According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States is experiencing an alarming increase in the number of bedbug populations. In addition to being found in private residences, such as apartments and single-family homes, bedbugs are increasingly affecting restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and schools and day care centers.
“Although bedbugs don’t usually require serious medical attention, they can cause a great deal of anxiety and restless nights,” said board-certified dermatologist Seemal R. Desai, MD, FAAD, who maintains a private practice in Plano, Texas and serves as clinical assistant professor of dermatology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “The most common sign of bedbugs is having bite marks on your body, which can sometimes turn into itchy welts.”
If you want to find bedbugs before your tenants do, Dr. Desai has some recommendations:
1. A sweet, musty odor: If you notice a sweet, musty odor, there may be a heavy bedbug infestation in the room. Bedbugs produce chemicals to help them communicate.
2. Specks of blood on bedding, mattresses, or upholstered furniture, including couches and headboards.
3. Exoskeletons: Bedbugs have an outer shell that they shed and leave behind. There may be shell-like remains on the mattress, mattress pad or beneath couch cushions.
4. Tiny, blackish specks: If you see these on bedding, mattress, or headboard, it could be bedbug excrement.
5. Eggs: After mating, female bedbugs lay white, oval eggs in cracks and crevices. Keep in mind that these will be small, as a bedbug is only about the size of an apple seed.
Bedbug bites are generally harmless, although they are certainly uncomfortable for tenants. In some cases, the bites can get infected. Dr. Desai recommends tenants see a board-certified dermatologist to treat an infection and help relieve the itch.
Meanwhile, you’ll have to get work to ferret out these extremely adaptable little pests before the next tenant complaint — or a full-scale lawsuit.
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations, with a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or www.aad.org.
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