Bed bug bites don’t always cause a reaction, but in some people red bumps occur which can trigger aggressive itching and scratching for days.
The household pests usually live in the cracks and crevices in and around beds, but can be difficult to spot because they appear at night to bite exposed skin.
Bed bugs are also difficult to spot because they’re very small in size, only growing up to 5mm long.
So another way to identify if it’s bed bugs biting you or if you have an infestation is the smell.
There are three smells many people have associated with bed bugs, all of which are described as being very distinctive.
The three scents are:
- Sweet almond
- Rotten raspberries
A strong scent usually occurs in the case of a heavy bed bug infestation. But this isn’t the only indicator.
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.
You may also be able to spot an infestation by looking at your bites.
Bed bug bites tend to occur in lines across the skin on exposed areas such as the face, neck, hands and arms.
The bites can also cause a rash or fluid-filled blisters in more severe cases.
What to do if you’re bitten
If you’re bitten by bed bugs, the first step is to wash the affected areas with soap and warm water, according to Rentokil.
They can also be relieved by applying an ice pack to reduce the swelling.
The pest control company also recommends: “If you find the itching extremely uncomfortable then you could also take an antihistamine to fight the irritation.”
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.