Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Health >
I have been getting mysterious bug bites for weeks (mainly
behind my knees, on my thighs, around my armpits, on my
neck), seemingly when I sleep. I had the bedbug dog from
ScentTek out (who is AWESOME). No bed bugs. I even went to
the Nit Lady (who also is AWESOME). No lice. I am thinking
it must be rat or bird mites (had a spell of bites months
ago when I was pregnant, I am now breastfeeding). We used
Rat Patrol Inc. to rat proof our house in the summer but
have had a frustrating experience with them. Upon seeing
new droppings in the downstairs storage area (just cleaned)
recently, Garland questioned whether they were really new.
Next day, one of the rat traps was turned over. He is slow
to return our calls and has not been successful in getting
the rats out of our house. Anyone have other recommendations
for rat proofing and/or dealing with mites? Thoughts on Dan
the Bug Man? Also, we could use recommendations for cleaning
out our attic space (which likely has rat droppings too).
Thanks so much! Bitten too many times
I can't help you with a good rat exterminator, but I did
want to highly recommend Dan the Bug Man. I, too, suffered
from bites for the entire two years I lived in a particular
studio in San Francisco. I called Dan and explained the
situation: no sign of bedbugs, but plenty of bites! He gave
me some good free advice on the phone and his website is
very good also. I ended up putting out some sticky tape
underneath my bed to catch the bedbugs, but no bugs were
ever caught. I continued to get bitten. The bites stopped
when I moved out of the apartment and I kept my old bed. It
could have been bird or rat mites, but I think it was fleas
from my downstairs neighbor who secretly kept a very
flea-bitten cat against the rules. Maybe it's fleas? no
more bites - finally!
Get in touch with Alameda County Vector Control. Sergio
Mendoza is one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable
public sector workers I've ever met. He has extensive
knowledge about problematic animals & insects in this area
and how to deter them. He helped me get rid of 'invisible'
mites, rats and raccoons. The phone number for Alameda
Vector Control is: 510-567-6800/6824. Albany Resident
HELP!! My kids have been suffering for about two months
from mysterious bites -- started out on the waistband area
and back, and up the legs starting at the ankles. Now they
have moved to the kids' faces. They have looked very
differently in different parts of the body (like big, red
mosquito bites on the body and like tiny little pimples on
Went to doctor and we were treated twice for scabies;
washed EVERYTHING in the house, etc. Each time we treated
the bites went away (once for three days, once for 10
days). Second time they came back we went to a
dermatologist, who announced it could not be scabies
because the bites were not on the usual places -- i.e.
fingers, groin, hands -- and were not so itchy as to keep
the kids awake at night. She thought it was bug bites
(fleas, most likely). We see no evidence of bed bugs (and
we look every day!) We have a cat and have some evidence
of fleas on the cat, but have not seen many in the house.
But most strangely, we went away for four days over Xmas
and a number of new legions materialized while we were
away. The bites have now migrated to the face and mostly
away from the lower body. So before we call in either an
exterminator or go back to the doctor (who was pretty
unhelpful), can anyone help?!
Grateful for any advice.
We had a very similar situation in our household -- mysterious ''bites''
cropped up on our daughter's face, and then we saw more on her legs as time
progressed. They looked like insect bites, but didn't match the bed bug
Our pediatrician diagnosed her with folliculitis, and our course of action
included the following:
- bleached our bathtub
- only bathed our daughter with Cetaphil
- washed her towels after each use to avoid spread of infection
- kept her skin well-hydrated (but not too much so that it couldn't
as bacteria enter hair follicles through cracked skin
We saw signs of improvement within one week, and the ''bites'' disappeared
after about three weeks. Sometimes they reappear, but we now know how to
nip it in the bud before it gets any worse.
My son had this and it drove us crazy. After seeing the
3rd--or was it the 4th DR at Kaiser, he was diagnosed with
folliculitis. We were given topical gel and I believe
medication to take orally. Can't remember particularly.
However, it DID work. Whew! What a relief.
We also thought it was fleas, bed bugs, allergic reaction
to food, etc. Really madning (sp?).
Please ask your DR about folliculitis. You can also, of
course, ''Google it''!
Thank God It Wasn't Bugs
For about six weeks, my daughter and I get bitten at night, in
the torso area, and are extremely itchy. My husband, who sleeps
in the same bed, has not been affected until last night, and my
son, who sleeps in another room, is not affected.
So far, we have:
1) Seen a doctor who diagnosed scabies, gave us ''scabicide''
cream which we used twice and did not solve the problem.
2) Cleaned all the bedding in the house and removed the
mattress--neither of which had evidence of bedbugs. Still
3) Had an exterminator from Orkin come out and tell me that he
thinks it's bedbugs, but couldn't find any bugs. If we find a
bug, they can treat our place for $900 and we have to basically
move out for a few days... with all our personal belongings.
My question for you:
1) Have you dealt with this and what did you do?
2) Can you recommend a local exterminator with environmentally
friendly practices to give us a second opinion?
3) Any thoughts on what else it could be?
Could be rat mites. We had this problem for a couple of months
this past summer, or I should say ''I'' because my husband was never bitten! I was in
torment and went crazy trying to diagnose the source. Only once did I ever actually see
a mite (grabbed scotch tape so I had a sample), but by that time we'd already figured it
was rat mites, set traps, caught a couple rats, and eventually the mite bites were
infrequent. I still have scars from the bites that I scratched during the night! I
it's rat mites in your house, not bed bugs, and I hope you're all feeling better soon!
My mother-in-law had scabies recently, and the itching persisted
for a long, long time (over a month) after she used the cream her
doctor had given her. She was miserable. Her doctor told her the
irritation can persist for a long time, and on top of that, the
brain gets into this ''loop'' of reacting to itching.
