If you suspect that you're being bitten by bedbugs, immediately inspect your home for the insects. Thoroughly examine crevices in walls, mattresses and furniture. You may need to perform your inspection at night when bedbugs are active.
Look for these signs:
- Dark specks. Typically found along mattress seams, these specks are bedbug excrement.
- Skin castings. Bedbugs molt five times before becoming adults. These empty skins are pale yellow.
- Rusty or reddish stains. You may find small smears of blood on your bed sheets where bedbugs were crushed.
Bedbug bites don't usually need treatment, as they usually disappear on their own within a week or two. You might ease symptoms by using:
- A skin cream containing hydrocortisone (Cortaid)
- An oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
Treating your home
It can be difficult to get rid of a bedbug infestation because they hide well and can live months without eating. You may need to hire a professional exterminator, who will likely use a combination of pesticides and nonchemical treatments.
You may also treat your home for bedbugs by:
- Vacuuming. A thorough vacuuming of crevices can remove bedbugs from an area but likely won't capture all of them. Empty the vacuum after each use.
- Laundering. Washing items in water that's at least 120 F (48.9 C) can kill bedbugs. As will putting them in a dryer on a high setting for 20 minutes.
- Placing items in an enclosed vehicle. If you live in a very hot place, bag up the infested items and place them in a car parked in the sun with the windows rolled up for a day. The target temperature is at least 120 F (48.9 C).
In some cases, you may have to throw out heavily infested items such as mattresses or couches. Make it obvious the item is unusable so no one else picks it up and gets bed bugs.