Dear Annie: I want to reply to “Twice Bitten,” who is being bitten by tiny bugs. I had the same problem. After several visits to the dermatologist and tests with no diagnosis, I tried lavender soap and lotion. Bugs do not like the smell of lavender. You also can sprinkle lavender flowers on your carpet and use lavender sachets in your hamper and in and around your bed. — Also Been Bitten
Dear From: We heard from hundreds of readers on this subject. When we initially did our research, we found too many possibilities to print. So here are a few more:
From Casper, Wyo.: My friend had a similar experience after a cruise. It turned out she had contracted scabies, probably from an infected mattress.
East Coast: As a pest control technician, I get many complaints like this. After a thorough inspection and finding no visible pests, I suggest quite a few of the same options you did. But I have noticed that this often happens when the weather turns colder and our furnaces kick back on. It tends to dry out the skin, with the sensation of being bitten by bugs. A humidifier may do the trick.
Louisville, Ky.: That poor woman who is plagued by bites has been bitten by “no-see-um” bugs. They are so named because they are too small to see with the naked eye. I was bitten last summer and almost lost my mind until a friend told me to buy white vinegar and spray it on my sheets and pillows in the morning and leave them uncovered to dry. After several nights of this, the bites stopped.
Ontario, Calif.: I had a similar problem, and it turned out to be rat mites. We got rid of the rats in our attic, but their tiny mites dropped down into the house. Our exterminator identified them when I put one under a microscope.
Washington State: “Twice Bitten” should see a doctor and ask about the Norwegian scabies. Unlike regular scabies, they do not leave the telltale tracks and are harder to identify.
Ventura, Calif.: One of the laundry detergent makers added a stain-release chemical that has caused many of my friends to have the same problem.
Louisiana: Years ago, my husband returned from working in a remote area. That night, I was bitten by some type of bug. We searched the bed for hours. Nothing. This went on for weeks, but with only a slight redness, there was nothing to show a doctor. My husband started to believe I was imagining things. After a month of ridiculously intensive housecleaning, preventive bug spraying, bed checks and sleepless nights, I felt a bite and instinctively grabbed the culprit. It was dark brown and slightly larger than a pinhead. I took “the remains” to an entomologist. He studied it, said he’d never seen anything like it and asked if he could keep it.
Greensboro: I, too, had bites from an unknown source show up around my face and neck. I went to a dermatologist, who gave me a strong antibiotic and a steroid cream and told me it was yeast. That didn’t work. After discussing it with my sister, who works at a hospital, she suggested that I see an allergist. He discovered that I am allergic to dust mites.
Lady Lake, Fla.: My son had a similar problem. I checked his bed, changed laundry detergent, scrubbed, but nothing helped. Finally, I sat where he studied and felt a bite. I noticed mites flitting about a nearby houseplant. I tossed out the plant, vacuumed thoroughly and sprayed with Lysol. Two days later, we were free of bites.
New York: These people may have Morgellons, which the medical community doesn’t always recognize. The writer may have picked this up from contaminated clothing or furniture fabric, or from exposure to a contaminated pet. The cleaning you recommended is necessary, but so are antibiotics, anti-fungal medications and other treatments similar to those used for scabies.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.