Mites are small parasites that live in and around the skin of a host animal, such as a dog, cat, or human. Occasionally, these mites can be transmitted between a pet and the owner. Dogs who are suspected to have mites of any type should be taken to a veterinarian immediately for treatment because mites on dogs and humans can spread. Owners who think they may have caught mites from their dog should also seek the attention of a health care professional.
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Mites on dogs and humans
Two types of mites that can be spread between dogs and humans are known as sarcoptic mites and demodectic mites. However, these mites are usually species-specific. This means that there are specific species for dogs and humans. This does not mean that there is no cross-contamination that occurs, though. And the mites can cause irritation in other species besides their host.
Transmission of mites
A human can become infected with canine mange mites in several different ways. The mites can crawl off an infected dog and onto furniture, clothes, and other items, where the mites wait for a new host to come into contact with the item. Sarcoptic mites and demodectic mites can also be transferred by simple physical contact with an infected dog.
Fortunately, these mites cause only temporary issues and usually die off, as they are not suited for life on humans. But if issues continue more than a few days, get in touch with your medical provider for further diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of mites in humans
Canine mange mites that have managed to burrow into the skin of a human will cause only temporary discomfort. The affected person may experience some inflammation or a skin welt, similar in appearance to a mosquito bite. Itching may also occur, though this too is usually only temporary. Individuals with a compromised immune system may suffer from more advanced cases associated with the transference of canine mites and should seek medical attention immediately after symptoms begin.
Diagnosing the condition
Canine mites that manage to get into a person's skin are generally a limited issue. Most cases will resolve before the patient ever enters the doctor's office. However, if the issue persists and mites are suspected based on the characteristic lesions on the skin, the doctor may need to take a skin sample. This will be examined beneath a microscope to confirm the presence of mites.
Treatment of dog mites in humans
Once mites have been identified, the home will need to be thoroughly vacuumed. Clothing and bedding should be washed in hot water and dried on a high heat setting to kill off the mites. The affected person will require a medicated cream, such as permethrin, that is applied to the affected area to kill the mites.
Oral antihistamines can help ease discomfort from the bites, but you should consult your physician before beginning any new treatment. Some doctors may recommend that all members of a household receive treatment to ensure that the mites do not spread and cause reinfections.
- Pet Coach: Sarcoptic Mange
- Pet Coach: Demodectic Mange
- Illinois Department of Health: Mites Affecting Humans
- Healthline: How to Identify and Treat Mite Bites
- Medical News Today: What do mite bites look like?
- Healthline: Mange in Humans: Symptoms, Treatment and More
- Northeast Wildlife Disease Cooperative: Mange and Mites