Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Some People Think They Have Bugs on Them

It's actually a quite common situation where people think they have tiny (almost) invisible insects or mites living on or in their skin.  I get calls like this all the time from the public.  First of all, let me say people MIGHT REALLY have bugs on their skin (things like lice or scabies mites).  I don't deny that.  The problem is when we as so-called bug experts can't find anything in their samples.  Then what are we supposed to do?  It's very frustrating to both the client and the insect specialist. I think it's important to understand that many different medical conditions or even prescription drugs can cause a tingling or crawling sensation on human skin.  So, just because someone says they feel bugs on them doesn't necessarily mean they are real bugs.  Secondly, just because someone has a "rash" or "bites" doesn't mean that bugs are actually causing these things.  Sometimes it's an allergic reaction, or exposure to fibers like fiberglass.  So, the best thing to do if you think you are suffering from bugs or mites on you is to go to a dermatologist.  These doctors are specialists in rashes, itches, and bites of all kinds.  They should be able to figure out what's going on.  Certainly, if you actually catch a bug, entomologists at a university or a health department can identify it for you.  Many universities and most state health departments have entomologists on staff (see footnote below).  I hope this helps clarify the issue of mysterious bugs on humans.

* NOTE:  If you think you have bugs on you and need an identification of a specimen, please go to or call your own state land-grant institution where they have an Extension Service.  All colleges with an Extension Service have entomologists who can help you.  Also, you may wish to contact your state health department.  Please do not call or write me unless you live in the state of Mississippi. I cannot respond to people all over the country.