Over-the-counter soap or lotion to get the bedbugs and fleas?
April 28, 2014 9:16 PM   Subscribe

I don't know if there's bedbugs in the sheets, or if it's fleas (because we sleep with the dog in the bed), but my skin itches, and I'd like an over-the-counter soap to try to wash them away.

I know my skin reponds negatively to the anti-bacterial whatever is inside IRISH SPRING soap, and if I wash with Irish Spring I can get irritated red skin rash. Usually I like to use OIL OF OLAY shea butter soaps.

There must be some soap or lotion I can buy, without a prescription from a doctor, to do a low-level attempt to remove whatever begbugs or itchy skin mites might be causing me trouble.

Yes, we do sleep with the dog. He'll probably need some special shampoo, too.
posted by shipbreaker to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bedbug bites have an obvious pattern--big red bite marks, in clusters, usually on arms and legs. I'm not sure about fleas. For bedbug bites, you need a whole-house treatment for the bugs, but the bites themselves, the best thing you can do is run the effected place under hot water, as hot as you can stand, for as long as you can stand it. I don't know why it works, but it kills itching. Also works on mosquitos, might work on flea bites.

If you don't have something that clearly looks like bug bites, you might need to entertain the possibility that it's an allergy to either the dog or to your laundry detergent or fabric softener. I get weird itchy stuff from fabric softeners often.
posted by Sequence at 9:33 PM on April 28, 2014

You're going at this all wrong. You need to get rid of the source. Treat the dog with readily-available flea drops -- Advantage or Frontline. Wash all the bedding. Wash anything else you can -- pillows, decorative throws, etc. Vacuum all the rugs. If it's fleas, your problems will most likely be gone. If it's bedbugs, you've got a bigger fight on your hand. But asking what soap to use is the wrong question altogether.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:33 PM on April 28, 2014 [22 favorites]

If your skin itches but you don't see visible bites then the problem is not fleas or bedbugs. Bedbugs and fleas are both large enough that if they were actively present on your skin to be washed away with soap, you would see them. They are not microscopically tiny like mites. Both types of bites are typically good-sized red welts and only the bite area itches.

If you do have bites and just failed to mention that, then as Sequence and BlahLaLa note, you need to get rid of the bugs where they are living, which is not on your skin but on your dog or your bed, respectively.

Before you ask: yes, some people are allergic to dust mites and these are tiny, microscopic critters, but the problem come from inhaling airborne dust/mites and the symptoms are your typical airborne allergic reactions--runny nose, sneezing, red eyes, etc.--and not itchy skin.

If you get a rash using a particular type of soap, then my first guess would be there's something else in your environment that is causing your itchy skin. Or it could possibly just be dry skin.
posted by drlith at 4:10 AM on April 29, 2014

If you don't have visible bites or dry skin, maybe look at changing the detergent you're using to wash your bedding. If you're sensitive to certain soaps already, that might be a good place to start. Most brands have a perfume/dye/allergen-free version.

Also, try using less soap in the shower, and cooler water. It might also reduce the itchiness.
posted by Knicke at 5:15 AM on April 29, 2014

If the dog has fleas you'd know, because you'd have little bites and you might even see the fleas. Ask me how I know.

That said, if your dog is not on flea (and heartworm) prevention, you're doing both of you a disservice, so it's high time to get that taken care of.

If you do actually have a bug problem, lotion or soap is not going to help.

It sounds like you probably just have dry skin (I say this as someone who has dry, sensitive, itchy skin - it sucks I know!). Use a moisturizing, unscented, gentle body wash (I like Aveeno), don't take too long or too hot of a shower, and use lotion afterwards.
posted by radioamy at 6:14 AM on April 29, 2014

Apologies for the late response, but: I actually do get itchy skin from exposure to dust mites. The skin starts itching for no apparent reason, I scratch, and if I look, I'll see that it's come up in a small lump that stands out white against the reddened skin around it. That lasts for a little while - minutes rather than hours - itching all the while, then goes down again, usually leaving no trace of its presence (unless I've scratched too much, in which case I'm left with a flat red mark for a few hours). It's most common first thing in the morning, though it happens at other times too; it's definitely a dust-related allergy; and if I take a daily antihistamine (I favour loratadine), that stops it almost completely. So if those symptoms sound at all familiar, perhaps an antihistamine would help you too.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:08 PM on May 6, 2014

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