It was a not-so-glamorous end to Paris Fashion Week, as a “widespread” bed bug outbreak caused panic and disgust in the French capital.
Paris authorities sent out a public warning that “no one is safe,” and the little bugs made their way through the city. In recent weeks and months there have been numerous sightings on public transport and elsewhere.
“No one is safe. You can catch them anywhere and bring them home, and not detect them in time until they have multiplied and spread,” deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire told French television.
Videos posted on social media show insects crawling on the seats of the Paris metro and appearing in large numbers on cinema seats.
Some users have also shared their experiences of being bitten by bugs.
So how can you help protect yourself against a bed bug infestation? Here you will find everything you need to know.
How do you know if you have bed bugs?
To know if you have bed bugs, it is best to pay attention to two things:
1. Bites on the body: They look like small red marks that cause itchy welts. “These hives usually appear in a zigzag pattern,” says the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
2. You should always be on the lookout for signs of bed bugs, this includes odors, blood stains on bedding, exoskeletons, small blackish specks, and eggs.
• Smell: If you notice a sweet or musty odor in the area where you sleep, there may be a large infestation in the room, the AADA says.
• Specks of blood: Look at your bedding, mattress, and furniture: If you notice blood stains anywhere, bugs may have come into your home.
• Exoskeletons: The small insects have an outer layer that they shed and leave behind. Check your bedding, mattress and cushions for debris.
• Small blackish specks: Blackish specks are a sign of begging bug excrement.
• Eggs: “After mating, female bed bugs lay white, oval eggs in cracks and crevices,” the AADA says on its website. They will be the size of an apple seed, so keep your eyes peeled.
How do I treat bed bug bites?
The NHS says bed bug bites usually go away on their own in about a week, but there are some steps you can take to help you through the recovery process:
• Place something cold, such as a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and relieve swelling.
• Be sure to keep the affected area clean to avoid further infection.
• Do your best not to scratch the affected area.
You can also get steroid creams like hydrocortisone cream to relieve bed bug bites. However, children under 10 years of age and pregnant women should consult a doctor before using this cream.
Another option would be to use antihistamines, which can help if the bites are very itchy and you can’t sleep, the NHS says.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs: Do’s and Don’ts
It can be difficult to get rid of the small insects on your own, so you may need to contact your local council or pest control service to get rid of the annoying creatures.
Here are some steps you can take to reduce bed bugs:
• Remove affected bedding and clothing: wash in hot water at 60°C and tumble dry on hot for at least 30 minutes.
• You can also put infested bedding and clothing in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer for 3 to 4 days.
• It’s time to up your cleaning game: “Bed bugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you catch them early,” adds the NHS.
Here’s what you should avoid doing:
• Don’t keep clutter around your bed, try to keep your space as clean as possible.
• Do not bring second-hand furniture indoors unless you have carefully cleaned and inspected it.
• Do not bring luggage or clothing inside without properly checking it, especially if you are coming from somewhere where you know there are bed bugs.
What are the causes of bed bugs and where do they live?
Parasitic wingless insects are found throughout the world and may be linked to more frequent travel, changes in pest control practices, and resistance to insecticides.
Bed bugs can be found in:
• Bed bases
• Objects near beds
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can also find:
• Pain under peeling or loose wallpaper
• Under carpet near baseboards
• In the seams of upholstered furniture
• Under light switch plates or electrical outlets
Can bed bugs come to the UK?
The short answer is yes…
Bed bugs have a lifespan of between four and six months and are known to attach themselves to dirty suitcases, so they may be able to travel on the Eurostar, which is just two hours from London.
the independent Barney Davis asked David Cain, founder and CEO of Bed Bugs LTD and a qualified microbiologist, if the insects could survive the journey.
“Easily, yes, without a doubt,” he replied.
Read the latest on the bed bug infestation in Paris here.