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Do you have bed bugs? What to do if you think you have an infestation

An infestation of bed bugs has hit major cities in Europe including Paris

bed bug on London underground
Georgia Brown
Georgia BrownSenior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
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A bed bug infestation has swarmed Paris - but the problem is likely just as serious in London, an expert has told Sky News.

Parisians have reported seeing the insects in cinemas, theatres, hospitals, homes and public transport, documenting the sightings in horrifying videos on TikTok.

The UK saw a 65% increase in bed bug infestations from 2022 to 2023, according to data released by pest-control company Rentokil in September. While the presence of bed bugs in the capital city is nothing new, is the dramatic rise of the blood-sucking pest something to be concerned about? 

Bed bugs tend to thrive in urban environments and properties with multiple occupants, as reported by Public Health England. 

The pests can easily spread between properties, primarily through travel and the exchange of secondhand furniture, according to the NHS.

Suitcase of clothes on bed© Shutterstock
Are bed bugs travelling across the globe in people's suitcases? Possibly, warn experts

TikTok users have suggested standing up on the tube, walking instead of using buses, steaming the inside of suitcases and even leaving clothes outside in a bid to prevent the unwanted creatures from invading our homes. But what should we actually be doing?

Signs you have bed bugs

Interior experts at shared some intel on how to spot if you have an infestation of bed bugs in your home or on your travels. 

1. Blood

Bed bugs feed on blood, usually at night. If you notice blood spots on your bedding this could be from squashing them or scratching in your sleep. 

2. Bites

© Shutterstock

Bed bug bites are usually raised and very itchy, often in a line or grouped together. On white skin, bed bug bites usually look red. On black or brown skin, they may look purple and may be harder to see.

3. Smell

Spotting a change of smell in your own home may be harder to spot, but if you're travelling and notice a strong, musty and unpleasant odour in the bedroom this could be from a bed bug’s scent glands. It’s strongest when there are large amounts of bugs present.

4. Shells

Bed Bug© Shutterstock

Bed bugs shed their skin, leaving behind a small husk-like shell that may crunch if squashed. They are primarily found amongst fabric, so check mattresses, headboards, sofas and any other upholstery. 

5. Eggs

Bed bugs like to lay their eggs in furniture as well as mattresses, especially sofas. These will look like bunches of small white spots from a distance, but on closer inspection, this can be where the bugs have decided to keep their eggs. Bed bug eggs are normally creamy in colour and can be smaller than a grain of rice.

What to do if you think you have bed bugs

Jeannette Hudson, furniture expert at Online Sofa Shop has shared her expert advice on how to handle a case of bed bugs in your home. 

Hot washes

The first port of call if you suspect you may have bed bugs is to wash your clothes and bedding in hot water as soon as possible. This can help kill any potential bedbugs or their eggs that may have hitched a ride with you.

Vacuum regularly

In your own home, make a habit of regularly vacuuming, paying close attention to potential hiding spots for bedbugs. Dispose of the vacuum bag immediately to prevent any potential infestations.

Be wary of second-hand furniture

Even if you can't find a live bug, look for eggs and dirts for signs of an infestations© Shutterstock
Even if you can't find a live bug, look for eggs and dirts for signs of an infestations

If you plan to purchase used furniture, exercise caution. Before bringing any second-hand items into your home, thoroughly inspect them for signs of bedbugs. This simple step can prevent the introduction of bed bugs into your living space.

Seal infected fabric

Put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag in your freezer for three or four days to kill off any living bugs or eggs.

Seek professional help

Bed bugs burrow into upholstery© Shutterstock
Bed bugs burrow into upholstery

If you suspect a bed bug infestation in your home, contact a pest control professional immediately. Bed bug infestations are notoriously challenging to eradicate, and expert assistance is often necessary.

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