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Neither Bitten nor Delusional, Carpet Beetles and Bed Bugs

by Auntie Madder
(Dallas, Texas, USA)

For the last several months, I've had the "crawlies" and felt the (nearly always) "invisible bug bites" left by "microscopic mites" or "invisible bugs." Although I wanted to, I couldn't explain the crawling sensations and feelings of being bitten or stung any other way. And try as I might, I couldn't convince myself that I was delusional (still can't), not when told I was by the nurse practitioner nor even when my boyfriend and one of our mutual friends offered their unsolicited assistance by insisting that my bugs and bites were mere delusions, even going so far as of refusing to acknowledge my comments and complaints on the topic. (Yes, they ignore me as if I'm not even in the room...providing further proof that when it comes to tough love, a**holes do it best.)


Since Monday, I have found and put in a disposable, covered plastic bowl, the carcasses of two tiny, hairy bugs. My search of Bing images of "tiny hairy bugs" led me to the knowledge that the two not-at-all dear departed are carpet beetle larvae. Keying "do carpet beetles bite" into Bing web search returned numerous pages of results, all of which instructing that carpet beetles do not bite. A few, however, go on to explain that some people have an allergic skin reaction to carpet beetle larvae hairs that feel like bug bites or stings.

"Carpet beetle larvae have prickly little hairs that cause a reaction in some people that looks very much like bed bug bites. The solution is to make sure all the allergens (the hairs) are removed from the environment. People with sensitivity to the hairs may get some relief by not wearing shoes or socks in the house. A build-up of static electricity can cause the micro fine hairs on the larvae to impale themselves in human skin, thus creating a small pin-prick-like wound. The ‘bite reaction’ under clothes is symptomatic of carpet beetles, as the hairs can pass though all but the finest of weaves on clothes."
From Greening the Apple, the Environmental Protection Agency’s New York
City blog

This information is confirmed by West Virginia University, the entomologists and other pros at the BedBugger Blog, and David Cain of Bed Bugs Limited in the UK (via BedBugger), among others.

While my experience has been that few of the "bites" of the carpet beetle larvae hairs left marks that look like the bites of bed bugs (or any other bugs, either) on my skin, the "bites" really did sting and hurt, sometimes so much that I thought I might cry like a baby. I was many times incredulous when my boyfriend claimed to see no bug nor bite or sting marks on my back, as those are the "bites" that hurt me the most. In fact, some of the first "bites" on my back still hurt now, months later.

Now it all makes sense. Although I've felt crawled over and bitten and stung hundreds of times over the past several months, and although the perp is, indeed, an insect, I've not been bitten at all. But I'm not delusional, either. I've been suffering from an allergic reaction to the tiny little hairs of the carpet beetle larvae.

If only I knew then what I know now. For that matter, if only doctors and nurse practitioners knew then what I know now. Shame on you all, dermatologists especially, for telling patients seeking help and relief of pain from you that it's all in their minds and writing them off as delusional instead of performing a little online research in search of answers. If I can do it without a PhD...And they pay you the big bucks.

Editor Comment Regarding Carpet Beetle Skin Reactions

Dear Auntie,

Thank you for sharing your story. We're sure it will help others who know they have some type of skin reaction, but aren't sure of the cause.

Allergic skin reactions are specific to the individual. Some may show no reaction to an insect, while others will experience symptoms similar to the ones you describe.

You were smart for continuing to investigate the cause of the skin itch problem.

Take Care,

Jeff


Comments for Neither Bitten nor Delusional, Carpet Beetles and Bed Bugs

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Thank Goodness I’m not the only one!!!!
by: Dorothy

My adult daughter and her boyfriend who I live with for months made me feel delusional and kept saying I don’t see this or that! I have thrown my bed and a lot of belongings away because nothing was taken seriously and the problem got bad. Thank you for sharing, I have ahead a very similar experience.

