How to get relief from oak leaf itch mite bites

Health officials suspect that oak leaf itch mites may be behind the red spots that have appeared in locals across Northern Virginia.

ARLINGTON, Virginia – As locals across Northern Virginia continue to experience mysterious red rashes and welts, dermatologists and health officials offer tips on what to do to relieve the itchiness.

Arlington County’s Department of Health officials say there is no definitive cause for the red spots people get on their bodies. However, the department suspects that oak leaf itch mites could be responsible.

The mites are tiny creatures that hang around oak trees and feed on cicada eggs.

“The increased prevalence is likely due to the dry weather we’re experiencing this year,” the Arlington County Health Department said in a statement. “That’s not a problem in most years.”

Arlington County resident and avid swimmer Jonathan Rick said he recently noticed a red mark on his chest after a trip to the pool.

“It wasn’t there the day before,” he said. “Well, I was a little more curious than concerned.”

Rick said he eventually noticed on Facebook and the ARLNow news agency in Arlington that many locals in the area had posted comments that they were having the same spots.

“It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one,” he said.

Local dermatologists say they have had a lot of clients lately who have also complained of bites.

“I’ve seen at least about four or five patients with insect bites every day,” said Dr. Sarah Nakib, Fairfax dermatologist of Complete Dermatology of Virginia.

She said over-the-counter creams can help relieve itching.

“Some of my patients try some over-the-counter hydrocortisone or Benadryl anti-itch creams, or even oral antihistamines, before visiting me,” said Nakib.

Christine Lienau, a dermatology assistant at Luxe Dermatology and Aesthetic Center in Arlington County, said her company has also seen an unusual number of customers with bite-sized spots.

She said it was important that people with welts stop irritating them.

“We suggest not scratching the surfaces,” said Lienau. “It’s easier said than done.”

She added that if the itching persists, it can be helpful to see a dermatologist as well.

“We can formulate a tailored treatment plan for you and often prescribe a topical steroid cream that is more effective than the over-the-counter options,” said Lienau.

The Arlington County Health Department also suggests applying ice to any red spots a person may need to have to relieve swelling.

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