Biting mites on humans

Relentless itching, skin rashes, redness and blisters — these are the not-so-fun symptoms of scabies, a contagious skin disease caused by an infestation of the itch mite, Sarcoptes scabiei.

It’s estimated that about 300 million scabies cases occur each year throughout the world! It’s spread through personal contact by relatives, sexual partners, schoolchildren, chronically ill patients and crowded communities. Outside of the U.S., scabies is even a significant cause of morbidity.

If you’ve ever had scabies, you know just how annoying and disgusting they can be. The good news is there are home remedies for scabies and rash natural remedies that are not only effective, but help your entire skin health. Let’s explore the symptoms and causes of scabies, along with the best natural treatments for this uncomfortable condition.


What Is Scabies?

Because it can easily spread from person to person, scabies has caused epidemics in hospitals, nursing homes and residential facilities. It has even become commonplace among the homeless, who often live and sleep in tight quarters. According to a review published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, the reported prevalence of scabies among the homeless varies from 3.8 percent in shelter-based investigations to 56 percent among hospitalized homeless persons. (1, 2)

The scabies itch mites are tiny eight-legged female parasites that are just 1/3 millimeter long. They burrow into the skin and cause severe itching, worsening over night. When beneath the surface of the skin, they produce a tunnel and begin to deposit eggs. Then the eggs hatch, and the mite larvae work their way to the surface of the skin. This can be dangerous because the larvae begin to mature and spread to other areas of your body.

Then skin begins to itch because the body has an allergic reaction to the mites, their eggs and their waste. Scabies mites can only be seen crawling on the surface of the skin or on clothes and furniture with a magnifying glass or microscope, which can make diagnosis difficult.

There are medicated creams and oral scabies treatments that are proven to be effective — like my Turmeric Antiseptic Scabies Cream. Sometimes the first treatment doesn’t work, and in the meantime, the mites that continue to spread within the body and at home. Follow-up treatments are necessary, and informing close contacts is crucial to prevent the spread of infestation.

Natural remedies, such as cayenne pepper and tea tree oil, are proven to reduce pain and help to eliminate a scabies infestation. In addition, there are also some important guidelines to prevent further infestation and keep your immune system functioning properly.

7 Home Remedies for Scabies

1. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper benefits those with scabies because it can be used to alleviate pain associated with scabies. Cayenne contains capsaicin, a chemical that reduces pain sensations when applied to the skin. (3) Capsaicin can also relieve itching by desensitizing neurons in the skin. However, one study found that it can cause a burning sensation that 30 percent of patients experience when using capsaicin topically. (4)

There are even claims that applying cayenne pepper to the skin can kill scabies mites. There are no studies to back up these claims, but many people dealing with scabies have attested to cayenne’s ability to kill parasites when applied topically. One way to use cayenne is to add one cup to hot bathwater, sit in the bath until the water gets cold and then rinse your body. Make sure that the cayenne does not get into your eyes, as it may burn or sting. You can also create a paste with cayenne and one to two drops of water. Apply the paste to visible burrows beneath the surface of the skin.

2. Tiger Balm

Tiger balm is a topical cream used to reduce inflammation and provide relief from muscle aches and pain. (5) It works as an analgesic agent because it contains camphor and clove oil. Tiger balm won’t kill the itch mites or cure the scabies infestation, but it will provide some relief during the waiting period after conventional treatment.

3. Anise Seed Oil

According to a scientific review published in “Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd Edition,” oil extracted from anise seeds display insecticidal activity. It can be used topically to treat scabies as well as head lice. It’s not recommended that women who are pregnant use anise oil, however, the book recommends. (6)

4. Neem Oil

Neem oil is known to kill scabies mites, and it prevents their ability to grow and breed. Neem also numbs pain and relieves itching, making it perfect to treat scabies symptoms as well.

A study conducted in India evaluated 814 patients with scabies who used a paste made from neem oil and turmeric for treatment. A cure was obtained within three to 15 days in 97 percent of the cases — plus, no toxic or adverse reactions were observed. Researchers claim that this is a safe and effective alternative that is also cheap and easily available, which can be especially important when treating villagers or communities in developing countries. (7)

5. Clove Oil

Clove oil has analgesic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used to dry up scabies blisters and rashes.

A 2010 study tested clove oil’s ability to treat scabies mites harvested from pigs and rabbits. Results of bioassays showed that clove oil was highly toxic against scabies mites, killing mites within an hour of contact. A major component of clove oil, called eugenol, demonstrated levels of toxicity comparable to benzyl benzoate. (8) Combine 10 drops of clove oil with one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of coconut oil for skin relief. Rub it onto the area of concern twice daily.

6. Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil uses and benefits include the potential power to stop the infestation of scabies. Rosemary oil also decreases pain and prevents the development of secondary infections. A study conducted at Northeast Forestry University in China found that when combined, rosemary and clove possess significant antimicrobial activity. (9)

7. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil fights scabies mites and parasites when applied topically. It contains terpenoids, which are antimicrobial constituents that are able to heal scabies on top of and beneath the skin.

A study published in Archives of Dermatology found that tea tree oil, with the main active component being oxygenated terpenoids, has a potential role as a new topical treatment for scabies. The tea tree oil treatment was highly effective in reducing mite survival times when tested on a 20-year-old woman with crusted scabies. Within three hours of collection, the scabies mites were placed in continuous direct contact with the tea tree oil product, and they began to die within five minutes. (10)

An article published in Future Microbiology even suggests that tea tree oil may serve as an alternative therapeutic option, which is needed now more than ever because of emerging drug and resistance to oral ivermectin and permethrin, and the raise of concern regarding the future control of scabies, especially in severe cases and endemic areas where repeated community treatment programs are in place. (11)

Scabies Symptoms

From the time of infestation, it takes about four to six weeks for scabies symptoms to develop, especially if you have never had scabies before. The most common scabies symptom is a skin rash with small red bumps and blisters that only affect specific areas of the body.

The itch mites actually feed on dissolved tissues, not blood, and the most common areas of distribution are the finger webs, wrists, underarms, abdomen, buttocks and groin. (12) In infants and children, the most common sites of infection include the scalp, face, neck, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. You may notice tiny red burrows on the skin and severe itching in that area. The need to itch may lead to frequent scratching, which increases the chances of developing a secondary skin infection.

It’s important that you contact your health care provider as soon you notice these sings and symptoms of scabies. Although many skin conditions are associated with itching and small bumps on the skin, including dermatitis and eczema, your doctor can help determine the exact diagnoses and begin treatment right away.

Root Causes of Scabies

Direct skin-to-skin contact between 15–20 minutes is needed to transfer the scabies mites from one person to another. In fact, sexual contact is the most common form of transmission, which is why scabies has come to be considered a sexually transmitted disease. However, not all cases are transferred sexually.

According to a 2009 study published in Dermatologic Therapy, some other common predisposing factors of scabies contraction includes: (13)

  • overcrowding
  • immigration
  • poor hygiene
  • poor nutritional status
  • homelessness
  • dementia

Conventional Scabies Treatment

Scabies therapy first involves making the correct diagnosis. Scabies is typically diagnosed after the identification of a burrow, but it’s argued that any patient with a pruritic dermatoses (an itching skin condition) should be tested for a scabies infestation. (14) Definite diagnosis relies on microscopic identification of the mites, eggs or fecal pellets — 10 percent potassium hydroxide, ink enhancement, tetracycline fluorescence tests or mineral oils are used to illuminate or define the mites when being observed for diagnosis.


