How To Avoid Bed Bug Bites In Hotels
How to Know if You Have Bed Bug Bites
Bed Bug Bites
Bed bugs are a traveler’s nightmare. They can be picked up in hotel rooms, leaving red itchy bumps and possibly rashes to ruin your vacation. Or even worse: If you accidentally bring them back with you, they could infect your whole house. To prevent a plague of bed bugs, here are some tips on what to check while you’re on the road and how to determine the symptoms of bed bug bites.
How to Check for Bed Bugs
To avoid getting bed bugs while traveling, make sure to inspect the mattress and sheets on the hotel beds, especially near the seams, mattress tags, and box spring. If you see any rust stains, dark spots, or pale yellow patches, this could be a sign of bed bugs. Also, never put your suitcase on the bed itself or you could bring them home after your vacation. Most hotels provide a luggage rack, which is much wiser to use.
Symptoms of Bed Bug Bites
Bed bug bites typically appear in groups of three, called the "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" pattern. Each victim’s reaction to bed bug bites is unique. Some may have a slight reddening of the skin. Others may have a more severe reaction, causing a raised, itchy rash. A raised rash may obscure the individual bites, making it challenging to identify. Sometimes, bites and lesions can throb and become very painful for days after the bugs bit you.
What to Do if You Bring Bed Bugs Home
As a precaution, you can steam, vacuum, and spray rubbing alcohol all over your mattress and box springs. It’s also recommended to steam, wash, and dry all the bed linens using hot water and bleach. To clean out your suitcase, spray rubbing alcohol over the luggage, both inside and out. Then, finish the job by vacuumed your bedroom thoroughly.
If you believe that you found traces of bed bugs, immediately cover the mattresses and box springs with plastic mattress covers. In worst case scenarios, you’ll need to hire an exterminator to come inspect your home.
When to Go to the Doctor
If you got bit by bed bugs, use ice packs to relieve the swelling and itchiness. Go to the doctor if symptoms persist. They will usually prescribe you a dose of antihistamines and antibiotics. Additionally, they may instruct you to bathe multiple times a day and apply a special cream to the rash.
How to Prevent Bed Bug Bites
Each of us needs a good night’s rest to function properly the next morning. Naturally, the last thing one wants is to wake up with bed bug bites. In this guide, we shall discuss a few ways to prevent bed bug bites at home or when traveling or sleeping in infested hotels. We will also discuss a few natural ways to prevent bed bug bites and stop further scarring.
How to prevent bed bug bites at home
The best way to prevent bed bug bites at home is to eliminate these pests completely. To do so, one can use a number of methods and techniques. There are many efficient ways of killing bed bugs ranging from DIY (do-it-yourself) treatments to professional ones.
- The natural DIY techniques include application of diatomaceous earth powders, CO2 traps, borax, and steam or heat treatments. These can get rid of the larvae, eggs and adult bed bugs slowly yet effectively.
- One can also make a natural bed bug trap using sticky tapes to catch and eliminate the bugs.
- It is important to vacuum the entire home and wash all bedding material and clothing in hot water laundry to kill all the larvae, eggs and adult bed bugs. This is an important step to prevent bed bug bites.
- When using chemical treatments like sprays and powders, care must be taken not to spray them on electrical outlets or other electronic goods etc.
- It is necessary to avoid picking up furniture from the curbside or garage sales etc as this is one of the most common ways of bringing in these unwanted pests into the homes.
How to prevent bed bug bites when traveling or staying in hotels
The last thing you want is an uncomfortable night due to bed bug bites when staying in a hotel. Experts recommend several tips to prevent bed bug bites when spending a night or two away from home.
- As soon as you check into the hotel, stash the luggage in the bathroom (as this is the only place where bed bugs will not hide in).
- Next, you must check the bedding by pulling back the linen and inspecting all areas behind the headboard.
- Look out for red/brown stains which are the fecal matter or discarded exoskeletons of the bed bugs.
- It is also important to check furniture, art frames and cushion seams in the hotels order to prevent bed bug bites when staying away from home.
Naturally, if you do see these tell-tale signs, you must call the hotel management and ask for another room or, better yet, move to another hotel.
How to prevent bed bug bites naturally and prevent further scarring
- There are many natural, essential oils that can help relieve itching and pain associated with bed bug bites.