So if I were in your shoes, my first step would be to check back
in with your doctor and see if it might still be scabies. And
your husband should get checked too, not only for his own health
but so he doesn't give it back to you.
You didn't exactly ask for this, but for what it is worth.... doctors have a lot of
problems diagnosing skin issues. I have a friend who is a highly respected physician
and she said it is not their prime training and that they really do not know. I've had
own share of these frustrations.
If you want a diagnosis, consider going to a dermatologist with an active
This way, you might know what you are dealing with instead of trying everything and
I have the same thing...it's been since summer.
At first I thought it might be flea bites...our little terrior
sleeps in teh bed sometimes...but the dogs DO NOT have a flea
Then I thought spiders...they like to live in dark cozy places,
like bed sheets. Occasionally I find small spiders in the bed.
But my husband NEVER gets bit...So maybe it's something about
my body chemistry that spiders or other bugs like.
We have allergy covers on the mattress and pillows, so it's not
mites and no bed bugs.
My kids who sleep in other beds get nothing.
Sorry I don't have a solution...I'm puzzled too, but at least
you're not alone.
itchy and ???
We are experiencing a similar problem, so I can relate to your
misery! I previously had a bed bug experience when I was a
student in NYC and when we started getting some unexplained
bites this summer, I was ready for a melt down. I found this
company based out of San Francisco called Pestec
(www.pestec.com), they have an enviornmentally friendly approach
using a K9 unit to inspect for bed bugs. They didn't find any
evidence of bed bugs in our case (thank god!!), but suggested
that it might be a mite problem (either bird or rat mites). The
bites were such a low level, we never did get confirmation, but
we did have some risk factors for bird mites (hedges where birds
were nesting that we had let grow a little out of control and
were touching the windows. Pestec mentioned sometimes the birds
abandon the nest and the mites go in search of other hosts --we
were sleeping just below the window.) The recommended cutting
back the hedges and doing lots of washing, cleaning, etc..
Additionally, we have been keeping the window closed. I only get
an occasional bit now, so it seems to be mostly gone. Still
don't know what it is, but at least it seems to be going away....
I'm not sure if I understood your post properly--did you only
apply the scabies medication TWO TIMES? Scabies are little bugs
that get under your skin and breed (yeah, I've had it--very
disgusting) and you have to keep up with the medication until
they are all killed. If you don't kill them all, they'll just
Just a recent update to the previous (and linked) discussions on
rat mites. Don't count them out! In January of this year I had
mysterious bites but my husband did not. I felt like I was losing
my mind, even my doctor couldn't identify them! Thank goodness
for this list.
1) get some prescription strength corticosteroid cream (I tried
lots of 'natural' itch-control; this was the ONLY thing that
finally stopped the itching)
2) call your county's vector control (Alameda County is at
http://www.acvcsd.org/) and they can help you identify the bites
and source of them, for free.
BTW, in a relief to my sanity at least, about a month after I was
getting bit, husband started getting them too. Once we got rid of
the rats the mites left.
Rat Mite Free
Rat mites wander through the house looking for something to eat
and bite humans once their hosts have left or died. In our
family of four, only I reacted to these bites, though evidently
they probably were biting everyone. The bites were like large,
very persistent, mosquito bites. Very itchy. I was quite
surprised as in general I do not react much to bites. These mites
can live perhaps 2 weeks to a month without rats, they cannot
permanently live on people. If you poison rats and some die in
the house, this often happens, so I learned that it is best to
have a professional eliminate rats in the house. I never found a
reasonable way to control the mites, we just eliminated all rats
and all rat entry points and waited. Today, a year later, I am
proud to say we are still mite free. This is a good info sheet,
specific to our area:
no more bug bites
I have had the exact same thing for the past two weeks. Just went
to the dermatologist and she said it is eczema! Gave me a steroid
cream and said to make sure to apply cetaphil cream after the
shower and be diligent about moisturizer and drinking water. Hope
so glad it isn't mites
I have numerous small red itchy little bites in varied areas. I
don't know how I am getting them. Neither my husband or my kid
get them. I've washed and washed my clothes , bedclothes and
self. I've vacuumed the bed and mattress and under the bed. any
clues or advice?
Tired of getting bit
We had the same kind of issue a couple of years ago. After much internet searching
and talking to a dermatologist - we narrowed it down to
rat mites. (these mites also
live on birds that may be nesting in or around your house). Unbeknownst to us we
had a rat in our attic. The mites live on the rats. Solution? We called Rat Patrol. They
trapped the rats and sealed any entrance around the house so they couldn't re-
enter. Then we bombed the house (twice). Problem solved. This of course was time
consuming and we ended up camping in our yard - literally. But it worked. Good
Sounds like tropical rat mite bites. If you have roof rats in
the neighborhood or in your home, occasionally a rat will die
and the mites search for an alternate host. Tropical rat mites
prefer pregnant or lactating women to men and children. The rat
mites are smaller than a period at the end of a sentence. The
good news is that the mites cannot survive on human hosts alone
so the bites will continue for approx. 6-8 weeks. I recommend
contacting Alameda County Vector Control - they will send an
inspector out - no fees are involved - and they can help with
confirmation and mitigation. Good luck!
Are the bites in specific locations like your wrists, in
between your fingers, your waistline, and other places that are
confined by bands of clothing? Do you have NO bites above the
neck? Do they itch more right after you take a shower? If so,
you've got scabies. A total drag to deal with, but common.
