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What You Need to Know About Oak Mites And Their Bites

By Sydney Lehr
On October 5, 2016

Photo by: Ashley Alonzo

Have you been a bit itchier than usual? Find yourself covered in swelling red bumps? Lost sleep due to fighting the urge to itch? If you answered yes to these questions, you may be a victim of Pyemotes Herfsi, more commonly known as Oak mites. Here is what you need to know about these pesky biting machines.

Oak mites have been around quite a while. According to the Kansas City Star, the first Oak mite bite outbreak reported in the area was in 1994, and there have been outbreaks on and off ever since. The last time Oak mite irritations were heavily reported was in 2004 and 2005. The Pyemotes Herfsi have flown fairly low under the radar until 2015, when they came back with a vengeance.

Most people who end up with Oak mite bites do not actually recall being bitten and will not start feeling the infamous itch for 10 to 16 hours after the initial contact. The most common manifestation of an Oak mite bite is a swollen red bump, often with a very small blister or scab in the center. Bites will often itch, and if they are itched too hard, it could begin to burn.

Mites are usually only reported to be a nuisance in the months of July and August. Although many people on campus feel the bites all throughout September, this unusual occurrence can be chalked up to the unseasonal heat through the end of that month, as well as the large amount of outdoor fall sport practices on campus.

In extreme cases, mite bites that are overexposed can leave a bacterial infection behind them. The best way to prevent this secondary infection is to restrain from excessive scratching. Keeping the surface isolated from unnecessary contact is ideal.

There is a remedy for the itching in case it becomes unbearable. The most common and low-cost one is calamine lotion. It is usually light pink and dries into a chalk-like white coating on the skin. Applying calamine lotion to the affected area as often as needed will help subdue the itching sensation. The lotion is quite runny in consistency; a small dab on the bite will be more than enough. The lotion can be found at any drug store or supermarket of your choice.

Just remember, don’t stand under a tree!

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