No two people react to bites in the same way, although some reactions are similar. Because of the saliva that they leave behind, the first reaction is usually severe itching and irritation. This is often followed by a raised appearance on the contacted area. Some people, however, react by having welts and hives all over the body. Still others will have small, pinkish bumps that are concentrated in one area.
To prevent bringing bed bugs to one's own home, travelers are advised to take precautions after visiting an infested site: generally, these include checking shoes on leaving the site, changing clothes in a garage before returning to their home, and putting the used clothes in a clothes dryer outside the house. When visiting a new lodging, it is advised to check the bed before taking suitcases into the sleeping area and putting the suitcase on a raised stand to make bedbugs less able to crawl in. "An extreme measure would be putting the suitcase in the tub." Clothes should be hung up or left in the suitcase, and never left on the floor. The founder of a company dedicated to bedbug extermination said that 5% of hotel rooms he books into were infested. He advised people never to sit down on public transport; check office chairs, plane seats and hotel mattresses, and monitor and vacuum home beds once a month.
Although bedbugs are generally nocturnal, they're like humans—if they're hungry, they'll get up and get something to eat. "If you go away to visit a friend for a week and you come back and sit down on the couch, even though it's daytime the bedbugs will come looking for you," Schal says. Keeping a light on, then, unfortunately does not keep these tiny vampires away.
Mechanical approaches, such as vacuuming up the insects and heat-treating or wrapping mattresses, are effective. An hour at a temperature of 45 °C (113 °F) or over, or two hours at less than −17 °C (1 °F) kills them. This may include a domestic clothes drier for fabric or a commercial steamer. Bed bugs and their eggs will die on contact when exposed to surface temperatures above 180 °F (82 °C) and a steamer can reach well above 230 °F (110 °C). A study found 100% mortality rates for bed bugs exposed to temperatures greater than 50 °C (122 °F) for more than 2 minutes. The study recommended maintaining temperatures of above 48 °C (118 °F) for more than 20 min to effectively kill all life stages of bed bugs, and because in practice treatment times of 6 to 8 hours are used to account for cracks and indoor clutter. This method is expensive and has caused fires. Starving them is not effective as they can survive without eating for 100 to 300 days, depending on temperature. One expert recommends not trying to get rid of bed bugs exclusively on one's own.
Bedbug bites, like all insect bites, can become infected through excessive scratching, as underneath the fingernails lies a host of bacterial pathogens. If your bites become infected, they will appear red and swollen, feel tender and may drain pus. Typically there will not be a fever unless a substantial area of the skin is involved. If you experience any of these symptoms, you must seek medical attention as it points to a secondary infection. Your physician may prescribe antibiotic therapy or, if the infection is mild, an antiseptic medication that you can buy without a prescription.
Bed bugs (Cimex spp.) feed on the blood of animals including people and pets. Some species, known as bat bugs, feed on bats, and others on birds such as chickens, pigeons, swallows and swifts. All will wander in search of a new host if their primary host leaves or abandons its roost or nest. In structures, bat bugs typically appear in and around attics and chimneys. Though they will bite humans, they do not survive without their preferred hosts.
Bed bug eradication is challenging and it’s prudent to hire a professional when resources allow. However treatment can be expensive, often costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Those who cannot afford this often must cope with the problem themselves. A useful step that anyone can take to combat bed bugs is to install bed encasements. Covering the mattress and box spring can help eliminate a substantial portion of the bed bug population -- especially if discovered early while most of the bugs are still confined to the bed area. Extra care should be taken when installing budget encasements since these can tear easily, especially on metal bed frames. Ideally both the mattress and box spring should be encased. If only one encasement is possible it’s often best to cover the box spring which is harder to subsequently inspect.
Move your bed away from any other points of contact, like walls, nightstands, and other furniture. Tuck in or remove any hanging skirts or sheets, and remove any storage under the bed that is touching any part of the frame. The only thing your bed should be touching is the floor via its legs. If you don’t have a bed frame with legs, you should purchase one to sleep in, at least until you are bed bug free.
Itchy swollen bites may be the first sign of a bed bug problem. However, these itchy bites can take as long as 14 days to develop in some people, so it's important to look for other clues if you are concerned about an infestation. Bed bugs typically infest mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and couches. You may be able to find them hiding within the cracks and crevices of beds, furniture, floors, and walls. Bed bugs often leave evidence of small dark stains (fecal droppings) and rusty red spots (bloodstains) on bedding sheets, mattresses, and other areas they hide in or travel along. Heavy bed bug infestations can cause a sweet, musty smell.
If at all possible, pull up the carpet where it meets the wall and puff powder around the whole perimeter of the room. Inside outlet boxes is a great place to use powders because sprays and electricity don’t mix. Bellow dusters work great for spreading residual insecticide powder. An old makeup brush is a good tool to spread the dust around on hard surfaces. Bed bug powders are available the same places you’ll find the spray pesticides.