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poofandmook's avatar

I'm itchy and I recently discovered tiny mites on my hamster... but they don't appear to be related. Other causes?

Asked by poofandmook (17277points) May 31st, 2011

So last week I got a really itchy spot on my leg… to the point where I couldn’t stop scratching and eventually scratched it raw, and now it’s scabbed over. But it still kind of itches.

I’ve also gotten a spot on the inside of my right breast, part of my upper arm, my waist right by the pants line and a little below, in the crook of my right elbow, and now the latest itchy spot is behind my right knee.

Now, on Friday, we discovered that our poor hamster Madmartigan was infested with tiny reddish mites. Not ticks or fleas, at least. We put him in his ball, cleaned the cage out, threw out all the bedding and food we had, wiped it down with cage wipes, rinsed it out with boiling water, wiped it again with cage wipes… did the same with the lid after we discovered some were hiding in there… new, clean bedding, all new food, and even bathed him in warm water in the bathroom sink and then proceeded to pick every visible bug out of his long hair with our fingers. We even took our clothes off immediately after and washed them in hot water. Ever since then, he’s been his old self again, and while we’ve found one mite here, one there in his cage, they seem to be gone.

Now of course you’d think that these mites are the cause of my itchiness, right? How? Because both of my cats and my boyfriend are fine, and we haven’t seen them anywhere else. If they were on me, then they’d also be on the furniture and in the bed, right? And if they were in those places, then my boyfriend and my cats would be affected… and he’s fine, and not only do they appear fine, but we haven’t seen any bugs on them. And, I haven’t seen any bugs on myself.

I’ve been using the same detergent and fabric softener and dryer sheets, I’m not wearing new clothing… I got a new body wash but I haven’t used it for at least 3 showers now (and I shower minimum once a day) and new itchy spots keep cropping up.

They’re so itchy it’s literally impossible to not scratch, and 3 of them have that rashy look to them from all the scratching.

What could it POSSIBLY be? I’m out of ideas.

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12 Answers

poofandmook's avatar

I don’t think so… wouldn’t I see chiggers at some point? And wouldn’t chiggers be killed or washed away in the shower? I mean, I take ridiculously hot showers to begin with, and I’ve been scrubbing the heck out of spots that are itchy to make sure they’re clean.

And, again, wouldn’t my cats and boyfriend be affected too?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Chigger mites infest human skin via areas of contact with vegetation, such as pant cuffs or shirt sleeves and collars. They migrate on the skin in search of an optimal feeding area.

This would explain why you are the only one experiencing them. Have you been out near grass or a field?

A chigger bite itself is not noticeable. After the chigger has begun to inject digestive enzymes into the skin (usually after about 1–3 hours), symptoms typically begin.
* Pronounced itching is the most common symptom.
* The area of the bite may be reddened, flat, or raised; sometimes it resembles a pustule or blister.
* The itch is due to the presence of the stylostome and usually is most intense within 1–2 days after the bite.
* The itching persists for several days, and complete resolution of the skin lesions can take up to two weeks.

So no, you aren’t likely to see them. They would be long gone, and what you would be experiencing from the itchiness is the chemical reaction to the bite.

poofandmook's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer: Except taking one or two steps on a grassy area to get to my car, no.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

While people more commonly come in contact with chiggers from outdoor exposure, it’s quite possible that the bites came from the mites on your hamster. Chiggers are the larvae of mites, and you have been in close contact with them.

In the meantime, just keep an eye out for more spots and get a lotion to stop the itch. A friend introduced me to Band-Aid’s anti-itch gel when I had poison ivy, and the stuff is wonderful. The itch stops almost immediately, and it’s clear.

snowberry's avatar

Agreed with the above, but it could also be something completely unrelated, such as a fungal infection of the skin. If it’s that, you will need treatment.

Buttonstc's avatar

How about getting an appt. With a Dermatologist?

They would know what to look for and which tests to run.

But if you want to eliminate the possibility that it’s fungal there’s an easy way to do it. There are OTC products, both creams and sprays which work pretty quickly on any type of fungal infection.

They are usually labeled for athlete’s foot or jock itch but it’s the exact same medicine. You’ll know within 24 hrs. whether it relieves the rash.

But I think chiggers are much more likely.

poofandmook's avatar

Okay, but if they are chiggers, how is it that even still, days later, the human and animals I live with, including the hamster, don’t have any bug issues? This is what I’m failing to grasp here. I sleep with two cats and a man in my bed. We share the same sheets, blankets, furniture. None of them have so much as a single itch.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I’ve had chigger bites, and the itching lasts many days if gone untreated. If an anti-itch medication doesn’t work, then it is time to make a medical appointment. It could be something else that an expert can determine.

snowberry's avatar

I’m voting for the chiggers. Chigger bites concentrate in tight areas such as a waist-band joints, etc. If you figure it out, please tell us. I want to know.

Buttonstc's avatar

I have no idea if this applies to chiggers specifically but I do know that for both fleas and Mosquitos (for whatever reason) flock in droves to some people while barely bother others at all.

I’m one of those unlucky ones they love to feast on. When fleas forst began manifesting, I was the only human in the house who started getting bitten. Everybody elsr was completely untouched.

Had we not attacked the problem promptly, I’m sure that probably would not have remained that way. But we immediately Fromtlined all the cats, vaccumed like crazy and washed all bedding in hot water, etc.

And at picnics, I’m the one who attracts the most Mosquitos and have the most bites. (I’m not really honored in the least :)

It’s definitely not my imagination. Others have commented to me about it and this has always been the case since childhood.

Maybe bugs in general (chiggers included) have preferences for some humans over others.

But if this is still am ongoing problem for you, that’s what Dermatologists are for :)

angelique_1's avatar

Check on scabbies.

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