Here I will cover all major species of mites (as well as related
human-infectious arachnids including ticks, in case you happen to be
incorrect about your condition being due to true mites) known to
infect humans. (Important note: mites are indeed arachnidssame class
of arthropod animals as spiders and scorpionsthey are not insects). I
will cite several sources which will allow you to confirm which
species is or is not responsible for your current condition. There are
two major methods to determine the species which has infected you:
informationally, meaning that you can identify the source based on
biological data in combination with your personal activities in
relation to the mites known geographic area or your exposure to a
specific set of conditions (i.e., you went walking through the woods
in Central Asia a few weeks ago, or you are a tech assistant in an
entomology lab, or you own a certain type of animal as a pet).
Alternatively, you can use sample specimen identification (meaning you
obtain a whole specimen (or sufficient fragments) from your body and
have it positively identified by yourself or by a lab). Ill present
you with information here to facilitate both methods. Ill also cover
some of the more common treatments for people who contract mites.
Certain species can likely be ruled out based on your recent physical
movements in relation to the species known geographical ranges and
environmental parameters. Nevertheless, Ill list all the known
infectious mites regardless, since its not impossible to contract an
Asian species of mite in America, for example, due to worldwide
shipping of products in micro-environments conducive to mite survival
(such as live animals). You, of course, know better than anyone where
you may have contacted the source of infection, so after reviewing all
the likely culprits Ill present here, you should be able to narrow it
down to one or two. At that point you can contact professional help
from a licensed medical doctor (usually a dermatologist) who can
proceed with diagnosis and treatment after hearing your well
researched and educated guess as to what you have contracted. Let us
proceed with an examination of likely suspects.
One of the most well known mite species to infect humans is Sarcoptes
scabiei, known commonly as itch mites. This is the species of mites
that causes the skin condition known as Scabies. There are several
varieties, or sub-species of itch-mites, some of which are known to
infect farm animals rather than humans. It is possible for a human to
become infected by an animal mite, but usually the mite dies rather
quickly and the human suffers no serious ill-effects. Hence, it is the
human itch mite which would cause a persistent condition. The
following link is from Florida A&M Universitys website, and is to
their Human Scabies page:
Note carefully the biological illustration of the human itch mite
(Fig. 1). The actual size of this mite, the caption reads, is the size
of a period: .
From the life cycle section of this page:
Itch mite nymphs and adults are whitish in color and have eight
short, pointed legs equipped with suction devices on the two front
pairs and long hairs on the remaining hind legs (Fig. 1). The life
cycle of the human itch mite consists of the egg, six-legged larval,
eight-legged nymphal and adult stages. The period from egg to mature
adult takes 10-14 days at body temperature. These mites seldom survive
more than a few hours off their host.
From their Injury and Spread section:
Mature female mites are responsible for the majority of the skin
irritation caused by tunneling in the upper skin layer. The female
will deposit eggs in tunnels that extend over one inch in length at
2-3 day intervals over a two-month period. Once the eggs hatch (3-8
days), emerging larvae exit the tunnels and remain on or near the
surface of the skin until they reach adult stage.
From their SIGNS, SYMPTOMS & DIAGNOSIS section:
Note-- read the following paragraph very carefully:
Red patches of skin on various regions of the body characterize
scabies. The most common infested areas include: the wrists, elbows,
breasts, penis, bends of the knees, between the fingers, and between
the fold of buttocks. Sometimes the actual raised tunnels or bumps
produced by the mites can be seen. Tunneling mites may produce severe
itching which can be caused by toxic substances released from them.
Often, constant itching causes the individual to become pale and
haggard from loss of sleep. Scratching to relieve itching frequently
leads to secondary bacterial infections that may become more serious
than actual scabies. Widespread allergic reactions may also occur due
to the mites presence.
First-time infestations often cause no immediate itching, although
sensitivity normally occurs after one month. Thereafter, subsequent
infestations result in reactions within the first 24 hours.
Infestations producing these symptoms typically involve less than 12
adult mites. Diagnosis is best made by applying mineral oil to the
affected skin surface (i.e. where tunnels occur), scraping the skin
with a scalpel, and examining under a microscope.
You mentioned that you had looked at pieces of your mites under a
microscope before. Perhaps the reason all of the specimens were
fragmented and you didnt get any whole specimens was due to a less
than careful sampling method. Obtain a new, clean, medical grade
scalpel if you are going to attempt to do the sampling yourself, and
apply baby oil to the area to be sampled first as the above
Note: if necessary, you can order medical grade scalpels over the
internet from the following, Kendon Medical Supplies website:
[ http://www.kendon.co.za/ribbel.asp ].