- To prevent bed bug bites in the first place, you can even use certain organic soaps and lotions that help repel these pests. Bathing with chamomile soap or applying calendula lotion to the body can help prevent bed bug bites. These products are also gentle enough for use on baby’s skin.
- Witch hazel lotion and organic apple cider vinegar can also help prevent itching and pain on the affected region.
- Lavender, rosemary, and eucalyptus oils can also be added to rubbing alcohol for spraying on headboards, mattresses and the legs of the bed to prevent bed bug bites.
- If the bed bug bite marks are already present, ensure washing the skin with hot water to dry them out. Apply aloe vera gel or an anesthetic lotion immediately to prevent scarring.
- Rubbing an ice cube on the skin can also numb the area to prevent pain and scarring.
- If needed, take an antihistamine like Benadryl to prevent itching caused by the bed bug bites.
Bed bug infestation can be a pesky problem that can ruin a good night’s rest. The best way to prevent bed bug bites is to ensure taking care of the infestation by using one of the bed bug elimination methods described on this blog.
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5 Tips to Avoid Bringing Home Bed Bugs From Your Hotel Stay
For the frequent hotel guest, the bed-bug scenario has taken on nightmare proportions: Tiny, roach-looking parasites lying in wait, biting you sleepless and welted and then, as if that weren’t enough, crawling en masse into your bag to infest your very home with some of the most notoriously difficult-to-eradicate pests you could find, were you to look.
The whole thing is a little surreal. Many of us only realized that bed bugs weren’t fictional in the last decade or so, when the incidence increased and these parasites made the news. Practically overnight, "Don’t let the bed bugs bite" went from harmless (if strange) goodnight rhyme to an actual warning.
So, it’s real, and it ain’t pretty. But you have tools at your disposal that can reduce your bed-bug risk. They’ll add some time to your travel process, but they may just end up saving you from the time-consuming, anxiety-triggering, financially draining horror of bringing them home with you from your trip.
The anti-bed-bug strategy starts there, at home, before the hotel is in view. It begins with the luggage you’ll be taking on your trip .
Travel Tips: What to Do If Your Hotel Has Bed Bugs
Not the nicest topic, but I think it’s good for anybody who’s been a victim of bed bugs to share their experience and hopefully help others with tips and suggestions on how you should handle the situation, as well as what to do when checking into hotels.
Note: I don’t work for pest control so this isn’t official advice. This post is based on my own personal experience.
▶︎ You may also like: How to Avoid Mosquito Born Diseases While Travelling
What happened to me
So my bed bug experience happened in the summer of 2016. I checked into a mediocre hotel and after the first night I woke up with bites on my arm and foot. I’d never had a bed bug experience before so I wasn’t really sure it was them. I then checked the room as thoroughly as possible (based on online advice) and found no sign of them. I was tired so dismissed the idea and put it down to bites from something else.
Later that day after speaking to my other half on the phone and sending her pictures, she told me that it was definitely bed bugs. This conversation was quite late and on the evening of my second night. I then searched the room again with no luck of spotting them. I decided to sleep with the light on (although this apparently does nothing to keep the bed bugs away).
As you can expect I was quite paranoid and didn’t sleep very well that night. I then woke up at 4.30-5am and saw a Bed Bug next to me. It was extremely small and this one wasn’t really moving.
I then trapped it in a glass and took some photographs as evidence. I also spotted what looked like a baby one on the bedside table which seemed to be running around in circles. I also trapped this one and took photographs.
Closeup to a Bed Bugs on sheets
Steps to take on check-in
Whenever you check in somewhere, especially if it’s a lower class or old run down type hotel, you should always search the room for Bed Bugs. To be honest I didn’t see any when I checked into this particular hotel but discovered them the next day.
When doing your check use a torch (the one on your smartphone may work) and start looking for rusty dark marks.The marks may be anywhere such as on the sheets, around the bedsprings, on the walls etc. These marks may be from their faeces or shells. Have a look on Google Images to see what these look like in the worst infestations (I warn you it’s not pretty). When looking check:
- Around the bedsprings, headboard and joints of the bed.
- Look near any cracks on the wall or any other furniture.
- Check around the luggage stand.
To be honest, during my experience I didn’t find anything on checking in. Maybe it was a small infestation so in other scenarios there may be more signs. It’s definitely a good idea to check though, because if you didn’t check and it happened to you, then you’d be kicking yourself.
