Bed Bugs are the Real Vampires

vampire bat
courtesy panuruangjan@freedigital photos

When I was a kid, the old black and white movies with scary monsters like vampires and mummies were some of my favorites. As I got older, I loved movies (like Young Frankenstein and The Rocky Horror Picture Show) that allowed me to laugh at my fears.

Currently zombies fill the screens of horror flicks. Zombies are scary, but what really frightens me are the thought of real blood-sucking creatures crawling into bed with me at night. I’m afraid of bed bugs and I have never been bitten by one. Yet.

Bed Bug PTSD

I went looking to see if the fear of bed bugs had been given a specific “phobia” name. I didn’t find a phobia for bed bugs in particular. The fear of beds is Clinophobia and the fear of bugs is Entomophobia, but there isn’t a Clino-Entomo-phobia as of yet. Give it time.

I did find that people who have actually had a bout with bed bugs may suffer from an anxiety similar to mine known as “Bed Bug PTSD”. I am not making this up. The Atlantic published an article about bed bug anxiety . Well, OK, they called it “madness” but even I think that is extreme.

bed bugs make you crazy
Bed Bugs Keep You Up Last Night?

Turns out that once you survive an infestation of bed bugs, the expensive and time consuming eradication process can leave you emotionally scarred. I believe it. I’ve never had bed bugs, but I have helped so many people going through the bed bug extermination process that I live in fear of bed bugs.

Bed Bugs are Evil Blood Suckers

EHSO has some pretty good information about bed bugs. In a bed bug photonutshell, these bugs are small, but are large enough to be seen with the naked eye (unlike microscopic dust mites). They feed on blood. Human blood in general and your blood in particular is their favorite meal. They use two tubes, one to inject an anticoagulant and another to extract your blood. They feed every 5 to 7 days and they are attracted by the carbon dioxide you exhale.   I guess you could just never exhale. Let me know how that works for you. The anticoagulant they inject causes a bump and an itching sensation.

The little buggers will hide anywhere, but close to you and your bed is one of their favorite locations. For many years they were considered to be pests of the unclean. But as we travel more and the world gets smaller, bed bugs can be found in the finest homes and hotels and the most modest motel and slums as well. No place is immune.

Now Recognized as a Health Risk

For years bed bugs were considered a disgusting nuisance but not a carrier of disease. People were found to be allergic to the bites, but that didn’t pose any more health risk than allergy to mosquito bites or other insects. However, recent research has shown that bed bugs can be a carrier of Chagas Disease. So fear of bed bugs isn’t completely irrational.

Calm Your Bed Bug Fears

Having confessed to my bed bug fears, here are some things I do to prevent a bed bug infestation from ever happening to me. It has been successful so far, but I am sure as soon as this gets published I will get bed bugs. Like punishment for bragging. So here is my routine:

Bed Bug Covers. My mattress and pillows are all protected in zippered bed bug coverszippered bed bug proof covers. I am highly allergic to dust mites, so I need zippered covers for dust mite protection. I use the AllergyCare Solution bed bug proof and dust mite proof fabric so I literally kill two bird (or is it bugs) with one stone.

Bed Bug Avoidance. Since I don’t have bed bugs in my house, I don’t want to bring them into my house. So, when I travel my suitcase stays in the bathtub at a hotel. I never put luggage on the floor.

When I come home, my suitcase stays in the garage until it can be thoroughly inspected and the clothing goes from the garage into the washing machine before it ever comes in the house.  See, I have been afraid of bed bugs for years.

Bed Bugs are Scary

So yes, bed bugs are scary. They don’t fly like vampire bats; but I haven’t read a case of someone picking up a suitcase full of vampire bats by staying in a hotel. I read about bed bugs in stores, but I don’t read about vampire bats in stores. You get the idea.

In reality, bed bugs are to be feared more than vampires. In fiction, bed bug zombies would be the worst!

Til Next Time!

Cheryl

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Is Eczema Seasonal? Find out About Seasonal Eczema

Eczema is uncomfortable and unsightly. But is eczema seasonal? It can be. Read on to discover how your eczema triggers and eczema symptoms can change with the seasons and why some people have seasonal eczema while others get flares all year long.

Time for Fall BeddingSeasonal Eczema Triggers

Eczema is as personal as your DNA. That means your triggers may not be the same as your aunt’s triggers. Even though you share DNA and eczema something as simple as living at a different latitude can impact your eczema symptoms. Identifying your triggers can be a challenge because sometimes the symptoms can come on hours after exposure. This makes seasonal eczema even a greater challenge to control.

If you have had formal allergy testing, anything that resulted in a reaction can be a trigger. In addition, your eczema can be triggered by:

  • Stress
  • Humidity
  • Fabrics
  • Personal care products
  • Detergents

Let’s see how triggers can change with the seasons.

Stress

Does your stress levels change with the seasons? If so, then yes, your eczema can be don't be afraid if you've got moldseasonal if it is triggered by stress. Does the first day of school fill you with dread? Are you afraid that the others will notice your skin? If so, this stress can actually trigger the eczema starting a vicious cycle. Are you a Mom or Dad that stresses with the back to school routine of morning rush, lunches, and after-school activities and homework? Your eczema may return each Fall, just as the kids return to school.

If the winter holidays leave you stressed, your eczema can be affected. Not only is the humidity low (we’ll cover that in a minute) but if stress of shopping, parties, decorating, and family activities too high, your eczema can be triggered.

Humidity

Relative humidity is the relationship between the dew point and the amount of moisture in the air. When the humidity is low, your skin is stressed. Eczema can flare or an existing flare can worsen.