Ask your doctor about it and get the yucky toxic treatment
cream you need to get rid of it. (I'm not a doctor, but
unfortunately, I have a lot of experience with scabies.)
this happened to my daughter recently and I determined it was
an allergic reaction to the sunscreen I was using on her
About a year ago, I began to experience itching, biting and things crawling around
under my skin. During that brutal heatwave last year, I couldn't sleep for an entire
I began to do some research and found a number of people suffering from this. It
eventually subsided somewhat, but not completely. It's back again as the waether
heats up, but now it's clear to me that my son has it as well.
My wife thinks I am delusional and we are worlds apart in our ability to
communicate about it.
Has anyone else here experienced these symptoms and if so, how has it impacted
your family and have you been able to find any help?
I had something similar--soooo frustrating! I could feel the
painful bites at nite, and they would itch like crazy, but no
welts and I never saw the actual bugs. My sweetie never felt a
thing. So you are not crazy! In my case, it turned out to be
mites that were the result of mold in and on the walls of our
house. Wiping the mold down with bleach helped, but the true
solution would be to abate and eradicate the mold at the source.
The landlord wasn't willing to do this, so we moved. The
itching was making me THAT nuts. Good luck with yours; consider
mites, also consider fleas and contact dermatitis (did you change
laundry or bath soap recently?). I found useful info on mites via
google. Good luck to you!
no longer a moldy oldie
Without knowing about Morgellons or all of your symptoms, I just
wanted to be sure you are not being bitten by mites. We were
invaded by rat mites a year ago. Often only one or some people
in the family are effected. It definitely felt like things were
crawling on us -- and they were, but the mites are practically
too small to be seen by the human eye. This caused unbearable
itching. You can research rat mites, or call the city of
Berkeley for a pamphlet, to determine if your bites/itching
follow the pattern for mite bites. Unfortunately many doctors
don't know how to recognize this. Ultimately the problem was
resolved by ridding our attic of rats. Good luck!
Get thee to a dermatologist. That sounds like scabies. Why are
you waiting to ''communicate'' with your wife when you clearly have
a medical issue?
Somebody wrote about this last year. I have also had this
excrutiatingly annoying problem from time to time. It is not in
your head. Some people call it Restless Leg Syndrome and now
there are some heavily marketed drugs for it. You could talk to
your doctor. But one responder last year fixed it for me--they
said they discovered it only happened when they were dehydrated.
Since you said it happened during the heat wave last year, maybe
that's your problem, too. I have become really aware of how much
water I drink, and never drink something that's not water without
drinking a glass of water first. I found this problem has gone
away if I'm careful to drink water
good luck with your problem
Please consider the possibility of RAT MITES.
They are essentially invisible, more active at night and in warm
weather, and because not everyone is allergic to their bite, it's
possible for only one of a couple to be aware of a problem. (The
mites will infiltrate from whereever the rats are breeding, for
instance, in an attic or basement.)
I suffered with similar symptoms for three years before I figured
out what was going on. Got rid of the rats and the itching
subsided almost immediately. (You might try sleeping elsewhere
for a weekend as a ''test''.)
BTW, I recommend going for rat *traps* before resorting to
poisons. If the rats die in the walls you're in for MONTHS of a
stench that's almost unbearable, not to mention swarms of Really
PS On Rat Mites:
The mites can live for up to six weeks feeding off a secondary
host (humans!), but can breed only on rats, so after six weeks
you'll be home free. You can accelerate this process by bagging
up, in plastic, clothing and excess bedding, etc., but this isn't
strictly necessary as they will succumb nonetheless.
I came across an interesting article about this when I was
doing research about insect orders for a project at work. There
was a study a couple years ago that suggests that it may not be
mites or lice but rather a tiny hexapod called a springtail
(Collembola), that is not known to be a parasite on people.
"Most of the study participants had been diagnosed with delusory
parasitosis, a presumed psychiatric condition among people who believe
they are infested with an insect or parasite.
But the new findings bolster the contention of many patients that they
"actually have something crawling on or under their skin and are not
delusional," said the journal article."
See http://www.bodylice.com/news/2004/pr071204.htm for the full
article and links to the paper.
Worth a try!
Our family is being eaten alive by what we think are spiders.
We all have numerous swollen itchy bites. We have seen many
spider webs and several tiny light tan spiders. We don't think
this is the result of a flea infestation as we have no pets. We
have not seen nor heard any other bugs. We do not want to spray
as I am pregnant and we have a toddler. Any advise? Thanks,
We had the same thing--my daughter and husband have hundreds of
tiny, very itchy bites. I consulted the archives, and it was,
as many other people have had, rat mites (we had just
discovered rats in our basement a few days earlier.) I think
the rain is driving them in. We'd never had an issue before and
have lived in this house for 10 years. Check your attic and
It is still probably flea larvae from rats. They are around,
even if you don't think they are, so you don't need to have pets
to get 'em.
Happened to my friend
I have been reading the archives searching for answers to a
perplexing problem. I am being bitten while I sleep by what I
think are mosquitos. For the first time in my life, some of
bites swell up into red welts while others look just like
average mosquito bites. My husband, who sleeps right next to
me, has not been bitten at all. Neither has my toddler. I
usually find one mosquito in our room but haven't seen then
anywhere else in our house.
As the archives suggested, I have checked my bed - it's not bed
bugs. No one else is being bitten so it doesn't sound like rat
mites or scabbies. I have called Mosquite Abatement. I'm taking
B Vitamins and eating nutritional yeast. I have a fan pointed
at our bed. Yet, I have a new bites every few days. We rent so
I can't make any serious changes to the house like installing
screens or putting in a ceiling fan.
