I often receive phone calls from people truly distressed by itches, who say, “It must be bugs.”  Most of the time the callers are correct and they are suffering from insects we can take care of:  bed bugs, fleas, or bird mites. If itching isn’t caused by any of these household pests, and mosquitoes are not suspected, then the problem might be scabies or lice.

The human itch mite (scabies) burrows into the skin, often between the fingers, or the bend of elbows, knees, and groin. This is considered a medical problem and is easily diagnosed and treated by a doctor. If itching is limited to the scalp, then suspect head lice.

Now and then, however, a caller will suffer from an invisible itch—an itch caused by something we can’t see. While there are only half a dozen insect species likely to cause itchy bites, there are hundreds of household products, environment factors, and health-related conditions that can make you itch.  An excellent list of these itch triggers is found in “Invisible Itches: Insect and Non-Insect Causes,” from the University of Kentucky.

Bed Bug Bite

Swelling caused by bed bug bite. Photographer: Dr. Harold Harlan

Itching is real and causes real distress. We hate telling someone we can’t find evidence of bugs. With a bug infestation there is a clear protocol for control, and for itch relief. When confounded by itching without a known source, consider non-insect causes.  Thrasher Termite & Pest Control will always welcome your call to verify or eliminate bugs as the source of your problem.