My story started shortly after I had moved into a new apartment that had never been occupied. Everything was brand new. I moved from the Midwest to the West Coast to be closer to my family. I lived with them for about 18 months until I could get my work situation stable and find a place of my own. All my furniture and things had been put into storage back in the Midwest and stayed there for about a year and a half. I never saw the storage unit but was reassured that it was a temperature controlled environment. To this day, I’m still not sure whether it was the storage or the fact that my family’s house had mice problems that started the whole thing. All I know is that it started mid-August with a crawling sensation on my leg in the middle of the night while I slept in my new apartment. And in the morning I had 2 distinct “bug” bites on the side of my left knee.
At first I thought it’s probably some insect that came from my things that were in storage. It made sense. But I had also thoroughly cleaned, washed, and vaccumed everything (including couch, mattresses, dressers, etc.) that had come out of the boxes and threw away the boxes right away. So I didn’t think anything of it and went on with my life. Within the next couple of weeks, I started noticing a stinging sensation and pin pricks on my back and something crawling on my feet. I started getting little red “pimple” like bites all over my back and I noticed a little sore of some type on my chest that lingered for days. What was most startling was a huge rash that had developed on my tailbone. The rash was about the size of my hand but it didn’t itch. It was just very red and looked very bad. I put some cortisone on it thinking it was probably just an allergic reaction to new laundry detergent. I also started a new job during this time so there was the added stress of work compounded by a not so healthy diet.
By the beginning of September my symptoms were really starting to bother me. I suspected bed bugs at first, called a pest company for an inspection and they found nothing. I also had a dog inspection and it revealed nothing. The pest company actually suggested I see a medical professional thinking my symptoms were an allergic reaction or all in my head. I tried to get other pest companies to come out but to no avail. They all said if I can’t produce a bug then they can’t treat what they don’t know. Realizing that I was going to get no help from the PCOs, I purchased some diatomaceous earth and dusted it around the apartment, put down a thick layer around the baseboards plus some insecticide to treat the furniture. One PCO did come out and treated for fleas. The symptoms went away for a couple of days but would come back again. I vaccumed daily and dusted the carpets with DE which provided some relief but not entirely.
I was pretty desperate by now because the crawling, stinging, and biting sensations were increasing at night but now I was getting attacked during the day as well. I developed another huge rash on my back and red welts on my stomach and neck. There was constant crawling in my long hair and I took the drastic step of cutting it short as I noticed that when my wet hair touched my back the burning rash would spread. With the shorter cut it took less time to dry and I wore it in a ponytail to keep it off my neck. Tea tree oil in my hair before blow drying and after helped keep the hair crawling sensation to a minimum. Also putting tea tree oil in my ears helped when I noticed I had crawling only on the sides of my head in my hair.
I also realized that I had infested my workplace, car, and all my clothes with whatever this was. I remember being in a meeting where my boss was itching his neck, stomach, back, and both legs constantly for an hour. I just didn’t know what this was or what to do about it. I went to internet to see if anyone else was having this problem. Apparently, there were so many people suffering from the same symptoms as myself and there were a multitude of “solutions”. At first I tried Kleen Free baths and it did make my rash on my tailbone go away but after a few hours all the rest of the symptoms would come right back. From the many blogs such as birdmites.org, troublesome invisible mites central, shanspirations.org, I tried Listerine, Windex, Epsom salt baths, etc. All provided some relief but it never lasted that long. At this point I was going crazy from the symptoms and in a state of disbelief that this was even happening to me.
My family was getting very concerned about my condition and why I was trying to avoid them. I tried explaining to them what was going on and that I thought it best to stay away from them in case this was contagious. They just thought I was getting paranoid over nothing. I went to a dermatologist and she said that I was having an allergic reaction to my surroundings and prescribed some antihistamines and a cortisone lotion. She said she saw no evidence of any insect bites. The prescribed medication she gave me didn’t work either.
At the end of October, I found Megan Well’s website. As I read through the site I was amazed that she had experienced the same things that I was currently going through. I emailed her immediately requesting a consultation. I ordered the Cedarcide Collembola kit right away through Megan’s website since there was a form readily available. Reading through both Megan’s and the Cedarcide website gave me some hope that there was a solution to this. When I spoke with Megan it was a relief to finally talk with someone who understood what I was going through and did not think I was crazy or delusional. Simply hearing her validate my symptoms and explain what was going on gave me HOPE that this nightmare could end. Her patience and creative thinking in how to deal with situations were amazing and just what I needed.
