We have all read reviews online about people returning from vacation with itchy welts on their skin. It’s true, on vacation we are less cautious and alert. And it is times like these that strange bacteria, viruses, and even mites can get to us.
The most common forms of skin conditions you can contract from hotels are those transmitted by close contact. Whether this is between one person and another, or between you and a piece of furniture.
One of these conditions is scabies. There are many stories online about people getting scabies from their hotel rooms. But before we panic and worry about how and if we have gotten scabies, it’s best to learn about the condition. The more you know, the more precautions you can take the next time you stay at a hotel.
Here’s our guide on whether you can get scabies from a hotel bed and how to check it.
What is scabies?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of precautions, let’s get to know the condition at hand.
Scabies is a skin condition. It is caused by itch mites going by the name of Sarcoptes scabiei. It is a contagious condition. How scabies mites infect you might sound a little gross for some. Symptoms occur because the mites have burrowed under your skin. There they will start feeding on the layers underneath your skin. This causes bite-like welts to appear on the infected area.
If you’re thinking, can’t I look for scabies mites when I arrive at my hotel room? We have some bad news for you. Scabies mites are microscopic, meaning they cannot be seen by the naked eye. That’s right. You cannot see if your room linens and textiles are infected. Which makes scabies all the more difficult to avoid.
How can you contract scabies?
Transmission typically occurs through contact with an infected person. But sometimes, transmission can also occur through prolonged contact with infected objects. Including bedding, clothing, and other textiles on furniture.
Scabies mites don’t grow out of hotel beds and linens, towels, or even their furniture! But these places receive frequent close contact with all guests. So, they are the likeliest of places where you will contract scabies in a hotel.
Say a person with scabies had stayed in the room you are staying in before. And the hotel didn’t clean thoroughly after they have left. Then you have a high chance of contracting scabies mites that guests have left behind. They will be hiding in anywhere that had been in prolonged contact with the infested guest.
How can you know if you’ve gotten scabies?
Unfortunately, there’s no quick way to tell if you’ve contracted scabies from a hotel bed.
As scabies mites are microscopic, you cannot see them even if they have burrowed under your skin. There won’t be any strange bumps or bite marks after the initial infection. Since symptoms usually take two to six weeks to appear. And as you can probably guess, it is already too late at that point.
But all’s not lost. Although scabies is not curable, it is treatable. After infection, you may notice small, red welts on your skin. It is important to seek medical help immediately if you notice these welts forming on your skin. The longer scabies is left untreated, the more pain you will be in eventually.
Is contracting scabies from a hotel bed a common occurrence?
There’s no way to confirm if getting scabies from a hotel bed, or any linens and textiles, is a common occurrence. This is because the time it takes for an infected person to be symptomatic is too long.
Especially if you’re on vacation. Say someone asks you about where in your hotel room you’ve touched during your vacation. You will probably laugh in their face at the ridiculousness of the question.
For those on vacation in a forest or areas with animals, you can also contract scabies from these places. So, it is hard to determine if scabies infection really came from staying at a hotel and sleeping in a hotel bed.
How to check for scabies?
As you cannot see scabies mites with your eyes, there are a few precautions you can and should take, to check for scabies.
It may sound simple, but cleanliness matters a lot when it comes to scabies infection. If the hotel looks clean and tidy in general, you are at lower risk to get scabies from sleeping in their beds. Or sitting on their furniture. Or using their towels.
Scabies mites can survive for 2-3 days. But only at room temperatures and high humidity. Given concerns about covid infections, there is a very low chance hotels will leave linens and textiles unwashed. Wash and dry at high temperatures. Storage in a cool environment. These can be all it takes to prevent the spread of scabies through hotel beds.
So, cleanliness is a big thing. But how can you check a hotel’s cleanliness?
2) Look Around When You Arrive
Keep an eye out when you arrive. This means from the moment you enter the hotel premises.
A pristine lobby, clean front desks, and staff that appear sharp and neat. These are all signs of a hotel that cares about its hygiene and cleanliness. If you see cleaning staff in the lobby, even better!
When you arrive at your room, check the areas that you would touch the most. This includes door handles, light switches, bathrooms, and of course, the bed. If you can see dust or unpleasant substances like mold, it means the room wasn’t cleaned thoroughly. And your chances of getting scabies from that hotel bed will increase.
3) The Bedspread
Heavy bedspreads are not always washed in some hotels. But we cannot be sure this is still the case since the start of covid.
Even so, if you’re worried about getting scabies from a hotel bed, simply remove the bedspread before you lay down to rest. You can also bring a bed sheet of your own to lay over the bed before you sleep on it. An extra layer of protection can prevent scabies mites, if there are any, from getting to your skin.
4) Glasses and Mugs
We now know what looks clean can still be dirty. Maybe the staff didn’t clean the mugs and glasses thoroughly. Maybe they’ve been cleaned by a dirty rag. Either way, it’s best to make sure things you put near your mouth are clean.
Before you use any glasses and mugs in your hotel room, rinse them in hot water. Even better if the water is boiling hot. Many common bacteria, viruses, and mites cannot survive boiling temperatures. So, this is a precaution to keep you extra safe from common infections. And scabies.
5) Read Reviews
Another way to check for scabies in a hotel is to read guest reviews. There is no way you can guarantee a hotel and their beds don’t have scabies mites. Even if the hotel promises they wash and sanitize everything before a new guest moves in.
You can read recent reviews of the hotel online to see if a scabies infection has happened before your check-in. We recommend you check these reviews for at least six weeks from your check-in date. As scabies symptoms may take six weeks to appear. You can also check the reviews to see if the hotel has ever had a record of scabies infections in the past. Always read some trustworthy websites, blogs, and platforms for the best results!
6) Always Ask
Sometimes, if you feel your hotel room is unclean, you can always go to the hotel staff with all the questions you have. It is clear that just because a bed looks clean, doesn’t mean you won’t get scabies from it.
Now you know what conditions scabies mites can survive in. You can ask the staff how often their bedding, linens, and textiles get washed, and at what temperatures and humidity. And how they are stored before use.
Hotels usually want to provide their guests with the best experience. So, if it will give you a piece of mind, ask for your room to be cleaned again, or to replace the bedding and linens in the room. Most of the time, any problems in cleanliness are exceptions and not the norm for the hotel. If you bring them up, the hotel can sort it out for you no problem.
There is no way to know for sure your hotel bed isn’t infected with scabies. But there are a few precautions you can take to reduce your chances of getting scabies.
Remember. You have a chance of getting scabies from any hotel bed, including at high-end hotels. However, chances are lower at famous hotel chains. As they will be stricter about their hygiene and cleanliness protocols than less famous hotels.
Be alert and avoid places and situations with poor hygiene, and you’re good to go!
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