I am a phoenix risen from the ashes, dear friends. I had thousands upon thousands of bird mites living under my skin for the better part of a year and I am here to tell you not to lose faith. There are answers. I can and will help you find them! My name is Soteria, and here is my story.

I merely opened my bedroom window one morning in mid-March of 2020 to get some fresh air and noticed that something was biting me. It felt like tiny, sharp pinpricks in my side. I assumed it must be no-see-ums and shut the window. The next day I attempted to open my window again, and the same thing happened. I shut the window a second time and sprayed the outside screen with Home Defense, hoping that whatever bug was slipping through the cracks would be deterred. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The third day was the worst, it seemed that even more bugs made it through the little holes in my window screen to attack my skin. I finally gave up and shut the window.

That evening, something horrific began to unfold. I felt tiny, microscopic bugs crawling all over my body, up my legs, in my hair, my ear canals, up my nostrils, my eyes, it was a nightmare come to life. My best friend was living with me at the time and suffered no symptoms…we were baffled. I called an exterminator and after hearing my story he suggested I might be “feeling things that aren’t there” and then mentioned that “the mind plays crazy tricks on people!” before half-heartedly spraying bug spray around the inside perimeter and leaving. It did nothing. The crawling continued. The attacks seemed to be significantly worse in the evenings, and every night following the previous one grew in severity…these parasites appeared to be multiplying in such large numbers I couldn’t even conceive of it. I started sleeping in my car to get away from these bugs, terrified and confused. What was happening? I googled “microscopic bugs” and came up empty handed. The only thing I found was a website called birdmites dot org that seemed to have knowledge of a similar infestation issue, but no real answers. I called the exterminator and begged him to return. This time, I asked him to spray something much more toxic. Since it was covid, and we had nowhere else to go, my best friend and I remained outside on the back porch for the better part of an hour until the pesticide dried so we could return inside.

Whatever the exterminator sprayed made these microscopic bugs so angry they viciously attacked me instantly, as I was at that point the only non-toxic thing in the home. I couldn’t get them off of me after that. They reproduced so rapidly I felt my body become consumed by these parasites, and my only option was to flee in terror from my house. I packed up my car, said goodbye to my best friend, and drove 6 hours straight to another family’s house to attempt escaping this nightmare, but little did I know it was too late. I could no longer walk away from these creatures, as I had become their new host.

By the time I got to the next house, I stripped naked in the garage and ran into the shower to try to scrub off as many bugs as possible, to no avail. I only brought a few personal items and a garbage bag of clothes with me. The members of this household watched me slowly go insane. They kept assuring me they wouldn’t give up trying to help me find answers, but I could see in their eyes that they were losing hope. I honestly wasn’t even sure they believed me, I wasn’t sure anyone believed me. I was terrified I was going to end up in a psychiatric ward with bugs crawling all over my body. I slowly lost all humanity, I became a mere host to these parasites. They flooded my ears by the thousands, which were attacked with such great fervor I thought I might actually go deaf. No alcohol/peroxide wash seemed to affect them, and if it did more bugs just crawled into my ear canals the second my ears were dry. I stopped eating. I no longer slept. I hopelessly sprayed every bug spray and chemical known to man on my skin with no result. The attacks continued regardless. The only respite I seemed to get was when I showered, which calmed these beasts only as long as I was under the water stream. No amount of scrubbing could get them off, and my skin went totally raw.

I began to dread the evening, when the onslaught was at its worst. It seemed that they were the most active between the hours of 9 pm and 4 am, and the attacks involved tiny pinpricks all over my entire body as if I was getting poked repeatedly with a sewing needle, swarms of these bugs flooded my eyes, nose and ears, and I suffered constant, never ceasing crawling all over my head and body. This was torture at its finest, a straight 24 hour a day attack on my body, mind, and spirit. Hospitals at that time were asking non emergency patients to remain at home due to covid, and I was terrified of getting coronavirus. Even worse, my body had become so heavily infested I wasn’t sure I would be able to go to a hospital without infesting it.

I called a tele-doctor and asked for help. They refused me. “Sounds like delusional parasitosis to me”, they said. I begged. “Please help me. I can assure you I am of sound mind and body, I had four jobs before the pandemic hit. I need your assistance, please, I’m being attacked by something!” Refused again. They suggested I reach out to a psychiatrist. I called a friend the next day in panic and surprisingly enough, she had suffered a severe scabies infestation years prior that had non-typical scabies symptoms. She smartly suggested I craft a believable story for the doctor to get the medication I needed. The next day I called tele-doctor again and begged for permethrin cream or ivermectin, both parasite medications, I fibbed that I had been to an Airbnb recently whose hosts called to inform me that there was a scabies outbreak in the home and that I was getting early symptoms of a scabies infestation on my body.

They refused to prescribe me ivermectin. They did, however, prescribe me a single tube of permethrin cream.

