Bed bugs are growing more common and don’t discriminate by age – they'll even bite children for a source of blood. But you can help protect your little loved ones with a few simple steps.
How to Identify a Bed Bug Bite
Bed bug bites usually appear a few days after as tiny, raised red areas. Some individuals never develop a reaction, showing no noticeable signs of ever being bitten. However, on those who do develop symptoms, they typically appear as a line or cluster as it is rare for a bed bug to only bite once. A child may develop a severe reaction including large welts or blisters that are painful and itchy and on rare occasions asthmatic or anaphylactic reactions have been reported.
Emotional Problems from Bed Bug Bites
Children that live in a home with a large infestation for an extended period often develop insomnia, anxiety, sleep disturbances or phobias such as a fear of the dark as a result of the continued bites. The fear of living with bed bugs is enough to cause severe emotional turmoil in the child and can manifest in poor grades, weight loss, and relationship problems.
Treating a Bed Bug Bite
If your child suffers bed bug bites, first off – don’t worry, bed bugs don’t transmit disease and their bites will naturally heal in time. To minimize the healing process and avoid scarring try applying a topical anti-itch cream. Usually products like calamine lotion, cortisone cream, and diphenhydramine cream help. You can also ask your doctor about giving the child oral histamines such as diphenhydramine hydrochloride or hydroxyzine (only available with a prescription). Topical antibiotics and antiseptic creams can help prevent secondary bacterial infection usually caused by scratching. And if an infection does develop, your physician may prescribe an oral antibiotic.
Looking for Bed Bugs
After identifying a bed bug bite, it is imperative that you look for signs of an infestation. Start by getting a flashlight and looking closely at the bedding, box springs, mattress, bed frame, floorboards, and along baseboards. Remember, bed bugs are very tiny and experts at hiding. You should also watch for shed exoskeletons, blood spots, and reddish fecal dots.
Treatment Options That are Safe to Use Around Children
Once you have confirmed the infestation you should begin exploring treatment options. There are a variety of options that can eliminate the infestations while keeping your child safe from harmful chemicals. Heat treatment is the most common and can be carried out by a qualified exterminator. For a DIY option, plant-based sprays that are natural and safe to use around children although multiple applications are usually necessary.
Protecting Your Child from Bed Bug Bites
To protect your child from bed bugs while you await treatment you can encase their mattress and box springs in a protective cover that keeps bed bugs out and easy to spot. Also, placing interceptor traps under the legs of the bed frame prevents the bugs from climbing the bed and alerts you to their ongoing presence.
Bed Bug Bite Considerations and Your Child
If you suspect your child has bed bug bites, do some detective work to determine where your child might have encountered the bugs. Did you recently go on a vacation and stay in a hotel room? Was your child away at camp? Did your little one have a sleepover with friends? All are potential places to pick up bed bugs.
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