Bedbugs are crawling through apartment buildings, theaters, and stores in many cities and towns. Dr. Oz has advice on keeping them out of your home.
After six decades of living nearly bedbug-free, the United States is facing a national infestation. Bedbug outbreaks have been reported in every state and in every type of neighborhood.
“The incidence of bedbug infestation has risen 500 percent in the last few years alone,” says Mehmet Oz, MD, a leading cardiac surgeon, host of the Daytime Emmy Award-winning The Dr. Oz Show. “And they’re not just in dirty hotels; they’re at the five-star ones and they’re swarming the public places you visit every day.”
Why Are We Infested With Bedbugs? Are Americans failing to keep their homes and public spaces clean?
Actually, no. A common misperception about bedbugs is that they only show up in dirty homes and apartments. In fact, says Dr. Oz, “A lack of cleanliness has no relationship to the likelihood of bedbugs.”
Instead, our concern about the environment has contributed to the current scourge. Bedbugs were nearly eliminated in the United States through the use of strong pesticides. But after these pesticides were banned in the United States in the 1990s, and as international travel increased, bedbugs began to reappear, and their presence is continuing to increase rapidly.
Are Bedbug Bites Dangerous? While most people cringe at the thought of bedbugs, there is one piece of good news about these wingless biting insects: “There is currently no evidence that they transmit infectious disease,” says Dr. Oz.
Still, when they invade a space, they multiply rapidly, and by the time you notice bites, there could be hundreds or thousands in your home. They don’t like light, which is why people generally are bitten in dark places like movie theaters or while asleep. And since the bite is painless, victims usually don’t notice until they wake up.
“Bedbugs hunt for bare patches of skin and typically inflict several clusters of bites that are lined up in a row,” explains Dr. Oz. “These bites may even go unnoticed or be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other types of rashes.”
Bedbug bites can be very itchy, but usually go away on their own within a week or two. Bites can be treated with an over-the-counter skin cream containing hydrocortisone and an over-the-counter oral antihistamine. Only in very rare cases has a serious allergic reaction occurred.
How Can You Protect Your Home From Bedbugs?
Because they’re called bedbugs, a common misconception is that they mainly hide out in mattresses. But they live anywhere people are, including chairs, sofas, clothing, and carpets.
Bedbugs get into your house as hitchhikers, either on people or on items brought into the house. Knowing where to look is critical, says Dr. Oz. “Bedbugs hide in dark spots where they’re unlikely to be disturbed,” he says. When you hunt for them, you may not see live bugs, so keep an eye out for their calling cards: rust-colored spots (blood stains), eggs (pearly white and one millimeter long), molted skins, and black specks.
A bedbug infestation is a job for a professional, Dr. Oz says. Bug bombs don’t work and could cause the bugs to move to other parts of your house.
Here are a few things you can do to try to keep them out:
- At the movies, keep your bags on the floor, not on a nearby seat. Bring a small flashlight and inspect your seat. Look in crevices and under armrests.
- At the mall, check clothing before trying it on or purchasing it. Look under the arms, behind the collar, and inside cuffs and seams. “Remember, you’re not the first person to touch it,” says Dr. Oz. “Someone may have returned the very shirt you’re about to take home, and there’s a good chance it entered their bedroom.”
- When your return from a high-risk area like a movie theater, flea market, or mall, throw your clothes into a dryer on high heat for 30 minutes. Place shoes in a pillowcase before putting them in the dryer.
- When traveling, inspect your hotel room and keep luggage on racks as far from beds and sofas as possible. When you return home, wash clothes in hot water or dry on high heat. Before bringing luggage into living areas, vacuum it thoroughly inside and out.
- Inspect used furniture before bringing it into your home.
No one likes to think about biting bugs taking up residence in their bed or couch. But with a few precautions, Dr. Oz says, you have a good chance of keeping your home bedbug-free.
Article Source: Everyday Health – By Sue Landry