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Healthy Aging

Bedbugs and Your Health

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 09/15/2010
Last Updated: 12/28/2010

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Every time I hear a report about bedbugs – which is so often these days – my body shivers. Maybe it’s partly because they’re so tiny and it’s hard to see them. It’s like knowing there’s an invader in your home, hiding out somewhere…and you might not know they’re coming - until it’s too late.

And there are some other really legit reasons for the “ick” factor:

  • They attack us when we’re sleeping - and we don’t usually know it until the next day.
  • They inject an anesthetic (sneaky!) so that we don’t feel their sting until we wake up.
  • They hide out in places you can’t easily see, like corners of mattresses, under carpeting, light switch plates, electrical outlets and behind headboards. They can also take cover in curtains, inside dressers or other furniture, cracks in wallpaper and inside the spaces of wicker furniture.
  • They hitch a ride home with you via your suitcase or your clothing. They’ve even been found in stores like Victoria’s Secret, Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch:
  • They leave ugly red marks on your face, arms, neck, lower legs and hands that resemble those caused by other blood-sucking insects like mosquitoes and fleas. Not pretty.
  • They can cause severe itching, blisters or hives if you’re allergic. And if you scratch madly, you can wind up with a secondary infection.
  • They can mess up your beautiful sheets with bloodstains – which look like little tiny magic marker spots.
  • They don’t care about cleanliness – if your house is so clean you can eat off the floor, that’s no guarantee against the lil’ vampires.
  • Since DDT – which used to be effectively used to combat bedbugs (BUT at the expense of our health) – and other insecticides have been restricted, there’s yet to be a magic bullet against their spread (which is also increasing due to increased immigration and travel).
  • Adult bedbugs can live up to a full year – without feeding.


This matters> If there is a silver lining in this bedbug invasion, it’s this: Rest assured, the CDC and many other health agencies tell us, bedbugs are NOT believed to transmit any infectious diseases. (However, what they DO transmit is lots of psychological trauma and social stigma.)

This matters, too> Don’t be tempted by that discarded furniture by the side of the road. There may be bedbugs lurking there. Same goes for any used furniture. If it’s just too special to pass up, make sure you thoroughly inspect every inch for telltale bedbug infestation.

For more in-depth news on the subject:

Click here:

And here:

You might also want to read what happened in 2009:

Here’s an account of someone who survived bedbugs:


Eeew, yuck, eew, eew, eew. Obviously, I've only got that visceral reaction to this subject!

ew...just ew..

People need to remember to keep suitcases closed in hotel rooms, and up on racks, not the floor, to discourage bed bugs getting into luggage and traveling home with you. I have read there's a new heat procedure that can rid a home of bed bugs, better for health than the toxic chemicals that replaced DDT in the exterminator's arsenal.

Yikes! This will deter a lot of people from secondhand stuff, I'm afraid. Clothes too I imagine. Does washing clothes get rid of them there?

Yes, wash in the hottest water possible, and that should take care of the suckers.

Eek. I have heard they are a bear to get rid of! Despite that, this was a very intersting post!

These creatures are horrible. I'm so glad I've never been attacked by them before. Hopefully there will NOT be a first time...

I A wile ago a friend gave me a bed bug spray that I used on the hotel beds when my housband and I were in a trip
He thougt that I was crazy... Now when the news cames talking about bed bugs I aks him who is the crazy here?????

So, Rosalba does the spray work? I hope it has kept you bedbug-free so far!

Shivering here. So far, knock on wood I've never had to deal with lice even though I have three girls and countless letters sent home saying "someone in your child's class has head lice." I know it has nothing to do with cleanliness, but still I hope the bed bugs and lice stay away!

How lucky for you. I've heard lice spread so easily...hopefully all the pests will choose someone else to bother!

Is it getting worse -- or are we just hearing more about it?

It IS getting worse, Ruth, yes. I heard something about exterminators getting five calls per day, where they used to get five per month (or something to that effect). Scary to think about.

Um, the Nike Superstore in NYC, anyone? Yowzer. These little critters are crawling around everywhere.

I live in fear of bedbugs since I live in NYC, the bedbug capitol. I have friends who've had them and whose offices were infested with them - think big name magazines! However, what I'm most afraid of is the expense and the toxic chemicals needed to be rid of them. I'm hoping that heating method becomes widespread because with little children, who can afraid to make your home a toxic stew?

Several friends of mine have had bedbug infestations in their apartments in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. After numerous fumigations, they each had to move because of bedbugs.

This American Life did a segment on bedbug during one of their shows. It really showed the heartbreak these little bloodsuckers can cause, especially for families that are unable to move out of the infested residence.

Now I'm all itchy. THANKS! ;)


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