Why is it that I am the only one in the house the mosquitos
want? Could this have anything to do with my nursing or a
hormonal imbalance? Could I have developed an allergy to
mosquito bites? What can I do to ensure I am not devoured while
I sleep? Does mosquito netting really keep them out (my husband
and I each get out of bed at least once during the night). Are
there traps I can set in my bedroom? And why is it only our
bedroom that has the issue when there are no screens on any of
our windows (most are the crank style that can't have screens).
This is starting to affect my sleep as I wake up, imagining I
am being bitten and then can't fall back to sleep. Any advice
you have would be most appreciated.
Tired of the late night snack
I can't tell for sure, but it may very well be mite bites. My
younger son and I are getting lots of welts, while my wife and
older son aren't, but we are all getting bitten- apparently the
two of us are having an allergic reaction the others aren't (this
is typical of mite bites). It's very hard to eliminate mite bites
if you don't keep all rodents and birds out of your dwelling,
because the mites travel amazing distances. If roof rats or birds
are nesting, say in the attic, they will travel to your bed and
bite you. Your landlord would have to do the abatement (sealing
It could be hard to verify the vector, if you can't find any (we
discovered some mites swarming in the bathroom where they can be
seen easily, but I have never seen any in the bed, where I KNOW I
am being bitten). Skeeters will bite you where you are exposed
when sleeping (head and arms), while mites will bite you where
you are covered- that's one tipoff. If you never hear mosquitoes
buzzing, I would guess mites.
I am also the only one in my family who gets bit! And yes, it
is possible to develop an allergy to mosquitoes. I am
definitely allergic (mosquito bites on me are large red, itchy
welts that last for over two weeks and drive me crazy!).
Here's what I've done that helps. First, sleep under the
covers up to your chin, wear long sleeved pajamas, and put a
pillow over your head. That way only the bottom part of your
face is available.
Second, if I hear a mosquito buzzing in our room at night, we
turn on the lights, and my husband and I stay up looking for it
until we kill it. It's annoying, but eventually the mosquito
will alight on one of those white walls and you can get it.
Oh yes... we only open windows with screens during the day and
at night we close all our windows and our bedroom door. And
when we're saying goodbye to guests, we don't let them open the
door and stand talking. We talk with the door shut, open it
quickly, and see them out.
And, we have some of that stuff you put in standing water to
kill mosquito larvae, and we use it around the yard.
I'm also allergic to chemicals and poisons, so I don't want to
spray. And my husband is allergic to citronella, so we can't
use that either!
Best of luck. I rarely get a mosquito bite these days.
--allergic to mosquitos
I don't know if this is relevant for you, but I thought I was
the only one in my family being bitten by fleas. I got medicine
for the kitties, and I kept getting bites! Eventually we
realized that they were hives, not bug bites -- an allergic
reaction, probably from taking Aleve, but we're not sure. I'm
still taking Aleve because it's the only thing that lasts 12
hours, and I need it to stop the flu-like side effects of
another medication. So I've had hives for about 2 months, but
since I'm also taking Allegra (an antihistamine), they don't
Anyway, you might want to see a doctor and make sure they're
really bug bites, and maybe get a prescription for an
antihistamine. Allegra is the only one that didn't make me
sleepy, but apparently you can take the others at night, and
they're not so bad then.
I could have written your post, and as I write this, I have 6-
8 ''bites'' on me--arms, legs, torso, neck. As you describe them,
some are like welts. They itch a lot. Our family has had these
bites many times in the past, and we still do not have a
definitive diagnosis of them. My 2 kids have had bouts with
them in the past, but this time, my daughter has 2, which are in
the process of going away, and my son and husband have none. We
have used scabies treatments from the pediatrician, which clear
up the problem, only to have it come back, we have our cats
treated for fleas, and we have NO mosquitoes around at night.
We do, however, have roof rat problems, which we are working to
eradicate, and so that might be the continuing source of these
pesky bites. I wish I had the answer, as I too am totally fed
up with the itching. I think it is possible for any of these
conditions (scabies, mites) to be present, however, even if some
of the family members don't have the bites, based on my
(extensive) reading of articles on the internet. Some people
simply are not as allergic to the bites as others.
Another bitten mom
Check out the Rat (or bird) mite
possibility again. I was bitten by
rat mites for
months with very similar symptoms to yours. My husband (with no bites
insisted that it could not be mites. When we heard rats in our attic
we got the house
sealed up, the rats disappeared, the bites intensified for a little
over a month (this is
as long as they can live without rats around to host them) and then
went away. I
was surprised when they came back this year, but then we found out the
found a way back in again. We sealed up the house again and... 40 days
bites. I did find a couple of mites on my body over the course of
these many many
months, but really--it is hard when there is no evidence of anything to
really is what you suspect! We found out subsequent to the first
infestation that the
reason my husband was not getting bites was that only some people are
the bites, and this is why they swell up. I would call Rat Patrol
are the only exterminators I know of who really deal with this
problem... or have
your landlord call if you are renting.
(formally) Bitten in Berkeley
It sounds like you have mosquitos. They bite you in the bedroom
because that is where you are when they are active, and because
you are an easy target when you are asleep. The most important
part is to drain all standing water outside, so the larvae have
no place to live.
Most likely you are being bitten by flea mites from rats or mice
who live in your home. If you have furry pets, they can carry
them and they are no bigger than the period at the end of this
sentence and, hence, very hard to find. They can also come into
house from crawl space, attic space and through heating vents.
Not all persond react to the bite, so that is why it seems only
you are getting bitten.
