NEW YORK - The sight of bed bugs is enough to put a damper on any vacation, but the bites can cause a variety of symptoms from secondary skin infections like impetigo and ecthyma to allergic reactions and in rare cases anaphylaxis, which can impair breathing and require a trip to the ER.
Experts at Consumer Reports have shared some tips to keep the bed bugs away during your next hotel stay.
"Some simple steps when you check in can help avoid hassles and expenses when you check out," Consumer Reports' Dan DiClerico said.
It might sound extreme, but to be safe, put your luggage in the bathroom as soon as you enter the hotel room.
"Bed bugs prefer anything dark and creviced that they can hide in like bedding, seams of fabric, furniture, even inside walls," DiClerico said. "So the bathroom is usually a the safe zone while you search the room for signs of critters.
Check the sheets, mattress and box spring for any signs of bed bugs. Look for dark, rust colored spots and exoskeletons - the casings the bugs leave behind. Don't forget to look at the head of the bed and in, around and behind the headboard, too.
Be sure to lift and check under the mattress, too.
It is important to take action if you do find anything suspicious.
"If you find any signs of bed bugs, alert the manager immediately, and ask for a new room in a different part of the hotel," DiClerico said. "Infestations can spread from wall to wall."
Even if your room is clear, Consumer Reports says it's a good idea to keep your luggage and clothes off the floor and on a hard surface or luggage rack, clear of any potential bed bug zones.
When you get home, throw all of your clothes into a hot dryer for 30 minutes. Also, store your empty luggage in your basement, garage or a hot attic.