That, my traveling friends, is a hotel mattress suffering from a bed bug infestation.  And it is the absolute FIRST thing you need to know before you enter your hotel room while you are on vacation.  It doesn’t matter if you are staying at a four star luxury hotel in downtown Manhattan, or a roadside motel in small town, USA – bed bugs do not discriminate!  Everyone needs to be concerned.

The biggest impact, both physically and financially, of bed bugs can be completely avoided if you know how to spot the problem before it affects you and your vacation.  When you check in at the front desk of your hotel, you are probably ready to retire to your room, get yourself situated, unpack your things, and relax.

Stop.

Once you are given your key, head to your room.  Bring your bags in only as far as you can to close your door, but don’t bring them all the way into your room.

Pull the covers back off of the mattress, and paying special attention to the corners of the bed and the seams, look for the obvious signs above – the bugs themselves – or the fecal trail that the bugs have left behind.

If you find any telltale evidence of a bed bug infestation, immediately return to the front desk and ask them to assign you to a different room.

Even if there are no immediate signs of bedbugs in your mattress, you will want to still keep your luggage elevated off of the floor.  Use the luggage stand most hotel rooms provide, or place luggage on top of the dresser.

Check inside the dresser and the nightstand for bugs or remnants of bugs (which may be the exoskeleten shed by bugs as they grow).  Don’t put anything inside the dresser or nightstands if you suspect that an infestation exists.

Beware of areas where the wallpaper is peeling away.  The bugs can get behind the wallpaper and become a problem if you place your clothing or luggage near these areas.

Bed bug bites are itchy and extremely uncomfortable, so if you’ve managed to ignore the warning, hop right into bed, and wait until the morning to check out your surroundings, don’t worry about contracting any bug borne illnesses or diseases.  You will know in relatively short order if you’ve encountered an infestation by the raised red bumps that appear on your skin and the itching you suffer.

The best treatment is just a topical cream, such as a triple antibiotic cream (Neosporin).  However, constant scratching can open up the bites, exposing them to secondary infections.  If this happens, you might want to check in with your doctor to seek treatment with medication that can’t be obtained over the counter.

Getting rid of bed bugs once you have them can be a chore, and if you’ve found out your hotel room was infested after you’ve unpacked – or worse, after you’ve gone home – it can be an expensive hassle to get rid of them.  The first thing to address is your laundry.  Everything must be washed at a temperature of at least 120 degrees (oh, the shrinkage of those delcates!!).  If you have items that can’t be washed at that high of a temperature, you can freeze the items (temperature below 32 degrees), but they must remain in freezing temperatures for a minimum of two weeks before you can use them.  There are heaters that will kill the bugs, and may be useful for non-washable garments, but they can be quite expensive to purchase.

An exterminator is a must, and not only your bedroom furniture, but all the furniture in your home must be treated.  Anything that can’t be treated – either by extermination, hot washing, heating, or freezing, should be disposed of.  Vacuum all areas of your home that can be vacuumed, and immediately dispose of the bag.

Your best course of action is to prevent infestation, so be prepared when you travel.  Refuse any room that shows signs of infestation, and check to see if your hotel has been listed at www.bedbugregistry.com so you know to be especially diligent in checking hotels that have already had a problem reported.

Don’t let this put a damper on your vacation.  Just be cautious so it doesn’t end up ruining your trip.

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