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How do I get Rid of Biting Mites?

Ron Marr
Ron Marr

Mites are some of the least favored house guests of the parasite kingdom. They bite, dine on blood, and sometimes set up housekeeping in the ear canals, lungs, intestines, and bladders of domestic animals. Not all mites bite people — a good many of them prefer to reside on livestock or the family pet — but the number of species runs in the thousands. Biting mites cause itching, allergic reactions, and can sometimes set off asthma attacks in humans. The best way to get rid of them depends on which species you have, put certain insecticides and pesticides are usually effective.

The most widely recognized biting mite is known as the scabies, mange, or itch mite. These mites love to feast on people and animals, boring under the skin and consuming bodily fluids. Scabies are transmitted from human to human by something as simple as shaking hands, and outbreaks are prevalent among school-aged children. Lotions containing an insecticide will eventually kill them, but reinfection is a common occurrence. The clothes and bedding of a person with scabies should be repeatedly washed in soap and very hot water.

Skin irritation from biting mites.
Skin irritation from biting mites.

Chiggers are a plague for hikers, campers, or anyone who lives in a wooded or rural area. They possess an uncanny ability to snack around the top of socks and directly under a waistband. The bites cause intense itching and dermatitis. The best way to terminate chiggers is to spray lawns and wooded areas with a pesticide. Insect repellants containing DEET may be safely applied to the clothing and skin of most people to ward off chigger bites.

Taking an antihistamine may alleviate the symptoms of mite bites.
Taking an antihistamine may alleviate the symptoms of mite bites.

Farmers, lawn workers, and landscapers are often afflicted with the straw-itch mite. True to their name, these biting mites reside in harvested grains, wheat, straw, and dried grass. Straw-itch mites aren’t all bad; they feed on the insects that inhabit and consume harvested grain, but they are also more than happy to bite people. The best way to rid an area of these tiny vermin is to apply pesticides that kill the insects upon which the mites feed.

Cat with mange.
Cat with mange.

The saliva of a biting mite could cause a person's skin to itch for several days after the parasite has departed. You can minimize discomfort by taking a hot, soapy bath after a walk in the woods or after engaging in any other activity that could expose you to mites. Keep handy a tube of hydrocortisone cream, as well as a bottle of over-the-counter, oral antihistamines.

Discussion Comments


Ever see wild birds flock to the ashes of a fire,especially ashes from a nut bearing tree, which contains tannic acid? My poppy taught me that when my chickens were having skin and feather issues, I should dig a hole and burn oak wood in it. My chickens could not get enough ash dust baths, and soon my chickens looked like county fair ribbon winners, and my customer base soared. My little brother got into chiggers, to mom's dismay, and I covered his arms and side with ash. Problem solved.


This is about the third time I have had to deal with biting mites. (First time was in 1996). I wound up getting rid of a mattress and buying new the first time. Plus washing everything. I also figured they were living in my dresser drawers, so I actually put them in the oven on low heat for about half an hour. A couple of months ago, I was getting bitten again, after all those years.

Back in '96, my doctor actually laughed when he saw the red bites all over my torso! I did not think it was at all funny. Even a dermatologist thought I had something other than bites, but the biopsy of one bite showed the spirochetes which proved I was being bitten. These cursed things are just awful. And I can't imagine having to bathe my cats. I hope their flea meds will take care of any on them. Thanks everyone for sharing.


I raise Silkie chickens and hold them often. I read on one of the backyard chicken websites that if you add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar per gallon to their water, they will not get mites. It seeps through their pores and repels the mites. I began last year and all itching stopped. It really works! I'm not getting rashes from them or the bedding anymore either.


My husband and I were fixing the back fence under our 20-30 foot Leyland cypresses. That evening he broke out with severe hives all under his arms, groin and waist band. The doctors did nothing for him other than prescribe antihistamines. They only address the symptoms, not the problem. We assume he had an allergic reaction because he is from Canada. I am from the south so I have been exposed to them before.

We tried everything to get rid of these buggers. Pyrethrin does not work on them nothing worked. We bought a steamer, not a carpet cleaner, that knocked them back a bit. My husband suffered for months, made many doctor visits, had tons of blood work, took tons of meds, etc. The only thing we found that truly worked was tea tree oil. It's a known natural miticide. We use a 10-1 solution of rubbing alcohol and tea tree. We spray everything: ourselves, the dog, our bed and anything else we wish. I use borax on the carpets, sprinkle it on let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour then vacuum up. These steps have knocked them back to a tolerable level. However, we still need to use diatomaceous earth on the bushes to prevent our adorable dog from continuing to bring them in. Good luck to all who have experienced these little demons.


Monika - do you know what your friends doctor did to get rid of the mites? I have a friend with a similar problem.


Bird mites stink. My buddy has them and they are horrible.


It's interesting that biting mites can set off an allergic reaction in humans. I know in the case of dust mites, bites aren't a problem, but asthma attacks are. I can imagine how horrible it would be to worry about both mite bites and an asthma attack. Especially if you spend a lot of time at home.

I personally work from home, so having my house infested with biting mites would be really bad for my productivity!


@Monika - Ugh, bed bugs. A friend of mine had those and they made her totally miserable for months. After that, I laugh whenever someone asks "Do mites bite humans?" Because they definitely do! As another commenter said, even bird mites aren't that discriminating and will infest a human host also.

