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Skin Mites

Summary: Skin mite infestations of human habitats can be extremely difficult to control. The skin mites are microscopic and are difficult to capture so you can show them to someone. Consequently, no one wants to believe you have a mite infestation.

Kate from the United Kingdom writes:

I finally got an (insect) ID this month: Dermatophagoides Scheremetewskyi Bogdanow. It was the second mite that I researched, after Dermannysus gallinae.

I had my cats put down because of this. I threw away everything I owned, and all my clothes, twice. I have moved four times. It (the mite) is now living in my scalp, as well as my current house.

This mite burrows in the skin, similar to sarcoptes, is contagious, infects humans and pets. The ova to nymph (instar) stage is 8-14 days. It lives independently in the environment without a host (the only parasitical mite to do so). Adults can live up to 8 months without feeding. It evades topical treatments by re-entering the burrows, is commonly found in houses and public places, and currently, there is no known cure for the skin infection. Surfaces, clothing, pets and contact can all be vectors. Environments can become infested by infected inhabitants and inhabitants can get re-infected from their environment.

People in both the UK and US are reporting this to be a huge problem. I know of over 500 people who are trying to be rid of this thing. I know one man who says he has (been infested) for 20 years (since Viet Nam), and there are many people having infestations for 2 to 14 years. Some people have committed suicide over it; some have been institutionalized in mental hospitals.

Environmentally, folks have tried a arsenal of things to kill it including Permethrin, tetramethrin, pyrethrins, deltamethrin, carbamates, malathion, acetamiprid, sevin, mint oil (Victor), cypermethrin, cyfluthrin, phenothrin, resmethrin, pyrethroids, flumethrin, benzyl benzoate, and benzylkonium chloride. None of these have worked.

Ask the Exterminator note: Best success has been seen with products containing beta-cyfluthrin such as  Tempo SC Ultra  and Temprid SC.

I had my original apartment sprayed with permethrin 21.6%. That worked to clear it from my environment, but the apartment was re-infested again because I had it in my skin and did not know it. Strong permethrin also works.

Initial infection tends to be similar to flea bites, but since nothing is seen or found (as in my case), people assume it is fleas, and do the usual flea protocols and wait for autumn. I actually abandoned that apartment in September, moved, and then threw away everything I owned a month later. Moved again and again, and still have them. People are using flea protocols for laundering and increasing drying time to 2 hours.

Topically, people have tried these without success: malathion, permethrin, phenothrin, cyclomethecone, flower of sulphur soap/ointment, zinc, Ivermectin (veterinary topical for mites, etc), menthol, (the list is virtually endless). I even know of one woman who put a veterinary spot-on treatment on her scalp and left it on overnight. It contained 45% permethrin, and she wondered why her head felt burnt the next day. (This should give you a good idea of how desperate people get with this mite.) People have sprayed Raid on themselves, taken bleach baths, put kerosene, motor oil and roach killer directly on their skin. People say that the mites actually move the hair on their heads. It's true! They do. And many have gone to extreme measures to be rid of it.

Topically, people have reported marginal success, or temporary success using: benzyl peroxide, 10% sulfur ointment (if used daily), 5% permethrin (if used daily for 6 months).

Varying successes have been reported using oral meds; Ivermectin, some other anti-thelmetics, various antibiotics. The most success rates seem to be with dogs who are treated with Ivermectin, or another miticide from the Avermectin group (oral or injectables).

I have seen a doctor in the UK and am trying Ivermectin, long-term antibiotic therapy (3 months) and naltrexone for 3 months to get my immune system working again. I am unsure if any of these will work, but this doctor claims to have success with other patients for this problem. I'll see. 

I suspect that I got this infestation in July, but do not know the source. I can only say that it is a real nightmare to live with, and that if anyone can figure this out (cure and eradication) it should be me because I never give up on anything, and everyday I get up and try to do one impossible thing before breakfast. And I am failing miserably.

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