1. Buy a copy of “Control of Poultry Mites (Dermanyssus)” by Dr. Olivier Sparagano. Published in 2009, this book contains a wealth of information about everything from pesticide resistance to mites as vectors of human diseases to which essential oils work best as repellants.
2. Get rid of every possible source. That means eliminating your pet bird AND the mice in your kitchen, now. It also means visiting with Aunt Tilda (who keeps chickens) somewhere other than your home (or hers!).
3. Get rid of most of what you own. Move into a place with no carpeting and no drapes. Get rid of your carpeted car and get a Honda Element. Look up the 5S system (which originated in Japan) for a system to pare down belongings. Throw out your books and get a library card. When everything you own becomes a fomite (an object that transmits an infection, in this case by biting), it’s easy to let go of your possessions.
4. Use ammonia — not bleach — to wash your floors. Bleach corrodes surfaces and provides hiding places for bugs. And NEVER use ammonia and bleach together!!!
5. Lower the humidity in all your environments. Buy a dehumidifier for every room of your home plus one for your office. Buy a tub of desiccant at a hardware store and keep it in the back of your car. If you live in a warm humid climate, move to a cool dry climate.
6. Become your own expert. Science is increasingly about money, and the only research money for mites comes from the big poultry companies, who don’t care if you are being bitten. If you want to understand why nobody else in your family is being bitten the way you are, read up on host selection, especially keiromones and the mutations that cause some humans to secrete extra butyric acid.
7. Keep your hair as short as you can stand it. Wash whatever hair is left with a sulfur dandruff shampoo at least once a day. Follow up with a conditioner with essential oils.
8. Every time you shower, preferably twice a day, put the following on your clean, rough washcloth: Sulfur dandruff shampoo plus neem shampoo plus liquid soap containing tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender. Baths with Epsom salts and essential oils are great.
9. Keep the following homemade repellants with you and use as needed: a) Lotion to which you have added essential oils and neem; b) a spray bottle containing witch hazel to which you have added essential oils plus neem. You’ll find these repellents are useful at different times.
10. Wash your laundry after each use, including sheets, on hot water, with detergent, Borax and ammonia. Dry on high heat.
11. Swim in a chlorinated pool every day. Then sit in a chlorinated Jacuzzi. If you can’t do that, at least exercise (and work up a sweat) every day.
12. No upholstered furniture. Or if you must, Naugahyde, not cloth upholstery.
13. Keep up with developments in the field, which are likely to come from bird people. Three subjects on the cutting edge right now: a) Duck allomones, which repel mites, have potential applications for chickens (and people?). b) There is some evidence that mites can modulate the host immune system, especially when present in large numbers. This may explain why mites have evolved to pick out one host. c) Researchers in Scotland are working on a D. gallinae vaccine for chickens. No indication that this will be useful for people, but it’s worth monitoring.
14. Believe in the evidence of your senses and in the results of your online investigations. One reason this is a tough problem is that there are not good tools to find mites or diagnose them on people. You are going to encounter people who consider themselves experts but are operating on old information. They will tell you things that contradict the newest studies and that contradict your experience. You can outsmart the bugs, but you need to believe in yourself.
15. If a physician or entomologist tells you chicken mites need to feed on chicken blood to reproduce, ask them for a journal article that identifies the necessary substance that is only in chicken blood. Hint: there is none. There seem to be strong opinions and no data on this subject. And according to Dr. Olivier Sparagano, a leading expert on mites, D. gallinae can reproduce after feeding on human blood.
Best of luck. You can reclaim your life from this infestation. You and only you can make it happen.