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Bedbugs (cont.)

Is It Possible to Prevent Bedbug Bites?

The best preventive measure against bedbug bites is to avoid situations that may give rise to bedbug infestations. There are several measures that can be undertaken to prevent bedbug infestations, including

  • inspecting the premises of hotels or other unfamiliar sleeping locations for bedbugs or their fecal material on mattresses, box springs, bedding, and furniture;
  • carefully inspecting used furniture or bedding items before bringing them into the home;
  • keeping suitcases closed when they are not in use and trying to keep them off the floor when traveling.

If someone suspects a bedbug infestation, try to detect and confirm their presence.

  • Inspect the sleeping area and mattress for any evidence of bedbugs, including their characteristic dark-brown or reddish-colored fecal material, blood smears (from crushed engorged bedbugs), and small white eggs or light-brown colored skin castings (bedbugs shed their skin).
  • Attempt to place adhesive traps or double-sided carpet tape near the bed to capture bedbugs.
  • Try to directly see them with a flashlight from the bed just before dawn.
  • Hire a licensed bedbug exterminator or pest-control service to inspect the residence if you are suspicious that bedbugs are present.

How to Get Rid of Bedbugs

If there is confirmation of a bedbug infestation, several measures can be taken to help control or eradicate the infestation, using both non-chemical and chemical (insecticides) methods. It can take several weeks to months to achieve complete eradication of a bedbug infestation, and it may take several treatment cycles to completely eliminate them. In many cases, it will be necessary to hire a pest-control service in order to implement a comprehensive extermination strategy.

  • Place the legs of the bed into containers containing paraffin oil or water to prevent bedbugs from gaining access to the bed, and tuck in sheets and blankets so they do not contact the floor.
  • Wear pajamas that cover as much skin as possible to limit bedbug bites.
  • Reduce clutter around the room to eliminate hiding places, and caulk or seal all holes and cracks.
  • Vacuum and steam clean all mattress and box-spring crevices.
  • Infested bedding or garments can be placed in a clothes dryer for 10-20 minutes using medium to high heat, and/or items can be bagged and laundered using hot water measuring at least 120 F.
  • Encase the mattress and box spring in a special impermeable mattress cover. Sometimes it may be necessary to discard infested mattresses and furniture.
  • Contact a licensed pest-control service for specialized treatment options and when considering an EPA-registered bedbug spray.

For travelers and renters, exposure to potential bedbugs can also be prevented by visiting the Internet public database of user-submitted bedbug reports in the U.S. and Canada at the Bedbug Registry.

What Is the Prognosis for Bedbug Bites?

The prognosis for bedbug bites is excellent. The vast majority of people who experience bedbug bites will recover without any long-term problems, and many individuals who are bitten may not exhibit any physical signs at all. However, the recent resurgence in bedbug infestations will require increasing public education and awareness, instituting effective preventive and control measures, and continuing research into the development of more effective, safe insecticides.

REFERENCES:

United States. CDC. "Parasites -- Bed Bugs." Jan. 10, 2013. <http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/>.

United States. Environmental Protection Agency. "Bed Bugs: Get Them Out and Keep Them Out." Dec. 18, 2015. <http://www.epa.gov/bedbugs>.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/24/2016

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