Mites - An Itch That Can't Be Scratched...
July 1, 2009 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Mites - is moving only option? Will we take them with us?

Neighbor cut down HUGE tree. Part of it falls on our window before being hauled off. We start noticing more bird poop on our window.

A week later, we start itching and noticing little grains of pepper bopping around in our apartment, crowding up on our plates and cups and computer screens. And a few white flying things, one that chose my glasses as a landing spot. And I'm sure there are tons of microscopic mites that we can't see now. Now our bodies are covered in welts. We do not see when they bite us. And we are freaking out.

Googling shows we either have bird mites or black pepper mites or at any rate, mites. We live in a 1 bedroom apartment and are not afraid to completely move if that's the option that makes the most sense, but it will take us until at least August 1 to make this happen and we need to know what to do about this NOW.

We do not want to spend more than $100 of our own money. Some places say Windex works, others say nothing works, other say really expensive stuff works....

We DO want to make sure that we don't take them with us. Are they REALLY like embedded in our skin and hair? How do we get them out permanently?

Will drycleaning and hot washing all of our clothes work? We have very expensive clothes and not too many spares to wrap up for a month in garbage bags.

We're going to throw away all of our furniture and bed and start fresh. It's the only way, right? Thank goodness we only have cheap furniture!

This is freaking us out. HELP!
posted by curiositykilledthelemur to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
You should get your landlord to pay for an exterminator to come and get rid of the pigeons that are probably nesting in your roof or possibly above or under air-conditioning vents. Cover yourself in bug-repellant lotion in the meantime, yes do as thorough a cleaning as if you have bed bugs. Keep your windows thoroughly sealed.

I think if you are planning to throw out all your bedding and upholstery you are going to be spending a lot more than 100 dollars to replace them. I think before you decide to move you should get your landlord to pay for as much of the exterminating as possible. Is yours the only apartment affected? I would say talk to your neighbors and get them to complain to your landlord as well, so he feels forced to address the problem. Good luck-- I've never had mites but I thought I did at one point so I did a fair amount of research.
posted by egeanin at 12:51 PM on July 1, 2009

For chicken/bird mites, I think they generally can't live long without a host (and if you're the host, you'll know it -- they're incredibly itchy at the moment they bite you). So what you need to do is treat this generation, then treat again when its eggs hatch in 1-2 weeks. I used Sevin Dust to treat chicken mites in the coop and it worked really well.

If I were you, I'd wash all bedding, and then apply Sevin Dust around all entrances where they might be getting in. Application tip: Put the dust in an old sock and tie it shut. Apply by dabbing the sock to the desired area. You'll get a much finer application that way. Let it sit overnight, then vacuum up.

It's toxic stuff, so don't do this if you have pets.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:02 PM on July 1, 2009

You most likely have Dermanyssus gallinae. They need an avian host to reproduce, so they will die out without one. Vacuum everything thoroughly. Throw the bag out in the dumpster. You don't need to throw out your furniture. They tend to bite at night, so use repellent if it makes you feel better. Wash your sheets. The vacuuming should take care of it. Google may be your enemy at this point, as there are a lot of people on the freak-out who make web pages about mite infestations. I would check to make sure that you don't have grain/cheese mites. They infest grain that is not stored properly.

You need to keep your cool. I had a woman referred to me by a veterinary dermatologist, and she had a dog that had grain mites living in its food (storage issue). The problem for her evolved into full-blown delusory parasitosis. Good luck, and send me a message if you have questions.
posted by bolognius maximus at 1:04 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

I moved out of my apartment two months ago, I saw the first first roach stow-away last night.
I did not want this in my new house.

posted by Napierzaza at 3:40 PM on July 1, 2009

I recommend using a baby wipe on your skin the minute you feel them crawling to preempt the bite. I use window cleaner on my desk before I sit at flat surfaces, and spray the window sills.

My older unit has bird mites, and sealing the windows has helped some but not completely eradicated them. Seconding others who have said that they die out after a week or two if you can stand it. My reward, I suppose, is that I get to see baby hummingbirds and yellow warblers try their first flight.

The baby wipe is good for trapping the creature, and kills it right away. Washing your bite with soap and cool water will help relieve the itching.
posted by effluvia at 4:53 PM on July 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Followup to any sufferers of this awful affliction who stumble upon this post - we had to move, and even that wasn't enough. We had to throw away all of our stuff (EVERYTHING - they will never leave fabrics and you will just be reinfested from it) and STILL even though we migrated from hotel room to hotel room for two weeks, washing like madmen, buying new clothes every day, we were still being bitten. We had to trash our beloved car, too, because it was infested (we saw the bugs in there, too.)

