Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bed Bug Bite Treatment

Definitive diagnosis depends on identification of the bedbug. This can be done through a pest control company or from your local public health department. However, relying on the patient's verbal reports of the bugs or their signs (spotting/stains on sheets/mattresses) may be enough to make an interim diagnosis.

The differential diagnosis of bed bug bites includes dermatitis herpetiformis, drug eruptions, ecthyma, other insect bites, pemphigus herpetiformis or scabies. Scabies tends to affect covered skin such as the axillae and periumbilical area. Fleas are only on the extremities, usually of pet owners. Both flea bites and scabies rarely affect the face. 

Bed bug bites do not usually require any medical treatment. Creams with corticosteroids and oral antihistamines may be advised in more severe cases. Local antiseptic lotion or antibiotic cream can be applied if secondary infection occurs. The affected person should resist the urge to scratch the bites, as this may intensify the irritation and itching and may lead to secondary infection.

The best solution is to get rid of the bedbugs. This will require the use of a licensed pest control company. Elimination of bedbugs requires the removal of clutter and meticulous cleaning. Often a number of treatments over several weeks are required. Patients who are tenants need to refer this matter to their landlord.

Be sure to remind your patient that even the cleanest people can get bedbugs whether at home or a five-star hotel.  

Search for bed bugs 

Here is a guide with more information on removing bed bugs. Downloading the first chapter is free.

Information sourced from City of Toronto

Bed Bugs Funnies

Living with Bed bugs. Now what?

  • Educate yourself - learn how to identify, treat and prevent bed bugs
  • Monitor - check for bites on your body and blood stains on linens and clothing
  • Get rid of clutter - bed bugs thrive in a cluttered environment 
  • Pest proof your home - eliminate bed bug hiding places by sealing all holes and gaps in baseboards, pipes and cover plates
    • Use caulking gun and tube of caulking for base boards and trim
    • Use expandable foam for areas around drains and water pipes
    • Use kick plates and weather stripping for doors 
  • Don't hesitate; take action - if you find any evidence of bed bugs, immediately contact your landlord or property management and request pest control treatment
  • Preparation is key - thorough and proper preparation prior to pest control treatment is key to successful bed bug control 
  • Make your bed an island - encase your mattresses, box springs and pillows in covers or mattress encasements
    • Remove bed skirts and make sure sheets do not touch the floor
    • Apply carpet tape to corner posts or place corner posts on glue boards that have been taped to the floor
    • Place each bed leg in an empty tin can filled with petroleum jelly 

  • Use a good flashlight
  • Remove all linens
  • Pull the bed four inches away from the walls
  • Check bedding, mattress and box spring (both sides), and seams, folds in fabric and frame for blood spots, live bed bugs, dead bed bugs, eggs, and fecal matter

Sourced from City of Toronto

Myths and Facts about Bed Bugs

Myth: Bed bugs are too small to see.

Fact: Although they may be difficult to find because they hide well, bed bugs are big enough to be seen with the naked eye. Bed bugs look similar to an apple seed in size and appearance.
a bed bug

Myth: Bed bugs are only found in shelters; only poor people or dirty people get them.

Fact: Bed bugs can be found in hotels, motels, dormitories, apartments, condos, private homes, and even in some public places, such as businesses and offices. Anyone can get bed bugs.

Myth: Walking into a room that has bed bugs means you will get bed bugs.

Fact: Bed bugs do not jump. They spend 90% of their time hiding and are usually active at night. Bed bugs avoid light and do not like to be disturbed.

Myth: Bed bugs cause disease.

Fact: There is no evidence that shows bed bugs transmit disease. Bed bug bites, however, can cause allergic reaction in some people similar to a mosquito bite. Frequent scratching of the bite marks or picking the scabs can cause infections. And people with severe and/or repeated infestations can feel anxious, worried or ashamed.

Myth: Chemicals/pesticides will kill bed bugs.

Fact: Pesticide application alone will not kill bed bugs at all stages. Successful treatment depends on an Integrated Pest Management approach to bed bug control which involves, vacuuming, and steaming, laundering belongings, sealing areas and gaps where bed bugs can hide. Do not use over the counter pest control products or home remedies such as kerosene.

Information sourced from City of Toronto

Avoiding Bed Bug Hitch Hikers

Sometimes people can get bed bugs from visiting clients or friends or making service calls at locations that have had a bed bug infestation. No one wants to pick up and bring home (or to another location) unwanted pesty passengers.

There are two ways to get bed bugs - migration and hitch hiking. Migration is when bed bugs walk to an adjacent unit through hallways, plumbing, electrical lines, or other means. Hitch hiking is when bed bugs climb into or on bags, clothing, or other belongings and are relocated by a person.

Some bed bug biology to consider:

* Bed bugs feed at night and hide during the day (90% of their life is spent in hiding areas)
* Bed bugs prefer dark areas
* Bed bugs tend to hide near the bed or where the person normally sleeps
* Bed bugs are unlikely to be active during the day
* Bed bugs are large enough to be seen with the naked eye (an adult is 6mm long)
* Bed bugs do not fly or jump

The following practices will help prevent picking up bed bug hitch hikers:

* Learn how to identify bed bugs (see photo)
* When visiting, bring in only what you need and avoid placing bags close to walls and furniture (if this is unavoidable place belongings in a closed white plastic kitchen bag and examine it for any bed bugs before leaving)
* If possible, stand rather than sit, or avoid sitting on furniture with fabric - wood or metal chairs are better
* Inspect shoes, clothing, and belongings after leaving
* If you find any bed bugs kill them immediately
* Put work clothes in the dryer for at least 30 minutes on high heat when you get home
* Use disposable protective clothing such as shoe covers and coveralls

Here is a guide with more information on removing bed bugs. Downloading the first chapter is free.

Information sourced from City of Toronto

Bed Bug Registry

There is a site for bed bug fanatics: The Bed Bug Registry. Four years ago, Maciej Ceglowski suffered from a bad case of bed bugs when he stayed at a San Francisco hotel. From this experience, he founded the Bed Bug Registry. Users can submit bed bug reports and also view outbreaks for major cities. A feature which I liked was registering for alerts.

The Bed Bug Registry

There's no system for verifying the reports, so you're on your own at that point.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

For you home owners, here is a clue that you have a bed bug infestation. These are bed bug droppings along the gap between the baseboard and carpet.

Early detection is vital. But after that, battling the pests is not a one-person job or an easy fix, says Daniel Mackie of Green Leaf Pest Control. Pesticides alone won’t kill them. But various methods are available to fight them, though the jury’s still out on their effectiveness.

1. Fumigation: The cheapest method involves spraying a large amount of pesticides in infested areas. This can cause bedbugs to move to another area that has not been sprayed. Research also shows bedbugs may be acquiring resistance to certain pesticides.

2. Multi-step approach: Most licensed pest-control companies use a combination of techniques, including inspection (sometimes with sniffer dogs), vacuuming, steaming and a powdered product called diatomaceous earth, a fossilized algae, that is put into small spaces: under light switches, underneath baseboards, in the box spring — anywhere bedbugs might hide. Companies follow up in a few weeks to ensure the bugs haven’t returned.

3. Heat: Bedbugs are rapidly killed when exposed to temperatures over 45°C, but a slow increase in heat will cause the bugs to scatter and possibly lead to further infestation, such as to the room next door or the floor above. Mackie says his company will be bringing the heat technology to Toronto in coming weeks. But this should never be tried by homeowners themselves.

Information sourced from Toronto Star