Quantcast
Got a Bedbug Bonanza?
Coming soon: the definitive bedbug extermination and prevention eBook!

Luca Brasi sleeps with the bedbugs

Posted: October 8th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Hey, do you have about an hour to kill and a need to ruin what’s left of your already tenuous grasp of the ability to sleep?

day 108 - I have nightmares

by mivox on Flickr

This 2008 podcast from This American Life, entitled Fear of Sleep, discusses conditions like night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep paralysis, and sleep attempted murder. Yours truly has been known to suffer from sleep paralysis, which is damn creepy. Your eyes open, but you can’t move or even scream because the brain juice that keeps the body still during REM sleep hasn’t left your system yet. You have awareness of your surroundings, but it’s dim and possibly accompanied by hallucinations. Now what could be creepier than lying there, confused and paralyzed? Add bedbugs!

Skip to about 21:45 for the segment “Sleep’s Tiniest Enemies.” First up: roaches. Oh yeah. You’ll be twitching and slapping yourself and digging frantically with q-tips after this one. I won’t spoil it.

If you want to get right to the bedbuggery, hit 25:25. Anyone who has suffered through bedbugs will recognize the mental anguish. A woman using the name “Stephanie” repeated all-too-familiar tales of not having guests over to her family’s apartment for years. Her sleep is interrupted all the time by bedbugs, and she has upped her coffee intake to function during the day.  It’s “so hard to sleep in a bed where you feel like the sheets are crawling.”

“There’s a lot of adrenalin with these middle of the night bites…like I would wake up in full combat mode…rage, rage, rage!”

She describes a “feeling of being assaulted, and there’s nothing I can do.” She recounts basically living out of plastic bags, vacuuming books, and coating bed legs with vaseline in an attempt to keep bedbugs from climbing. Her husband even reupholstered a beloved piece of furniture to save it.

In a chilling experiment, Stephanie kept two baby bedbugs in a sealed plastic container on her window sill. Months passed, and instead of dying, they bred.  She eventually threw the whole container out. At the end of the piece, she has just discovered more bug signs in her favorite couch, and she announces it has finally won a trip to the curb. Yet another reason not to pick up furniture you find on the sidewalk! The more polite tend to label their cast-offs, at least. “Bedbugs: Do Not Use.”

There is a happier ending for Stephanie in an update at the end of the piece. Apparently the landlord stepped up extermination efforts, and Stephanie is finally bug free. Not everyone is so lucky. Do you have a story of difficulty getting a landlord to take your bedbug problem seriously? Leave us a comment or use our contact form.

**Hat tip on the podcast to alert reader Amanda, who does not have bedbugs. Just morbid curiosity.



Scarred for Life: Healing Embarrassing Bedbug Scars

Posted: September 29th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

BedBug bites both arms (24 May 2009)

As if bedbug bites aren’t itchy and uncomfortable enough, they also serve as very public advertisements that you are suffering from an infestation. Although actually being infested says nothing about your health or hygiene status, people still don’t want to take any chances. You may find yourself a victim of social isolation, shunned by friends and romantic partners.

Definitely forget the romance. A recent highly unscientific but probably passably realistic poll stated “56% of responders would leave their date if they noticed bed bug bites on his/her skin.

“They’re just mosquito bites,” you say gamely. “I must have gotten eaten alive in the Catskills.” But people just aren’t having it. Even once you get rid of the bugs in your life, you may find yourself with lingering scars.

People have sued hotels over receiving scarring bites.

“According to DeRoche’s attorney, Steven Igou, the bedbug bites have left DeRoche with approximately 35 permanent scares, mostly on her legs and midsection. He says the scars and damage are so bad that DeRoche no longer wears shorts.”

The scars are a reminder of a very traumatic experience and can forever link you in some people’s minds to a nasty problem. You are even worse off if you work in a profession with emphasis on appearance, such as modeling, acting, magazines, sales, or, oh, hell, most everything you could possibly do. Our face is our fortune!

The catch-22 is that the best way to be free of scars is never to get bitten at all. See our advice about avoiding bedbugs in a hotel. You must keep your eye trained on potential threats, since they can pop up in offices, schools, and even on park benches.

Let’s say you get noshed on one night.  The initial bites may go unnoticed at first because the sneaky little buggers inject an anesthetic as they feed. But you will suffer a:

“localized allergic reaction to antigens/proteins that the bed bug releases into the skin. This is mediated through IgE antibody pathway, causing a wheal-flare response. The bites vary greatly between people, as there are differences in the immune status in individuals. The more bed bug bites you get through your life, the stronger the reaction/redness of the bite.”

That wheal-flare response accounts for the unsightly swelling and redness. That part about reactions getting stronger is bad news, and it underscores the importance of preventing or rapidly treating an infestation.

Audrey Kunin, M.D., points out that “Scratching can easily be complicated by a secondary bacterial infection, particularly in less than sanitary environments.” Cut nails short and frequently wash hands to prevent damage during scratching. Some people wear gloves to bed to avoid scratching unconsciously. Keep any open sores clean to avoid infection.

Most bites can be initially treated by:

  • Washing the area with soap & water, then applying ice
  • Internal itch relief products like Zyrtec
  • External relief products like Caladryl, Aveeno, and baking soda baths
  • Prescription medications in severe cases, including topical steroids and antihistamines, oral antihistamines, and very rarely, systemic steroids
  • See your doctor if you feel a bite is infected. Further treatment may be required

Properly cleaning and treating the bite’s itch is your best chance to prevent scarring. There are a number of natural bite treatments out there as well. While they may not reduce scarring that has already occurred, they may be able to prevent it by treating the bite so you don’t claw yourself to pieces.

If you have suffered scars already, your options include:

  • Scar treatment ointment or cream such as Mederma, which can be purchased at a drugstore
  • Vitamin E application can be helpful
  • Silicone scar treatment sheets, which can be purchased at a drugstore
  • Massage the scar with a circular motion several times a day to promote healing

In extreme cases, seeing a dermatologist may be in order. A dermatologist can supervise methods like

  • Skin bleaching
  • Chemical peels
  • Laser treatments

Obviously some of these methods are potentially painful and very costly. One scar-specific natural treatment involves applying a paste of turmeric and coconut oil to a cleaned area, then letting the paste sit for 8 hours.

Phew. I think I’ll just start wearing a full body suit. That looks comfy.

Disclaimer: always consult your own doctor as part of your health decision-making process. The authors of this site are not doctors, although they sometimes play one with the consent of an informed partner.