The Cedarcide came first and I immediately started fogging my apartment and my car. I bought a 50 foot extension cord so I could move through the apartment quickly and get to the outlet that was in my apartment’s underground parking. You MUST fog your car with the AC on and do NOT spray the Cedarcide. Spraying does not work because the fogger creates a fine mist that will kill the collembola on contact. It is important to understand that you are dealing with something that is microscopic and that the Cedarcide mist is only way for a direct contact kill. I also brushed in a lot of diatomaceous earth in my car’s carpet twice and fogged the car daily.
The Arbonne, enzymes, and Cotz arrived a week after I started fogging. I realized after trial and error that you need to follow Megan’s instructions on the website EXACTLY down to the very last detail otherwise you’re just wasting product and not solving the problem. I have learned that you have to treat the collembola like bio-hazard. Here are some invaluable lessons I’ve learned since dealing with this:
- You MUST FOG DAILY! When you order the Cedarcide PLEASE refer to Megan’s chart on how much product to order and order through Megan’s website www.stopskinmites.com. Do not rely on what Cedarcide’s sales force suggests since they have never personally dealt with this problem. Remember to include spot fogging and your car when calculating how much you will need. Make sure you get underneath all items including the plastic trash bags that hold your dirty and clean clothes. I have found that the collembola can hide for a long time underneath items that protect them from the Cedarcide fog. Do yourself a favor and be THOROUGH when fogging.
a. When I left my place during the daily fog, I cleaned all the articles I was taking with me with rubbing alcohol and put them in clean plastic bags and left them outside while fogging. I also left clean shoes in a plastic bag outside and did not put them on until I was outside the apartment. I figured out that when I used clean shoes while fogging the collembolan would attach themselves to the bottoms of the shoes and hitch a ride with me outside and the crawling would continue. You have to separate inside shoes from outside shoes.
b. You can also infect outdoor places so you will need to treat any outsides places as well. Actually the PCO Choice is designed for use outdoors and it comes with the spray bottle for use.
- Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth - You must treat your carpets with DE. The Cedarcide will NOT work on the carpets. I sifted it thickly on to the carpets and worked it in with a broom. Use a mask when doing this. You do not want to inhale it. The same goes for your car carpets. Reapply if you continue to have problems with the carpet. Unfortunately it didn’t work for my couch or mattress and I had to get rid of both. Sleeping on a blow-up mattress has made a world of difference in finally getting a good night’s rest.
- You must get rid of all paper products or any organic material including
. Computer paper, post-its, file folders, etc.
a. Books – Unfortunately I had to throw out a lot of books because it just wasn’t worth the re-infestation and fogging them doesn’t work.
b. Photos – pictures are printed on paper. Fortunately, I had a lot of them in digital form so throwing them out wasn’t a problem.
c. paper towels
d. toilet paper (I threw out the infested toilet paper and purchased new ones and put them in Ziploc bags before entering the apartment)
e. brown paper grocery bags
f. look through your pantry and get rid of any paper or cardboard boxes that product may come in such as tea, crackers, cereal, etc.
g. anything that is made of cardboard such as:
i. Any cardboard boxes
ii. Cardboard roll found in aluminum foil, saran wrap, etc.
iii. Laundry detergent boxes
- You must soak ALL your clothes and if possible your shoes in PCO Choice FIRST for at least an hour at any water temperature. Afterwards if you can bleach the clothes then use ONLY CLOROX brand bleach (I used 2 cups of bleach per large load). The cheaper versions do not have the same ingredients as the CLOROX brand.
. When you soak your clothes make sure the clothes are entirely SUBMERGED in the PCO Choice or bleach (I used empty Clorox bottles filled with water to make sure all clothes were submerged, but make sure you DISINFECT the bottles when you take them out. I sprayed them with 99% rubbing alcohol or bleached them down). The collembola will surface up on the parts that are not submerged which means they are still on your clothes or shoes and in your dryer!
a. Make sure you DISINFECT your washing machine and dryer DAILY. I would fog both the washing machine and dryer and close them during the daily fogging of the apartment. Then I would clean it with rubbing alcohol or bleach.
b. I faced a huge dilemma regarding clothes that could only be dry cleaned such as suits, coats, etc. Check what material your suits are made of. If they were made of less than 50% wool, then I took a chance and soaked them in PCO Choice in cold water and then a moderate amount of detergent on the delicate cycle. I did put them in the dryer on a low heat and then took them to the dry cleaners. The suits turned out fine. Unfortunately there were some coats I could not do this on.
c. Avoid wearing anything with cotton in it. This is so difficult because cotton is in practically everything we wear. I had to resort to workout clothes as most of them are made from polyester and nylon.
