Bed bugs expert reveals how to spot signs of infestation
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Bed bugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems. According to the NHS, bed bugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.
Symptoms of bedbugs can include:
- Bites – often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
- Spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
- Small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo).
Some people have a reaction to the bites which can be nasty.
They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling – if this occurs, the NHS advises to contact your GP immediately.
Now, the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) has revealed the ideal temperature that the bugs thrive in.
The BPCA said that: “the ideal temperature for an adult bed bug to thrive is between 21 to 32°C”.
With average room temperatures just above 20°C, people are cautious not to create a climate in which bud bugs can live and lay eggs in.
The BPCA study explained that this is the reason why bed bugs are so much more active during the summer months, as they like feeding and mating during warm weather.
The BPCA also discovered that bed bugs are resilient and can survive temperatures “as low as zero and as high as 49°C.”
If it is too cold or too warm for them to thrive, they will often go dormant for as long as a year and wait for more favourable conditions to return, says the BPCA.
A constantly warm home is bound to have bed bugs living in it – they do not have to go dormant and can continue feeding and reproducing all year round.
Although they do not exclusively colonise bedrooms – any room is often good enough for them – they do prefer the bedroom because in this room they are the closest to a source of food: you.
If you like sleeping in a warm, heated bedroom, you are making yourself more vulnerable to a bed bug infestation, especially if this warm temperature is married to another factor like old, vintage furniture or an old mattress.
Whilst sleeping in a freezing room is not the answer, keeping your room cooler, at between 14°C to 18°C will not only make your bedroom less attractive to bed bugs but will also promote better sleep.
If you also decide to choose a brand new best mattress as well, you should be bed bug-free this winter.
If however, you do succumb to the bite of a bed bug, there are things you can do to help treat the bites.
Bed bug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so.
If not, there are things you can do to sooth the bites:
- Put something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling
- Keep the affected area clean
- Do not scratch the bites to avoid getting an infection.
You can ask a pharmacist about using a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone cream to ease bed bug bites or using antihistamines – these may help if the bites are very itchy and you are unable to sleep.
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