Credit: Juliette Borda

Juliette Borda Q: I've heard you can get bedbugs while shopping. Yikes! How can I avoid them?

A: It's true: These creepy crawlies have been found in upscale clothing stores. Luckily, your risk of picking them up while you shop is low. Even if you do go to a boutique that's infested, the bugs are usually concentrated in a few areas, not swarming the whole store. But if you're truly worried, know that bedbugs hide out in furniture, clothing racks, and cracks in floors. So keep your bags on your body; in dressing rooms, hang everything on a hook. If you really want to be proactive, take off your clothes as soon as you get home and wash them, along with any purchases, in hot water.

If you suspect you have brought bedbugs home (maybe you've seen small itchy red bites on your skin—a sign that they're feeding on you), call in a professional exterminator as soon as possible. In the meantime, wash all your bed linens, towels, and potentially contaminated clothes in hot water. Then dry them on the hottest setting. Visit our bedbugs page for more tips on beating them.