Signs of bed bugs
Bed Bugs are tiny and can hide almost anywhere, such as cracks in the wall, behind headboards etc, so you may not see the actual bug. If you suspect you’ve been bitten by bed bugs then these may be some of the signs:
- Bites on your body –For me, I had lots of bites in various places across my body and in clusters. I had them on my arm and feet (picture below) and they were incredibly itchy.
- Blood on the sheets –Due to the bites there was blood on the sheets.
- Signs of crushed bugs –You may potentially find signs of their shells, or even the bugs where you’ve crushed them in your sleep.
Bites on an arm from Bed Bugs
What you should do if your room has bed bugs
During my experience and after the first night and signs of bites, I then checked the room about three times to try and find them without any luck. It’s only on the second morning that I found them when I woke up in the morning.
Here are some of the things you should do if your hotel room has bed bugs (whether you find an actual Bed Bug or not).
- Take pictures of the bites on your body.
- Take pictures of any blood on the sheets.
- If you can see any bugs on the bed try and trap them. I used a plastic cup to do this.
- Take pictures if you see them, including how you trapped them. You may also find crushed insects or stains from their waste.
- If possible try and get the hotel staff to come and have a look to acknowledge the evidence.
- Demand your money back – For me, the hotel didn’t argue when I did this. If they do argue then threaten with exposure.
- Ask to change rooms, or try and change hotels if you prefer.
- Report to the booking agency – I went through Booking.com and to be honest they didn’t really say much and I guess they just act as a sale agent, but I still think it’s worth mentioning for their records.
- Leave a review – I think it also depends on how the hotel handles the situation as previous guests could have carried the bed bugs along with them, and the hotel could be perfectly clean beforehand. Leaving a negative review could be extremely damaging to a hotels business so keep this in mind.
- Put your clothes in sealed plastic bags.
What you should do on returning home
The scary thing about bed bugs is that they can travel home with you. If you are like me then you’ll be paranoid about this. On my return home, this is what I did…
- I left the suitcase out of my house and took the bags straight from the luggage into the washing machine.
- I then washed my clothes, followed by tumble drying at a high heat.
- I’d left my shoes outside and went straight to the shower. I actually did this wearing minimal clothes.
- After showering and putting on fresh clothes, I then hovered my luggage and shoes as thoroughly as possible and emptied the hoover straight into the outside bin after I’d finished.
- Below is a bed bug spray that you may want to try for extra reassurance. I haven’t used this but it gets 4 stars based on over 2000 reviews on the UK site, and over 3000 reviews on the US site.
- Consider contacting a pest control service.
- Quarantine your luggage until you are confident you haven’t carried one of the critters back with you.
Despite this, there is always a chance they could still get into your house.
Bed Bug Law
How to Avoid Bed Bugs in a Hotel
If you want to avoid bed bugs during your next hotel stay, follow these steps at check-in
Knowing a little about bed bugs and their behaviors can go a long way in protecting you from falling victim to their bites. Bed bugs are small insects that will appear different based on the time in their life cycle. Young bed bugs may appear very small and white, yellowish or translucent. The older the bed bug becomes, the larger it will become and it will turn a brownish color. If a bed bug has not recently fed, it will appear round and flat. Bed bugs that have recently fed will appearslightly elongated and oval in shape. Bed bugs are small, can climb walls and hide in very tight places. While bed bugs often infest hotel rooms in large numbers, they cannot fly or jump.
Bed bugs will infest anywhere they can find food. Human blood is what bed bugs feed on. Other mammals are rarely affected by bed bug bites. Keep in mind, humans stay in all kinds of hotel accommodations. Bed bugs do not care what hotel you are in, what city you are in or how nice of a hotel you picked. It does not matter if you are in a fancy resort or a roadside motel for $15 per night, bed bugs can be anywhere human beings are.
Prior to accepting your hotel room
Always remember to search your room before accepting it and staying overnight. Before accepting the room, enter and begin a search. Bring your luggage inside the room and place it in the bathroom or a tile floor surface. Do not place your baggage on the bed, chair or sofa. Do not unpack your clothes into the dresser drawers or hang them in the closet. You have some work to do before you get comfortable and spend the night.