Anyway, I think I'm going to go clean my apartment now. The idea of getting biting mites really freaks me out, and I somehow feel like if I keep my house clean, the likelihood of getting mites will lessen.


@ddljohn - A friend of mine got bird mites, and as you said, they are a serious problem. A lot of doctors don't know about them, and originally they thought my friend was having psychosomatic symptoms. Luckily they eventually found out what was wrong with her and she's fine now.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure bed bugs are considered mites, and I know they are hard to get rid of. They also seem to spread very easily from apartment to apartment in a building. Plus, no matter what you do, mites bite you while you're sleeping.

It sounds horrible, and every time I stay at a hotel now I've been making sure to check online to see if it has bed bugs. I don't want to bring those things home with me.


@simrin-- Bird mites are a serious problem! My parrot got them several years ago and the mites infested all over our house, not to mention me as well! I couldn't see anything on me but I would get this feeling like things are crawling on me and bites that got worse at night. So you need to solve this problem before the infestation spreads.

Applying vaseline all over the skin and feathers works really well because it suffocates the mites. Meanwhile, keep your bird in it's cage until you are sure that the mites are gone because bird mites are mites that also bite humans. You can iron your clothes and apply mineral oil or vaseline on your skin as a precaution.


@alisha-- Thanks for that recipe! I might use it for my bird's mite bites. My parakeet has been itching and pulling his feathers out for the last week. My vet said that it's probably bird mites and told me to make him a bath warm water and a few drops of baby shampoo diluted in it. I have done that and it seemed to help for a day or two. But now he's back to itching and scratching again.

I think he needs something stronger so I will definitely try the vinegar recipe. Hopefully I can get him to bathe in it!


My dog has gotten mange several times in the past. The sprays and creams that my vet prescribed the first time did work but it was a bit too harsh for my dog's skin. It irritated her and she started itching even worse than before to the point where she made her skin bleed.

I was talking to my sister about it and she suggested bathing my dog with a mixture of vinegar, tea and peroxide. She learned this home remedy from her neighbor whose pets also had mange recently.

I did it and it really worked! She stopped itching completely and the mange symptoms went away too. She did smell like vinegar for a while but it was totally worth it and it didn't irritate her skin at all.

When she got mange again six months later, I did the same thing and got the same result in just one day. This is such a great home remedy for mites.


When I was in college, a girl across the hall from me had scabies. These microscopic mites bite humans and she had an itchy, bumpy rash on her.

This rash started showing up around her wrists, but gradually spread to other areas. My cousin was her roommate, and she stayed in another room for a few weeks until everything cleared up.

I know these mites are contagious, and thankfully, I don't remember anybody else catching these. It makes me itch all over just thinking about it.

She had to get some medicated cream from the doctor and make sure all of the bedding, towels and linens were thoroughly washed, sanitized and dried.


@LisaLou - I don't think mites are particular about whether they bother humans or animals. I found out the hard way how miserable they can be.

We live in the country and my dog spends a lot of time outside when we are gone. I put some straw in her dog house - thinking this would give her some extra warmth.

At first I thought she had fleas because she was scratching herself to the point that she had raw patches.

When I took her to the vet, he said she had mites biting her from the straw that was in her dog house.

I immediately burned all the straw and gave her house a thorough cleaning. Never again will I use straw as a way to keep her warm. I can only imagine how miserable she was with those mites biting her all the time.


I know that many mites bite, but have read that dust mites don't bite humans. My nephew came down with an allergic reaction to what they figured out was dust mites.

His symptoms were similar to those with allergies such as sneezing and a runny nose. He didn't have little bites on him like you would with a flea or spider bite.

You can't see these dust mites with the naked eye, so it was hard for them to figure out what was wrong. These mites like warm, humid conditions and this happened to my nephew in the middle of a hot, humid summer.

The top two recommendations they were given was to make sure all of the bedding was washed on a regular basis and try to keep the humidity levels down in the bedroom.


I don't know where mites come from, but I have had to treat my farm cats for ear mites. When I see them constantly scratching at their ears, I am not surprised to find out they have mites.

Thankfully, this is an easy thing to treat. Just make sure you have a good grip on them when you drop the medication in their ears - they don't like that very well. They will usually squirm and try to get away.

Since this has happened more than once, I now know what to look for. If my cats are scratching their ears excessively and have a brown, crusty residue inside their ears, they probably have mites.

Just a quick trip to the vet to get some medication has always cleared this up in about 10 days. It is important to to get them treated so they don't pass them along to other farm animals as well.

I believe there are also some home remedies that people have tried, but I have always used the medication from my vet.

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    • Skin irritation from biting mites.
      By: Rob Byron
      Skin irritation from biting mites.
    • Taking an antihistamine may alleviate the symptoms of mite bites.
      By: Wellford Tiller
      Taking an antihistamine may alleviate the symptoms of mite bites.
    • Cat with mange.
      By: Giselleai
      Cat with mange.
    • A dog being washed to treat a mite infestation.
      By: Eric Isselée
      A dog being washed to treat a mite infestation.
    • One of the best ways to terminate chiggers is by spraying lawns and wooded areas with a pesticide.
      By: Gucio_55
      One of the best ways to terminate chiggers is by spraying lawns and wooded areas with a pesticide.
    • Hydrocortisone cream can relieve the itching and irritation caused by mites.
      By: carroteater
      Hydrocortisone cream can relieve the itching and irritation caused by mites.