Paris travelers in bed bug bites season

What to do with bug bites at Hotels, Public Spaces, and Transit

Have you ever woken up with itchy red bumps that you didn’t notice before going to bed? Did you notice them after spending the night in a new place, like an Airbnb, hotel, hostel or rental unit? All of us know what it’s like to wake up with itchy spots, and it definitely makes us feel like bedbugs might have bitten us.

Traveler’s Experience with Bug Bite: An Online Consultation Insight

Traveling First Derm user in Paris:

Small red bumps have appeared over last day, over arms, legs, trunk, hands. 4 of us traveling together staying in hotel in Paris; only one has these; 20 year female with celiac (well managed), developed these symptoms. They appeared after the first night of our stay.

We’ve recently journeyed through several cities, including Barcelona and Madrid. These bumps haven’t grown in size but seem to be increasing in number.

Close-up image showing what bed bug bites look like: itchy red bumps on a leg

What bed bug bites look like: prominent itchy red bumps on a traveler’s leg


Online Dermatologists’ consultation

This looks like INSECT BITES. I would recommend a mild steroid cream (hydrocortisone) and antihistamin (cetirizin or desloratadine), which can usually be bought over the counter. In some cases you might need more potent steroid creams to relieve the inflammation.

If you don’t notice an improvement within a few days, see a physician in person. If new lesions appear or the inflamed spots extend to larger areas, see your physician to exclude other diagnoses.


The Bedbug Outbreak in Paris Ahead of the 2024 Olympics

As the Olympic clock counts down, Paris has an unwelcome visitor: a surge in bedbug infestations. Known places like movie theaters and public transport haven’t been spared. Though these bugs don’t spread diseases, their bites are bothersome, often appearing as red welts that itch intensely.

Though not considered a direct health threat since they don’t transmit diseases, bedbug bites can be particularly irksome. The reactions to these bites differ widely; while some individuals might remain unaffected, others could experience intense itching and visible red welts.

Why is Paris facing this issue now? Experts point towards increased global travel combined with the bedbugs’ growing resistance to traditional pesticides as primary factors. As the city prepares for the influx of Olympic attendees, being aware and taking preventive steps becomes even more critical.

If you’re planning to visit Paris during this time, be vigilant. Regularly check your accommodations, handle luggage with care, and consider washing your travel clothes in hot water.


Types of Bug Bites and Their Symptoms

Numerous bugs, including fleas, mosquitoes, spiders, and of course, bedbugs, can bite us. Lots of other things can be confused with bedbug bites, too. Sometimes, we are allergic to bedding or detergents that were used to launder our sheets. Sometimes, an acne pimple can make us think we were bitten by something. Hives, or urticaria, can also present as new itchy spots and they can come from lots of things, like foods to which we’re allergic.

What are bedbugs

What are bedbugs? Bedbugs are wingless insects that hide in bedding, mattresses, and the corners of the room during the day and become active at night, when they like to feed. They can hide in our suitcases and travel home with us, and can go months without feeding on a human or animal. They are all over the world, and are often in places where lots of people come and go, like a hotel room.

It’s also important to know that bedbugs don’t spread infectious diseases. Phew! But the itching can make us scratch until we’re bleeding. And some people can remain itchy for weeks!

“I woke up with itchy spots, but someone else who shared the bed doesn’t have any spots, so we can’t have bedbugs, right?” Wrong! It’s possible that the bugs only bit one of you, and even if they did bite both of you, not everyone is sensitive to bedbug bites. One sign that you were bit by bedbugs is rows of 3 bites in a line, which is called the “breakfast, lunch and dinner” sign.

Signs of Bed Bug Bites

How can one know for sure that they have bedbugs? It’s a hard thing to prove. Only by finding the insects themselves can you prove it. It’s important to think about circumstances – new spots first thing in the morning, for example, are quite suspicious. 

Some travelers check the seams of mattresses for bedbugs for signs of bed bugs, particularly when they check into a new location. These early signs of bed bugs can sometimes be more subtle, such as tiny white eggs or minuscule moving bugs. Some use bedbug traps, called “interceptors”. But just because you can’t find them, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Bedbugs hide from light and they move fast! 

You can also look for their droppings on mattresses, which look like little black spots that smear when they are wiped.

It’s a common misconception that the presence of bedbugs reflects poor hygiene or the cleanliness of a place. This isn’t the case. Even the most luxurious 5-star hotels can fall victim to bedbugs, just as a modest dwelling might. Furthermore, while bedbugs prefer exposed skin, it’s not unheard of for them to bite through thin clothing, so taking precautions is always recommended.


Cho KK. Bedbugs torment Paris ahead of 2024 Olympics: ‘No one is safe’. Washington Post. October 2, 2023. Accessed October 6, 2023

Fallen RS, Gooderham M. Bed bugs: an update on recognition and management. Skin Therapy Lett. 2011;16(5):5-7.

Steen CJ, Carbonaro PA, Schwartz RA. Arthropods in dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;50(6):819-842.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Introduction to Bed Bugs. Accessed October 6, 2023

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