Permethrin — 5 percent permethrin is known as the “gold standard therapy” for treating scabies. It’s a topical cream or lotion that’s applied from jawline to toes overnight for seven days. It’s said to provide a greater margin of tolerability because of its low inherent toxicity and low percutaneous (inner organs and tissue) absorption. (15) Some side effects from permethrin include mild skin irritation and burning.

Ivermectin — This is the most recently developed treatment for scabies. It’s known as an effective oral alternative that has been useful in crusted scabies, patients who are bed-ridden and in institutional outbreaks. The single oral dose of ivermectin, 200 micrograms per kilogram of body weight, is a well-tolerated and very effective treatment. However, there are some side effects, including headaches, dizziness, muscle pain, nausea and diarrhea. Ivermectin is valued for its use as a simple treatment for close contacts who may not even show signs of scabies infestation. (16)

A 2013 study published in Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases discussed the case reports of drug resistance in human settings when ivermectin was used for mass drug administration for institutional and community settings. This can be problematic when therapies suitable for use in interventions to control community outbreaks are needed. (17)

Although several studies note that these medications are proven to be effective therapeutics, treatment failures still occur. This is due to application error, failure to treat the face or scalp, forgetting to treat all close contacts, and failure to reapply medication when needed. The medications may also leave behind fomites and continue to grow and spread. This is why patients should be followed for at least four weeks to confirm that the infestation is cured. (18)

It’s important that hygienic measures are taken after treatment — all clothes and bedding must be washed and furniture must be vacuumed thoroughly. Close contacts must also be treated, even if they don’t show symptoms. This is especially important in scabies cases resulting from close physical or sexual contact that lasted at least 15 minutes.

Precautions to Take When You Have Scabies

1. Treat All Family Members and Close Contacts

Most scabies recurrences are because of reinfection from untreated contacts. It’s so important that your loved ones receive scabies treatment too, and don’t forget about your pets! Although cats and dogs are affected by their own distinct species of mites, they can still contract human scabies, which causes a temporary skin reaction and keeps the mites in your home. Contact your veterinarian about pet treatments for scabies.

2. Wash Bedding and Clothing

Immediately wash the bedding and clothes that you used or wore since the time of contracting scabies. If you aren’t sure of the exact time, then be safe and wash all of your worn clothes and bedsheets. The laundry cycle alone may not kill the mites, so make sure your drier is on the hottest setting possible.

3. Vacuum Furniture and Carpet

After vacuuming the furniture and carpet at home, make sure to throw away the vacuum bag because it may contain mites. Using a steam cleaner with borax powder can be even more effective.

4. Stay in One Small Room or Area

The less you touch, the less you have to disinfect after the scabies has been treated. Do your best to keep your home and environment scabies-free by limiting your exposure to furniture, materials and people. If you can’t wash your clothing or towels right away, put them in a tied plastic bag; scabies mites cannot survive off of the body for longer than three days.

5. Avoid Scratching Itchy Skin

Scratching your itchy skin does not actually provide relief because the problem is still there. In fact, scratching the infested area only makes matters worse because it can spread the mites across your body and increase your risk of a secondary skin infection.

6. Try to Minimize Stress

Stress can increase the severity of itchiness, which will lead to scratching and the possibility of skin infections. For this reason, it is important to minimize stress. Try stress relievers, such as relaxing exercises like yoga or taking a long walk. Read a chapter or passage from your favorite book, or practice meditation. Dealing with a scabies infestation can be difficult to handle emotionally and mentally, but try your best to stay positive — there are cures, but it takes some time.

7. Eat a Healthy Diet

When dealing with scabies, it’s important that your body’s immune system is ready to work hard. Sticking to detoxifying and anti-inflammatory foods is beneficial as you rid the body of these harmful mites and deal with the side effects of medications. Anti-inflammatory foods also help to relieve swelling, itching and discomfort. Some of the best foods to add into your diet include leafy greens, beets, walnuts, blueberries, salmon, coconut oil and bone broth.

Scabies Takeaways

An estimated 300 million deal with scabies each year, so it’s a common, uncomfortable problem. However, there are steps you can take to treat and prevent the spread of this disease.

You can use cayenne pepper, tiger balm, and anise seed, neem, clove, rosemary and tea tree oils to treat scabies, but you’re not done if one of these seven home remedies for scabies works. You still need to make sure the skin condition doesn’t spread and the mites are killed.

If you follow the seven steps above following treatment — treat close contacts, washing bedding and clothing, vacuum furniture and carpet, stay in one area, avoid scratching, minimize stress, and eat a healthy diet — you can get rid of scabies completely!

Bird mites – prevention and treatment

Bird mites are naturally found where birds (such as pigeons, starlings, sparrows and poultry) and their nests are located.

However, in the first few weeks after birds leave their nests, bird mites may infest homes in search of a blood-meal from humans. Bites from bird mites can cause severe irritation.

Information includes:

  • What are bird mites
  • Where they are found
  • How they survive
  • Getting rid them
  • How they affect humans
  • Symptoms
  • Avoiding bird mite bites
  • Further information

What are bird mites

Bird mites are found in the warmer regions of the world, including Australia.

There are several species of bird mite but the most common species affecting humans is the domestic Starling mite, Ornithonyssus bursa from the family Macronyssidae.

Bird mites are:

  • small (less than 1mm long) mites with 8 legs
  • very mobile
  • semi-transparent in colour until blood has been digested when they appear reddish to blackish
  • oval in shape with a sparse covering of short hair.

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Where they are found

Bird mites are generally associated with moist or humid conditions and are most active during spring and early summer and are naturally found where birds (such as pigeons, starlings, sparrows and poultry) and their nests are located.

They may move into living spaces in houses, climbing on walls, ceilings and bedding in search of a blood meal.

Humans can be exposed to bird mites when young birds leave their nests and the mite is left without a suitable host to feed from.

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How they survive

Bird mites:

  • feed on the blood of birds
  • survive and thrive in bird nesting material
  • increase their numbers rapidly
  • generally die within 3 weeks if without a blood meal from a bird host.

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Getting rid of them

Step 1: Identification

Proper identification of bird mites is very important in determining how to control mite infestations.

Step 2: Finding and removing bird nests

The best approach for controlling an infestation is to locate and remove bird nests. When removing nests, a mask and gloves should be worn to prevent transfer of mites, and bacterial infections. Nests may be found:

  • around eaves and in chimneys
  • in roof spaces
  • in cavities in walls
  • in foundations and basements
  • around porches
  • on window ledges.

Step 3: Prevention and eradication

Prevent birds from occupying spaces in houses by repairing broken tiles and
blocking openings in eaves or roof cavities.

To eradicate bird mites, treat the area with an approved insecticide such as a surface spray or insecticide powder.

A registered pest controller may be required if the nesting material is inaccessible or large areas are involved.

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How they affect humans

Bird mites will feed on humans but do not live on humans as they cannot complete their life cycle on humans. Therefore, infestations are generally
self-limiting if birds and nesting have been eradicated.

Bird mites do not:

  • prefer to bite any particular part of the body
  • live under the skin.

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Bites from bird mites:

  • cause severe irritation including itching, swelling and raised reddish spots on the skin caused by mites injecting saliva when feeding
  • cause discomfort
  • may result in secondary infections from scratching
  • are not associated with transmission of any infectious disease
  • are often difficult to diagnose and can be mistaken for the bites of other insects.

The sensation of crawling bird mites on the skin will irritate some people.

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Avoiding bird mite bites

The best way to avoid bird mite bites is to apply an insect repellant containing diethyl meta-toluamide (DEET) or 3-methyl-n->diethylbenzamide.

An anti-itch cream or lotion may reduce irritation associated with bites.

