Hotel Horror!


By SHARON D. ALLISON-OTTEY, M.D.

Dear Dr. Sharon,
I am an evangelist and I travel a lot. Recently I was doing a three-day revival and on the second night I began itching while I was in bed. I didn\’t think much of it, at first I thought it was dry skin, but the next morning I had little red marks all over my neck and arms and a few on my face. Some of the marks looked like small blisters. This was a very nice hotel, believe me, I\’ve stayed at all types— from motels to resorts. I didn\’t see anything in the room like mosquitoes or insects on the bed. When I talked to the manager, they offered little help except to advise me to call my doctor. What do you advise?
—Evangelist KL Brooklyn, NY

Dear Evangelist,
It sounds like your hotel bed included some pesky “bed bugs” that decided to have a slumber party with you.

Facts about Bed Bugs:
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius), are small, oval and flat; and do not fly. They are typically reddish brown in color, and become redder when they have bitten you (they suck your blood). Bed bugs are:

Found anywhere—including hotels or homes (no matter how upscale). Able to live for months without eating. Usually found in beds, including box springs and mattresses.

Also found inside spaces of wicker furniture, on curtains and in dresser drawers or wallpaper. Most active at night while an individual is sleeping, and will bite any exposed areas of skin (face, neck, hands, and arms).

Bed bug bites are painless. Once bitten, you may see small, flat, or raised bumps on the skin with redness and itching; try not to scratch the bite because it can become infected. Bed bugs can infest suitcases and clothes.

Avoiding bed bugs:
When you first walk in the room, look at the bed and mattress for signs of bed bugs.
They are small but large enough to see. They hide during the day, so take a small flashlight with you (even on a keychain) to help you inspect for them. Look for the actual bed bugs, their skin or even fecal stains tinged with blood (very small droppings on areas that they live).

Gospel Today Columnist
Don\’t leave your clothes or suitcase on the floor or near the bed; use the luggage rack and make sure that it is away from the bed.
If you choose to use the hotel dresser drawers (I don\’t recommend it); pull them out, shake them and spray them with disinfectant.
You can also call housekeeping and request that they wipe them out for you. I prefer to hang most items; even undergarments, in the closet.

If you find bed bugs, immediately go to the front desk and ask for a manager.

If you choose to stay at the hotel, ask for a room that has no history of bed bugs and one that isn\’t next to the first room. If you see bed bugs or signs of them; consider moving to another hotel.
Don\’t be fooled into thinking that it\’s only cheaper

hotels/motels that have this problem. Avoid taking bed bugs home. When you get home, shake and inspect your luggage; don\’t throw it on your bed.

Treatment for bed bug bites: Bed bug bites can be treated with creams or corticosteroids. If a bite is scratched and becomes infected; use a topical antibiotic.

Find more info on my website (www.drsharononline.com) also, read the “Hot Topics” article: “How Clean is that Warm and Comfy Hotel Room” (includes tips for travelers).

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