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“Do you guys treat bed bugs?” An Airbnb owner called me recently, saying one of his tenants had woken in the morning with itchy red marks on her arms and legs. She blamed bed bugs. Many people think the blood-sucking insects don’t live on the mountain, but we do see them every so often. I remember one bed bug customer who told me that his daughter had a drug problem and she would hang out at a drug house for days, then come home. Well, that’s one way bed bugs can infest a mountain cabin.

I sent my manager, Gil, to the Airbnb, but he found no bed bugs. So, what could have caused the red marks? There can be many causes, such as mites, or a rash, or a reaction to a poisonous plant and so on. In my experience, one of the most common causes of red marks on skin is an allergic reaction to laundry detergent, especially natural ones made with flower extracts. Sleeping with your skin pressed against flowers may sound romantic, but every rose has its (itchy) thorns.

The word “natural” is vague and it certainly doesn’t guarantee that something is safe. Having a big boulder fall on your head is a natural experience, as is being stung by a nest of yellow-jackets. Now, I’ve been stung by a nest of yellow-jackets—while walking on the big hollow log they called home—and I can confirm reports that it is, indeed, a 100% natural experience… a very painful, potentially deadly, natural experience.

I’m not knocking natural products, but I do recommend buying the unscented, hypoallergenic kind. If you find red marks on your skin, I recommend you call your doctor. If you see ants, spiders or rodents, I recommend calling us. If you see a big boulder teetering on a ledge, I recommend running. Have a safe and natural week, everyone!

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