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Further information

Please note: SA Health provides this information for people residing in South Australia. If you live outside of South Australia, you will need to contact your local health authority for help and advice specific to your area.

If you believe you have a bird mite infestation at home, contact:

  • your local council Environmental Health Officer
  • SA health on (08) 8226 7100 or [email protected]

Determining the cause of insect bites isn’t always easy. During Spring and Summer flea and mosquito populations spike to the highest they will all year. Outdoor activities increase the chances for flea and mosquito bites to occur. At the same time, during summer travel and vacationing increases and therefor so do bed bug infestations as they are spread from person to person contact, or more commonly person to hotel to person. If you’re finding bites but don’t know what’s causing them here are a few helpful clues to look for.


Flea bites are most commonly found on the legs, feet, waist, or armpits but can appear anywhere the insect has access to. The bites will often look red, swollen, somewhat blotchy, and may constantly itch. They commonly come with rashes as well.

Bed bug bites are typically different from flea bites and can resemble small, hard, swollen lumps similar to a mosquito bite and appear most often on the hands, neck, and arms. Like with fleas, bed bug bites may itch as well.

Fleas prefer animals and any pets will likely be itching or biting themselves. They may also develop patches of lost fur. A flea comb can be used to check pets for fleas or flea eggs, though it takes a keen eye to watch for fleas as they’re quick to jump. Another sign of fleas are flecks of what appear to be dirt, that’s actually flea feces. The small dots will leave red rings of blood if touched with a wet tissue. Helpful hint: wearing long white socks can make it easier for a homeowner to tell if brown fleas are jumping on them.

When comparing flea bites vs scabies, it is important to note that there are marked differences between the two. Scabies is a contagious skin condition that is typically caused by human scabies mites (or sometimes by feline or canine mites). Fleas, on the other hand, are ectoparasites that can also lead to intensely itchy rashes in humans and pets. In this guide, we shall study the primary differences between flea bites vs scabies and the ways of telling them apart.

Scabies: a contagious skin condition

Scabies infections are caused by parasites or mites belonging to Genus Sarcoptes. These parasites enter human skin to lay eggs. The mites generally die off after a few weeks, but they continue to cause discomfort to humans, particularly if the source (canine/feline scabies) is left untreated. Human scabies mites normally do not affect pets.

Here are a few tell-tale signs and symptoms of scabies in humans:

  • Scabies is characterized by intense itching and an angry rash.
  • A person with scabies can sometimes go without symptoms for weeks.
  • However, once the skin reacts, the tell tale signs include intense itching especially at nighttime.
  • A Pimple like red rash with scales or blisters may develop.
  • The relentless scratching can lead to sores and secondary infection.
  • The hallmark of a scabies rash is a burrow-like track left behind by the mites. These are tunnels created by female scabies mites for laying 8 to 25 eggs at a given time.

Often, there is a comparison between flea bites vs scabies rashes. But, telling them apart is easy since scabies is characterized by a relentless itch, which is worst in kids and elderly.

Flea bites

Fleas are ectoparasites associated with pets. However, in absence of pets, fleas can bite humans. Often a comparison between flea bites vs scabies results in their being mistaken for each other. However, unlike scabies mites, fleas do not live on the human hosts. Fleas prefer warmer, hairier environments like pet hair. Fleas generally bite humans and jump off to hide in carpets, under the rugs, furniture etc. They leave a tell tale rash on the human skin, particularly in people with sensitivity to proteins in flea saliva. The flea bites appearance is distinctive and includes:

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  • Tiny red bumps
  • A red halo or raised area surrounding the epicenter of the actual bite
  • Flea bites are usually seen in groups or patterns of 3 or 4 typically in a straight line
  • They typically arise on the lower extremities like ankles, legs, feet etc.

Flea bites, like scabies can be itchy. Some people are known to develop hives or allergic reactions that can lead to secondary skin sores.

Summary of flea bites vs scabies

Flea Bites Scabies
Flea bites appear in the form of groups of three or four, generally in a linear pattern Scabies appear in a tunnel or burrow like rash beneath the skin
Characterized by raised bumps or halo surrounding the actual bite site Characterized by pimple like rash that leads to intense itching at nighttime
Concentrated in the lower extremities like feet, legs etc Can occur anywhere on the body including the web of skin between fingers and toes, folds of the wrists, on the waist, under the breasts or genitals etc
Fleas do not live on humans, they prefer hairier and warmer environment like pet hair Scabies mites live on human skin and even lay eggs beneath it.
Fleas can bite anyone. Infestations are common in households with pets. Scabies rashes are more common in children and elderly. Infestations occur in day cares, hospitals, assisted living facilities etc
Flea bite rashes are not contagious. Scabies can spread from skin-to-skin contact, direct sexual contact, or contact between family members.
Fleas are capable of jumping long distances Scabies mites cannot jump nor fly. They crawl very slowly.

Thus, there are many differences between flea bites vs scabies rashes. However, both, when left untreated can lead to several complications including secondary, harder-to-treat infections. Hence, any type of skin lesions, itching or rashes must be acted upon immediately to prevent further complications.

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Before we delve into the differences between bed bug bites and scabies let us see the main points of similarity between the two. Both, bed bug bites and scabies can cause itchy rashes on human skin and, in both conditions, the itchiness is usually worse at night time.

Let us study bed bug bites and scabies in detail.

Bed bug bites: Signs and Symptoms

Bed bugs are small parasites that feed on human blood. They require blood meals to grow and reproduce. They typically hide during the daytime near sleeping areas like beds, couches etc. At night, they are drawn by the heat and carbon dioxide emitted by the human hosts. (In absence of humans, bed bugs might can bite the pets like cats, dogs etc).

Often, some individuals might not develop any symptoms due to bed bug bites. However, others may be allergic to the protein in the saliva of the bugs and, as a result, they might develop one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Red, itchy welts on the skin
  • The bitten area might appear swollen. The epicenter of the bite is surrounded by a red halo.
  • Bites are usually seen in a linear pattern, as the bed bugs do not fly or jump.
  • Typically, bed bug bite marks appear in groups of three or four. Bites usually occur on exposed parts of the body like neck, arms, legs, back, shoulders etc.
  • Bed bug bites can get very itchy at times. Scratching should be avoided else the bite can get infected.

Apart from bite marks, people dealing with a bed bug infestation might spot reddish or rust colored stains on their mattresses, or around the corners of the bedding. This is the discarded exoskeleton or fecal matter left behind by the bed bugs.

Scabies: Signs and Symptoms

Scabies is a contagious skin condition and, in humans, it is caused by the Sarcoptes scabies humanis mite. These require an incubation period of 2 to 6 weeks, following which, an itchy rash might be developed. The itching is particularly worse at nighttime. Different skin eruptions are often seen in scabies:

  • Burrows- These are characteristic lesions in scabies. They are made by adult female mites for laying eggs under the human skin. These might not always be present.
  • Excoriations
  • In infants, scabies rashes can develop into papules, urticaria, lesions etc.

Scabies mites tend to target certain parts of the body, namely: the areas under the finger or toenails, on the wrists, feet, between the fingers and toes etc.

Summary: Bed Bug Bites vs Scabies

Bed Bug Bites Scabies
Bed bug bites occur in linear patterns in groups of three to four marks Scabies can be spread over a greater surface area.
Bed bug bites are usually seen on arms, legs, back, neck, shoulders etc Scabies rashes are seen on feet, between fingers and toes, under the toenails etc
These are characterized by red, swollen bumps or weals These are usually white or red lines or burrows on the skin
Bed bugs do not live on human hosts. They return to their hiding spot after completion of a blood meal Scabies mites tend to lay eggs and live in the burrows they make on the skin
Bed bug infestations need to be treated with pesticides or heat treatment. Scabies rashes need permethrin and other medicated topical skin creams for treatment.
Bed bugs are not contagious but they can spread from household to household through luggage, clothing, or discarded infested furniture etc. All family members need to be treated with medicated skin creams, since scabies can spread due to sharing of infected towels, bed sheets etc.

