If you travel frequently, one of the things that you worry most about is whether a certain hotel follows strict sanitation and hygiene protocols. After all, there is no shortage of horror stories on the Internet about people who sleep in their hotel rooms and wake up with their skin itchy and inflamed from sleeping on dirty or infested beds. Out of all of these stories, scabies seems to be a common source of these skin irritations.
But what is scabies, and is getting scabies from hotel stays a possible scenario for you? You start wondering, can you get scabies from a hotel room.
This guide will help you understand more about scabies: what it is, what it does, and how you can avoid getting scabies from a hotel.
What Are Scabies and How can I Get It?
First, you need to know what scabies is to understand how to avoid scabies in hotels. Scabies is a skin disease that is caused by the itch mite. It is contagious and can be transmitted in two ways:
- Person-to-person contact
- Prolonged exposure to infested bedding and clothing
So, the answer to the question, can you get scabies from a hotel is, yes, you can! If the hotel’s beddings contain itch mites, you can possibly get it.
It would be helpful to clarify that scabies is not the insects themselves, but the disease you get when the mites burrow under your skin and start feeding on the layers such as the dermis underneath. The problem with itch mites (Sarcoptes scabiei) is that, unlike bed bugs, they are microscopic and cannot be seen by the naked eye. That means that hotel beddings that might look clean and pristine on the surface might be crawling with millions of itch mites just waiting to pounce on you!
What do Scabies Look Like on the Skin?
Since you won’t be able to see the itch mites on your hotel beddings, the only way that you’ll know that you’ve had an encounter with these microscopic bugs is when the symptoms start to appear on your skin. Scabies appears like small, red welts on your skin. If the infestation is severe enough, these welts can become inflamed and hard. Scabies is itchy and annoying initially, but if you don’t treat them immediately, they can become painful, swollen, or blistered.
Another problem with scabies is that the symptoms will often appear long after the initial bite! The time can vary; in some people, it will take around two weeks before the symptoms appear, while in others, it can take as long as six weeks before the symptoms manifest! This means that, unless you’ve only stayed in a single hotel recently, you can’t be sure of the answer to the question, “can you get scabies from a hotel?”
How do I Treat Scabies?
Before you get any treatment done, go to a dermatologist and get checked to know whether or not you have scabies. If the doctor confirms that you do have scabies, here is what you need to do:
- Buy ointment
Once your dermatologist confirms that you have scabies, they’ll probably issue you a prescription for scabies cream. Scabies creams or ointments usually contain around 5% permethrin, and in the USA, they can only be purchased if you have a prescription from your doctor.
Make sure to read the directions thoroughly and follow them to the letter so that you’ll get maximum relief from the ointment.
Remember, scabies can be passed from person-to-person contact. If you sleep in the same bed as a family member, friend, or a partner, they will need to use the scabies medication as well! There is a good chance that they already have a scabies infection starting, and you need to head it off before it becomes severe. Otherwise, you will simply be passing the infection back and forth to each other.
- Sanitize Every Clothing and Bedding You Have
Since the symptoms don’t appear for a while, there is also a high probability that you can pass down the itch mites to other articles of clothing and bedding in your home without you realizing it. To be on the safe side, wash every piece of clothing and cloth you came in contact with before the symptoms start appearing. This includes towels as well!
- Get some relief
For as long as you have the rash, you will be experiencing severe itchiness as well! It can be tempting to scratch at the welts, but this can result in further skin infections if you break the skin with your nails. Buying Benadryl or similar antihistamine medications can help stop you from scratching and potentially making your situation worse.
How Can I Ensure My Hotel is Free from Scabies?
Now that you know the answer to, can you get scabies from a hotel, you obviously want to know how to ensure that your hotel is free from scabies, right?
There’s a bit of bad news here: there is no 100% foolproof way to guarantee that your hotel doesn’t have scabies. Yes, even high-end hotels do have a chance of having scabies in their beddings. However, there is a silver lining: you can drastically reduce the chance of getting scabies from hotel beddings if you choose well-known chain hotels. These hotels generally have a higher standard of cleanliness and sanitation compared to smaller, lesser-known hotels.
If you’re still unsure if can you get scabies from a hotel, you can bring a thin sheet from home when you travel and place it above the hotel’s bedsheets as an extra layer of protection. Know more about hotel hygiene.
Can you get scabies from a hotel? The answer is yes. However, a hotel is not the only place where you can get scabies. You can also get scabies from person-to-person contact, so you don’t need to stay in a dirty or infested hotel to get scabies. However way you get it, just make sure to treat it as soon as you experience the symptoms!