Bed bugs are among the most annoying insect pests, particularly in large cities. These small parasites are so annoying and troublesome that there is even a saying about them – “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” So, why is there such a saying for bed bugs but not for, say, mosquitoes or fleas? Are bed bugs dangerous to a degree that’s exceeding the malaria-carrying mosquitoes and plague-spreading fleas?
Fortunately – no, they aren’t. If you are worried about a bed bug disease then you can, indeed, “sleep tight”. Regardless of how painfully annoying they are, the answer to the question “Are bed bugs contagious?” is a relieving “No”, as the CDC assures. Still, this doesn’t mean we should open our homes and hearts for them – they are still blood-sucking parasites. Finding bed bug bites on face, neck, arms or torso areas is a common occurrence for a lot of city residents, plus, the fact that bed bugs don’t carry diseases themselves doesn’t mean that they are harmless.
What health risks do bed bugs pose?
If bed bugs don’t carry any dangerous diseases then why do we hate them so much? Well, for starters – they bite. Depending on the person, bed bugs symptoms may either be nearly invisible or agonizingly painful. Some people can almost ignore bed bugs’ bites while for others they can cause anything from painful itching to severe allergic reactions. Especially if your home has become the nesting place for large bed bug hives, your family may be subjected to quite a lot of pain.
So, if we had to summarize the health risk of bed bugs, we’d start precisely with this:
- Allergic reactions. As noted by the EPA (United States’ Environmental Protection Agency), allergic reactions to bed bug bites can even cause severe anaphylaxis, which alone is reason enough to deal with bed bugs as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Especially where small children are concerned, you’ll definitely want to deal with the bed bugs. Finding bed bug bites on baby or child faces and bodies is troublesome enough even just for this reason more than any other.
- Skin infections. While bed bug bites don’t carry deadly or dangerous diseases, they can still cause different types of skin infections such as impetigo, ecthyma, lymphangitis, and others. Such skin infections can often be easily treated but can also lead to larger, more severe problems if left unchecked for long enough. If you notice the beginning of such an infection don’t postpone treatment but instead visit a medical specialist immediately. Also, making sure that you get rid of the bed bugs as soon as possible should be a priority as well.
- Sleep deprivation/Insomnia. This is likely the most common health risk that comes from bed bug bites. Why not a physical disease in and of itself, sleep deprivation is a serious issue that can cause countless other health problems on its own. And, unlike a lot of other reasons for sleep deprivation such as stress, bed bugs are an actual physical problem that needs to be removed.
- Stress. Deserving of separate mention, stress may not be the most severe problem caused by bed bug bites but it’s still significant enough to be mindful of. Especially in the midst of the busy city life most people lead, the additional stress of having to deal with bed bugs is something you definitely don’t want in your life. Therefore, dealing with the bed bugs infestation as quickly as possible and preventing the spread of any further bed bug hives is very important for any household.
Treatments for bed bug bites
Since bed bugs don’t really carry diseases, the treatments for bed bug bites are usually not that complicated. If all you are experiencing is itching and sleep deprivation then there are over the counter ointments sold without a prescription that can help with the itching, as well as sleeping pills that can help with your sleep. As long as you only use them for a short while and you get rid of the bed bugs in the meantime, this shouldn’t present much of an issue. Of course, this isn’t a long-term solution, so the bed bug problem will need to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
If you are experiencing a more severe allergic reaction or you’ve started to notice significant skin blisters, then you should definitely go visit a medical specialist. Chances are that he or she will prescribe you a stronger corticosteroid medicine than what you might be able to get without a prescription. Keep in mind, however, that the doctor will likely need to be sure that the bites you’re exhibiting are indeed from bed bugs – unfortunately, bed bug bites are difficult to distinguish from those of other insects such as fleas or mosquitoes. To that end, you’ll need to check your bed and mattress carefully to ensure that you indeed have bed bugs. These little critters can be hard to spot because of their razor-thin bodies but they are not invisible, especially when there are lots of them. Especially if you can capture one or two of them in a glass bottle this might help your physician in determining the right treatment for your skin or allergic reaction.
Whatever physical or mental problem you are experiencing due to having bed bugs, it should be treatable. Fortunately, bed bugs won’t really spell the end of the world for you and your household, but they are still annoying enough to require immediate action.