If you have pets, deflea them. If the source is inside your
house you will have to go thru further methods to de-rat/de-
mouse in order to cure the problem. This is actually very
common and almost certainly not from mosquitos. You can check
the ''dark'' areas of your home for ''grease'' marks fom the fur of
the rats on rafters and at duct openings...look for dark smudges
where the rats would have to sqeeze thru, under or over
things....if you have them...you have rats. Also check for
droppings. Roof rats are very common in this area, even
in ''nice'' areas.
A vet can identify the mite for you if you can happen to catch
I sympathize with your bug bite problem! The same thing
happened to me late last summer. I thought they were flee bites
(we have cats) or mosquitoes yet my husband didn't get bitten
once. My new hypothesis is they came from a lurking spider.
Since that time, I've gotten a few flee or mosquito bites & they
never puff up like those red welts. Also, the problem just went
away after a few weeks. My advice: change the sheets every few
days (sounds excessive but made me feel better) to see if that
improves the situation. Also, in case the bites are from
mosquitoes, you might look into an expandable screen. They
usually can fit into any window & can be purchased pretty
cheaply at the hardware store.
If there is a mosquito anywhere in town, any time of year, it will find
me and leave
me with a big nasty stingy itchy welt unless I sleep with insect
repellent on (non-
chemical but smelly). Or it used to. After reading about it on this
list I take 100 mg
of Vit B1 daily- much more than is found in any B Vit mix- and it has
made a very big difference in how attractive I am to mosquitos. When I
ran out for a
few weeks, the horror of the whiny nights returned.
It's unlikely that this change indicates a hormonal imbalance, just a
change in your
sensitivity to the bites (which is a type of allergic reaction) and/or
a change in the
way you smell on the mosquito level.
My 4.5 month old baby had what I thought were Hives for a few
weeks mostly on his legs, arms and a few on his chest. The
pediatrician thought the ''rash'' was from a virus originally. They
appear as roundish red welts with a yellow/pale raised bump in
the middle that fade to a red dot. Not sure if they are itchy for
him or not as he seems fairly happy otherwise. We finally went to
a dermatologist to have him examined. She said that it looked
more like insect bites - ie fleas or mites (possibly from birds
in the eaves since we don't have pets). We had borrowed an infant
car seat from a pet owner and wondered if this is how he might
have got fleas. We are washing all clothes and bedding & carseat
and vacuuming today as a first precaution. We all sleep together
and neither my husband nor I have had any bites. Has anyone had
similar bites on their babies? Any advice on what they are and
how to rid ourselves of these beasties without using anything toxic?
Our 3 year old daughter first developed a rash that sounds very
much like what you described when she was about 14 months old,
and we thought it was hives too, but after subsequent bouts of
the same thing, which the rest of the family eventually
developed, our pediatrician finally diagnosed it as scabies.
The scabies ARE mites but not the kind that come from any other
animal, and our daughter did not scratch hers much the first
time around; I later learned that this was because her immune
system was not fully developed at that point. Scabies are a
real drag, for sure, because everyone in the family, in fact,
all close contacts, get it. You have to use a prescription
cream and do a big wash/cleanup. You didn't mention if your
daughter has a nanny or sitter or preschool. It's worth
checking out; there are outbreaks of this stuff in the Bay Area,
much to my surprise. Good luck.
My son (and I ) had similar bites to what you describe last year and,
postings on the Berkeley Parents Network, suspected it might be rat
husband was dubious, because he never had any bites at all, but since
learned that the bite you see is actually an allergic reaction to the
rat mite bite. If
you're not allergic, you don't get the itchy bite mark, which explains
people in a household may get the bites and some may not. We had
to look and, sure enough, we had roof rats in our attic and
crawl-space. We tried
many ways of dealing with this but finally went with Rat Patrol
(reccomended by our
pediatrician!). They charge a fixed fee, which seems high, but we had
much more than this without solving the problem. They seal up your
house so rats
cannot get in, and guarantee their work for 2 years. No more rats, and
bites! hurrah! good luck figuring out what's going on with your baby!
No Longer Itchy in Berkeley
My 8 month old baby and I both have had mysterious bites on our
bodies for several months--mine are about the size of mosquito
bites, and his, more like flea bites. Some days there are more,
some less, but every day anywhere from 2 to 5 or 6 more appear
(including on areas covered by clothes and/or pajamas).
We don't think we have fleas (the dog and cats have been on
Advantage for several months, I've never seen a flea in the house,
and the flea traps have turned up nothing). There are no blood
marks on the sheets like with bedbugs. My husband has no
bites at all (!) and the dog has hives (of course, this may be
unrelated). A couple of months ago there were some postings along
similar lines and someone suggested scabies. Both my son's
pediatrician and my family said it isn't scabies (not enough
bites, none on my hands etc.). So my question is: for those
people that posted earlier --did you ever find out what was
causing your bites? Does anyone have any other ideas for what
might be causing this?
Itching to Know
In response to the mysterious bites person--I had that problem
about the same time of the earlier post in this newsletter,
though it wasn't I that posted. Both kids and I were getting
covered with small, flea-like very itchy bites that showed up
in the morning and after naps, in places covered by PJs (groin,
armpit, tummy, etc.). I bathed them every night before bed,
but it didn't help. We had no mosquitos in the house, and the
size and number of the bites (e.g., several in a row) wasn't
like what I see from mosquitos. I took kids to doctor--she said
they had no lice, no scabies, no bedbugs... she basically said
she had no idea what was biting us. Our house and beds are
clean, and I checked under the beds and on the mattresses for
signs of fleas or bedbugs and found nada. Interestingly, my
husband (who sleeps with me) got no bites at all, so it seemed
likely the problem was not anything inside.