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Doctors and Dermatologists Educate Yourselves
by: Carpet Beetle Hell- 3 Years

I had horrible red welts, lesions, and blistering for three years. I saw three dermatologists, exhausted two Urgent Cares, my primary care physician dropped the ball, and an ER made me feel like a leper. Lack of diagnosis and treatment made them get secondary infections.
After being prescribed years of permethrin cream, clindamycin, acne cream (yes-acne), and the worst- being told I have the new DSM5 "Delusional Parasitosis", and being told I needed two anti-psychotic meds, I had about given up. Then- after that dermatologist appointment-an adult beetle flew like a ladybug, crawled up my body and "clipped" me with its wing. I took a photo, put it in a baggie (yes- the diagnostic criteria was all I had) and sent the picture to two Universities. Both came back the same - varied carpet beetle.
I am highly allergic to almost everything- an the larvae crawling on me to eat my hair (1/3 is now gone) left a trail of welts and agony across my torso, shoulders, and hairline for three years. Now- ten days later- the lesions are cleared.
I did not have scabies, did not have MRSA, did not have bed bugs, did not have hair lice, did not have just acne, definitely did not self-mutilate, did not have herpes or even a date with lesions all over me, was told I needed a breast lift, am not in need of "diabetic wound care" and not even diabetic- and most of all- I am not delusional. After three years- to know all this was just an allergy- it breaks my heart.
For three years, mainly saw Physicians Assistants, then they would call in the doctor for a minute to rekay their uneducated findings, sometimes nurse assistants, but rarely an MD. Out of ignorance- they would stay ten feet away and degrade me with their commentary. I was never swabbed (gee- maybe larvae hair would have been found) . Their treatment and lack of care and ignorance is almost the same as the scalpel like feel of the larvae. When I finally went across the River to another state and saw an MD, who actually cared, I had frozen my pants and bag with all the larvae and casings- I showed them a photo history in my iPhone, I expected the usual treatment and insults. When they actually treated me and gave a damn, I cried. The nurse there had to actually calm me and say "it is okay- we believe you. we are going to help you". I now am out of the infested home, clearing up, and incredulous as to why no one caught this before.
Doctors, Nurses, Dermatologists, and EMT (because of possible anaphylaxis) ---- please--- educate yourself and colleagues on carpet beetle dermatitis. With the rise in Chinese imports, Amazon, online retail warehousing, and their love of keratin and pet food- this is not going to go away. Please listen and educate yourselves - ask appropriate questions- before declaring a person with infected lesions or God Forbid myiasis "delusional".
We had thrown away a brand new wool rug in 2016. Bought at a "liquidation sale"- ie watehouse was infested. My bed was right over an infested air duct return. We had no carpet! Saw a few holes in clothes and stored linens and assumed moths. Even had a pet die likely from infestation. But- no one ever asked me anything about allergies or items recently brought into the home- never mentioned wool, carpet, allergens.
If this helps anyone- I am so glad. By the time we do get treated, we do need medication for depression and anxiety. Our belongings are trashed, hair eaten, the sight of a bug or even mention of "carpet" is terrifying. I do not want to go back home. But with all the damage and infestation after three years- with my allergy- I cannot.
So- please- Do not give up. When I did- Instead of an angel's wings from heaven, an adult beetles' wings came from the HVAC.



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You're not losing your mind.
by: Anonymous

That is the good news. I am the unfortunate recipient of carpet beetle larvae in my bedroom. A few weeks back I noticed what appeared to be bites on my arms and legs for several nights in a row. Fearing the worst I called in an exterminator friend and he confirmed that the issue was carpet beetles. I've meticulously vacuumed all my mattresses, base boards, carpets bed frames, etc, and have been sleeping on the couch. Unfortunately I still woke up with four or five allergic spots on my leg this AM. Like the other contributor mentioned, I believe that disturbing their hiding places and cleaning thoroughly actually can kick up the tiny hairs and accidentally spread them. Planning on having the carpets steam cleaned for a second time then applying boric acid to all hiding places. Wish me luck!

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thank you
by: Anonymous

I appreciate your comments. this is exactly what I have been going through. I have a question. I've heard about natural fibers being their food source and I wonder about wood. I have lots of old driftwood pieces that I use for my artwork. I also have lots of plants, could they be feeding off of them? I've tried 2 treatments of permithrin cream which cost a fortune and was of no help. also tried lice treatment for hair,,,still itch like crazy HELP wanted.

