While dogs are amazing house pets, their vaccinations are incredibly important and should not be skipped. This is because many breeds of dogs are prone to infections – some of which are contagious. Can humans get ear mites from dogs?
Contrary to popular belief, humans actually can catch ear mites from dogs. If humans are in close contact with stray dogs or dogs that are not regularly vaccinated, cleaned, and groomed, they can contract ear mites from such dogs.
And as bizarre as it may seem, some of these infections can even be passed on to humans. A good example of this is ear mites. For those wondering what ear mites are or how humans get them, we have mentioned all the important details below.
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How Do Dogs Transfer Ear Mites to Humans?
Even though ear mite infections are a very rare occurrence in humans, they are still certain cases where humans were seen to be suffering because of these microscopic organisms.
One of the most common queries regarding humans getting ear mites from dogs is how does it happen? How do the mites actually transfer to humans?
Well, in the majority of the reported cases, it was seen that the ear mites simply jumped from the animals onto the humans while the two were in close contact.
Mostly, people working in animal shelters and animal welfare organizations are likely to contract ear mites because of their frequent dealing with infected animals.
What Are Ear Mites?
Let’s start from the basics. So, what exactly are ear mites? Ear mites, or Otodectes cynotis as they are scientifically known, are little parasitic microorganisms often found living on animals, but rarely do make their way to human skin.
These creatures are mostly found in dogs and cats, sitting in their fur on top of their skin. However, while they can be found anywhere on the body, their most recurring spot remains to be the ear and the ear canal, hence the name ear mites.
They live in and near the ear to feed off the dead skin tissue of the animals. In humans, they can also sometimes live under the skin’s surface to feed off natural human secretions such as oils, ear wax, etc.
What are the Dangers of Ear Mites?
Catching ear mites from dogs isn’t the best thing to happen to somebody.
Not only do ear mites cause skin irritation, rashes and frustrate the infected person, but they can also lead to some serious problems such as managing to penetrate through the skin, causing serious skin infections as well as leaving the skin highly pigmented.
Of course, these infections aren’t as bad for humans as they are for animals like dogs and cat, but leaving them untreated is definitely not the best course of action for one to take.
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Types of Infections Ear Mites Cause in Humans
Ear mites can cause two potential infections in humans, namely: Scabies and Demodicosis.
Scabies, sometimes also called the seven-year itch, is a highly infectious skin infection caused by the infestation of ear mites.
Symptoms of this particular ear mite caused infection include rashes that look like pimples, severe itchiness, the formation of burrows on the skin’s surface, and irritation.
Symptoms can pop up within six weeks after first contracting the infection. The symptoms can be regional, i.e., localized or even general, which means that you may notice these symptoms only in certain parts of your body.
However, sometimes, the symptoms may also show themselves on the entire body. To avoid spreading this to other people in your family, try to stay quarantined and avoid scratching the rashes or pimples at all costs.
Scratching them might cause the skin over the rashes and pimples to break, allowing the bacteria to spread further. This can cause the infection to spread to other parts of the body too.
This spread of the infection is not good as it can make the infection much more contagious than it already is. Scabies occurs more frequently than expected and is a particularly common infection in areas with poor sanitation, overcrowding, and lack of animal care.
Demodicosis is an infection that humans often contract from ear mites transferred from infected animals. Caused by the microorganism Demodex folliculorum, the infection leaves the skin looking like that of a person who has rosacea, i.e., scattered red dots over the infected area.
Characteristic symptoms of this infection include the loss of hair, skin irritation, skin inflammation, redness, and rashes.
This infection is most commonly diagnosed in hair follicles, and so it often causes not just skin problems but also folliculitis, which is the inflammation of the hair follicles present on the skin’s surface.
If not diagnosed and treated on time, Demodicosis can also cause swelling, severe irritation, and itching, as well as erythema on the eyelid margins.
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Symptoms of Ear Mites in Humans
The symptoms of infections caused by ear mites include:
- Severe itching, skin irritation, and discomfort, which gets especially worse during the night.
- Skin rashes and redness, commonly in areas such as the wrists, between the fingers, and the neck.
- Small, pimple-like blisters.
- Tiny tracks of pimples, bumps, and blisters forming burrow lines on the skin. These are made when the mites crawl on the skin and leave a trace behind.
Symptoms of ear mite infections are most often seen in areas where the skin is either folding, such as the palms, fingers, wrists, buttocks, inside of the knees and toes, etc., or in the hair follicles present on the skin’s surface.
As far as the onset of symptoms is concerned, if a person is contracting an ear mite-induced infection for the first time, symptoms may take as many as 2 -6 weeks to emerge.
However, if the person has become infected for a second time, symptoms may appear within a span of 24 hours.
What You Can Do About It
If you believe you or someone you know might be infected by ear mites or are showing symptoms of scabies or Demodicosis, you must first seek immediate medical attention.
A doctor will be able to define the nature of the infection and prescribe medicines accordingly. Both of these infections are curable and can be treated by both oral as well as a topical medication.
Treatment of Ear Mites in Humans
Ear mite infections can be treated using a range of medicines which can either be administered orally (in the form of tablets) or topically (applied to the affected area). Scabies, for instance, is usually treated by scabicides.
These drugs work by killing the cause of the infection, i.e., the mites. They also prevent any future infestation by killing any mite larvae and eggs present in the area of the infection.
However, you will need to visit a doctor in order to get scabicides since these are prescribed drugs and cannot be obtained over the counter.
Other common treatments include lindane lotion, 5 percent permethrin cream by Elimite, ivermectin (Stromectol), and crotamiton (Eurax).
Scabicide topical medications and lotions have a particular application method that must be followed accordingly in order for the drug to work effectively.
- The skin must be washed, cleaned, and dried before application.
- The lotion should be left on the skin for the suggested time period.
- The body should be covered entirely for the medicine to be effective.
- The medicated lotion should also be applied to the scalp and body’s hair follicles in order to get rid of all the mites present on the body.
- After the treatment is completed, all infested clothing should be removed and disposed of, and fresh clothing should be worn.
All the people in the house should be treated at the same time in order to prevent a re-infestation.
Home Remedies of Ear Mites in Humans
People who avoid medicines and pharmaceutical drugs can also try some of these home remedies to treat their infections. However, the key word here is treat – not cure.
Medical treatment is strongly suggested, as those medicines are proven to work against infections caused by ear mites.
- Try soaking the affected area in cold water. This should ease any skin irritation, itching, and burning.
- Apply a cold, wet cloth to areas where you can see blisters. This can provide some comfort. Cool water or applying a wet washcloth to the skin can also give the patient some relief.
- Apply a soothing body lotion to ease the irritation and itching. A lotion with calamine is highly recommended.
- Take antihistamines to suppress the itching and irritation.
Prevention of Ear Mites in Humans
These infections are easily preventable. To prevent yourself from contracting ear mites, follow the preventive measures listed below:
- Wash all clothing articles, such as clothes, towels, bedding, and linens in hot water after being in close contact with animals, especially dogs and cats. This should kill any mites present.
- Shower immediately after coming back from an animal shelter or welfare center.
- Avoid sharing towels, clothes, and beddings with anyone who spends their time around unvaccinated animals.
So, for anyone and everyone who has ever wondered whether it is possible for humans to get ear mites from dogs, the answer is yes!
And if you believe you have already caught it, we hope the information in this article helps you get rid of it as soon as possible.