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Bed bugs and dust mites belong to different groups of pests that infest our household and cause various health issues. Where bedbugs are typically the size of an apple seed and are easily discernible to the naked eye, dust mites are microscopic. Bed bugs are parasites that feed on blood of humans and pets (mammals) but dust mites do not actually feed on humans and pets. Bedbugs are insects and dust mites belong to the arachnids (spider) family. Diseases caused by dust mites are mainly due to the chemical composition of their shed skin and feces. Let us study the differences between bed bugs and dust mites.

Differences between bed bugs and dust mites

  • Dust mites are microscopic (3 microns approximately) and cause severe allergies in susceptible people, especially children and the aged.
  • Bed bug bites are visible and look like mosquito bites. They typically are grouped in 3 or more and look like clusters. Sometimes, your skin may not react as fast to the bed bug venom and you will see no blisters on skin. There may be no itching, but if you find bloodstains, however tiny on clothing or anywhere in the bedroom, you can be certain of having bed bugs.
  • Although dust mites are equally or in some cases more dangerous than bed bugs, the difference between bed bug bites and dust mite bites is that, quite simply, dust mites don’t bite and there is no specific marking on the skin to spot them in your home.
  • The shed skin of dust mites and their feces, which are both microscopic, contain allergens that affect people with allergies, asthma, other breathing disorders and those people whose immune system is compromised because of a recent illness, surgical procedure or their age.

Symptoms of dust mite bites

Apart from dust mites, there are several other species of mites prominent of which are scabies mites, rat mites, and fowl/bird mites. These mites do bite and you can see their visible marks on the skin. Scabies mite bites often look similar to bed bug bites and need to be treated carefully. Dust mite bites symptoms are same as symptoms for allergy and asthma.

  • Sneezing, runny nose
  • Itchy and red or watery eyes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Intermittent cough
  • Swollen lips and tongue,
  • Rash and irritation on skin, broken skin
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Pain in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, loose motions
  • Confusion and loss of consciousness.

Dust mite vs. bed bug bites:

Where bed bug bites are real and cause discomfort that can be easily diagnosed, dust mites may not be easily diagnosed due to lack of awareness. Dust mites are potentially more dangerous than bed bugs because of the fact that they adversely affect people and children who are susceptible to allergies and further weaken their immune systems. Bed bugs on the other hand are quite predictable and with a little effort, it is easy to get rid of them.

Treatment for bites

  • Bed bug bite treatment includes measures to relieve the symptoms like irritation, itching etc. If, of course you are convinced that the skin lesions you experience are not caused by bed bug bites, it is better to see a qualified doctor to both figure out the cause and treat the problem An over the counter antihistamine pill is effective as a bed bug bite treatment for itching and irritation. You can also use a hot washcloth to wipe down the area affected by bed bug bites.
  • Although dust mites don’t literally bite, the discomfort caused can only be explained as a dust mite bite. Besides, allergic rash that looks like fleabites maybe caused by dust mites. Dust mite bites treatment involves treating for allergies and asthma. Dust mite bites rash is also caused by the allergies and can be cured with appropriate allergy medication.
  • If you see dust mite bites symptoms, it is important to see a qualified doctor to get the allergies under control and also take measures to prevent asthma. It is also important to treat your home and get rid of invisible dust mites.
  • If you suspect dust mites in your home or find rash that looks like dust mite bites on baby, immediately consult your pediatrician and take measures to prevent and treat any known and unknown allergies.


  • It is impossible to get rid of all and every dust mite in your home and surroundings but some measures like regular vacuuming using HEPA filters, keeping pets out of the bedrooms, generally keeping clean, washing clothes and linen in hot water, mite proof pillow cases and mattress cases, and checking the humidity in your home can significantly reduce the incidence of dust mites and hence, “dust mite bites”.
  • Preventing bedbugs is also easy if you follow some precautions during travel, walking your pets and generally keep your surroundings clean. The chemicals used in dry cleaning can kill bedbugs and dry cleaning is effective against bed bugs that cling to your clothes.
  • Dust mites can also be prevented by using and regularly washing/cleaning bedding covers, using quality cleaning products, using hot or warm water to wash clothes, curtains, bed covers, pillow cases etc., using detergents that get rid of allergens on clothes along with dirt and stains, and vacuuming the floor and carpets etc. regularly. Carpets are the biggest source of dust mites and if possible, try to have fewer carpets in your home. Get rid of carpets in the toilets and kitchen and if you have a walk-in closet, there too.
  • Another important point when it comes to preventing dust mites is to keep humidity to the minimum. Dust mites like all visible pests thrive in warm humid conditions and hence using a dehumidifier in appropriate seasons will help. You should also keep your windowpanes, vents and other mesh clean and maintain and service them regularly.
  • Neither dust mites, nor their shed skin and feces are visible to the naked eye. So, if you do find some poo like critters, they might be bed bugs or other pests. Vacuuming will get rid of these pests as well as dust mites.

It is quite easy to discern whether bed bugs or dust mites infest your home. If you have been away on a long vacation, it is possible you might have both. Use measures to get rid of beg bugs and dust mites to prevent discomfort and allergies.

Got bed bugs? Here are 10 products that can help you get rid of and prevent them.

Bed bugs vs Dust mites – What Bit You?

  • Vacuum thoroughly the bedroom and around your bed.
  • Wash all of the bed linen at high temperatures and if you have a dryer, use it.
  • Read more about how to check for bed bugs

    What Not To Do?

    • Don’t panic if you find out that your home has bed bugs.
    • Don’t go sleeping in another room.
    • Don’t throw away your mattress unless the infestation is severe.
    • Don’t use bug bombs or other pesticides.
    • Don’t try DIY methods for dealing with the bed bugs.
    • Don’t wait too long before calling a professional exterminator.

    Will Any of the Pests Attack Your Pets as Well?

    Bed bugs will feed on your pets if there is no human nearby. Bed bugs are drawn to the carbon dioxide that people and animals exhale and that’s how they find you. If they are searching for food and your dog or cat is the only one near them, bed bugs will feed on them.

    Dust mites feed on the dead skin cells of animals as well.

    Is It Possible That Just One Person Gets Bitten?

    No. Bed bugs don’t have preferences in blood types, like it is believed that mosquitoes do. They search for food and find the nearest host to feed on.

    The fact that only some people get symptoms such as welts and red blisters means that their bodies react to the bites. Every person’s body has a different reaction to the bites.

    It is more likely that everyone is bitten but not everyone’s body shows a reaction to the bites.

    Protect Your Home from These Pests

    How to Keep Dust Mites Away

    • There’s really no way to keep your home 100% mite-free. But with regular cleaning of the entire home, you can reduce their number.
    • Vacuum your mattress, carpets, area rugs, upholstered furniture, even curtains regularly.
    • Dust daily and keep humidity levels low because the mites thrive in humid areas.
    • If you are more sensitive you may encase your mattress.

    How to Keep Bed Bugs Away

    • Regularly vacuum of the upholstered furniture, carpets and mattress.
    • Washing bed linen weekly at high temperature can help reduce their population.
    • Be careful when you are travelling. Keep your luggage safe and inspect the hotel rooms you are staying in.

