Say Bye-Bye to Bedbugs
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According to the Mayo Clinic, bedbugs were eradicated from most developed countries after World War II with the pesticide DDT. With increased international travel in recent years, as well as a ban on DDT, however, bedbugs have made an unwelcome comeback across America. Although places with a high turnover of nighttime guests (such as hospitals and hotels) are more likely to have bedbugs, private homes can also become infested.
Bedbugs are about the size of apple seeds, so they easily hide in the cracks and crevices of beds, box springs, headboards and bed frames. The Mayo Clinic notes that symptoms of bedbug bites include clustered red spots and itchy skin, often on the face, neck, arms or hands. Some people do not experience reactions to bedbug bites while others may get blisters or hives.
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) offers advice for preventing bedbugs in your home:
- Reduce clutter so bedbugs have fewer places to hide.
- Use a protective cover for mattresses and box springs. Check it regularly for holes.
- When returning from a trip, unpack directly into a washing machine and check your luggage carefully.
- When staying at a hotel, put your suitcases on luggage racks instead of the floor. Check the mattress and headboard for signs of bedbugs.
- Check secondhand furniture for bedbugs before bringing it in your home.
Already have a bedbug problem? If it’s any consolation, both the Mayo Clinic and National Library of Medicine point out that, unlike many other pests, bedbugs don’t transmit and spread diseases. To get these unwanted guests out of your house, try these NLM tips:
- Use mattress, box spring and pillow encasements to help confine bedbugs and help detect infestations.
- Wash and dry bedding and clothing at high temperatures.
- Use pesticides specifically approved for use against bedbugs, or hire a professional pest extermination service, if necessary.
With some common sense and a little extra precaution, you can prevent bedbugs from invading your home. If you’ve already spotted these pests around the house, then acting fast is the best way to stop them in their tracks. For more information, visit the Mayo Clinic at www.mayoclinic.com/health/bedbugs/DS00663 and the NLM at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bedbugs.html.