3 Winter Skin Care Tips to Keep Winter Skin Blues at BayBut, if low humidity is bad, is high humidity good? Not necessarily. When humidity is high, it’s hard for perspiration to evaporate. And anyone with eczema knows that sweating can make you itch and make eczema unbearable. Ironically, it is the sodium in the sweat that drys and irritates your skin. Sweat is one of the times that moisture is bad for eczema – the other is hot water.

So, if your eczema seems to change with the seasons, it may be changing in response to humidity levels.

Fabrics

Some fabrics can trigger eczema or make it worse. The lanolin in wool is a common allergen. Wearing wool can cause an allergic reaction that triggers your eczema. In addition, polyester or other fabrics that don’t breathe can cause you to get hot and trap sweat.

Most people don’t wear wool in summer, so if your eczema is triggered by wool you may only notice it in the winter. While the wool is a year-around trigger, you only experience it in the colder months when you and the people around you are wearing wool.

Personal Care Products

Many of the ingredients in personal care products trigger eczema. If you only use sunscreen in the summer, it may be the sunscreen and not the sun that’s triggering your eczema.

Air Fresheners Can Be ToxicDeep conditioning treatments for hair in the winter can contain parabens or formaldehyde that trigger eczema. Even your choice of skin care products is important when you have eczema.  If you find a cream such as Vanicream Ointment, Lotion, or Cream that works, then stick with it year around. If you change your personal care products with the seasons, you might find you trigger your eczema.

Detergents

It might not be the wool that’s triggering your eczema, it could be what you’re using to wash the wool. Or, if you wear clothing that has been dry cleaned in the Fall and Winter more than the Spring and Summer, you may find your eczema appears seasonal. That’s because the dry cleaning chemicals trigger your eczema.

Combating Seasonal Eczema Symptoms

Whether your eczema symptoms are seasonal or not, there are a few things you can do to prevent eczema flares and reduce symptoms once you have a flare.

Don’t scratch.  This is much easier said than done. Scratching only makes your skin more irritated and soon you are stuck in an itch-scratch cycle. The central nervous system modulates the sensation of itch and the desire to scratch. It can even happen when you sleep.  Stress only makes itching worse. The use of cognitive-behavior therapy and biofeedback can help retrain the behavior and reduce stress.  Wearing therapeutic viscose clothing to bed protects the skin from scratching while you sleep.

Topical therapy. Emollients and corticosteroid creams protect the skin and maintain its moisture barrier. Avoid products with parabens, formaldehyde, or formaldehyde releasers. Read the labels of all your personal care products. This includes shampoos and conditioners.

Maintain constant body temperature.  Don’t get too hot or too cold. Sweating makes symptoms worse, so towel off frequently when you exercise. Exposure to cold air is drying to the skin. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid fabrics that irritate.  Seamless therapeutic silk underclothes puts a protective barrier between you and the fabrics you wear and keeps body temperature constant.

Know how to bathe. Never use hot water on your skin. Bathe or shower with warm or tepid water. It’d not necessary to bathe the entire body every day, especially in winter.  Washing face, armpits, and  groin/genital areas between showers or baths is better for you skin. Never rub skin dry with a towel. Gently pat dry. Apply topical therapy (moisturizers or creams) while skin is still slightly damp for best results.

Avoid triggers. If you don’t know your seasonal eczema triggers, its time for a visit to the allergist or immunologist. Testing can identify foods and environmental substances that trigger your eczema. Once you know what triggers the symptoms, you will know what to avoid. For example, if ragweed pollen triggers your eczema, you know to monitor pollen counts and stay inside on days when pollen is high.

 

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Bed Bug – A Problem No Host Wants to Face

It’s the nightmare no host wants to face.  Bed bugs!  You can screen your guests but you can’t screen out bed bugs.  It’s good to know that something as simple as bed bug covers on the mattress can save you thousands of dollars.

How Bed Bugs Travel

picture of bed bugsJust because your guest brought bed bugs doesn’t mean they are dirty people.

Bed bugs can be found in the nicest most luxurious hotels.  They ride from place to place in the trunks of rental cars and in the luggage compartments of airplanes and trains.

Bed bugs can take an Uber or be transferred during a TSA luggage inspection.

Your guests might have left home bed bug free but picked up the hitchhikers along the way. You just never know.

The best offense is a good defense.

Bed Bug Covers for Every Bed

The rental/Airbnb market is competitive.  You can’t afford to lose zippered bed bug coversrental days for fumigation and replacement of the mattresses, box springs, and pillows.    That’s why it is important to keep a good quality bed bug cover on every bed and futon in your place.

The Allergy Store has been selling bed bug proof mattress covers since we first opened.  You can find our covers in hotels and motels around the world. Our bed bug covers cover all sides of the mattress and boxspring and zip tight to keep bed bugs out.  If your mattress has already been infested with bed bugs or dust mites, you can rest assured they will not get out.

In addition, bed bugs can not chew through the material or penetrate the fabric with their feeding tubes.  A very thin urethane membrane is heat-fused to the fabric.  This means each bed bug cover is:

  • Waterproof
  • Bed Bug Proof
  • Dust Mite Proof

Even if you are lucky enough to never have bed bugs, your mattresses will last longer.

Your guests won’t even know the covers are there unless you tell them.  And you should certainly tell them about the covers.

It’s A Selling Point!

sea-beach-holiday-vacation

When you have the mattresses in your rental covered, let people know!

It’s a great selling point to assure your potential guests that you care enough to make sure that they sleep unmolested from bed bugs and dust mites.   List your linens and bed bug covers as an amenity.

You can set a small table tent on each bedside reminding them that you put their comfort and health first…that’s why you covered your mattresses, pillows and box springs in the first place.

If you would like additional information about our covers just give us a call. We are happy to help. Also, we have special programs available for hotel, motel and B&B owners. Our number is 800 771-2246.

Thanks

Mike

 

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