Bed bugs, as their name implies, are often found living in human beds and bedding. Finding ways to keep them from colonizing and living in mattresses is crucial to containing the spread of these pests. A bed bug proof mattress usually consists of an ordinary mattress to which a special encasement layer has been added. More rarely, people might use a bed bug proof mattress, such as an air mattress, in which bedbugs simply cannot live and thrive because of the structure and design of the mattress itself.
Populations of bed bugs had been kept in check in much of the developed world for decades through the use of pesticides. A combination of increasing resistance to chemical agents on the part of the bedbugs and greater concern over the side effects of those agents on the human population has allowed bed bugs to flourish once more. They pose no serious health risks but are very annoying, and their bites can be quite itchy.
A bed bug colony requires only a safe place to nest and occasional access to a human host in order to thrive. Bed bugs are very hardy, and they and their eggs survive for months between feedings. They can be killed by extreme heat or freezing cold, but these measures are often difficult to employ in a living area. A bed bug proof mattress may not completely eliminate bed bugs from the home, but it can greatly reduce their numbers and thus the nuisance that they cause.
A bed bug will naturally seek a safe and secluded place in which to nest and hide. They prefer to burrow deep into soft and porous items such as beds and bedding. Many products exist to thwart this desire on the part of bed bugs, mostly in the form of encasements and wraps that completely enclose the mattress and usually the box springs, turning a normal mattress into a bed bug proof mattress. When the mattress is fully enclosed and the zippers of the encasement are tightly sealed, the bugs in the bed will be unable to get out to feed, and any other bugs will be unable to crawl in to nest. This will lead to the gradual decline of the bed bug population.
Other options for foiling bed bug invaders exist as well. One simple but very effective type of bed bug proof mattress is an ordinary air mattress. The tough, rubber surface of a good quality air mattress can stand up to the bed bug's attempts to burrow in. They will find no safe nesting spaces on or in a typical air mattress. If they attempt to nest in the bedding, a trip through a washing machine will kill them.