    Can You Feel Dust Mites on Your Skin? Kill Them Fast!

    If you’re searching ‘can you feel dust mites on your skin‘ then the chances are that you either think you have dust mites in your bed or home or you have allergies that dust mites make worse.

    Dust mites are the worlds most common cause of allergies second behind pollen. Dust mites are also a major contributing factor for towards asthma attacks.

    Can you feel dust mites on your skin? Dust mites often get confused with bed bugs. The difference between the two is what they eat. Dust mites eat dead skin and bed bugs feed on blood, that’s why you can feel them biting you. If you know you have dust mites your subconscious will make you feel like you can feel them but you can’t.

    We can help you reduce the amount in your home fast – Use technology to kill them quickly and safely.

    The feeling of things crawling on your skin is all in your head. You CANNOT feel dust mites on your skin they are too small to feel.

    Table of Contents

    What are dust mites?

    Dust mites are tiny microscopic arachnids that feed off dead skin amongst other waste products like pets hair and skin.

    There are two types of dust mites:

    • DermatophagoidesNorth American house dust mite
    • Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus the European dust mite

    Dust mites have eight legs, no eyes, no antennae, and a tough, translucent shell. Dust mites are approximately 0.20 – 0.30 millimeters in size and cannot be seen with the human eye without magnification.

    Dust mites live in areas where they can feed. They eat dead skin so as you can imagine your bed in the number one breeding ground for dust mites. They also live carpets and rugs and even children’s soft toys.

    Dust mites do not bite and you cannot feel them crawling on your skin.

    Dust mites often get confused with bedbug. The difference between the two is what they eat. Dust mites eat dead skin and bed bugs feed on blood, that’s why you can feel them biting you.

    Have you ever heard the saying ‘Don’t let the bed bugs bite’


    Why are Dust Mites bad if you have eczema?

    The enzymes present in the dust mite dropping can cause allergic reactions and studies have proven they can cause asthma and also cause flare-ups for eczema sufferers.

    Atopic Dermatitis and Contact Dermatitis are two types of eczema that are closely related with dust mites and are one of the major causes of eczema flare-ups?

    When you’re dealing with a skin condition like eczema where you shed more skin than normal, You are always going to be vulnerable to dust mites.

    Dust mites can cause you to itch but the main concern from dust mites are allergy symptoms which include upper respiratory problems, runny and itchy nose, and eyes.

    How do you know if you’re allergic to dust mites?

    The only way to tell if you’re allergic to dust mites is to get tested.

    An allergy skin test is when a small sample of an allergen is pricked into your skin and your skin is then carefully monitored for a reaction. Depending on the severity of the reaction will determine if you’re allergic to a substance or dust mites.

    How can you get rid of Dust Mites?

    It is impossible to get rid of all the dust mites in your home. The average mattress can hold anywhere from 200,000 – 10 Million dust mites. The average pillow can double in weight due to the amount of dust mite droppings on your pillow. Yuck!

    You can however dramatically reduce the number of dust mites in your home which will help manage your skin condition like eczema and psoriasis.

    • Freeze pillows and soft toys for 24 hours to kill dust mites
    • Wash bedding in hot water at least 130 Fahrenheit (54.4 Celsius) degrees. You can also use detergents that kill dust mites.
    • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
    • Extreme cold or extreme heat is the easiest ways.
    • You can also use pesticides if you choose. Some brands include Agrodust and Fortefog.
    • Use Dustmite and Flea Control Powder, which is non-toxic and dissolves without a trace in water.
    • Use Hypoallergenic Bedding and pillows
    • Use essential oils in your washer like eucalyptus oil which has been proven to help kill dust mites

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    The number one way to keep dust mites at bay is, cleaning!

    Regular use of a Vacuum cleaner with a Hepa filter on your bedding, mattress, and pillows is the best way to control dust mites.

    For more great tips visit FIGHTING DUSTMITES website which has a ton of information on dust mites.

    Products to remove Dust Mites

    1. Bosisto’s dust mite wash – Add to your washing machine to kill dust mites.
    2. Anti-allergen dust mite spray – Simply spray, kill and wipe clean. Great for surfaces.
    3. Dust mite and Flea control – Add to a bottle and spray, then vacuum the dead dust mites
    4. UV Dust mite vacuum – Advanced handheld HEPA filter vacuum
    5. Mattress protector – Dust mite & Allergy-free mattress protector.
    6. Ultrasonic wave dust mite killer – Uses Ultrasonic waves to kill unseen bugs.
    7. Allergy-free bedding can help reduce bed bugs and dust mites.

    SafeRest Premium Zippered Mattress Encasement – Lab Tested Bed Bug Proof, Dust Mite and Waterproof – Breathable, Noiseless and Vinyl Free (Fits 12 – 15 in. H) – Queen Size

    $49.95 in stock 1 new from $49.95
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    • Independently lab tested and certified bed bug entry, escape and bite proof (Queen Size 60″ x 80″ x 15″) OEKO-TEX Certified (SH025 151792)
    • Surrounds and protects the mattress on all 6-sides against allergens, dust mites, bed bugs, bacteria, fluids, perspiration and urine (10-year warranty and machine washable)
    • Exclusive Micro-Zipper technology prevents all stages of bed bugs from passing through the zippers teeth
    • 360 Secure zipper closing feature prevents accidental openings by sealing the end zipper traveler with a Velcro flap
    • Premium cotton terry surface material with breathable hypoallergenic membrane backing keeps the mattress cool and noiseless while blocking dust mites and other allergens (great for those with asthma and allergies)

    Housmile Anti-Dust Mites UV Vacuum Cleaner with Advanced HEPA Filtration and Double Powerful Suctions Eliminates Mites, Bed Bugs and Allergens for Mattresses, Pillows, Cloth Sofas, and Carpets

    $69.99 in stock 2 new from $69.99
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    • NOTE:This item is mostly used for Eliminating Mites, not absorbing the dust, 253.7nm UV Tube sterilization and 55℃ high temperature hot air ensure high efficiency of killing mites: the rate of killing bed bugs, mites, microorganisms and bacteria is almost up to 99.7%.
    • HEPA Filtration: the whole machine HEPA filtration captures 99.97 Percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns and releases the fresh air. Note: you can buy more filters by searching ASIN: B06XTDMG8V
    • Perfect cooperation between 3800 times/min high frequency vibration and Double Powerful Suctions with 8.5KPa attraction to dust and mites on upper and base: first, beats out the dust mites from deep of bed sheet and mattress; then, thoroughly sucks them away.
    • The exclusive technology of activated carbon filtration: the air outlet on base with the exclusive design of twice activated carbon filtration so that it will block the twice pollution effectively.
    • The case is of elaborate and compact in design with 2.81Ib super light weight and built in 160ml dust chamber capacity meeting all the expectations of quality and performance.

    Dust Mite Controller. New technology to reduce dust mites

    $36.95 in stock 1 new from $36.95 Buy now on Amazon as of February 2, 2020 3:47 pm

    • Kills dust mites instead of repelling them
    • Ultrasonic waves interfere with the growth cycle of dust mites
    • UV light kills dust mites and their eggs
    • Covers an average sized bedroom
    • Ideal for those suffering from allergies

    Killing dust mites – Use technology to kill them!

    How to kill Dust Mites using technology

    These days we can use technology to kill dust mites and other bugs that can cause irritations to our skin if you suffer from eczema and other skin conditions.

    Can you feel dust mites on your skin? No but you can kill them even if you can’t see them!

