By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
Bedbugs are all over the news -- and apparently, they're all over these 15 cities. Number one on the list? New York City -- SELF's home base! They've been found in office buildings (thankfully not ours!), hospitals, hotels, theaters and even the Empire State Building. And the bloodsuckers hide in mattresses, furniture, clothing ... blech. Is anyone else suddenly itchy?
Related: NEW! SELF's Reach Your Goal Plan. Sign up Now!
But it's not just NYC that's being bitten -- bedbugs are a growing problem nationwide. According to the National Pest Management Association, bedbug-related calls to exterminators have jumped by 81 percent in the last 10 years and 57 percent over the last five years.
The good news is that unless you have serious underlying health issues, the critters aren't likely to make you sick. Still, they gross us out. So we asked Missy Henriksen, Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Pest Management Association, where bedbugs hide and what we can do to steer clear. The top spots:
IN HOTEL ROOMS...How to avoid the suckers: If you are traveling, thoroughly inspect the entire hotel room before unpacking, including pulling back the sheets, inspecting mattress seams, checking behind the headboard and examining sofas and chairs. If any pests -- or potential evidence of pests -- are spotted, change rooms or hotels, pronto. If you do change rooms, DO not move to an adjacent room or one directly above or below the infestation. Bedbugs are hitchhikers and can move via housekeeping carts, luggage carts, luggage and even through wall sockets.
Related: Healthy Summer Meal: Cook Once, Eat Three Times
IN DRESSING ROOMS...How to avoid the suckers: Bedbugs have proven to have fabulous fashion sense -- recently, they've been found in several popular retail stores. When trying on potential new items, be sure to hang your clothing on hooks rather than lay them then across the cushioned seats in the dressing room or on the carpeted floors.
As much as you want to wear that adorable new top immediately, resist the urge and wash or dry clean it first (bedbugs can't withstand temperatures higher than 113 degrees). This minimizes the potential that you'll bring a bedbug home with you.
ON CRAIGSLIST...How to avoid the suckers: Do not buy used furniture, especially bedding or upholstered items. If you absolutely MUST have a vintage something or other in your home, find a bug expert who can inspect it for bedbugs or eggs (shudder).
Related: 10 Ways to Avoid Germs at the Gym
AT THE OFFICE...How to avoid the suckers: Several prominent New York City offices have been shut down in recent weeks thanks to bedbug infestations. To keep your workspace pest-free, keep clutter to a minimum, vacuum frequently (keep a hand-vac in your cube, if possible) and inspect any packages or deliveries that come your way.
If you do suspect you've been bedbugged, contact a licensed pest professional to ID and treat the problem. As the National Pest Management Association says, this is not a DIY pest.
Have you dealt with bedbugs? Know anyone who has? Vent below...
More from SELF:
- Try these superfoods for flat abs!
Check out SELF's stop cellulite workout
- SELF's annual healthy food awards showcases 66 fast fix foods you'll love to eat!
- Find the best swimsuit for your body type now!
Photo Credit: Condé Nast Digital Studio