Bed Bugs 101

Yuck. This week four Ohio cities made a list no one wants to be on. “Orkin Releases Top 50 Bed Bugs Cities List” compiled data based on metro areas where Orkin performed the most bed bug treatments from December 1, 2016 – November 30, 2017. It’s important to note, this list does not indicate a bedbug population, but the number of treatments in a metro area. This is how cities in Ohio ranked:

#5 Columbus

#6 Cincinnati

#14 Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio

#34 Dayton

So what are they?

Bedbugs are tiny insects about one-quarter inch long. They like to hide in bedding, mattresses, walls and furniture during the day and come out at night. Like mosquitoes, bedbugs bite people and animals and survive on their blood. Unlike mosquitoes, bedbugs are not known to spread disease to people.

Bedbugs are cream-colored to brown, but they turn reddish-brown after they eat. People who are bitten by bedbugs may find itchy spots on their skin, which can lead to scratching. If the scratching breaks the skin, the sores can get infected. Some people may have a large skin reaction to the bites, while others in the same home may notice nothing at all.

Where are bedbugs found?

Bedbugs may be found in shelters, apartment buildings, motels and even the best hotels – anywhere large numbers of people move in and out. They can come into your home on luggage, purses, furniture, clothing, pillows, boxes and other objects. Bedbugs like small dark spaces, so during the day they hide in the seams of bedding and mattresses and in crevices in floors, furniture and paper clutter. Bedbugs are not a cleanliness issue—they can live in the cleanest of environments.

What signs and symptoms do they cause?

Bedbugs leave dark pink or red, itchy, sometimes swollen, bites on the skin. Bites can occur on any body area. Often the bites are clustered or in a straight row. Other signs include:

  • Tiny bloodstains on sheets and mattresses.
  • Dark marks where bedbugs have left droppings in places like bedding, floors, walls and furniture.
  • A strange, sweet odor when there are large numbers of bedbugs.

How to treat the itching and scratching

  • It may help to put socks on your child’s hands to prevent scratching.
  • Keep your child’s fingernails cut short to stop him from scratching open the skin. Placing socks over the child’s hands may help to keep him from scratching.
  • Itching may continue for a while after the bedbugs are gone. If itching bothers your child, ask your doctor to prescribe a medicine to help stop itching.

When to Call the Doctor

Call the doctor if your child has any of these signs:

  • An allergic reaction (trouble breathing, fast heartbeat, rash and/or swelling.
  • Infection at the itching site: redness that does not go away but gets worse; yellow drainage and increased pain around the bug bite.
  • Fever – temperature above 100° F under the arm.

Remember, if you discover bedbugs in your home, you’ll be in good company—after all Columbus is #5 on the bedbug list. If you find them, don’t panic. Simply call a bug-removing service, and touch base with your child’s doctor if you have additional concerns.

Mike Patrick, MD
Dr. Mike is an emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children’s and host of PediaCast, our pediatric podcast for moms and dads. Each week, PediaCast covers news parents can use, answers listener questions, and delivers interviews with pediatric experts on a variety of topics. Dr Mike is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, where he serves as a faculty advisor for medical students. On the home front, he is married with two kids: a college-aged daughter and a son in high school. Prior to working in the emergency department, Dr Mike spent 10 years in a busy private practice, a time he says most prepared him for the practical advice he shares on PediaCast. Dr Mike also has an interest in roller skating. He learned to walk with skates on his feet, and his first job (age 10) was as a disc jockey at his hometown roller skating rink. He has also worked as a DJ at two radio stations, experiences which further prepared him to host our podcast!

One thought on “Bed Bugs 101

  1. Rosemary Redmond on said:

    Newark, OH apts are having a severe problem. Because the problem is not being corrected. My granddaughter just moved into an apt in two weeks bingo. They were trying to save money by a cheaper rent – but it cost them many times more than what the rent would have been. Horrible situation plus the cost of laundry, cleanup until a move could be made, frustrations of living in this environment, landlord claims he is not responsible (big joke as I am sure this is not uncommon, stories from neighbors prove otherwise). Sent a note to NBC4 response from Candice Lee months ago no other response. Who wants to bother? I wish I knew….the people involved are trying hard to make ends meet. I feel certain most would not have done what this family has done, therefore the problem is NEVER solved. Now how do you know where to move next? Rosemary

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