The Painful Truth About Bed Bugs

I’m not going to sugar coat this. This bed bug problem is your problem to solve ultimately even if a landlord is paying for treatment. You need to not re-infest your house after treatment. You need to try to not infest your car or where you work, or where you have coffee, or the library, or the bus. You need to not accidentally poison yourself or your pets. And if you are a renter you need to document every landlord and pest control encounter to ensure you get good and effective treatment and not Uncle Fred’s special bed bug recipe.

Being informed is really important so you can evaluate what people are telling you,  so you can make the best decisions while being sleep deprived and stressed out. I digress, but sometimes we just need to hear the ugly truth. Bed bugs are horrible, and getting rid of them is hard especially when you’re sleep deprived. If you are having emotional stress I strongly recommend counseling. Unless you’re having heat treatment it’s going to be weeks or months to solve your infestation.

Sleeping when you have bed bugs

Sleeping on the sofa or in another bed almost always results in infesting the new sleeping area. Bed bugs will migrate to you when you are sleeping. This can result in expanding the geography of the infestation in your home.

Bed Bugs Cause Insomnia

Insomnia is common and completely justified in this situation, however, it ruins your life, so try and find solutions. You really need as much energy as you can muster to solve a bed bug problem. That is the unfortunate reality, and when you are exhausted from stress and lack of sleep, it’s that much more difficult to cope with a problem like bed bugs.

Always consult with your physician before trying sleep remedies. I found some very effective and gentle herbal remedies, that were helpful during my infestation. Herbal sleep aids vary in their effectiveness, typically consisting of a mixture of hops, valerian, and other herbs. You could also ask your physician for a prescription sleep aid, or medication to reduce anxiety. If you are still being bit in bed, sleep would probably be really helpful, especially if you’re trying to prepare for treatment.

Find a device to fall asleep. Mine was the Nature Channel. Sorry Nature Channel, but it’s true.

Fragrance Does Not Deter Bed Bugs

Neem oil, eucalyptus, cinnamon, herbs, fruit, honey, lavendar, alcohol, patchouli, bug repellent; none of these things will keep bed bugs from biting you. When bed bugs are hungry, they don’t care what you smell like as long as you have warm human blood. Bed bugs are primitive, but highly evolved. They are built to sniff out humans and they can smell and sense you regardless of any other fragrance you have on.

Don’t saturate yourself in rubbing alcohol. It’s ineffective and the fumes are dangerous in that volume. It will evaporate, they will bite you.

Bed Bugs Can Cause Extreme Stress

Everyone seems to process bed bug infestations a little different. Some people approach it casually like treating ants, and some people completely lose “it.” Loss of sleep, money, energy, time, control over your sanctuary, is bad enough. Knowing you are dealing with an insect that feeds for 3-10 minutes, would make a normally stable person lose their composure or their mind, when faced with bed bugs.

Talk with a professional or your doctor about any stress or loss of sleep you are experiencing as a result of your infestation.

Coping with Bed Bugs

Try not to completely lose your sense of humor. It’s really hard when you are fatigued, terrorized, afraid, and frustrated, but try to see the humor in the world around you, or at least the irony.

Be nice to yourself. You probably won’t be perfect and probably will make a few mistakes in your approach to bed bug eradication. Now might be a good time to indulge in comfort food, a movie or facebook. Keeping a journal documenting your experience and when and where you get bites can be helpful too.

Friends and Family:How others will React

Accept that the friends and family you tell, will for the most part, not get it. They can’t, in the same way you can’t know what it’s like to have a serious illness, if you haven’t had one. Expect a range of responses from probing questions, disinterest, or those who will compare it with their children’s lice. I found it was best to just not get upset when people were clueless. They just can’t really understand unless they are empathetic, or have had bed bugs.

Tell yourself, you are going to get rid of bed bugs and not allow them to live in your home, car or work. Yes, this is positive thinking, but I believe it helps. I told myself this a lot during my infestation, even when I wasn’t sure I believed it. Eventually, it was true.

Telling People You Have Bed Bugs

Do let people living near you know you have bed bugs. You can help remove the stigmas and misconceptions by educating people around you.

Office and Doctor’s Visits: Tell the office staff about your infestation and be prepared for a possible strong reaction. Many waiting rooms have found themselves with infestations and my experience was, if I told, and I did, that I was whisked into the back and seen pretty quickly. Don’t be offended, people are scared of these things.

Having workers in your house: If you are going to have things caulked, moved in or out of your house, or have work done in your house during your infestation, tell whoever is coming that you have bed bugs. Most people won’t have any idea what you are talking about. It’s a courtesy I would want someone to extend to me before inviting me over.

DIY Treatment

Do not spray household pesticides on bed bugs unless they are labeled for use on bed bugs. Only pesticides labeled specifically for bed bugs will kill them. Most of those do not kill eggs, but heat does.

Don’t sprinkle DE (diatomaceous earth) on your bed or bed frame. It will puff up and you will inhale it. This is dangerous and permanent. It is made from silica and if it gets in your lungs it’s not going away.

Do not use insect bombs. Consult a professional or do extensive research before attempting to self treat. There is REAL possibility of hurting yourself by attempting to self treat. Self treatment can also result in spreading the infestation by driving bed bugs into walls and into other rooms or apartments.

Most DIY people don’t succeed and have prolonged infestations going from a little to a lot, but never solved, until they finally call a professional. Use a flashlight and magnifying glass to see possible bugs and eggs. There are exceptions, people have done it, but it’s a very low percentage of those who attempt it all on their own without any professional treatment.