Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown parasitic insects that prey on you while you sleep. They tend to leave bite marks on your skin, which can be itchy and red. A pest control business saw a 75 percent rise in bed bug callouts, compared to last year. Nonetheless, there are ways to avoid spreading them, and bringing them home with you.
Vicki Sims, Managing Director of Lady Bug Pest Control, suggests eight key tips. The first is that people do not place suitcases directly on their beds.
She said: “When people arrive in their hotel room, many place their suitcase straight onto the bed and start unpacking their clothes.
“However, we would suggest keeping your suitcase off your bed as this is where bed bugs are most commonly found.”
A luggage rack is where you should ideally store your suitcase, but if there is not one available it is best to place the suitcase by the door.
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It is also safer to hang your clothes in a wardrobe, rather than in drawers, as bed bugs cannot fly.
Sims also said: “You should also investigate your hotel bed for an infestation of bed bugs. To do this, pull your bedding off the bed so that you can see the bare mattress, and any signs of actual bed bugs, or their faeces.
“Next, lift the mattress up and look for bed bugs underneath your mattresses. Do this as well as in the crevices of the bed drawers if it is a divan bed. Finally, you should investigate your mattress”.
Common signs of bed bugs include rusty or reddish stains on the sheets or mattresses, dark spots, bed bug eggs or live bed bugs.
The fourth tip to keep in mind is that bed bugs are more attracted to dirty clothes than to clean clothes.
So, when packing for a trip, make sure to take a spare plastic bag for your dirty clothing.
Moreover, you should unpack your bag in a location other than the bedroom. Ideally on a hard floor as you won’t be able to spot bed bugs in the carpet.
Sims’ sixth tip is that once you arrive home, you should wash all your clothes, including those that you did not wear.
According to the British Pest Control Association (BPCA), the ideal temperature for an adult bed bug to thrive is between 21-32°C. This means it is best to keep your room cool at night.
Lastly, if you share laundry facilities with others on holiday, take extra caution.
Bed bugs tend to come out at night and always hide in groups. This makes it difficult to spot them in broad daylight.
Their flattened bodies also allow them to conceal themselves in cracks and crevices around the room.
Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so but there are things you can do to alleviate them.
Put something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling, according to the NHS.
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 health site.