugs.
- Stress: Individuals may become stressed out or frustrated living in a bedbug-infested household. These bugs may spread quickly and may damage bed sheets and curtains apart from constant biting on the body. Living in a stressful environment for long periods of time can lead to a lot of emotional anxiety, which may then lead to health problems. Emotional anxiety may impact on our immune system and its ability to fight off antigens, making us more prone to all kinds of infections. Stress can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, as well as affect our digestive system. All these combined can increase the risk of catching harmful diseases.
- Infection: Bed bug bites can be very itchy, leading to the strong urge to scratch it until the itch goes away. Small open wounds from continuous scratching may lead to bacterial infection if left untreated.
- Allergic reaction to bites: As per research, 70% of the people could have allergic reactions due to continuous bites, which may sometimes lead to life-threatening situations.
- Disturbed sleep: Repeated exposure to bed bugs and numerous bites may lead to never-ending itch, and the thought of crawling bugs around is bound to keep anyone up all night. This may lead to fatigue, which in turn will affect efficiency in completing daily activities.
- Anemia: Serious infestation by bed bites can cause blood loss and cause anemia.
How to treat a bed bug bite?
Symptoms of bed bug bites may be relieved by the following measures:
- Apply a steroidal anti-itch cream that contains Hydrocortisone, Cortisone, or topical anesthetic that contains Pramoxine for pain relief and Diphenhydramine for itch control.
- Use calamine lotion to dry out the rash.
- Take oral antihistamine allergy tablets and pain relievers like Ibuprofen to control the symptoms.
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