Searching Google for keywords, order medical grade scalpels yields a
page full of websites which also sell medical grade scalpels:
Also note the sentence, Tunneling mites may produce severe itching
*which can be caused by toxic substances released from them*. This
may well be along the lines of the pheromone-like phenomenon you
describe in your Question, but is not actually attracting more mites,
but exacerbating the existing condition.
Furthermore, pay special attention to the fact that Scratching to
relieve itching frequently leads to secondary bacterial infections
that may become more serious than actual scabies. This
scratching-leading-to-further-infection route is common to many types
of infection sources, not just mites. This may likely be true for
whatever type of mite you have.
From the Control section (you should read this in its entirety),
also from [ http://pherec.org/entguides/EntGuide8.html ]:
Machine wash bed linens, clothing and all other possible contaminated
articles in hot (130°F) water and soap or tightly sealing
non-washables in plastic bags for two weeks.
And from their Treatment section:
Ointments containing 5% permethrin cream (Elimite®), benzyl benzoate,
crotamiton (Eurox®) sulfur, tetraethylthiuram monosulfide (Tetmosol®),
thiabendazole, or 1% lindane (Kwell®) are the most widely recommended
medications for itch mite control. These products are available only
through a physician by prescription and should be applied strictly
according to labeled and/or prescribed directions.
It is likely that a treatment for one type of mite may be at least
partially effective for other types of mites as well. Note that the
Kwell product is also used to treat human head-lice (which well
cover in more detail below). In other words, it may not be necessary
to have an exact, species or sub-species level identification of the
organism which has infected you in order to rid yourself of it.
The following link is to pharmaceutical company, Mercks webpage
devoted to scabies:
It also describes symptoms, signs, diagnosis and treatment. It is
pretty much the same as that which I covered above, but I wanted to
give you another source of the information as confirmation of
accuracy, and to have another point of view.
Now, lets consider another type of infectious organism, the louse.
Unlike, mites, lice are true insects (Pediculus humanus ). (The
following website, PHTHIRAPTERA CENTRAL: Sharing and Advancing
Knowledge about Lice, is a good laypersons guide to the taxonomy of
human lice: [http://www.phthiraptera.org/taxonomy.html ].
Here is a link to their home page, which is a good source of
information on human lice:
There are three types of lice known to infect humans: head lice, body
lice and crab or pubic louse. From the following Michigan State
University Extension webpage
Only three of the 200 known species of sucking lice
infest humans. They are the head louse, the body louse
and the crab or pubic louse. Sucking lice are
*ectoparasites* which feed on the blood of their host. They
are flattened dorso-ventrally and their legs are adapted
for clinging to the body hairs of their hosts.
Note the biological term, ectoparasite used in this paragraph. This
is very likely what you are referring to in your Question (
environmental mite, known as the ecomite
), as ecomite is similar
to ectomite and easily confused or even typoed. Lice would be
considered ectomites, and are quite common. From the U. Michigan
Contrary to popular opinion, anyone can acquire lice
regardless of sex, race, economic status, family
background and personal habits.
Lets look at head lice first.
Here is a good description of the signs of head lice infection [from
the same site, http://www.msue.msu.edu/msue/imp/mod02/01500559.html ]:
Infestations may be detected by the presence of the
lice themselves or by other signs. Infestations cause
intense itching and subsequent scratching and severe
cases can cause scarred, hardened, pigmented skin
("vagabond's disease"). The fecal pellets from head lice
may be seen on the shoulders, especially if light-colored
clothing is worn. Lice may be detected by the nits
attached to the hairs. However, old nits (hatched) will
remain attached to hairs for a long time, and in fact
they have been found on wigs. Old nits are pale and
papery; new nits are yellow and opaque. Also, since the
hair continues to grow after the eggs hatch the old nits
will tend to be higher on the hair shaft. It is important
to distinguish louse nits from scalp scales and this may
require a magnifying glass.
As far as treatment is concerned (from the same site):
Consult a physician. Every member of the family
should be treated. Use Kwell 1% shampoo.Baby oil is also
effective. Repeat in 2 weeks if needed. Do not get in
As far as preventative measures go (which may help you to understand
how you contracted your infection in the first place), from the same
Practice proper personal hygiene. Avoid using other
individuals' combs, hats, towels, or hairbrushes. Bedding
and clothing should be changed and washed frequently.