After some web reading, I started wondering if maybe we had
chiggers in our garden, where the kids play. I don't even know
if chiggers live in this area, but the description of their
bites (in terms of where they bite, and that the bites often
show up after sleep) seemed like what we were getting. So I
stopped letting the kids go outside, and the problem went
away. They are back to playing outside now and we're not
having any problems, so I don't know if it was coincidence, or
if the chiggers (or whatever) moved on to another part of their
life cycle, or what. I wish I knew for sure what it was so I
would know what to do next year.
No longer itchy
Don't assume you don't have bedbugs because there are no blood
spots or a swarm of them under your bed. We had a horrible time
with them in New Mexico, and never saw either of these
indications, just a bedbug now and then. They can be quite tiny
to start out with, then get bigger through their bite/grow/shed
growth cycle. My daughter and I got bit every night, and either
my husband didn't get bitten at all or had no redness and
ithchiness to indicate the bites. Thorough cleaning and the
landlord's exterminator did the trick. (Pest control is your
landlord's responsibility if you're renting, btw.) We also used
Avon's Skin So Soft to repel them and it seemed to help, but that
might have just been psychological relief.
About a year ago, after getting a new dog, I got what I believe
were flea bites. For awhile, I was getting one almost every
day. I think they were flea bites because we had just gotten a
dog, the bites were mostly on my ankles, and the bites were red
and raised and itched for many days at a time (unlike mosquito
bites). On the other hand, I never saw a flea on my dog or any
evidence of her having fleas. At my vet's suggestion, I put my
dog on Program, which is a flea hormone. It makes the fleas
sterile, so they can't reproduce in the house or car. After
about four weeks of her being on Program, the bites stopped, and
I haven't gotten any bites since, and it's been a year, and we
are well into the flea season. So... you may not be getting flea
bites, but you may want to try Program. You have to give it to
your dog once a month.
I had a mysterious rash that looked liked bites that sounded
like yours a couple of months ago. It lasted for about 4 weeks
and then disappeared as mysteriously as it had arrived (I did
take some Benadryl). Since I've had allergic skin reactions/non-
specific dermatitis from time to time and a couple of skin
viruses (I had VERY sensitive skin) I really didn't think much
of it. My husband and kids never had any bites and I never saw
any critters in our bedding/under the mattress. And, since it
went away after a few weeks by itself, it wasn't scabies. So,
my conclusion is that there is some type of skin virus that is
making the rounds - affecting folks with sensitive skin or
immune systems (ie. prone to allergies).
We think our mysterious bites were from animal mites coming from rats or birds in the basement or attic. Rat traps in
the basement, in addition to rigorous washing of clothes, bedding, rugs and dog, seem to have done the trick. You can get
more info on animal mites from the Alameda Co. vector control folks, and I guess pest control companies will come out
and take more elaborate measures which we felt we didn't need. We've been bite-free for about 1-1/2 yrs. now.
We recovered from a smiliar problem this spring. My baby and I
were getting bites, and my husband never got any. After
fruitless research, house poinsonings (we even suspected rat
mites), and a couple of doctor visits where we were not
diagnosed, I finally went to a dermatologist who took a skin
sample, looked under the microscope, and saw bug parts. He then
was able to positively diagnose scabies. It's important to find
a doctor who will actually look for the scabies mites, as they
are hard to find, and virtually impossible to diagnose without
looking unless you have a very severe case. After two skin
treatments of the entire family (even my husband, he could have
been a carrier without symptoms), and very thorough house and
laundry cleaning (boil your bed clothes! -or at least turn your
hot water heater up to the high position for the duraction of
scabies treatment), we have been completely bite free and bug
free for many months. It has been a great relief. Scabies can
be mild, not show common symptoms, and difficult to diagnose.
In fact, I have leanred from my research that only severe
scabies shows up on the hands. I hope you find relief soon,
bites are no fun at all! Good luck!
My son (now 10 mos.) and I had the same thing about a month ago
(and my husband didn't!). After much online research, we
decided it was bird mites. Our pediatrician recommended giving
the baby vitamin B1--it makes you taste/smell bad to most
bugs. We both started taking it and neither of us has had a
bite since! I bought vit.B capsules and sprinkle about 1/4 of
one capsule into my son's food once a day, and I take a whole
capsule once a day. We also found and destroyed a bluejay nest
right under the baby's window. We've also been to the East
Coast since then, and I didn't get any mosquito bites, and I'm
usually covered by them. Try vitamin B, even if you don't
figure out what the bites are from.
we had a problem with bites that fit your description ... and
just as you descibre, some family members were afflicted much
more than others (for example I got a lot more than my wife,
even though we shared a bed, etc). the pediatrian thought they
were ''sand fleas,'' picked up from local playgrounds (we have no
pets ourselves). we called in an outfit called Fleabusters,
and they diagnosed the problem as mites -- probably from either
rats or birds in the roof, etc. they dusted everything with
what they swore was a completely non-toxic (to humans) powder;
if I understood right, it was basically a form of salt that
dried the little pests out. it seemed to take care of it --
although we've had to go two or three rounds over the last few
years, no one is getting bit anymore.
Help! I have several very itchy insect bites all over my body
and have noticed that a few more bites appear every few days. I
just assumed it was a mosquito that bit me, but am now very
concerned because I noticed today that my toddler also has
similar insect bites on his stomach, legs and the back of his
neck. The poor thing was so miserable, he was scratching
furiously at his neck. I am very concerned but do not know where
to start to identify what insects might be biting us. I am also
confused by how these critters could have bitten my son's
stomach and legs since he wears 2 sets of footed pajamas to bed
and the bites were located near his belly button. He is always
clothed during the day and does not wear shorts so I am baffled
as to how and when he was bitten. Could they be bites from bed
bugs, fleas or spiders? We do not have any animals and since we
have hardwood floors, most of our house is rug/carpet free so it
does not seem likely that we have a flea problem. However, we
have suspected that we have rats in our attic and we've heard
that they have fleas, and I am wondering if they could be the
culprits. Does anyone have any experience with this? How does
one go about identifying where the bites are coming from? Thanks
Sounds like it could be scabies, which you can get from sharing
clothes, sharing a bed, close physical contact, etc. It almost
always itches worse at night. It's treatable with a cream that
you can get by prescription only, plus you have to wash all
your clothes and bedding at the same time. See your healthcare
provider to have it looked at.
