how do i know if my baby has bed bugs

How Do I Know If My Baby Has Bed Bugs?

Bedbugs are very small insects (Cimex lectularius). Their food source is the blood of humans and other mammals. Bed Bugs tend to live in warm, dry places such as mattresses, upholstered furniture, and rugs, and they come out at dawn to feed.

Their bite is painless, so your baby will likely not wake up when bitten, but the bite produces a very itchy rash. Your baby will wake up with itchy red or pink bumps, usually in lines or clusters.

The bite itself is harmless, and bedbugs are not known to spread blood-borne diseases, but babies and children are prone to scratching at bites, potentially causing secondary skin infections.

Anyone of any age can be bitten by bedbugs. Because bed bugs only feed on humans and other warm-blooded animals, they tend to be found in places with many people, such as dorms and prisons.

They are also common in places travellers to pass through, such as hotels and shelters. Because bedbugs do not feed on trash or dirt, there is no association between poor hygiene and untidiness to bedbug infestations.

However, babies who sleep in multiple different environments are probably more prone to bedbugs because they are exposed to multiple potential bed bug habitats.

It is probably not possible to look at a couch or mattress and see if it contains bedbugs; a bed bug egg is about a large grain of salt, and an adult bedbug is about the size of a small apple seed. They do not have wings but can move very quickly.

Baby Nursery FAQs

Bed bug bites on a toddler will look exactly like bites on adults and could take as many as 3-4 days to appear. Once visible, these red, flat welts often pop up in small clusters or zigzag lines but can sometimes also be found in straight rows.

For anyone wondering whether they can see bed bugs with the human eye, the short answer is yes—adult bed bugs are about the same size, shape and colour as an apple seed, so they are visible with the naked human eye.

The high temperature of steam 212°F (100°C) immediately kills bed bugs. Apply steam slowly to the folds and tufts of mattresses, sofa seams, bed frames, and corners or edges where bed bugs may be hiding.

Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed. Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric as a marker would. Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger. Live bed bugs.

Bites normally look like small, flat or raised areas that may become inflamed, itchy, red or blistered. Bed bug bite reactions don't always appear immediately after being bitten and may take a few days to begin causing symptoms. However, not everyone reacts to bed bug bites in the same manner.

Where Bed Bugs Hide

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Bed Bugs may enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items. Their flattened bodies make it possible for them to fit into tiny spaces, about the width of a credit card. 

Bed Bugs do not have nests like ants or bees but tend to live in groups in hiding places. Their initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and headboards, where they have easy access to people to bite in the night.

Over time, however, they may scatter through the bedroom, moving into any crevice or protected location. They may also spread to nearby rooms or apartments.

Because bed bugs live solely on blood, having them in your home is not a sign of dirtiness. You are as likely to find them in immaculate homes and hotel rooms as in filthy ones.

When Bedbugs Bite

Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite people while sleeping. They feed by piercing the skin and withdrawing blood through an elongated beak. The bugs feed on three to 10 minutes to become engorged and then crawl away unnoticed.

Most bedbug bites are painless but later turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites mainly around the ankles, bedbug bites are on any area of skin exposed while sleeping. Also, the bites do not have a red spot in the centre like flea bites do.

People who don't realise they have a bedbug infestation may attribute the itching and welts to other causes, such as mosquitoes. To confirm bedbug bites, you must find and identify the bugs themselves.

Signs And Symptoms

You may see a bug bite or notice your child scratching or rubbing their arms or legs against something. What starts as small bruise-like areas turn into red bumps on the exposed parts of the body (arms, legs, chest, and sometimes the face). There may be a clustered configuration of 3 bites in a line (commonly known as "breakfast, lunch, and dinner"). Resolution takes about two weeks and may leave some darker areas of skin (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).

Infants who are prone to eczema may develop a generalised bumpy redness in large areas with severe itching, and they may vigorously scratch the area, which puts infants at risk for bacterial infection if the scratching causes a break in the skin. Make sure to keep infants' nails trimmed short.

You may see tell-tale signs of a bedbug infestation, such as bloodstains on the sheets, flecks of bedbug dung on or around the bed, or smell a sweet odour that results from large numbers of bedbugs. You may be able to spot a moving bedbug if you are searching at night.

If you wake up with itchy areas you didn't have when you went to sleep, you may have bedbugs, particularly if you got a used bed or other used furniture when the bites started. Other signs that you have bed bugs include:

  • Bloodstains on your sheets or pillowcases
  • Dark or rusty spots of bed bug excrement on sheets and mattresses, bedclothes, and walls
  • Bed Bug fecal spots, eggshells, or shed skins in areas where bed bugs hide
  • An offensive, musty odour from the bugs' scent glands

If you suspect an infestation, remove all bedding and check it carefully for signs of the bugs or their excrement. Remove the dust cover over the bottom of the box springs and examine the seams in the wood framing. Peel back the fabric where it is stapled to the wood frame.