    Products like Terratek ultrasonic pest killer works by emitting an ultrasonic sound, which disrupts the feeding and reproductive/growth cycles of dust mites. This reduces the population of dust mites and therefore the allergens produced. This is a mains powered device that controls dust mites in your home. Dust mite allergens are thought to be related to half of all rhinitis and hay fever. Chemical-free, ultrasonic protection for a medium sized room up to 62m.

    The Dust Mite Controller simply plugs into your socket and emits a complicated range of ultrasonic waves covering up to 62.8 cubic metres. These sounds interfere with the feeding and reproductive cycles of the dust mite, immediately reducing the number of allergens produced (fecal matter) and over a period cause the population of mites to decrease. Product Highlights.

    The Dust Mite Controller can help with: • Itchy Eyes • Runny Nose • Skin Rash • Sneezing • Snoring • Wheezing and coughing.

    UV Light Wands Can Kill Dust Mites and Other Germs!

    Dust mites and other allergens thrive in the cracks and crevices of textiles and soft furnishings such as mattresses, sofas, rugs, and upholstery. Whilst your standard vacuum cleaner may minimize debris, dust, and crumbs, it might not be tackling the visible dirt.

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    The Germ Reaper Wand is designed to tackle the allergens that you can’t see, such as dust mites, bed bugs, bacteria, and pollen – all things that may worsen the symptoms of asthma, eczema and other irritations.

    The UV-C light attacks the DNA of bed bugs, dust mites, and bacteria such as E-Coli, which prevents them from reproducing and spreading, effectively sterilizing your mattresses and soft furnishings. The cleaning area is illuminated by LED lights and the powerful vacuum removes dust and allergens into the 0.5L dust tank.

    The HEPA filter is designed to minimize the emissions back into the environment, keeping your home clean and clear. The handheld unit weighs only 1.2kg and features a 6m power cord, perfect for cleaning all around the home – Ideal for mattresses, sofas, upholstery, bedding, carpets, and rugs.

    With the RHBV1001 cleaning, your home is made easy.

    Conclusion: Dust Mites & Eczema

    Don’t just think about dust mites in your bed, they can get everywhere and if you have babies or very young children they can even live in their soft toys. Buying allergy and asthma friendly toys can help reduce dust mites. These toys are made from a material that dust mites don’t like.

    No matter which method you choose to kill dust mites just the fact that you’re reducing the number of dust mites in your home will help your eczema and any other health issue you might have.

    We personally like the modern UV methods rather than powders and chemicals. However, they are proven to dramatically reduce dust mites FAST!

    Eczema is all about controlling the environment and irritants that can affect your skin condition and dust mites are one of them.

    You can only benefit from reducing the number of dust mites in your home. No one has ever gained from having dust mites in there home or bed.

    We hope we have answered your questions like ‘ Can dust mites make you itch?‘ & ‘ Do dust mites bite? ‘

    Mites Affecting Humans

    “Mite” is a term commonly used to refer to a group of insect-like organisms, some of which bite or cause irritation to humans. While some mites parasitize animals, including man, others are scavengers, some feed on plants, and many prey on insects and other arthropods. In fact, there are nearly as many different types of mites as there are insects. Like their relatives, the ticks, mites pass through four stages of development: egg to larva to nymph to adult. All stages have eight legs except the six-legged larva.

    Most mites never come in contact with humans, but some that do can affect a person’s health. Yet, in many situations where mites or other “invisible” arthropods are believed to be biting or “attacking” people, no causative organism is present. The irritation may be real or imagined: real, due to mechanical, chemical or other inanimate irritants, or imagined due to a psychological disorder.

    While mites rarely transmit disease to humans in the United States, they definitely impact health in ways that range from simply being a nuisance when they enter homes in large numbers, to inflicting severe skin irritation that can cause intense itching. The most commonly encountered mites, including those that can adversely affect human health, are listed below.

    Clover Mites (Bryobia spp.)

    This mite sometimes enters homes and other buildings by the thousands, causing panic among residents. Though they do not bite or cause health-related problems, clover mites can be a nuisance. If smashed when they crawl over carpets and drapery, the mites leave a red stain. Clover mites can be red, green or brown, and have front legs that are about twice as long as their other legs. They feed on clover, ivy, grasses, fruit trees and other plants. Well-fertilized lawns are favored. Clover mites enter homes when their food plants are removed or dry up. They are most active in fall, and will seek refuge in structures as colder weather approaches, when molting (shedding skin) and when laying eggs. Typical of many mite species, all clover mites are females capable of laying viable eggs without fertilization. They have no need for male mites!

    House Dust Mites (Dermatophagoides spp.)

    Much information (and misinformation) has appeared in recent years about house dust mites. Virtually invisible to the naked eye, house dust mites are nevertheless real. It has been shown that, like cockroaches, dust mites and their feces can become airborne and are one of the most common indoor allergens. That is, most persons diagnosed as being allergic to “house dust” are actually allergic to the dust mites whose bodies and feces are major components of dust. Roaches and dust mites have also been implicated in triggering asthma attacks. But, unlike rodent mites, itch mites and chiggers, skin irritation is rarely caused by exposure to dust mites. Although they may “hitchhike” on clothing, dust mites do not live on people. They feed primarily on dander, flakes of dead skin that fall from people and animals. Upholstered furniture, pillows and mattresses typically harbor more dust mites than carpeting.

    Itch Mites (Pyemotes spp.)

    These mites prey upon insects. Species including the straw itch mite (P. tritici) infest stored products. Humans are bitten when they contact straw, hay, grasses, leaves, seeds or similar materials harboring the mites. Another species (P. herfsi) also attacks insects living in sheltered locations, including the larvae of midges (gnat-like flies) in leaf galls, and the eggs of cicadas beneath tree bark. When separated from their insect prey, itch mites may contact and bite other animals including humans.

    The mites cannot be seen and the bites are not felt, but leave itchy red marks that can resemble a skin rash. When itch mite populations ‘explode,’ people and other animals may receive numerous bites. Fortunately, the mites cannot live on humans, do not survive indoors, and are not known to transmit disease.

    A) engorged itch mite B) female before feeding

    Rodent and Bird Mites (Liponyssoides sanguineus, Laelaps echidnina, Ornithonyssus spp., Dermanyssus gallinae, Cheyletiella spp.)

    Rodent and bird mites may bite people when their hosts die or abandon their nests. Three types of rodent mites readily bite humans: the house mouse mite(Liponyssoides saguineus), spiny rat mite (Laelaps echidnina) and tropical rat mite (Ornithonyssus bacoti). The house mouse mite prefers to suck the blood of mice, but also will bite rats and people, often causing a rash around the bite. They prefer warm places (e.g., around pipes and furnaces) where rodents live. The spiny rat mite feeds on rats at night and hides by day in cracks and crevices around rat nests and resting places. The tropical rat mite’s bite is painful and causes skin irritation and itching.

    Mites that normally infest birds also bite people. The northern fowl mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) and chicken mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) primarily infest chickens, but also pigeons, starlings and sparrows. The northern fowl mite cannot survive for more than a month off its host, while the chicken mite hides in cracks and crevices near bird nests during the day and feeds by night. Cheyletiella mites infest both birds and mammals. They may prey on other mites and insects living on the host’s skin. They can cause a mange-like condition in pets, and itching in people who handle infested pets. They do not stay long on humans.

    Chiggers (Eutrombicula spp.)