Editor Note:
Carpet beetles eat lint, hair, dead insects, and other debris that serve as food. Throw out badly infested items. Remove old spider webs and bird, rodent, bee, and wasp nests, which can harbor infestations. Examine cut flowers for adult beetles before bringing the flowers inside. Be sure that window screens, doors, and vents are secure to keep carpet beetles from flying in from outdoor sources.

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Allergic in St Louis
by: James

Tgank you so much. I agree completely. Also please note: A person should be treated with respect. Mites allergies arereal. Get break outs as much as I do and you will have mental health issues

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No Solution Found
by: Itchy and Twichy

I had been experiencing what felt like stings and itching all over for over a month before I figured out what I thought was causing it. A few times at night while watching t.v. I saw something fly across the room in front of the screen. I had already been researching online what the cause could be and of course everything pointed to bed bugs but I never saw anything black crawling around on me or in my bed. I finally found a live carpet beetle on some of my clothes. I tried setting of bug bombs that were supposed to kill bed bugs and carpet beetles. By this time I had marks and scars all over my legs, arms, back, and even my butt. It was a nightmare and the scars look horrible.

Finally I called Terminix to come inspect and treat. Needless to say over $800 and 4 treatments later I thought I was safe. The clothes that I've been wearing and a tied up trash bag I washed on hot water with extra rinse and spin. When I dried them I would leave them in there running for over an hour turning the clothes both inside and out to try and get what felt like little shards of glass out. My doctor gave me some itch medicine which worked but only with double the dosage and lasted 2-3 hours max.

The last treatment was July 6 and I thought finally things would start to turn around. I mean I still felt the stings and itch but I was expecting that since it was all their little hairs I was having an allergic reaction to. Now with in the past few days and my itch medicine running low I fell like I have picked at least 25 "things" out of my skin which it was I have to do to make the stinging stop. Everything I've read from the other post about the static, wholes in clothes, and flakes appearing on me and the clothes I'm wearing,etc... I've experienced all of it. Terminix is coming again to treat again but I'm hurting physically and emotionally if anyone has suggestions
that have actually worked for them please help. I'm afraid this is going to be never ending at this point.

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Help
by: Anonymous

Um I did and I don't know where it is I'm help please or help me please I hope someone found it Im johanseneric7197@gmail.com

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Help someone please
by: Anonymous

I moved in to my apartment two years ago and upon the first week I discovered bed bugs that's what they were because I first learned about them in the halfway house I lived in we were educated as much as they could no we didn't have them there how ever I moved into an apartment right next door to it and that was my first experience with them well since it was a transitional living program they paid for a professional heat treatment and I lived there for 14 months without any more problems than I moved to another apartment and still was bug free and was there for 14 months I wanted and needed to move outta there so I contacted my landlord and asked if he had anymore buildings or apartments for rent and he said yes so I moved into here and it took about a year of coordinating with the landlord because he bought his own heat treating equipment and no I didn't have an infestation but they did make their presence known and I killed every single one that crossed paths with me 91% isopropyl alcohol...make friends with it people and so anyways one year ago this June the apartment was treated and and that July I found and seen my last bed bug and it was dead and it was a year ago that I seen my last alive one so now I woke up the other day and found these two little tiny cuts on my arm and so I looked it up on the internet and all I found was bed bugs are the only ones that do that I haven't seen or found a bed bug as of yet and because of all of this I took to sleeping on my kitchen floor at first with just comforters then I purchased a queen sized memory foam mattress and that's what Ive been sleeping on for about ten months now also one of my tips to people when you go to bed wear sweats or pajama bottoms and wear socks and tuck in the pant legs into the socks and wear a t-shirt and tuck it in your pants then if you can put your fan at the head of where you sleep remember they track carbon dioxide wish is what we exhale and so it'll blow it away from you so they can't track and find you as much as before I also sleep with my lights on but not to scare or keep them away because I've caught them running along on my kitchen floor in the middle of the day so if anyone tells you that they only come out at night is full of bs it's to see if there are any and to spot them now I don't know if this is what's happening again or what and I caught a bug to show my landlord so he knew what it was that was in the apartment and I go ballistic with the alcohol I douse everything since I can't afford anything or everything I fight with what I have so . And I also found very tiny little spots of blood under my pillow when I found those cut marks and I just soaked and sprayed alcohol anywhere and everywhere and soaked the sheets in a sink in alcohol. Now here's the confusing part I've slept in my boxers and not one mark has appeared on my legs I've had something like small mosquito bites on my face and on my arms but this is the first of these little cuts I've had so can some one please help me out with this you can contact me at johanseneric7197@gmail.com