Sanitation of locker rooms, and proper laundering will
help reduce the incidence of lice. Crab louse is usually
transmitted through intimate sexual contact.
Note: If seriously interested in lice, you should read this
[http://www.msue.msu.edu/msue/imp/mod02/01500559.html ] page in its
Now, a brief look at body lice:
From [http://www.msue.msu.edu/msue/imp/mod02/01500559.html ]:
This louse lives in clothing that is in close contact
with the body and they periodically visit the host to
feed. The nits are cemented to the seams and fibers of
the clothing. This louse is mostly a problem in
overcrowded, unsanitary conditions, especially when
clothing is not changed regularly. This louse is
responsible for the transmission of several human
diseases, including epidemic typhus and relapsing fever.
The body louse is nearly identical in appearance to the
more common head louse, but differs in being larger in
size (2-4mm) and uniformly grayish-white in color.
And last (but definitely not least), we come to pubic lice.
From the same site as immediately above:
The crab louse is 0.8 - 1.2 mm in length and has a
distinctive crablike appearance. This louse generally
infests the pubic region, but in some instances may be
found in other areas covered with coarse hairs such as
armpits, beards, and eyebrows. The crab louse is
primarily transmitted by sexual contact, although in rare
instances they may be acquired from loose hairs on toilet
seats and in bedding. The survival time away from the
host is very short for crab lice.
Okay, above we treated lice and human itch mites, which are the two
affecting the most humans every year. However, there are many other
types of mites which might possibly be afflicting you. Here is a run
down on them, from this Ohio State University Extension Fact
Sheet--Entomology webpage entitled, Mites Annoying Humans
Here is a general statement from their site, about mites affecting
humans, which I think you should read:
Certain mites migrate from birds, rodents, food materials, vegetable
matter and house dust, either attacking or annoying humans. Some mites
can be detected with a hand lens, while others require microscopic
examination of skin scraping or even dust from vacuum cleaner bags.
Mite irritations can be confused with entomophobia (fear of insects)
in certain people. Mite diagnosis is often difficult because specimens
must be collected and identified by trained specialists before
treatment can be made.
Here is their list of all 10 mites known to infect and/or bother
humans in some way:
Northern Fowl Mite- Ornithonyssus sylviarum
Chicken Mite- Dermanyssus gallinae
Tropical Rat Mite- Ornithonyssus bacoti
House Mouse Mite- Liponyssoides sanuineus
Follicle Mite- Demodex folliculorum
Itch or Scabies Mite- Sarcoptes scabiei hominis
Straw Itch Mite- Pyemotes tritici
Grain Mite- Acarus siro
Mold Mite- Tyrophagus putrescentiae
House Dust Mite- Dermatophagoides
The source of your infection almost surely comes from one of the
species in the above list, or else may be attributed to either lice or
ticks, the latter of which Ill cover below. There is a concise,
biological description of each mite (which you should read) on the
site, and which I summarize the most relevant parts of below:
[ http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2101.html ].
Of the mites in their list, Northern Fowl mite Bites can cause
itching and dermatitis.
The chicken mite Bites cause itching and light dermatitis.
The Tropical Rat Mite will feed on humans even when rats are present,
causing painful bites, intense itching and dermatitis. Barely visible,
they are bright red to black with white markings and are usually
noticed on walls in basements, kitchens, bathrooms and where rats are
found. Mites drop from their host after each blood meal and can
survive several days without feeding.
The House Mouse Mite is found on mice and can bite humans. It will
wander away from mice onto walls.
Follicle Mites live in the hair follicles or sebaceous glands of most
humans. Very few persons are allergic to them. Those who are may lose
their eyelashes or develop acne.
Itch or Scabies Mite is similar to those that attack livestock,
horses, dogs and rabbits. Transmission is usually by direct contact
with an infested person. Itch mites tunnel into the skin, especially
on hands and wrists. Nodules burst and ooze serum, later hardening to
form scabs. The skin between the fingers is often invaded. Itching is
intense and known as "scabies" or "seven-year itch." Scratching can
cause bleeding and infection of open sores. Overlapping generations
occur at two to three week intervals.
