Anyone, regardless of where they live or their level of hygiene, can suffer the effects of a bed bug infestation. A common misconception regarding bed bugs is the belief these creatures only make homes among those who are dirty, unclean or risky with their activities. The truth is these insects pay no mind to your social status, living conditions or hygiene level. These are truly equal opportunity parasites. Bed bugs simply require a haven to hide within your suitcase, clothing, boxes, purse and even shoes. After hitching a ride on one of your belongings, it's only a matter of time before a few bugs proliferate into a nest filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of swift-moving, hard-to-kill pests.
Because these insects typically hide throughout the day and are masters in finding hard-to-reach areas within your bed, furniture or room, many people are unaware an infestation is thriving until they begin to experience physical symptoms.
Unfortunately, side effects of being feasted upon generally begin as small insect bites, which are typically attributed to mosquitoes, spiders or another minor insect. While it may be difficult to identify the source of a mysterious bug bite, it's imperative to closely inspect the size, proliferation, and location of each bite.
The Anatomy of a Bed Bug Bite – Identifying Its Symptoms
At the beginning of an infestation, it's not uncommon to misinterpret a bed bug bite as a flea, mosquito or spider bite. However, unlike the aforementioned, bed bug bites increase in number and severity as the days progress. A single bed bug can produce multiple bites. Because of this, the primary symptom of a bite is a cluster of bites within a zigzag pattern. Bed bugs are most active at night. While you sleep, they emerge from their hiding places and begin to feast. Unlike fleas and other insects, which primarily attack specific parts of your body, bed bugs attack any exposed area of flesh. Therefore, it's possible to experience bites on your torso, arms, neck, and legs. In many cases, bed bug bites closely resemble hives, chickenpox or an unexplained rash. Because of this, physicians and sufferers often refer to the bites as bed bug rash.
Along with the notorious pattern of bites, its physical appearance is an excellent indication of whether or not you're dealing with bed bugs. Bites typically form into raised welts, which are extremely itchy. For many, the anesthetic properties within its saliva result in an allergic reaction. This reaction makes each bite itchy. Although bed bugs cannot introduce disease into its host, it's possible to experience skin infections by itching bites with bacteria-filled fingernails.
Since bed bugs are only active during the night – primarily an hour or so before sunrise – if you are awakened at night from an intense itching feeling, it's likely the source of your discomfort is caused by these parasites. After you've identified your bites, now comes the fun part – confirming your bites through a physical inspection of your surroundings.
Inspecting Your Home – Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation
Once you've identified your bites as those similar to bed bugs, you must confirm your suspicion by physically verifying the presence of bed bugs. This is one of the most important steps. The only way to eliminate bed bugs is to find out where they live. Eliminating bed bugs from your home is the only way to eliminate the symptoms of bed bug bites.
If you have a serious infestation, you may see a collection of bugs; however, most individuals confirm the presence of bed bugs through evidence of their habitation. There are four signs you should look for when inspecting your bed and home:
Bed Bug Odor – Go outside and take several deep breathes to cleanse your nostrils. Immediately walk into your room and breathe deeply. If you find the room has a musty, sweet odor, this may be a sign of a heavy bed bug infestation. Bed bugs communicate by releasing unique chemicals, which tend to produce a unique odor; however, not everyone will notice this smell.
Black Specks Along Your Bedding – Closely look along with your mattress, box spring and headboards for small blackish specks. Bed bugs produce black excrement, which may be seen as small balls of black material or stains along the creases of fabric materials.
Exoskeletons – Bed bugs shed their outer shells on a regular basis, which often results in small shell-like remains in specific areas within your bed and home. Typically, these remains are found in mattress creases, along with headboards, and under couch cushions.
The Actual Bug – Of course, the easiest way to confirm a bed bug infestation is by actually viewing the bugs. While smaller infestations may make this a difficult process, medium-to-large infestations are relatively easy to locate. Bed bugs tend to stay close to their hosts. Therefore, look closely along mattress seams, bed frame joints and under sofa cushions.
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