Also, check the area around the bed, including inside books, telephones or radios, the edge of the carpet, and even in electrical outlets. Check your closet because bedbugs can attach to clothing. If you are uncertain about signs of bedbugs, call an exterminator, who will know what to look for.

If you find signs of infestation, begin steps to get rid of the bugs and prevent their return.

How Can I Prevent Bedbugs?

If your home has bed bugs, don't feel bad. Bedbug infestations are common. These tips can help:

  • Keep your home uncluttered so bed bugs won't have places to hide.
  • Change bedsheets once a week and vacuum floors regularly.
  • If you find bedbugs, wash all bedding, clothing, and stuffed animals in hot water and dry on a hot setting.
  • Use a mattress cover labelled "anti-allergy" or "anti-dust mites" to help prevent bugs from getting into your bedding and from seeing them if they are there more easily.
  • You also can contact local pest control companies to ask about ways to get rid of bedbugs with or without pesticides.

Travel Tips

Because you're most likely to encounter bedbugs while travelling, planning is wise. Some websites let travellers search for bedbug infestation reports by city (and sometimes by the hotel), so do some research before leaving home.

At your destination, do a bedbug check of every room before settling in. If you find any signs of bedbugs, ask for other rooms and inspect them too. If you still see signs of bedbugs, find another place to stay.

Keep luggage off the floor and beds in hotel rooms. Use the luggage racks most hotels and motels provide or put suitcases on a table or desk. Hang up clothes whenever possible, and when you get back home, dump dirty clothes right into the washing machine.

At Home

Be careful when buying used clothing or furniture from garage sales or thrift stores. Always inspect them for bedbugs. Also, don't grab a discarded couch or other upholstered furniture off the street corner. They might have bed bugs hiding in the fabric. That might be why the previous owner got rid of them!

If you've been in a place known to have bedbugs, wash your clothes with hot water when you return home. If you can't wash your clothing right away, put it in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash it.

Okay. Let’s assume that your doctor has examined your child's skin and has identified the problem as scabies. In most cases, your doctor will probably recommend a topical cream or lotion, such as Permethrin or Crotamiton cream, Sulfur ointment, or perhaps Lindane lotion or cream. Now, unless your doctor gives you other instructions, you should follow these steps when you’re using a topical cream, lotion, or ointment:

  • Apply the salve to your baby’s entire body ̶ from the neck down
  • Be sure to apply the solve your child's fingernails and toenails.
  • And apply to all your baby’s body folds.

If your baby is unlucky enough to have developed a more severe case of scabies, your doctor may prescribe oral medications such as antibiotics, antihistamines or Ivermectin pills. 

That terrible itching may take two to three weeks to vanish since your baby’s immune system will continue to react to dead mites. However, new burrows and rashes should stop appearing 48 hours after treatment.

If it turns out that your baby’s lesions are bed bug bites and they’re itchy, your doctor may prescribe a strong, topical steroid. The fact is that infants have a hard time not scratching ̶, especially at night. And this can be a problem because scratching can lead to infection, redness, swelling, fever, or painful blisters.

Your doctor may prescribe a topical corticosteroid to help reduce the itching and inflammation on your baby’s skin. And this can be very helpful at night, especially since it can help prevent infection. 

If your child should happen to develop a blistering skin reaction to the bites (which is quite rare), oral corticosteroids may be the order of the day. Likewise, if your baby is unfortunate enough to acquire a bacterial skin infection from scratching, they may need oral antibiotics. Your doctor will know best.

And All Those Other Biting Pests.

It’s worth keeping in mind that other troublesome insects can invade your houses, such as mites, fleas, spiders or mosquitoes ̶ and they can all bite. 

That’s why it’s important that you quickly identify the source of any marks or lesions on your baby’s skin, and your own, for that matter, if you’re unlucky enough to be counted among the “victims.”

There are some steps you can take to get rid of bed bugs, scabies, ticks, lice and the like, but more of that later.

We suggest that one of your strongest defences is Steri Fab disinfectant spray since it’s hands down one of the best ways to get rid of scabies, get rid of bed bugs and get rid of all these other pests. Sterifab can successfully eliminate bedbugs, lice, fleas, ticks and a host of other insects. It has many useful features, since it: 

  • Deodorizes and controls odour-causing organisms
  • Sanitises and deodorises any room
  • It is one of the few products labelled for use on mattresses and upholstered furniture
  • Dries in 15-20 minutes, is biodegradable and leaves no residue
  • Can be used on everything ̶ except people, animals and cooking utensils

Sterifab can treat practically any inanimate object or location, and there are no other U.S. EPA-registered products that can boast so many uses – viricide, bactericide, sanitiser, insecticide, deodorant, germicide, disinfectant, mildewcide, fungicide, bacteriostatic or fungistatic.