    Two species of chigger mites attack humans and other mammals, birds and reptiles. The nymph and adult stages prey on insects. It is the six-legged larval stage that typically feeds on rodents or ground dwelling birds but will bite people when they are available. Chigger larvae are red to yellow in color and appear as scarcely visible specks. When they detect the carbon dioxide exhaled by an animal, they climb on soil or vegetation and wave their front legs to contact it, then grasp it with their mouthparts. They do not suck blood but cut into the skin, inject skin-digesting saliva and suck up the liquefied skin. If not dislodged, the chigger will feed for several days. The bite becomes inflamed, hardens and itches. Chiggers spend most of their lives in cracks in the soil. They are typically found in rural, less disturbed areas, but can persist for years on soil in new subdivisions.

    Scabies Mites (Sarcoptes scabiei)

    Sarcoptes scabiei are mites that infest mammals, including man. Most human infestations result from person-to-person contact. Although they can transfer from animals to humans and vice versa, several types of scabies mites exist, each having a preferred host species on which it reproduces. In dogs, scabies mites cause mange. Scabies is the most common and important condition resulting from mite infestation of humans. Unlike other mites, scabies mites actually burrow and produce tunnels one centimeter or more in length just below the surface of the skin, in which they lay eggs. The mites are believed to feed on skin and secretions. The entire life cycle (10-17 days for human-infesting scabies mites) is spent on their host. Without a host, they survive only a few days. In previously unexposed individuals, a scabies infestation may go unnoticed for more than a month. Then, severe irritation and itching develops, especially at night.

    Managing Mites

    The first step in determining the true cause of irritations that may involve mites is to thoroughly inspect the premises and identify any organisms discovered. The simple fact that all mites are tiny creatures, some so small they can be seen only with magnification, often makes inspection and identification difficult. Likewise, mites that affect humans are a diverse group, each with very different habits, all of which investigators should be aware.

    Seek medical attention when exposure to mites is suspected as the cause of skin irritation. This is certainly true in the case of scabies infestations that will require medication. In addition, bedding and clothing of scabies-infected persons should be washed regularly. .

    When mites have been identified, appropriate control measures can be employed. A vacuum sweeper can be a valuable weapon in the mite control arsenal. Infestations of clover mites, rodent and bird mites in and around structures can sometimes be eliminated by vacuuming alone. Vacuuming may be less effective, but still of value, in controlling various food mites, straw itch mites and dust mites. Note that dust mites are not prevalent in ductwork; therefore, duct cleaning is not recommended for dust mite control. However, a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can be installed to help prevent airborne allergens, including dust mite particles.

    Moisture control also can be important. Mites transfer air and water through their body walls and are subject to desiccation at low humidity. Dust mite populations, for example, suffer when a relative humidity of 50 percent or less is maintained. On the other hand, high humidity can cause mite populations to increase exponentially.
    Well-ventilated homes in dry climates contain few dust mites. Homes with a relative humidity that consistently rises above 50 percent can contain more than 100 dust mites per gram of dust. To reduce dust mite numbers, a relative humidity of less than 50 percent must be maintained for several weeks. Any fluctuation in humidity, however brief, seems sufficient for dust mites to remain and reproduce. Daily activities such as air-conditioning and showering, will cause humidity levels to fluctuate in portions of the home. Thus, other means of controlling dust mites should be employed in addition to humidity control.

    For dust mites, products containing benzyl benzoate, and possibly abrasive dust formulations, may provide some control when applied to flooring and floor coverings. Bedding, draperies, floor coverings and furniture should be cleaned regularly. Pillows, mattresses and upholstered furniture can be discarded or sealed in plastic covers to help prevent dust mite infestation, and to reduce ongoing infestations and their associated allergens. Persons suffering from allergic reactions or asthma should consult a physician.

    Exclusion methods also can be used for certain mites, e.g., clover mites. Structural entry points, e.g., gaps in and around foundations, doors, windows, vents, utility lines, etc., should be sealed. This will help to keep clover mites outdoors along with rats, mice, birds — and the mites these pests bring when they are allowed to nest in structures. If nests are found, they should be removed and the area around them vacuumed. Other non-chemical methods include maintaining a plant-free border around foundations and reducing the amount of fertilizer applied to lawns – both of which help to keep clover mites away from structures.

    Pesticides labeled for use against mites, known as miticides or acaricides, can be effective against clover mites and chiggers in grassy areas. For chiggers, however, insect repellents containing 7 percent to 30 percent “DEET” should be used as the first line of defense. To dislodge any chiggers that may have attached, take a hot, soapy bath or shower immediately after visiting natural areas where chiggers are present.

    NOTE: When pesticides are used, it is the applicator’s legal responsibility to read and follow directions on the product label. Not following label directions, even if they conflict with information provided herein, is a violation of federal law.

    For more information, contact:
    Illinois Department of Public Health,
    Division of Environmental Health
    525 W. Jefferson St.,
    Springfield, IL 62761
    800-547-0466 TTY (hearing-impaired use only)

    Illustrations courtesy of Ohio State University, Texas A&M University, University of Missouri, and University of Kentucky.

    Singaporeans unknowingly play host to unwanted “visitors” who can cause health problems as they lurk unseen in places around the home.

    Dust mites are tiny bugs that live by the millions in places like pillows, beddings and carpets. They thrive by feasting on the dead skin and hair of humans and pets.

    These mites are also a major cause of allergies and asthma.

    One in five children and 5 per cent of adults in Singapore suffer from asthma, and about 85 per cent of these asthmatic patients have an allergy to dust mites.

    A new study by researchers from NUS-SMART (Singapore- MIT Alliance for Research and Technology) discovered that dust mites found in beds and pillows could cause more harm to asthmatic patients than previously thought.

    These bugs and their faecal matter can damage a person’s DNA, which can worsen lung inflammation and lead to cell death if the DNA is not repaired.

    Here are some things you should know about dust mites.

    1. What are dust mites?

    House dust mites are microscopic bugs that primarily live on the dead skin cells that humans and their pets shed. The mites are mostly harmless to people and do not carry diseases, but they and their faeces can cause allergic reactions to humans, especially among asthmatics.

    The bugs are only 250 to 300 microns in length and have translucent bodies, making them invisible to the naked eye.

    2. Biology and life cycle of dust mites.

    Adult females lay about 40 to 80 eggs singly or in small groups of three to five.

    After the eggs hatch, a six-legged larva emerges. An eight-legged nymph will appear after the first moult. Eventually, it will become an eight-legged adult after two nymphal stages occur.

    The life cycle from egg to adult is around one month and the adult will continue to live for another one to three months.

    The primary food source of dust mites consists of skin scales, also known as dander, from humans and animals.

    However, they can also get their nutrients from other sources like fungi, cereals, crumbs, pet food and fish food flakes.

    3. Where are dust mites found?

    Mattresses contain skin cells and scales, hence beds are a prime habitat for dust mites. PHOTO: ST FILE

    Skin cells and scales are often found in mattresses, furniture and carpeted areas.

    Beds are a prime habitat for dust mites and a typical mattress may have around 100,000 to 10 million mites inside.

    A single dust mite produces about 20 waste droppings a day, each containing a protein that many people are allergic to.

    The car is another place where dust mites thrive.

    The hot spots where many of these tiny creatures can be found include the steering wheel, radio, gear shift, cup holders and car seats.

    4. What are the symptoms of allergies to dust mites?

    Symptoms of allergy to dust mites include asthma and difficulty in breathing, among others. PHOTO: ST FILE

    Symptoms of an allergy to dust mites include runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, red or watery eyes, asthma and difficulty in breathing, eczema, cough or hay fever. You may experience all or just some of these symptoms.

    For children, frequent upward rubbing of the nose could indicate an allergy to dust mites.

    A doctor can use blood tests and skin tests to confirm a suspected allergy.

