What to do if your holiday travel plans land you in a bug-infested guest room.

By Samantha Lauriello
December 17, 2018

We go head to head with our parents about plenty of things: money, career, and even bed bugs. Say what? Yep, one Reddit user recently took to the platform to vent about how bed bugs are ruining her relationship with her dad. And she might not be the only one—especially with so many people traveling for the holidays and possibly visiting a bed bug–infested home.

User cupsandmugs555 explained that she lives about four hours by car away from her dad, meaning she only sees him a few times a year. But when she does visit, she always leaves covered in painful little red bites. And if he visits her, he brings the bugs with him, spreading them to her home. It’s been a problem ever since she was a child, and it’s tearing them apart.

RELATED: 15 Tips for Avoiding Hotel Bedbugs

Over the years, cupsandmugs555 has unfortunately had to cut back on seeing her dad, she said. The last visit occurred three years ago, and she and her partner "stayed in a hotel and didn't even go into his house. We washed all our clothes when we got back and STILL got a massive infestation at home. That one took almost a year of steam cleaning the carpet and bed and washing all my clothes over and over.”

This year, both her mom and grandma passed away, and her dad is one of her few family members left. “I saw dad a couple of weeks ago, he came around mine for a cup of tea before going out to a concert. He was only over for half an hour, but me and my partner have been getting bitten again since then,” she wrote.

Wait, but how does her dad deal with constantly getting bitten? Well, it turns out some people can be entirely immune to bed bug bites. That doesn’t mean the little pests don't think her dad is tasty. He likely still ends up with bites, but he doesn't have a reaction to them or any discomfort.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know if You Wake Up With Bed Bug Bites

“Dad is completely immune to them somehow, he never gets bitten,” cupsandmugs555 said. “He got married a few years ago and his wife is also miraculously immune to it. Their house isn't a show home or anything, but it's not filthy.”

Of course, she’s considered asking him to hire an exterminator, but she’s not even sure it would make a difference. “I don't know if it's worth asking Dad to get his house fumigated. It's clearly a massive infestation that's in all his clothes and cars and pets and anything that a bug could be in. He wouldn't even know if it worked either, because they don't get bitten,” she wrote.

Bed bugs are a real problem, and cupsandmugs555 knows that better than anyone. If you’re traveling this holiday season and aren’t sure if the place you’ll be staying is bed bug–free, there are things you can do to avoid being a meal.

First, park your luggage in the bathroom, where bed bugs are least likely to be found. Then, start looking for the pesky critters. 

RELATED: 10 Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Inspect the bed by pulling back the linens and checking all the way around and under the mattress as well as behind the headboard. Look for small reddish-brown fecal spots (gross, we know), white eggs or empty eggshells, and bed bug skin casings. Check for live bugs themselves, which are flat, reddish-brown, and about the size of an apple seed.

After you’ve checked the bed, examine the rest of the room, including behind picture frames, under decorations, and even in books. Check in the cushions and seams of any couches or soft chairs, as well as in the closet before putting your clothes away. Bed bugs are sneaky and can hide in unexpected places.

Throughout your stay, try to keep your suitcase off the floor or bed and on a desk or dresser. Make sure not to leave any clothes lying around. You can also buy a plastic cover for your suitcase for extra protection. Don’t have time to order one? Use a trash bag instead.

If you do start noticing itchy red bumps on your body, wash them with soap and water to prevent the bites from getting infected, and then find a new place to sleep. If you’re staying in a hotel, ask for a room at least two floors away from the one you're in now.

RELATED: How to Get Through the Holidays When You're Not Talking to Your Family

To treat the bites, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying an over-the-counter corticosteroid cream if they're unbearably itchy. Your skin should heal within one to two weeks, but see a dermatologist if the bites ooze (a sign of infection), or you develop blisters, swelling, or hives.

Bed bugs are guests you certainly don’t want at your holiday festivities. Though they’re persistent, being smart about where you sleep will help keep them away. If you do find yourself in the middle of a bed bug battle, at least take comfort knowing that as annoying as the bites are, the bugs don’t spread disease—and there are ways to get rid of them that you can suggest to your host.

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