Making Your House Pest Free

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It’s hard enough to watch your baby suffer from bed bug bites, to say nothing of scabies, flea, tick, or lice bites. But now comes the really hard part: Making your house bug free.

Using Sterifab is your first line of defence, but there are some other steps you can take if you’re going to get rid of bed bugs and scabies ̶, ticks, lice, or fleas ̶ from your home.

It would take too long to go through all the steps you should take, but we have covered them in other blogs, which you can find here. So, for the moment, let’s focus on making your baby’s room bug-free. The following should help you to get rid of mites, get rid of fleas, get rid of scabies, get rid of bed bugs and all the other pests that can threaten your baby’s well-being.

Seal The Bedroom

Bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers (as are ticks) and can infiltrate virtually any dwelling.

The same is true for fleas and mites, so you should quickly seal off all cracks and

Crevices in your baby’s room. Use quick-setting caulk on joints and vents where bugs

can hide and lay their eggs. 

You should also ensure seal gaps in light fixtures, baseboards, door frames, wall cavities and cracks near the electrical switches.

Clean Carpets And Rugs And Floors

Removing carpeting and installing hardwood flooring in its place will

Help in an anti-bug campaign, but for most of us, that just isn’t practical ̶

or affordable. 

Better to treat all the inanimate objects in the room with Sterifab, then 

vacuum and wipe off every surface. Of course, make sure that you keep your

baby as far away from the room as possible ̶ for 24 hours at least!

Inspect Box Springs And Cribs, And Mattresses

If your baby’s crib or mattress is heavily infested, you might want to discard them

completely, mattress, or use mattress encasement. But don’t be too hasty. You can

successfully treat any pest infestation if you take all the right steps.

Self-Care Guidelines

Management of bedbug bites includes removing the bedbugs themselves and controlling the child's itching.

Wash all linens in hot water, and dry them in a hot dryer. You may also need to wash the curtains. Scrub furniture to remove eggs and fix any cracks in the furniture; you may need to take the furniture apart to do this well. 

Vacuum the room, including the mattress (concentrating on the seams) and any surrounding crevices. You may want to fill and seal any cracks around the room and pastedown any rolling wallpaper seams. Check the adjoining rooms for bed bugs, even if the occupants do not complain of itching.

Sometimes, in cases of severe infestation, it may be best to have a licensed pest control agent inspect and eradicate the bedbugs. Remember that some insect repellants can be toxic to children, so find out exactly what chemicals the agent will be using and what the chemical's risk profile is.

Low-strength topical corticosteroid cream or ointment, such as hydrocortisone, can be purchased over the counter to help with itching. It should not be applied to the face or in skin folds. Keep children's nails trimmed short to prevent creating breaks in the skin from scratching.

When you travel and stay in hotels, keep your suitcase and clothing away from the bed or other furniture. Upon returning home, wash the clothing you took with you and place your suitcase in an attic, basement, or garage, where there is little chance of the bugs encountering humans for prolonged periods at night.

Getting rid of bedbugs begins with cleaning up where bed bugs live. This should include the following:

  • Clean bedding, linens, curtains, and clothing in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. Place stuffed animals, shoes, and other items that can't be washed in the dryer and run on high for 30 minutes.
  • Use a stiff brush to scrub mattress seams to remove bedbugs and eggs before vacuuming.
  • Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently. After vacuuming, immediately place the vacuum cleaner bag in a plastic bag and place it in the garbage can outdoors.
  • Encase mattress and box springs with a tightly woven, zippered cover to keep bedbugs from entering or escaping. Bed Bugs may live up to a year without feeding, so keep the cover on your mattress for at least a year to make sure all bugs in the mattress are dead.
  • Repair cracks in plaster and glue down peeling wallpaper to avoid places bed bugs can hide.
  • Get rid of clutter around the bed.

If your mattress is infested, you may want to get rid of it and get a new one, but take care to rid the rest of your home of bedbugs, or they will infest your new mattress.

Conclusion

Bed Bugs are small, flat, reddish-brown bugs about the size of an apple seed. They can be found all over the world. Bed Bugs hide during the day in or around beds and crevices in chairs, couches, curtains, rugs, dressers, and even in cracks of walls and floors and behind wallpaper.

They come out at night to find food, which in their case means blood. Bedbugs have a special ingredient in their saliva (spit) that keeps blood from clotting while they feed, typically at night in areas where people sleep. 

After their blood meal, bed bugs don't stay on a person for long. Instead, they hide nearby, often in clothing or luggage, allowing them to spread when belongings move to another location.

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