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Similar Mystery
by: Anonymous

I found it helpful to hear that there is something other than bed bugs to explain this! Even if I'm not sure yet. But I'm in a rental room, and I'm sleeping on a used fouton. Even though I've inspected twenty times, I still find no evidence of bed bugs, and yet there are little tiny flecks on my sheets. They seem to come from nowhere, especially at night, and only 2 times I found an actual bug which did not look like a bed bug and was bigger. I smashed them too soon to be sure, and it was just a blob.

I'm sensitive to most things, and may be allergic to these, if it's carpet beetle larvae. Although...I am also allergic to dust mites, and there are probably plenty of those here too.

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feeling better
by: trey

its nice to know im not crazy. i keep thinking im feeling the same thing, like something crawls onto one spot but then no matter how quick i look or smack there is nothing there. tonight i took the cushions off the couch and started looking into the deeper crevices and found several of the larvae hanging out.

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Carpet Beetles
by: homelesscat

Yes, it was confirmed that I have carpet beetles. I also realize that the hairs of the larvae are causing my legs to feel a lot of static and bite marks that are concentrated mostly on the legs.

This is painful and itchy. It seems I have an allergy to them.

What would I like to know is how do I cure this?

Editor Suggestion

To kill the carpet beetles we suggest a product like Delta Dust (cannot use in NY or CT.) You'll need a hand duster to apply the dust into cracks and crevices and along baseboards. The goal is to have the carpet beetles come in contact with the powder.

In terms of any itch, an over the counter itch cream will help with any symptoms.

Best of Luck,

Jeff

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Carpet Beetles Problem
by: homelesscat

I am having a problem with I believe are carpet beetles. They are literally in my bed, couch, all over my hardwood floors, clothes. I feel a lot of static especially on my legs. also (not sure how to explain) seems like muscle spasms especially in legs. I see black specs. all different colors. They are in my car as well.

The only way I know they are there is they seem to be landing on my feet, when I am in the house. When I go away they do not bother me.

I have had these for approximately 4 years and cant put a dent in it. I had my house sprayed a number of times to no avail. I vacuum, wash clothes. nothing seems to work...any ideas?

Editor Suggestion

Hi,

Are you sure that your problem is carpet beetles? Make sure that a qualified professional has captured an insect and made a positive identification.

From your description, the problem could be fleas, particularly if you have a pet in the home. It could be that the pet continues to introduce fleas into the home.

I would suggest treating your carpet with a flea product such as Raid Plus.


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Carpet Beetles
by: Angie

WOW...I could have written your post. Myself and my husband have been getting mysterious "bites" for over 8 months. We had 2 pest control companies come out and they both ruled out BBugs. Then, about 3 weeks ago, I found TONS of carpet beetles, on our walls, on our carpet, in our kitchen pantry.

We pulled up and tossed all the carpeting in the downstairs and are in the process of replacing with wood floors....we also through out a bunch of linens and unfortunately we'll probably have to throw out my beautiful living room couch, chaise lounge and rocker that matches, due to the fact that they are stuffed with goose down, which these little freaks love to eat.

As you stated...I would love it if drs. and dermo. knew more about this, since it would have saved us many months of hell. I had been to 3 drs. and 1 dermo. who didn't know what my "marks" were from...it took me and an entomologist at a college near by to identify these things. So..other then selling our home, we are removing everything they can breed on...even priceless heirloom linens...I don't care, as long as I can get my life back. I will tell you that 2 weeks ago we tore out the carpet downstairs and my "bites" have been more frequent since I believe we disrupted their living area...I wish you well and I hope we can both be rid of these things...

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