A while back, I wrote on “no-see-ums” – whatever that is that bites you and you can’t see it, but you start itching like crazy — not bedbugs, not mosquitos, not fleas, not lice(those you can see) – and it only happens, usually, in specific places. The big symptom of “no-see-ums” is uncontrolled itching – you can scratch yourself bloody before you even notice you’re doing it.
No-see-ums can make you wonder if you’re losing your mind – you may find yourself scratching yourself raw before you even realize you’re doing it, while others, even in the same room, may not recognize the issue. If you think you are getting bitten, you are getting bitten. It is not in your mind, even though you can’t see what is biting you (I believe that no-see-ums can be in one part of a room but not in another, and that some people in the room may be more susceptible to them than others: case in point: I teach in a private adult education facility, and, sometimes, I will be scratching myself to pieces and no one else will be affected, while, at other times, several other people will complain that they feel they have been bitten by something).
A number of people have written their comments, or their requests for help, or, even, sometimes things they have found useful, so I’m going to reprise the topic, and list what I have found useful, as well as ideas I’ve gotten from readers who have told me what has worked for me.
A couple of ways to double-check, if you want to prove to yourself that it is nothing else:
- Are you getting this reaction all the time? If so, could it be that you are allergic to something you are eating? Figure out what you have eaten in the past 2 hours before the “attack”, and eliminate that from your diet for a day or two and see if the itching stops.
- Do you get this reaction in specific places, but not in others? If so, you’ve got no-see-ums in the place where you’re having the reaction. (If you have it anyplace at all, then go back to #1)
- Do people doubt what you say about getting bitten in a specific place where they have not been? Do people disbelieve you just because it is not happening to them? These are both signs that there are some no-see-ums where you are when you experience the itching. (They seem to be place-specific, and, even in one room, they might be in one spot, but not 10 feet away)
Now, if you do believe that you have a no-see-ums issue, you can take some evasive action:
FOUR THIEVES OIL OR VINEGAR – this antiseptic/anti-viral formula really works for taking out the itch. The vinegar recipe takes a while to make, but you can but it on food (so you might develop an immunity – I haven’t personally explored that idea), but the problem is that you will smell like vinegar. The oil recipes smell kind of nice (people often ask me what fragrance I’m wearing), and you can carry them with you and apply the oil as soon as you notice you’re itching – it might sting a bit at first, but it will take the itch away, and it has antibiotic properties, so, if you’ve already drawn blood, it will protect against infection. This is one remedy I swear by – I always carry a little bottle of Four Thieves oil with me.
LAVENDER OIL – This is an antiseptic essential oil which will help with the itch and does seem to stop the bites from coming. I carry it with me always, as it is a good emergency remedy, and, if I have nothing better, I use it for no-see-ums. It works reasonably well for me and smells very nice, as well. I don’t think it works as well as other remedies for spraying a space, though.
BABY OIL – Someone suggested this one, and, although baby oil is not organic or anything close to natural, I will still go with it because it seems to repel the no-see-ums — if you slather it all over your skin, you get a moisturizer and you don’t get bitten. It works as a repellent, and it doesn’t worry people too much if you drag it out and start rubbing it all over your arms (where I usually get hit)
LEMON GRASS/LEMON GRASS ESSENTIAL OIL – A reader suggested planting lemon grass around one’s home to prevent entry – this reader felt that the lemon grass all around the home kept the no-see-ums from coming in. I live in a New York City apartment (I haven’t had no-see-ums here, but…), and I work in a New York City office building (no way to plant lemon grass there), but I have found some apartment-friendly/public space-acceptable solutions:
- At home, you can burn dried lemon grass as incense, or you can add organic lemon grass essential oil to water and spray it in areas where no-see-ums seem to get you, or else all over the place.
- At work, you can surreptitiously spray the lemon grass/water mix around where you feel you’re getting bitten (it smells nice, and, since, or course, you are using organic lemon grass essential oil, no one should complain, because it is good for lots of things, including bad smells in your workspace)