A healthcare provider
Little tiny bumps that itch like crazy? Sounds like flea bites.
Ask pediatrician/doctor to identify type of bite. Get rid of
''suspected'' rat problem right away, wash all clothes, spray for
fleas inside and outside. (Precor by Zodiac available at pet
stores and works well. Probably pretty toxic, but we are talking
RATS here and your precious CHILDREN SWAPPING BLOOD VIA FLEAS.)
Since I, too, experienced a recent bout with mysterious
insect bites, I am going to guess that you and your son are
suffering from the same affliction that I was diagnosed with
last week SCABIES
Call your doctor IMMEDIATELY to schedule an appointment
so that you and your son (and anyone else in your
household) can get the prescription treatment right away!
My itching is finally subsiding, but I was miserable for nearly
(by the way, aloe vera gel worked much better to soothe the
itch from the bites than the prescription cortisone ointment
the Dr. prescribed.)
-- no longer unbearably itchy
Interesting -- I and my seven year old daughter had exactly the
same problem a few weeks ago. We went to the doctor in case it
was scabies (following the advice of helpful posts to this
newsletter -- another poster thought it might be bed bugs but we
searched and searched and couldn't find any evidence). He
thought that was unlikely and also ruled out fleas and lice on
my daughter. I have done some research on the web and one
possibility I read about is bird and rodent mites, which are
very hard to spot, and are sometimes associated with rodent
infestations. But we don't have any rodents in our attic as far
as we can tell. Our problem hasn't gone away altogether but it
seems to have eased off a bit recently. I have been wondering
if it mightn't be outdoor insects, and if we are not feeling the
bites until night-time. Sometimes the problem seems worse after
we've been out playing in the grass or in the woods.
Itchy in Oakland
We had a similar problem about 1-1/2 years ago, and we think it
was animal mites from rats in our basement or attic. You can talk
to Alameda Co. Vector Control (567-6800) for more info. We did
lots of wash and/or put stuff in the dryer for 10 minutes (items
that couldn't go in the washer/dryer were bagged up for 2 weeks),
washed all the rugs, and put rat traps out. That seems to have
solved the problem.
I had similar bug bites once when I was in college -- red and
rough and itchy on my abdomen. The doctor said that they were
mites = bed bugs. He gave me some sort of cream and I had to
wash everything I owned in hot water and I put a plastic cover
over the mattress. It worked. Good luck.
This sounds like it may be scabies. I was having the same
symptoms (multiplying insects bites around my waist and in
my legs, very itchy), and my doctor diagnosed it right away.
Luckily, it is highly treatable and you get relief immediately
after applying a prescription cream. You will also have to
wash sheets and towels, or anything in direct contact with
If you are getting incessant itchy bites and you have no pets,
and you suspect having rats... they are probably roof rat mite
bites. They find another vector when the rats leave. They
will die on humans within 40 days b/c they need the rat to
reproduce. Your taxes pay for the local vector control to come
out for free and give advice on how to get rid of your rats.
Usually traps work best. I had Art Slater of Richmond set
traps and remove 9 rats from underneath our house. We also had
our electric outlets all dusted w/ diatomaceous earth since
this is how the animal mites (can be from birds, too) travel
from room to room. This natural exoskeletal, glass like
substance cut them up upon contact. It's important not to stir
it up. We had the worst room dusted around the edges. I
stopped getting bites the same night! Even having had over 100
bites, I usually knew if a few fresh ones came b/c they itched
like crazy and not even hydrocortizone helped... these were
different from flea bites. In the meanwhile, you'll have to
wash all linens and clothing or bag them up for 40 days so the
mites die off. Good luck!
There was a similar post several weeks ago, and I will just
reiterate what I said the last time we had exactly the same
symtoms last year when we lived in Oakland (fortunately before
our baby came along) and finally caught a strange-looking bug
on the wall in the bedroom. We took it to the doctor who
(eventually) identified it as a bedbug! We then went home,
lifted up the mattress, and saw them between the mattress and
boxspring (they had multiplied in just a couple of weeks, since
the last time we had flipped the mattress). Then we did the
obvious things vacuumed and sprayed the bed and bedroom,
covered the mattress and boxspring in plastic, and kept
rechecking often for the next couple of months. I never would
have thought of bedbugs in this day and age, but that's what it
was. So good luck.
Any of the insects you mentioned could be the source. I would
not rule out scabies as a possibility, particularly if the
itching is worse at night, and where clothing fits closely to
the body (waist, groin, collar, etc.). If it is diagnosed as
scabies by a medical evaluation (I would recommend a
dermatologist to diagnose this with skin scrapings, if it seems
like a possibility--scrapings may be done in the MD's office
during the visit), the treatment is fairly easy and effective.
Again, if it is treated as scabies, the itching may take
several weeks to resolve, even though the parasites are gone.