Bed bugs will be most often found in and around the mattress and bed frame. The best way to search the bed is to strip off the blanks and sheets to expose the mattress pad (if any). Inspect all corners of the mattress pad to make sure there are no live bugs crawling around. Be on the lookout for black spotting, or any brownish coloration. The black spots are bed bug feces. The brownish/red spots could also be feces or dried blood from prior bed bugs.
After inspecting the mattress pad, make sure to check out the mattress itself. Pay special attention to the corners of the mattress and the tight seams. Bed bugs are flat enough to walk through mattress seams without being seen. Lift up the seams and carefully look inside for bugs, eggs, black fecal spots or reddish blood spots. If you find any of these, do not accept the room. You can either refuse to accept the room, ask for a different room or request a complete refund and go elsewhere.
Where else can I search for bed bugs?
Although the name suggests it, bed bugs do not only infest beds. In fact, bed bugs will infest anywhere that they can find a human host to feed on. This also means chairs and sofas in hotel rooms. It is often necessary to use a flashlight to properly inspect chairs and sofas. Take a light
and look in the chair seams and under cushions if possible. Darker colored material on the chairs or sofas makes it more difficult to find bed bug evidence. A black colored chair will be almost impossible to find fecal spotting or blood spotting. Look carefully for small eggs, immature bed bugs or bed bug shell casings. When bed bugs feed and grow, they shed their skins.
If a room is visibly infested, adjoining rooms are likely infested as well. Bed bugs can infest a hotel very quickly if there are not procedures in place to detect them early. Think about housekeeping staff that goes from room to room potentially bringing bugs with them.
I did not find bed bugs when I checked in
Bed Bugs are small, but not invisible and they leave evidence of their presence. However, the average guest will not have the training necessary to look everywhere and as thoroughly as hotel staff or pest control experts can. A guest inspecting their room is not 100% guaranteed that bed bugs will be found and avoided. In fact, most hotel guests do not follow our advice and simply accept rooms right away.
If you accepted the room and did not see bed bugs, how do you know if there are bed bugs? Bed bugs will bite in clusters and follow some distinctive patterns. If you have raised itchy marks on your body after spending time in the hotel room, you likely have been attacked by bed bugs. Bed bug bites themselves are painless. The saliva a bed bug injects into your skin causes an allergic reaction which results in the red itchy welts. Some people have minor irritation or no reaction at all, while some have violent reactions requiring hospitalization.
Bed bug bite marks usually appear within hours of receiving the bite. However, sometimes bed bug bites do not appear for several days after being bitten. In that scenario, it is important to look in the bed each day of your hotel stay, both before you lay down and when you wake up. If you wake up and see blood stains on the sheets, or dead bugs, you know that there is an infestation and that you have been bitten. Bed bugs will bite anywhere they can find exposed skin. One way to reduce the chance of bites is to wear clothes with sleeves and long pants with socks to bed. This is of course not ideal, but if you are worried about bed bugs, any precaution will help.
What to do after being bitten by bed bugs
Bed bugs are particularly terrible for hotel guests for many reasons. Most of our clients suffer from significant anxiety and depression after a bed bug attack. Bed bugs attack us when we at our most vulnerable, asleep in bed. The thought of bugs crawling on us and eating us is too much for some people to tolerate. The physical bite marks of bed bugs will often fade long before the emotional distress of the attack.
If you have been bitten by bed bugs at a hotel, it is important to document your experience. Takepictures of the bite marks on your body. If you saw any bugs in the room, take pictures of them. Capture any bugs you can and bring them to the front desk to show management what you have found. Get the names of hotel staff you spoke to and document your conversation. Be careful about recording people without their knowledge or consent, different states have different laws about recording others. Getting the hotel to admit the presence of bed bugs is very important to pursue a claim for your injuries. While most hotels will never admit they knew about bed bugs prior to your stay, it is important to document the cause of your injury as coming from bed bugs.
In addition to reporting hotel management, consider contacting the local health department. Each county will likely have a health department that regulates hotels operations and maintenance practices. Often, contacting the health department will result in a follow up inspection which could independently confirm the presence of bed bugs in the room. This information can be useful during your claim.
Who can I call to help with a bed bug injury claim?
Contacting an experienced bed bug attorney can help you pursue an injury claim for your bed bug injuries. Physical injuries can range from minimal to severe and long lasting. In addition to physical injury, people often dispose of any belongings they were traveling with. Luggage, clothes, shoes and other personal items could become infested and spread bed bugs to your home.