    5. Who are most susceptible to dust mite allergies?

    Studies have shown that asthma patients living in homes with fans had better health than those living in air-conditioned homes. PHOTO: ST FILE

    The lifestyle of a person can affect his susceptibility to allergies caused by dust mites.

    This was revealed in a study conducted by scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and published in science journal Allergy in February 2014.

    Other studies have also shown that asthma patients living in mechanically-ventilated homes – such as houses with fans, roof ventilators and air ducts- had better health than those living in air-conditioned homes.

    6. How does one get rid of dust mites?

    Freezing soft toys once a week can kill dust mites. PHOTO: ST FILE

    First, reduce humidity inside rooms by opening windows to allow ventilation.

    Install extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms and wipe away condensation from windows every day.

    Since a bed is a hot spot for dust mites, make sure to wash the sheets, blankets and pillowcases every two weeks.

    The water used to wash your sheets, blankets and pillowcases should be at least 54 deg C.

    You can also buy dust-proof or allergen-impermeable covers made of plastic to encase mattresses, pillows and duvets.

    Remove carpeting, and opt for floor coverings like laminate, wood, tile, linoleum or vinyl flooring instead.

    If you have carpets, vacuum them every day.

    If your child is allergic to dust mites, make sure the bedroom is kept tidy and soft toys are stored in a wooden box to prevent them from collecting dust.

    A useful tip would be to freeze favourite soft toys at least once a week to kill dust mites and then wash the toys to remove allergens.

    Parasitic Mites of Humans

    ENTFACT-637: Parasitic Mites of Humans | Download PDF

    by Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist
    University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

    Mites are very small arthropods which are closely related to ticks. Mite larvae have six legs whereas the nymphal and adult stages have eight. Most species of mites are pests of agricultural crops. However, certain types of mites are parasitic on humans.



    Chiggers are the larvae of a family of mites that are sometimes called red bugs. The adults are large, red mites often seen running over pavement and lawns. Chiggers are extremely small (0.5 mm) and are difficult to see without magnification. The six-legged larvae are hairy and yellow-orange or light red. They are usually encountered outdoors in low, damp places where vegetation is rank and grass and weeds are overgrown. Some species also infest drier areas, however, making it difficult to predict where an infestation will occur.

    Chiggers overwinter as adults in the soil, becoming active in the spring. Eggs are laid on the soil. After hatching, the larvae crawl about until they locate and attach to a suitable host. The larvae do not burrow into the skin, but inject a salivary fluid which produces a hardened, raised area around them. Body fluids from the host are withdrawn through a feeding tube. Larvae feed for about 4 days and then drop off and molt to nonparasitic nymphs and adults. Chiggers feed on a variety of wild and domestic animals, as well as humans. The life cycle (from egg to egg) is completed in about 50 days.

    Most people react to chigger bites by developing reddish welts within 24 hours. Intense itching accompanies the welts, which may persist for a week or longer if not treated. Bites commonly occur around the ankles, waistline, armpits, or other areas where clothing fits tightly against the skin. Besides causing intense itching, chigger bites that are scratched may result in infection and sometimes fever. Chiggers in North America are not known to transmit disease.

    Persons walking in chigger-infested areas can be protected by treating clothing (cuffs, socks, waistline, sleeves) or exposed skin with tick repellents. Some repellents should only be used on clothing; and it is important to follow label directions. People who suspect they may have been attacked by chiggers should take a soapy bath immediately and apply antiseptic to any welts. A local anesthetic will provide temporary relief from itching.

    Regular mowing and removal of weeds and brush make areas less suitable for chiggers and their wild hosts. Mowing also enhances penetration and performance of miticides, should they be required. Chigger populations can be further reduced by treating infested areas with residual miticides. Applications should be thorough but restricted to areas frequented and suspected of being infested.

    Human Scabies

    Scabies Mite

    The sarcoptic itch mites, Sarcoptes scabei, infest the skin of a variety of animals including humans. The types of Sarcoptes inhabiting the skin of mammals are all considered forms of Sarcoptes scabei and can exchange hosts to some degree. (For example, Canine scabies can be temporarily transferred from dogs to humans, causing itching and lesions on the waist, chest and forearms.)

    Human scabies mites are very small and are rarely seen. They commonly attack the thin skin between the fingers, the bend of the elbow and knee, the penis, breasts, and the shoulder blades. The mites burrow into the skin, making tunnels up to 3 mm (0.1 inch) long. When they first burrow into the skin, the mites cause little irritation, but after about a month, sensitization begins. A rash appears in the area of the burrows and intense itching is experienced.

    Scabies mites are transmitted by close personal contact, usually from sleeping in the same bed. Bedridden individuals in institutions (e.g., nursing homes) may also pass the mites from caregiver to patient. The adult fertilized female mite is usually the infective life stage. She adheres to the skin using suckers on her legs and burrows into the skin where she lays her oval eggs. In 3 to 5 days these eggs hatch into larvae and move freely over the skin. Soon they transform into nymphs and reach maturity 10 to 14 days after hatching.

    A scabies infestation should be handled as a medical problem and is readily diagnosed and treated by most physicians. (Confirmation requires isolating the mites in a skin scraping.) The first step to control a scabies infestation usually involves softening the skin with soap and water to make sure the pesticide treatments can penetrate well. An evening bath followed by overnight treatment works best. A total body (neck- down) application of topical pesticide medication should remain for 8-12 hours before showering in the morning. Commonly used products include lindane (Kwell ™), permethrin (Elimite ™) and crotamiton (Eurax ™). Follow directions on the product package carefully.

    Because the symptoms of scabies mite infestations are delayed by about a month, other members of the household besides those showing symptoms may be harboring the mites. It is important that everyone in the infected family or living group go through the treatment regime. A second treatment may be necessary to eliminate an infestation of scabies mites, but patients should avoid overzealous pesticide treatment since itching may persist for a week or more after treatment and does not necessarily indicate treatment failure.

    Scabies mites cannot live off of a human host for more than 24 hours. Therefore, insecticide treatment of premises is not warranted. It is recommended, however, that coincident with treatment, the clothing and bedding from infested individuals be washed in hot water or dry cleaned.

    Bird and Rodent Mites

    Bird Mite

    Parasitic mites that occasionally infest buildings are usually associated with wild or domestic birds or rodents. Bird and rodent mites normally live on the host or in their nests, but migrate to other areas of the structure when the animal dies or abandons the nest. Rodent mites often become a nuisance after an infestation of mice or rats has been eliminated. People usually become aware of the problem when they are attacked by mites searching for an alternate food source. Their bites cause moderate to intense itching and irritation. Rodent and bird mites are very tiny, but usually can be seen with the naked eye. They are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

    The first step in controlling bird or rodent mites is to eliminate the host animals and remove their nesting sites. Often, the nests will be found in the attic, around the eaves and rafters, or in the gutters or chimney. Gloves should be used when handling dead animals. A respirator should also be worn when removing nest materials to avoid inhaling fungal spores and other potential disease-producing organisms associated with the droppings.

    After nests are removed, the areas adjacent to the nest should be sprayed or dusted with a residual insecticide such as those products labeled for flea control. Space or ULV treatments with non-residual materials (e.g., synergized pyrethrins) can be used in conjunction with residual sprays. Space treatments are especially useful when the mite infestation has dispersed widely from the nesting site. In this case, more extensive treatment with residual and non-residual insecticides may also be necessary in other areas of the structure where mites are observed. A vacuum cleaner or cloth moistened with alcohol can be used to eliminate mites crawling on open surfaces.

    Revised: 10/96

    CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.


    Photos: M. Potter, University of Kentucky Entomology

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