It is pretty easy to say “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” to our loved ones before going to bed but is it really easy to prevent the bugs from biting? Bed bugs as commonly known are species of insect that belong to the genus Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus. Although they feed exclusively on blood, this species of insect can live for a whole year without feeding.
However, this fact will not stop them from attempting to feed on you every night. Bed bug infestation may be frustrating and even harmful in severe cases. This post will furnish you with a detailed information about bed bug infestation as well as a highlight of a few ways to repel bedbugs from your skin. Read on for more information.
What Causes Bed Bug Infestation
As opposed to what many people may think, bed bug infestation is not caused by poor environmental hygiene. They are usually found in high-density areas and they can be moved from one place to another through different means. For instance, bed bugs and their eggs can be transported from an infested area to other places by travelers. The insects may be found on the traveler’s luggage, clothing, and soles of the shoe.
Bed bug infestation may also be caused by bringing infested items into your home. This may include used chairs, bed, clothes and the likes from infested areas. Bed bugs may also gain access to your home through pets and animals like bats or birds. Although the insects feed on these animals, it is important to state that they don’t live on their skin and so cannot be technically classified among the factors that contribute to the spread of bed bugs.
All the above are different ways that bed bugs can be carried from place to place but you should also note that they can travel on their own all the way to your home. For instance, your dwelling may become infiltrated with bed bugs if you have infested items such as furniture, and tools nearby. They are also capable of traveling through false ceilings and other routes from an infested apartment to your home.
How to Confirm Bed Bug Infestation
It is not easy to confirm bed bug infestation without spotting one and most times, the bites, without allergic and other reactions may be confused with that of a mosquito. Sporting a bed bug may not be easy since the insect can survive for up to 1 year without feeding on blood. During this time, they may hide in the frame of your bed, cracks on the wall and similar places.
Even, if you are opportune to see a live or dead bedbug, you may easily confuse it with ticks or lice since the insects look very much alike. However, you should keep in mind that an adult bed bug may grow between 1.5 to 3 mm wide and 4 to 5 mm long. They are usually light brown to reddish-brown in color but newly hatched nymphs are lighter in color.
Bed bugs have saw-like mouthparts that can be used to cut through the skin in order to gain access to your blood while injecting you with their saliva that has painkilling anticoagulant properties. You may find them in rugs, cushions, bed, cracks in the wall and the likes. Bed bugs are usually more active at night and this may be the best time to confirm their activities.
Do bed bugs pose a threat to my health?
Although it is not known if bed bugs are capable of transmitting infectious diseases from one host to another, it is important to state that their bite may be accompanied by unpleasant symptoms. However, the intensity, as well as the time it takes for symptoms to manifest, varies from person to person with some individuals not showing any symptom at all.
While some people may notice small, red and swollen spots on their skin, symptoms may include the formation of prominent Wheals accompanied by itching which may last from hours to even days. The anticoagulant properties in their saliva may also lead to bleeding that may be seen on the skin or on the bedsheet.
People that are allergic to bug bite may suffer adverse reactions soon offer the bite probably due to sensitization to the proteins in the bed bug’s saliva. Severe bed bug infestation may lead to psychological conditions like stress, anxiety, insomnia, delusional parasitosis, and the likes. It may also lead to anemia due to loss of blood and bacterial infection as a result of multiple breaks on the skin.
What Can You Put On Your Skin To Repel Bed Bugs
After confirming that your home is indeed infested with bed bugs, you may take active steps in ensuring that they are exterminated. However, it is important to state that getting rid of bed bugs is not easy and it may take a while to accomplish. It is advised to protect yourself from their bite before your home is declared bed bug free.
You may do this by applying a bed bug repellant on your skin before going to bed. The insect usually attacks the neck, shoulders, arm, and legs but they rarely attack the back of the knee and the armpit. So you should make sure that the repellent is applied to the probable areas as well as the not-probable areas just to be safe. Here are a few bed bug repellents you could try:
1. Vinegar of Four Thieves
The vinegar of four thieves also referred to as Marseilles vinegar may be used as a potent bed bug repellant. It is a vinegar concoction that contains herbs and spices. It was used during the medieval ages to protect people from contracting a dreaded disease known as the black death.
Legend also has it that the concoction may prevent the transmission of the plague to its users as well as many other communicable diseases. There are different conflicting versions of the story and it may be hard to know which is correct. However, it is believed that herbs were added to vinegar and then kept to steep for a couple of weeks. The liquid is then strained and applied to the body.
However, the alleged original copy of the recipe posted on walls in Marseilles during a plague episode was found in 1937 in the Museum of Paris. It stated that a handful of meadowsweet, wormwood, sage, and wild marjoram, fifty cloves, two ounces of angelic, two ounces of campanula roots, rosemary and horehound and three large measures of champhor should be added to three pints of vinegar and then allowed to steep for 15 days.
After which it should be strained and stored in a bottle. The mixture should then be rubbed on exposed areas of the body before approaching a plague victim. It is believed that this mixture was able to prevent its users from contracting the plague because the condition is transmitted by fleas and it contains flea-repelling ingredients like wormwood, camphor, sage, campanula, cloves, and rosemary.
You could purchase a ready-to-use vinegar of four thieves from traditional supplement stores both online and offline or a large department store. Alternatively, you may make your own repellant using the above-mentioned recipe but it may be difficult to wait for the repellent to steep in the case of severe bed bug infestation.
2. Essential oils
Essential oils may also be used on the skin to repel bedbugs. You may achieve this by applying clove or lavender essential oil diluted with either coconut oil or olive oil on your skin with an emphasis on your hands, legs, and neck. Although it is not known if essential oil will provide you with a 100 percent protection from bedbug bite, it will go a long way in repelling them.
3. Store bought bed bug repellents
Many people don’t like using chemicals on their skin and for them, herbal repellents are a way to go. But there are other people who like the simple and ready to use features of store-bought chemical repellents. This types of repellents are also ideal in the case of severe bedbug infestation where you may not have ample time to make your own repellents.
When choosing a store bought bed bug repellant you should consider going for products that contain ingredients like paramenthane 3,8 dioxyl (Oil of lemon and eucalyptus- OLE), Picardin (2-2 hydroxyethyl-1piperidinecarboxylic acid 1 methylpropyl ester) and DEET-DEET (N-N-diethyl, 3-mehyl benzamide).
This is especially because the United States Environmental Protection Agency has approved the sale and use of many products that contain the above-mentioned chemicals as an active ingredient. They may also be used to repel mosquitoes, ticks and the likes. Products containing these ingredients are inexpensive and may be purchased in a department store.
Precautions when using Store bought repellents
First, it is important to carefully read and follow the instructions and guidelines of the manufacturer. They may be used on furniture, clothing and on the skin. But since most of these products are specially designed for external use, it is best to avoid applying them on open wounds and broken skin (site of bed bug bite). It is also advised to prevent contact with the eyes and mouth.
It should be used for children only with the supervision of an adult and after that, the repellant should be kept out of their reach. Also, you may apply it all over their body with the exception of their hands since they may put it into their mouth or use it to pick food substances. It is advised to wash your own hands properly after applying a chemical-based repellant.