...and don't let the bedbugs bite! Not just a silly bedtime rhyme.Bedbugs are small parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded animals. The name comes from the insect’s habit of favoring beds and other areas where people sleep. Bedbugs are most active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts. Small, flat or raised bumps on the skin are the most common signs of bedbug bites.
Health problems include itching, skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms.
What if you find them in your house? First confirm the infestation, because bites could be from fleas or mites or could be a rash such as poison ivy, said Dr. Kevin Stephan, infectious disease physician with Essentia Health, formerly SMDC, in Duluth. Watch for tiny brownish bugs that turn red when they fill up with blood. Some people don’t even know they’ve been bitten until they see the spot, Stephan said. Others are more sensitive, similar to an allergic reaction.
“It’s a painless bite, and they can gorge themselves and be done in 5-10 minutes,’’ Stephan said.
The first priority is to get rid of the bugs professionally, he said. Topical skin solutions and antihistamines usually take care of any skin problems unless victims scratch so hard they cause a skin infection, Stephan said.
“There’s a high gross-out factor with bedbugs. It’s not just a blip on the radar. We really are experiencing an increase, something like 80 percent over the last five years," he said. “But, despite a lot of misperceptions out there that bedbugs carry a lot of diseases, that really has never proven to be true. … The biggest health issue is usually" just discomfort from the bite.
For more information on detection and prevention click here.*
*Information deemed to be useful for recognizing the species and preventing infestations. Control measures are from 2006 and are outmoded in some cases. Consult experts for current extermination methods.