A Few Easy Steps to Avoid Bed Bugs When you Travel

Avoiding Bed Bugs When You Travel

Bed bugs are making a comeback, even in the finest hotels. Here are some tips on how to spot bed bugs and what to do if you come into contact with them.

By Marijke Vroomen-Durning, RN

Medically Reviewed by Kevin O. Hwang, MD, MPH

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“Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Many parents who’ve said this over the years probably never dreamed that bed bugs were going to make a comeback one day — even in the nicest of places. But that's what a writer from Decatur, Ga., discovered firsthand when she found some in her own home. “I thought they were stuff of legend, or at least found only in really unclean homes," she says.

But indeed, bed bugs are an issue again. Some experts speculate that their increasing numbers may be because they’re becoming resistant to insecticide sprays. Whatever the reason for their resurgence, bed bugs are the last thing you’ll want to bring home from a trip or be plagued with while traveling.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are tiny, oval, flat-topped, wingless bugs that can be easily overlooked. Ranging in color from white to light tan to a darker brown, an adult bed bug is about a quarter of an inch in size. Just-hatched bed bugs are about the size of a poppy seed. They are generally nocturnal, and with peak activity in the hour before dawn.

While they do bite, “the good news is that bed bugs are not known to transmit any disease-causing pathogens," says Richard J. Pollack, PhD, a research associate in the department of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston. "Hence, the problem is mainly of annoyance and itching.” Bed bug bites can get itchy and inflamed, just like mosquito or flea bites.

How Do Bed Bugs Move About?

Bed bugs are hitchhikers. They burrow into things — like luggage — that move from place to place. That's one way that unknowing travelers can bring them to other hotels or even all the way home.

How Can You Tell if There Are Bed Bugs?

Once you know what to look for, it’s not hard to find bed bugs if they’re there. You can look for signs in their hiding places, which include:

  • folds and creases in bed linens
  • seams and tufts of mattresses, box springs, and upholstered furniture
  • the area between the mattress and headboard
  • curtain pleats
  • corners of desks and dressers
  • wicker furniture
  • under loose wallpaper
  • along the edges of wall-to-wall carpeting

If you don’t see the bed bugs themselves, you may find their fecal matter, which looks like little reddish-brown spots If the infestation is large, there may also be a foul odor.

What About Traveling?

Unfortunately, neither the price nor the quality of a hotel room will guarantee that you won’t run into bed bugs. If you’re concerned about this being an issue, put your luggage and coats on a hard surface, like a luggage rack or a table, and not on the bed, an upholstered chair, sofa, or carpeted floor. Then investigate the bed bugs' likely locations. If you suspect that bed bugs are present, ask to be moved to another room or move to another hotel altogether. Bringing your own linens won’t prevent bed bug bites. And, if there are bed bugs, they may hitch a ride home with you.

If You’ve Been Exposed While Traveling

If you know or suspect that you’ve been exposed to bed bugs while traveling, place all your belongings into disposable plastic bags and then directly into the washing machine when you get home. Your luggage will need to be disinfected or maybe even discarded when you get home.

Coping With Bed Bug Bites

If you’ve been bitten by bed bugs, you may find small, red, raised bumps, not unlike mosquito bites. And, like mosquito bites, they may be itchy. Try not to scratch because this will make the itching worse, says Pollack. “Scratching may also raise your risk of a secondary infection" from bacteria under your fingernails, he says. “If the reactions are more than mild, seek advice from your physician. He may suggest use of antihistamines or other drugs to reduce the discomfort.”

The Bottom Line:Always inspect a new hotel room for a possible bed bug problem and take care that you don’t inadvertently transport these insects back home with you.

Video: Travel Tips: Bed Bug Survival Guide

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Date: 10.12.2018, 20:24 / Views: 55274