How Common are Mites on Humans?

N. Madison

It is not common to find mites on humans, though it can happen. In most cases, mites do not bite humans. There are some, however, that are more likely to irritate human beings. They include Sarcoptes scabiei, bird and rodent mites, grain mites, and chiggers. Most mites are likely to bite a human being and then move on rather quickly. Sarcoptes scabiei, often referred to as scabies, however, usually burrow into a human host's skin and require medical treatment.

A mite.
A mite.

Most mites do not bite or otherwise irritate humans. For example, some people think that itching skin means they are being bitten by dust mites, but dust mites do not bite people or drink their blood; they feed off the dust that accumulates in a human being’s home. These mites do not live on human beings and are unlikely to be found on human skin, even temporarily. They may be present on clothing and often spend time on bed linens and in rugs, but people are usually unaware of their presence. Dust mites do contribute to allergic reactions but are unlikely to irritate a person’s skin.

Scabies is caused by the microscopic organism sacoptes scabiei which burrows underneath the skin to deposit its eggs.
Scabies is caused by the microscopic organism sacoptes scabiei which burrows underneath the skin to deposit its eggs.

In contrast to dust mites, Sarcoptes scabiei, referred to as scabies, are more commonly found on humans. These mites typically affect mammals and are transmitted from person to person via contact; they are also transmitted to humans from animal hosts. In most cases, the presence of mites on humans doesn’t cause more than simple skin irritation, if it is noticed at all. Scabies mites, however, burrow under a human's skin and lay eggs there. The presence of these mites on humans usually causes intense irritation and itching, which may worsen at night.

Chiggers are another example of mites that may spend a significant amount of time on humans, though they do not remain there indefinitely. When these mites contact human skin, they inject a substance into the skin that liquefies it. The mites then feed on the liquefied skin. If a human does not notice a chigger on his body, it may remain there for several days. Inflammation and itching may accompany the presence of these mites on humans.

Some rodent and bird mites bite human beings as well. Depending on the type of mite in question, this may result in itching, rashes, swelling, or even pain in some cases. Most of these mites are more comfortable on other hosts, however, and do not stay on human skin for very long.

Mites can get into the tiny follicles of eyelashes.
Mites can get into the tiny follicles of eyelashes.

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Discussion Comments


There are mites naturally on our body like demodex mites. They eat dry skin and oil around our hair follicles. Not all mites are harmful, some are actually beneficial for us.

@fify-- It sounds like your brother is dealing with a scabies mite infestation. The scientific name for the mite is Sarcoptes scabiei, like the article said. It's true that they are often found in hotels because many people visit.

They are nasty mites because they can cause severe itching leading to a rash. I had a scabies rash when I was small. I had terrible red spots all over my stomach, arms and back.

These mites are also notoriously difficult to get rid of. Professional cleaning is necessary. I even know a couple who had to move out of there place because they couldn't deal with the mite infestation.

Which is the type of mite that is often found in hotels, commonly referred to as bed bugs?

My brother said his apartment has a mite infestation and he thinks he brought them from the hotel room he stayed at a few weeks ago. Apparently, they are biting him at night and he can't sleep from the itching.

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