Bed bugs: How to stop an infestation in your home – key essentials to remember
Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown parasitic insects that prey on you while you sleep. Although bed bugs aren’t known to spread disease, they can leave you feeling ruffled in your own home. Their signature style is to leave bite marks on your skin, which can be itchy and red. What are some of the ways you can help prevent the critters from ever being a problem in your home?
The first thing a person needs to do is to be able to recognize and distinguish a bed bug from any other insect, explained Scientific American.
The site continued: “Everything starts to look like a bed bug if you start to worry about them.
“An adult bed bug is about the size and shape of an apple seed. If it has not fed recently it will be flattened and brown.
“If it has fed, it will be round in circumference and reddish.
“Immature bed bugs have a similar appearance to adults, with the smallest being the size of the head of a pin.
“A person can then learn to look for their faecal spots, which can be easier to detect than the bugs themselves.
“Check your hotel rooms when you travel. And think twice before bringing home used furniture.
“Be extra careful if purchasing used furniture – ask the furniture store how they deal with bed bugs and if they have no plan whatsoever, that’s probably not a good sign.
“When purchasing used clothing, it’s strongly advised to put it through a clothes dryer on a medium to high setting for a cycle as soon as you bring it home.
“And before you move into an apartment, ask the landlord whether there has been a bed bug infestation, or whether the building has ever been treated for bed bugs.”
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How to treat bed bug bites?
Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so but there are things you can do to alleviate them.
You can also ask a pharmacist about using a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone cream to ease bed bug bites, says the health body.
If the bites are still very painful, swollen or itchy, or the redness around the bites is spreading after trying treatments from a pharmacist, you should see a GP, warns the NHS.
“You may have an infection and need treatment with antibiotics,” it adds.
How to get rid of bed bugs
The NHS recommends a number of ways to get rid of bed bugs, as well as things you should avoid.
Things to do:
Contact your local council or pest control service – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be resistant to some insecticides
Wash affected bedding and clothing – use a hot wash (60C) or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes
Put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer (-16C) for four days (alternative to hot washing)
Clean and vacuum regularly – bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early
How to treat bed bug bites
According to Mayo Clinic, the itchy red spots associated with bed bug bites usually disappear on their own within a week or two.
There are treatments available to speed your recovery process, however.
Mayo Clinic recommends:
- A skin cream containing hydrocortisone (Cortaid)
- An oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
“If you develop a skin infection from scratching bed bug bites, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic,” adds the health site.
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