For roughly a year, bedbugs have been in the news nationwide spurring concern in many local communities as well as a bit of humor among others. However, bedbugs can be a problem for children and their families should they be faced with an infestation.
Bedbug bites cause irritating, itchy red bumps on the skin. An adult bedbug is a flat, oval shaped, red, wingless insect roughly an eighth to a quarter inch in length. They enter homes by a variety of means. Some of the most common means of invasion are through clothing, luggage, used bedding and furniture and other movable items.
After their initial invasion, bedbugs will usually settle into places in an apartment or house where humans and their pets sleep—baby basinets, cribs, mattresses, bed frames and so forth. Bedbugs live completely on blood and feed at night because of the aversion to light. When they feed, it will usually last for between three to fifteen minutes then move away to their dark secluded area near their host.
Bedbugs leave firm bumps in cluster groups of two or three bites. The bites are initially painless then advance to irritating welts. When bedbugs victimize children, the child will spark problems when they constantly scratch the affected area or areas or cry without being able to be comforted. Parents often identify bedbug bites as mosquito bites treating them as such not suspecting the culprit is the bedbug.
Bedbugs are difficult to identify for most parents/caregivers. The most common signs there is a bedbug infestation are:
- Bloody spots on pillowcases, sheets or blankets.
- Dark or rusty looking spots of bedbug excrement on bedding materials.
- Bedbug shed their skin and excrement around the area where the child sleeps.
- A musty smell that come from the scent glands of the bedbug.
To be certain one has a bedbug infestation, it is advised parents/caregivers call their
local county or state health department to determine if an infestation does in fact exist. If an infestation is confirmed their recommendations should be followed to end the problems. Health officials generally advise a professional exterminators be called to document the presence of bedbugs then take the findings and child to be seen and treated by a health professional for treatment and advice.
If self treatment is the parent or caregiver’s choice, trained exterminators and health related professionals often advise:
- Cleaning bedding materials and clothing in hot water then drying them on the hottest setting in a dryer.
- Using a stiff brush to remove bedbugs and their eggs from bedding materials.
- Vacuum the mattress and any other bedding furniture and rugs in the area then immediately put the mattress and springs (if any) in a plastic cover. If possible dispose and replace all bedding materials. Plastic covers are used it is recommended mattresses and springs remain covered for a year as bedbugs are able to live a year without feeding.
- Repair any cracks in walls. If there is wallpaper in the room, remove it or glued the wallpaper down.
- Remove anything that clutters the child’s sleeping area.
Additional information concerning bedbugs may be found at www.webmd.com. This site
also presents pictures of bedbugs and other actions that might be taken should an infestation occurs.