Bed bug bites tend to be painless, but for some people a nasty reaction can occur which can trigger itching and scratching for days.
The insects live in the cracks and crevices in and around beds and can be difficult to spot for a number of reasons – one being that they crawl out at night and bite exposed skin.
Bed bugs are also very small, with adult bedbugs only growing up to 5mm long – a similar size to an apple seed.
One of the best indicators you have bed bugs is to distinguish the bites. A certain pattern can help you identify an infestation.
One indicator of bed bug bites is if they occur in lines across the skin, according to the NHS. But this isn’t the only distinguishable feature.
Bed bug bites can also cause itchy red bumps on the skin, and usually occur on exposed areas as the face, neck, hands or arms.
They can also cause a rash or fluid-filled blisters in more severe cases.
Bites may become infected with bacteria if scratch, in which case pain, increasing redness and swelling may occur.
The health body further advises: “The bites usually fade in a few days. If they’re very itchy, you can buy a mild steroid cream (such as hydrocortisone or antihistamine tablets to relieve the itch.
“See your GP if you develop signs of a skin infection (pain, redness and swelling). You may need antibiotics.”
You can try and spot the presence of bed bugs in your bed. You may be able to spot the small bugs or tiny white eggs. A bright torch can help with this.
Tiny black spots on your mattress may also be apparent – this could be their dried poo – or you may spot blood spots on your sheets if a bug has been squashed after it’s fed.
An unpleasant, musty smell in your bedroom can also indicate an infestation.
You’ll likely need professional help to eliminate an infestation completely, but there are a number of methods you can carry out yourself in the meantime to help the problem.
First, wash infested clothes or bed linen at 60C or put them in a dryer on a hot setting for 30 minutes.
Next, use a vacuum cleaner with a hose to suck up any bugs you can see. Proceed to dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner in a sealed bag.
Consider throwing away any mattress or furniture that’s heavily infested.
Use plastic mattress covers that encase the entire mattress – this will stop any bed bugs getting in or out.
If you’re looking to prevent bed bug infestations, make sure to inspect your mattress and bed regularly for signs of an infestation and get professional advice if you think you have bed bugs.
Avoid buying second-hand mattresses and carefully inspect second-hand furniture before bringing it in your home.
Finally, keep your bedroom tidy and remove clutter.