Here are two sources that might help, if it is scabies
In the last few weeks both my 7 year old and I have started to
be bothered by itchy bumps which seem to be insect bites. Hers
are mostly clustered around the tops of her thighs, some on her
back and legs and tummy. I have them on my inside elbow, around
my breasts, on my legs. Not parts of the body that are exposed
to outside insects, e.g. mosquitoes. My husband doesn't have a
problem. I thought they might be flea bites but I haven't seen
any evidence of fleas or any other kinds of insects (not that I
know what to look for) and we don't have any pets, so I don't
know where they could be living. We haven't had any animals
visiting our house either. Could fleas be living on us without
us knowing? Could it be another kind of pest that lives in our
beds? We keep washing all our bedclothes but it doesn't seem to
make any difference.
Itchy in Oakland
Do the bumps itch worse at night? The distribution of the rash
you describe could be scabies (sounds gross but pretty easy to
get rid of). Scabies almost always itches more at night. Have
a medical provider take a look.
a medical provider
I hate to say it, but you may have bed bugs. In our previous
apartment, my partner and I started noticing rash-like, itchy,
raised bumps, especially on the stomach and back. We had never
seen any bugs in the room, until one day we say one little bug
on the wall. We caught it and took it in to the doctor, who was
convinced that the bumps were not bug bites. He had it analyzed
and it turned out to be bed bugs. Then we lifted up the
mattress, and there were hundreds--it was unthinkably
disgusting. Check between the mattress and the box spring and
in the cracks of fabric in the matress. They look like small
black spots, and they leave black dots of feces behind. If it
is them, the only effective option we found (after much effort
to avoid it) was using a chemical spray. We also vacuumed them
up over and over again, washed all the bedding in hot water over
and over, and sealed the mattress in a plastic cover. Hopefully,
your problem is something other than the bed bugs, but it is
definitely worth checking. There is a lot of information about
bed bugs on the web, and UC Berkeley's Tang Center also has a
useful handout. Good luck!
Finally bed bug free
I recommend seeing a doctor as soon as possible to rule out
scabies...that's what it sounds like to me, and you would need
medication to get rid of them (as well as washing all your
clothes and bedclothes). And if it is scabies, remember that
you have to do the entire treatment over again in two weeks, and
then again two weeks after that. Good luck!
Former scabies host
I'm at my wits' end trying to keep my 3-yr-old from scratching
his flea bites. A visiting elderly relative apparently brought
fleas with her when she stayed with us at Thanksgiving. The
fleas are now gone (thanks to chemicals we'd prefer not to have
had to use), but the seven bites our son got in November are
still with him three months later. We can't get him to stop
scratching. We've seen his doctor a couple of times, tried
various creams and lotions (calamine, caladryl, benadryl
briefly, antibiotic creams with anti-itch medications), an
oatmeal bath, and even oral benadryl. We've used several kinds
of band-aids, all of which he eventually developed a reaction
to, with such severe redness that we were scared to continue.
The Band-aid brand ''liquid bandage'' didn't work, either. At
various times the bites have been nearly gone, but all it takes
is one period of scratching to bring them back. One nurse half-
jokingly suggested putting mittens on his hands, but trust me,
it's not feasible with this child! I'm concerned that these are
going to leave permanent scars. I hope someone can help!
I can sympathize. My son had a bite on his scalp that he
scratched and scratched. He was about 8 years old. Every time it
healed, he'd scratch off the scab and irritate it again. It would
get very red and even infected. This went on for months, and it
was hard to tell how it was doing because it was under his hair.
We went to the doctor a couple of times about it, but really the
problem was that he wouldn't leave it alone. We had a routine of
putting neosporin on it every morning and every night, and it
finally did heal.
One thing you could try is giving him an ice cube to rub on the
bites when they itch. That will temporarily relieve the itching
and give him something to do besides scratch.
I am being eaten alive at night by creatures I can't see. They're not
fleas as I've had plenty of experience with those. I don't think they're bed
bugs because research on the web indicates that they're about l/4-l/3"long
which is definitely big enough to be seen. I truly am not seeing what is
biting me even though I sometimes can feel them crawling. This has been
going on for about two months now. My son and husband are not bothered. I
have been thoroughly cleaning all the bedding and surrounding area and that
seems to help for about 3 days. Does anyone know what this might be and
what to do about it. Anonymous
I thought I had flea or spider bites last year (over 100 bites!)
Found out they were mites from rats that left the basement of the
house and chose lucky me as the temporary host! I've received
wonderful guidance from the Biointregal Resource Center in Berkeley
who knew what was most likely feasting on me and then they referred me
to a wonderful pest control person, head of U.C. Berkeley Pest
control. The BIRC provides guidance for the least toxic way to
control pests, such as spiders or mites for that matter. I remember
one of the issues I read from BIRC (you get a newletter about
controlling a particular common pest every 2 months if you're a member
- totally worth it by the way!) discussed spider control. They could
send you any issue you ask for. I really liked the one on ants and
the control of rose pests in the garden. For spiders, one of the
suggestions was keeping the house really clean... b/c they feed on
other insects and perhaps small critters we could barely see in the
collecting dust. Pests often will choose one person over another...
the research shows that pregnant cats and lactating cats for example
are preferable hosts for fleas (I believe it was), than other cats. I
was lactating during the feed last year! BIRC could be reached at
524-2567. Also, simultaneously, a doctor at CCHMC in Martinez where
my husband works also solved the mystery of the bites at the same time
when I brought in a pregnant mite with the egg sack attached (thus
large enought for me to see it!) I didn't have alcohol so Chardonnay
worked fine in a baby food jar. Animal mites are much larger than
dust mites and so one could see it very well under a 10X -30x
microscope. This doctor is also an entomologist so is perfect at
solving these types of problems. Contact me if you wish to consult
this doctor. Susan
this page was last updated: Aug 8, 2013
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network