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How to avoid bedbugs on the Camino de Santiago and what to do if they bite you?

The Camino de Santiago offers many experiences, but some are not so good. Find out how to detect and avoid bedbugs during the Camino and get rid of bites.

Hostel in the Camino de Santiago, image from Wikimedia Commons

Hostel in the Camino de Santiago, image from Wikimedia Commons

When doing the Camino de Santiago, one of the most recurrent options to spend the night between stages is to stay in a hostel. It is one more experience of the Camino, since we can meet people from all over the world and establish relationships with other pilgrims, but it can be an inconvenience.

An establishment in which so many people come and go is an ideal focus for the appearance of pests such as bedbugs. These parasites can make the following stages a chaos, causing itching and discomfort. In addition, it is very easy for them to sneak into your backpack and go from one hostel to another, and end up causing problems for more pilgrims.

Learn how to spot bed bugs in a shelter

When you arrive at a hostel, before you succumb to exhaustion you should check that the place where you are staying is free of bedbugs. There are several sites where they are usually protected, and that you should review carefully.

Check that the seams of the mattresses are free of these insects, as well as the headboard of the bed and the frames of the beds. The thing does not stop there: if there are carpets, check them too, and do the same with the cracks in the walls if there are any. They can even be sheltered in electrical outlets, or in the apex between the wall and the ceiling. Check the room thoroughly.

A bedbug infestation is usually indicated by dark, reddish stains, like rust, that are caused by crushing of the insects. If you find a few drops of blood on the mattress, that can also be a sign of bed bugs. After all, blood is the main food of these insects.

The bed bug is an insect that measures about half a centimeter, and is very narrow. It can slip into any crack as it is about the width of a credit card. It is a reddish and broad-shaped insect, and they never go alone.

Bedbug in the sheets, image from Envato Elements

Bedbug in the sheets, image from Envato Elements

Distinguish bedbug bites

If after sleeping in a shelter you find bites on exposed areas of skin, it could be an indication that you have been a victim of bedbugs. They can also be the result of other insects (mosquitoes or fleas, for example), but there are other symptoms that give them away. These bites are often accompanied by swelling, inflaming a larger area than a mosquito bite.

There are not only physiological symptoms. Its presence is usually accompanied by a sweet and dense odor that can be unpleasant. In the morning, check the bed again for blood droplets and dry skin, which are the result of bed bugs molting.

What to do if you detect bedbugs

If you are convinced that, indeed, what there are bedbugs, there are several things to do. The first thing will be, of course, to notify the hostel staff so that they can carry out the relevant cleaning and eliminate the pest.

If we want to be sure that we do not carry unwanted companions in the backpack, and that they do not reach the next shelter, we will have to wash our clothes and even the backpack. Wash at more than 60 ºC, to ensure that bedbugs do not remain in our clothes. Of course, it is important that we maintain the same body hygiene.

If you follow these recommendations, you will be able to detect bed bugs more easily and safely than other pilgrims. However, the spirit of the pilgrim lies in generosity with other walkers, so if you find a plague of this insect, warn other pilgrims so that they can wash their clothes and not carry bedbugs for the rest of the Camino.

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