That night I stripped naked and applied the permethrin cream all over my body. The instructions said to apply it everywhere from the neck down. I hastily added giant globs to my ears, as they were being attacked so heavily and I was desperate. I laid on the bed, my entire body hot from the newly applied cream. Within minutes the attacks began again, only this time these parasites angrily scavenged in wildly growing numbers for the few places I forgot to apply cream, like the bottoms of my feet…or the places I couldn’t reach, like the middle of my back. They swarmed those areas by the thousands, repeatedly stabbing me with what felt like a million needles all over my body. Since I had smeared cream all over the surface area of my ears they simply diverted by diving directly into the center of my ear canals and hitting my ear drums with such great force I almost threw up. I managed to pass out from either exhaustion or terror, and within the same hour woke myself up screaming.

Another sleepless night of torture. The morning after my permethrin application I found that my face hung so heavy with bugs that it sagged. I could barely see a foot in front of me my eyes were so riddled with parasites. I kept putting my hand up to swat at my face but my attempts were pointless. It reminded me of a time from my childhood when I accidentally walked directly into a swarm of gnats in a field, smacking against my face and stinging my eyes with their tiny bodies. I was caught in a perpetual swarm of invisible bugs. My flesh burned red from the pesticide cream and I could feel the bugs writhing and wriggling under my skin as if they were angry from being smothered by poison. The reaction my body went through was nothing short of a horror story. I felt nothing but hot pain, writhing, and swarming under the surface of my skin. Someone in the household suggested I apply warm oatmeal as a soothing ointment, and shockingly it worked. I sat naked in the bathroom, shivering with warm, dried oatmeal covering my body, completely terrified. I hopped in the shower to rinse off the larger dried chunks stuck to my skin. Surprisingly, the oatmeal seemed to calm the writhing under my flesh. I immediately passed out from exhaustion.

I had a mere 48 hours of relief from parasites before they returned. The permethrin cream claimed 8 days had to pass before reapplication. The torture resumed. (Unfortunately I learned later in my research that these creatures can build up a tolerance to permethrin pretty quickly, among other repeated and non-rotated pesticide/parasitic treatments. This is due to years of chicken farmers spraying tons of pesticides on chickens, and in the process creating what I refer to a super-mite. I do NOT recommend permethrin cream for treatment. It is a slow poison. I found it to be very ineffective. Continual application of this cream is detrimental to your health.) The other members of the household watched me completely lose my mind. Sleep was pointless. I, again, became a mere host to these beasts, and they slowly consumed my entire body. Thoughts of suicide flooded my brain. I thought I had no choice but to kill myself as I was being tortured 24 hours a day straight with no relief, and I was totally and utterly alone in my trauma. No one could help me. I have absolutely no idea how many days passed before finally, another member of the household became affected.

“I can feel them, Soteria,” she said.

My eyes shot up to her face. “What?” I cried, baffled by her comment.

“I feel them crawling on me.”

I broke down completely. I was horrified, but I was no longer alone.

Another week went by before all three members of the household were being afflicted by these parasites.

I now had strength in numbers. Doctors believed us, but even still no one could help. What happens when three people in the same household are being affected by something that would otherwise be considered “delusional parasitosis”? Surely they couldn’t commit us all to an insane asylum! We got a three person appointment with a dermatologist who believed our story, but still was at a bit of a loss. He prescribed us all ivermectin, which was dosed differently for each of us because it is administered based on weight. We began to notice that each member of the household was affected differently depending on their health at the time. The man in the home suffered health complications, and his attacks were heightened or mitigated based on how he was feeling physically that day. I was the “nest,” so I was attacked the hardest. The lady in the home had the least number of attacks on her body.

The house became so infested over a matter of a few weeks we all began to notice similar marks on our skin, almost imperceptible evidence that we were all suffering from a parasite affliction. Marks were evidenced by tiny red papule marks on our skin and tiny scratches along the surface that looked as though something poked through our skin and slid just along the inner surface. Unlike the other two members of the household, I was so infested that I noticed little holes appearing all over my body with a yellowish larvae like substance in the very center. The dermatologist took pictures of everything, but claimed he couldn’t ID the larvae-like substance I brought in to be examined. It wasn’t until the house became so heavily infested that we started to notice these skin afflictions, before then there was no evidence of any marks on our bodies of any kind.

We purchased tiny 80x microscopes online and came up empty handed, we vacuumed floors and collected samples in a bag and saw nothing. This went on for months on end. Over time we lost hope, we cried, we prayed, we considered going homeless. We thought about calling the CDC but what would we show them? There was no evidence, these microscopic insects were elusive and imperceptible.

Someone convinced me to search out parasite groups on facebook.

It was then that I discovered a microcosm of people being attacked by parasites…people who, like me, had been repeatedly refused help. And through the torture and the neverending attacks, covered head to toe in bugs with no hope, I fell down the rabbit hole into the world of the elusive bird mite.

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  1. Hey Soteria- which size spray bottle do you buy for the Kleen Free?

    1. Any size! I like the little 1 oz plastic bottles, so I can have a little portable size to take with me. The tiny spray bottles are cheap and generally come in packs of 4-6 on amazon.

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