Wracking our Itchy Brains… Part 1

What was causing us to itch?!  The itching was destroying our lives.  It was maddening & keeping us from sleeping.  It was physically exhausting; we wore ourselves out with strict repetitive cleaning regimens.  It was mentally exhausting; every free moment we had was spend brainstorming about the itch’s cause and how to stop it.  It was also a very expensive problem to have…   Here’s what we considered and what we did, listed in no particular order:

  • Scabies – treated for scabies, considered replacing mulch beds with rock landscaping?
  • Bed bugs – threw away mattress sets, bought bed bug traps, had an exterminator inspect for bed bugs
  • Mites from the cats – took each cat to the vet, Vet recommended treating cats with Revolution every 2 weeks for 6 treatments, so we did
  • Mites from birds roosting on the house – tried (and failed) to scare away the GD woodpeckers
  • Dry skin – installed whole house humidifier
  • Dirty or moldy HVAC – replaced HVAC system and added UV cleaning lamp, had vents & ducts cleaned
  • Sensitivity to soap or detergent – switched to all-natural non-soap body wash, switched to “clear” detergent and skipped the dryer sheets
  • Lice – inspected our heads, threw out all clothing and “soft” items we weren’t using: decorative pillows, non-essential curtains, even books…, we bagged all other soft items for months on end
  • Allergies – (maybe we were both allergic to some new chemical or fiber?) saw dermatologist (he recommended anti-psychotics), considered logging our diets to see if we had the same food allergy (hey, coincidences can’t be ruled out when you’re desperate for answers!)
  • It was in our Heads – seriously considered taking anti-psychotics because if they could stop our itching then Mission Accomplished!
  • Hard water – installed water softener
  • Mold – cleaned and searched for a source, had air quality tested in our home
  • Invisible bugs – Read Part 2 to peek down that rabbit hole…

How our year long battle with Invisible Bugs began:

A friend lent me a dress to wear to a show at a fancy venue.  I wore the dress and started getting itchy before the show started…  I was progressively more itchy as the show went on, and by the time the show was over, I could not sit still & was scratching like a crazy person!  My face, my arms, my legs – my whole body!  All I could think about was getting home, washing the dress & taking a shower!  Even after I showered, I was still a little itchy.  My friend spent that night on our guest bed.

In the following days, I continued to be itchy and my husband started to get itchy.  Later I learned two things:  1) My friend recently had SCABIES and was treated for it by her doctor.  2) My friend bought the dress at GOODWILL and hadn’t washed it yet.  Seriously?!

Clearly, the itching had to be from bugs brought to our house by my friend… Right?!  I called my doctor and she prescribed scabies medication for me and my husband over the phone.  We treated ourselves and experienced some relief.

So, you might think the story ends here & we just had scabies.  Unfortunately, no; the itching returned, and our hell was just getting started.  In hindsight, we realized we never actually had any of the typical scabies symptoms.

The itching was agony… it felt like fleas, but we couldn’t ever see a flea.  The itching was never in just one location – my leg would itch, then my head, then my arm, then my nose… The absolute worst was when it would hit more then one spot at a time!!!  It wasn’t a sensation we could ignore; it was too intense.  When I laid in bed unable to sleep because the itching was keeping me awake, my husband would be sleeping and then suddenly stir to scratch his face, or stir and scratch his arm… That was proof for me that it wasn’t manifested by our minds.

It did drive us completely crazy, though.  We would sit and stare at our arms like we were on acid, just waiting for a bug to bite so we could see it!  They did bite, but they were invisible.  We would sit and stare at our arms and quickly hit our itchy spot with clear tape to capture the bugs!  They bit, but the microscope we bought specifically to look at the tape with… well, it wasn’t powerful enough to see invisible bugs.

As this itchy hell wore on, we lost track of which came first – The Crazy or The Bugs…