Straw Itch Mites can cause epidemics of dermatitis during harvesting
and post-harvesting operations in straw, hay or certain grains. Bites
produce a rash-like dermatitis, extending over much of the body and
accompanied by itching, sweating, fever, headache and even vomiting in
Here is the Control Measures paragraph from the[
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2101.html ] page:
For bird and rat mites, standard insect repellents such as diethyl
meta-toluamide (deet), ethyl hexanediol or dimethyl phthalate will
prevent bites. Locate and remove bird and rodent nests, and treat
infested areas with household crawling insect sprays of malathion,
diazinon or Baygon. A vacuum cleaner will collect many mites. Dispose
of sweeper bag contents. For grain and mold mites, store materials
moderately dry (130 degrees F and low relative humidity). Discard
infested foodstuffs and clean premises. Treat storage areas with
pyrethrins, malathion or resmethrin. Before using insecticides, read
the label and follow directions. Infested grains and cheese in food
handling institutions must be fumigated only by licensed, certified
pest control applicators. For treatment of scabies, dermatitis and
other skin disorders, contact a physician.
Here is a link to another source of good general information site on
all types of mites, from Jun Fans entomology website:
Another solid, comprehensive site on the subject, from the U. of
Kentuckys Entomology Dept., is well worth your time to look over:
Moving on, yet another possibility is that of the tick. Although you
said mite and not tick, Ill briefly cover the basic biology of
ticks and their symptoms in human infection, just to be safe. Also,
ticks are ectoparasites. From U.C. Davis Department of Entomology,
Larisa Vredevoe, Ph.Ds webpage entitled, Background Information on
the Biology of Ticks
Ticks are blood feeding external parasites of mammals, birds, and
reptiles throughout the world. Approximately 850 species have been
described worldwide (Furman and Loomis 1984). There are two well
established families of ticks, the Ixodidae (hard ticks), and
Argasidae (soft ticks). Both are important vectors of disease causing
agents to humans and animals throughout the world. Ticks transmit the
widest variety of pathogens of any blood sucking arthropod, including
bacteria, rickettsiae, protozoa, and viruses. Some human diseases of
current interest in the United States caused by tick-borne pathogens
include Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, rocky mountain spotted
fever, tularemia, and tick-borne relapsing fever.
I wont go into any more detail on ticks, since you mentioned you are
interested in mites, but I wanted to give a link to some quality tick
information just in case.
Above we have treated the major, human-infectious mite species.
However, there are some animal mites that are *occasionally* known to
affect humans (although usually to a lesser degree than their animal
host counterparts). Ill cover some of those below, in case one of
them might be responsible for what you are experiencing.
The infectious ear mite (ododectes) usually affects cats and dogs,
but is sometimes known to infect humans as well. From the Mar Vista
Vet website [http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_ear_mites.html ]:
First of all, note the electron micrograph of the ear mite at the top
of the page. Then, from the sites definition of ear mites:
WHAT ARE EAR MITES?
Ear mites are tiny infectious organisms resembling microscopic ticks.
The mite can just barely be seen as a small white dot with the naked
eye but usually must be detected by examination of a sample of ear wax
under a microscope. Infection usually produces a characteristic dry
black ear discharge commonly said to resemble coffee grounds.
[In dogs] WHAT HARM COMES FROM EAR MITE INFECTION?
The presence of the mites is very inflammatory and can generate very
irritating ear infections. Skin disease can also result from
infection by the ear mite.
From the same page:
IS THIS CONTAGIOUS?
Ear mite infection is certainly contagious among cats and dogs.
Typically, the victim is an outdoor cat. *Humans have been reported
to develop skin rashes rarely; in general, we may consider that a
human pet owner is extremely unlikely to experience any symptoms when
their pet is infected with ear mites*.
I certainly hope that from the information I have provided, and the
resources it points you to, that you are able to determine the source
of your infection and cure it. Please do not hesitate to ask for
Clarification if anything Ive written here is not clear, or if I have
left something out which you consider to be extremely important. Below
I cover ways to search for more information on this topic yourself, so
that you may learn more on your own.
Google search strategy:
Note that clicking the similar links gray colored link next to each
search result main link will bring you to more content similar to that
of the last link. If you ever need extremely detailed data on
something very specific, its best to e-mail an authoritative source
directly and request the information, such as someone at a University
entomology department (such as the University of California at Davis
link I provided above).
If youre looking for more information or data on a particular species
(such as those Ive covered here), Ive found that what gets the best
results is to enter both the common name AND the scientific name
followed by the words human infection, such as scabies mites
Sarcoptes scabiei human infection, or head lice Pediculus humanus
human mite infections:
ecomites: [Note: I found nothing relevant or helpful among these
ectoparasitic mites: [Note: This page of results is worth your
looking over in detailincludes some information about Turkish
mites affecting humans:
human mite allergies:
mites of the world:
I certainly hope that this helps you to cure your condition and
prevent it from happening again.
Google Answers Researcher