In the end, we saw a specialist and it was over after we took two 15ml doses of Ivermectin a week apart (the first dose worked for my partner, the second finally killed all of my mites (We were 140 and 165 lbs respectively, if you are heavier you need more.)).

Bird mites, apparently, according to the best specialist around where I'm from, can actually start to live off of you now and have adapted to not require a bird source anymore.

Other things that worked to 90% get rid of the problem (by the Ivermectin we were down to one or two bites per day): Denorex shampoo on entire body as a soap (the coal tar can kill the ones not embedded (ICK) in your skin); taking Neem pills to halt reproduction, and taking Wormwood and Black Walnut, as well as washing body after Denorex in Azure sulfur soap from the Spanish section of CVS. And Queen Helene green acne mask with sulfur over ENTIRE BODY at night to keep mites from being able to bite and feed. You look like an alien but it's totally worth it. Also, daily salt scrubs followed with coconut oil helps to remove them, too.

No, I am not crazy - in fact, until I logged in just now, I had forgotten about the horrors of just a few months ago as I am completely cured and loving life right now but I felt compelled to help anyone else who ever feels as desperate as I did for two months. Yes, it's just that serious.

Though my post suggested I wanted to spend under $100, this ordeal ended up costing us over $25,000 (not to mention mental anguish!). However, after two months of pure hell, we became 100% free of the bugs and I truly think that the only thing that we could have saved money on would have been a week less of hotel stay if we had gotten ivermectin sooner, but that was as soon as someone could see us.

We are fortunate that the doctor we saw totally knew what was going on and was sympathetic and knew a prescription protocol - we took another appointment with a derm slightly more convenient to us after the ordeal, just in case somethign ever happened to us again, and she point blank said to us IF YOU HAD COME TO ME WITH THIS PROBLEM I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT YOU WERE CRAZY AND SENT YOU HOME BUT I AM GLAD IT ALL WORKED OUT FOR YOU.

We are still free of the bugs physically but mentally will always be wary - can never trust thrift stores or used furniture, sadly, and will NEVER EVER TOUCH A BIRD AGAIN IN MY LIFE (that causes it for some people). Some of these mites live indefinitely without a food source (4+ years documented).

This woman was the only person on the internet that gave me hope because she eradicated the mites. Without her protocol and the level to which she took this stuff seriously we may not have gotten out in time. Though as a renter, the incentive to try and clean every corner of our apartment was not there, nor was the incentive to salvage our crappy furniture. We hired people to take our belongings STRAIGHT to the dump and we asked our landlord get an exterminater and paint everything for the next tenants - I hope they did. It was painful and expensive losing all of our clothes but they continued to reinfest us and drycleaning won't kill the beasts.

I do not regret any of the crazy money spent (and I am a ridiculously frugal individual) and I urge anyone with this infestation to TAKE IT SERIOUSLY and knock it out in one blow, starting fresh with nothing but good health in a new apartment and nothing else, if possible, but only after taking Ivermectin and staying in a new hotel room every night for two weeks while scrubbing yourself silly to be sure that you have eradicated them before infesting your new house.

YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. NOR ARE YOU OVERREACTING - there are frightening stories online of people who have lived with these thigns for years and they do cause health problems. IT WILL BE OVER SOON IF YOU ARE VERY VERY DILIGENT. And you will forever know what it feels like to be sooo appreciative of good health and itch-free skin!
posted by curiositykilledthelemur at 7:05 AM on December 10, 2009

Response by poster: It's also important to note that after the first stages of infestation, MOST PEOPLE NEVER SEE ANOTHER BUG. My first, good doc told me that's because if they're living off of you they learn to burrow (AAGH) into your skin and only come out to feed or during birth or to push out their poop, which causes the 'bites' perhaps. We never saw a bug after we moved and got rid of our stuff, but continued to be bitten for weeks, until the Ivermectin which stopped everything in their tracks (I had a few eggs that hadn't yet hatched but were killed with the second dose). This lack of proof is why people are called delusional and crazy, and are diagnosed with folliculitis, depression, etc. The only reason my partner and I are not in the crazy house still scratching is luck with doctor choice, pedigree, and cash flow, which is NOT FAIR.

As soon as the mite drama was over I went right back to being a productive, happy member of society, but during that time I have never in my life felt so dark and depressed and near a nervous breakdown and thus I entirely empathize with individuals who, because of lack of access, prestige, and cash are not being taken seriously - especially having experienced the second derm's dismissal of us, even though we went to the same Ivy as she, and we were totally chipper at the appointment, and we just wanted to make a connection with a local derm in case of ever need one one asap again! She STILL suggested that because we weren't seeing the bugs we were crazy!
posted by curiositykilledthelemur at 7:17 AM on December 10, 2009

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