- Do not walk barefoot anywhere! Get a couple of flip flops and wear them only once similar to wearing your clothes only once and then disinfect daily by soaking them in rubbing alcohol. Megan helped me figure this out since I was at a point in the protocol where there were only a few areas of activity which was my left foot.
- Microfiber – You must get a microfiber blanket for sleeping and you might have to turn up the heat if you leave in cold climates at night. I had to do away with the nice comforter I had because it became too difficult for daily washing. If you can, also purchase microfiber towels and wash clothes to use instead of regular cotton towels and paper towels.
- Disposable vinyl or latex gloves – they helped me a lot when trying to put infested clothing in the washing machine and making sure everything was submerged. Also make sure you have a lot of Arbonne sunscreen on your arms. Never touch infested clothing or the PCO choice soak mixture that has been used with bare skin! Immediately dispose of the gloves in a plastic bag once they have touched any infested article and throw it out right away. You will go through a lot of plastic bags so just be prepared.
- BE CAREFUL WITH PLACES that you frequented in the initial stages of the infestation. Unfortunately, when I did not know what I was dealing with I infested some places that I use to go to on a regular basis. Now I know that I can’t go back to those places without getting re-infested all over again. The same goes for people as well. I was seeing someone when I first came down with symptoms but he was never affected. It wasn’t until I saw him again a few weeks later after I had been on the protocol that he touched me and I felt every pin prick and tingling sensation throughout my entire body. And the areas where he touched my skin I broke out in a bad rash that took a week to recover. He didn’t believe what I was dealing with so I had to say goodbye and never see him again.
- Keep the bathroom and kitchen as dry as possible. The fungus that the collembola feeds on thrives on moisture and heat. After showering and applying the Arbonne sunscreen, you need to disinfect your shower. I did this with a 60%-40% bleach and water dilution in a spray bottle.
- STOP EATING SUGAR: I drastically changed my eating habits to an anti-candida diet and I noticed a decrease of my symptoms immediately. Completely cutting out sugar and anything with yeast (i.e. bread, rolls, crackers, alcohol) or white flour helped in reducing the symptoms and building back up my immune system. Most fungus or yeast in and on the body feed on simple sugars and carbohydrates. My diet had always been very acidic (i.e. cheese, bread, alcohol, pastries, coffee) and moving towards a more alkaline state starves the fungus. Take the enzymes and the cat’s claw everyday. You must do everything you can to build up your immune system to fight back the fungus and the collembola. If you smoke or do drugs, STOP. Don’t kid yourself that you’re not damaging your immune system.
- MAKE-UP: Don’t bother with make-up because you will only re-infect yourself. Rule of thumb anything that has touched your skin while infected is infested. Regarding make-up brushes and sponges you can soak them in rubbing alcohol and dry them immediately with a blow dryer. If this doesn’t work, then you will have to throw them out and purchase new ones when you are NOT infested. I ended up throwing out my makeup since I couldn’t clean it.
- STAY POSITIVE and EXERCISE if possible: Dealing with this has been the hardest thing I have ever done. It can be overwhelming and the isolation will start to take its toll. You need to talk about it with someone even though they may not entirely understand the situation. The exercise will help build up your immune system and greatly relieve the stress that comes from dealing with this.
This is all very difficult to do while still working a full-time job. If possible, try to work from home. If not, take extra pre-cautions to not infect your workplace or co-workers. I cannot emphasize enough about being extremely careful when around other people. Unfortunately, in the initial stages I may have infected some of my family members. I’ve tried to talk to them but they don’t believe me and still think I’m delusional. While I have been getting better doing the protocol both internally and environmentally, they are just starting down the road of infestation that I was in months ago.
As for myself, I’m getting better every day and can see the light at the end of this nightmare. I’m about 90% there. It is critically important to do both the internal and environmental protocol. Remember the Cedarcide kills the collembola but you must also kill the fungus with bleach or rubbing alcohol. So you still must clean all surfaces and things repeatedly. Dealing with this will bring out the OCD in anyone because you must be methodical in getting rid of this pestilence. There is no silver bullet and no easy way out. It is a long and difficult road to recovery due to mistakes and re-infestation is very common. Don’t give up just keep doing the protocol and learn from your mistakes.
Megan’s protocol does work when you do EXACTLY what is described. There is hope but you must be vigilant and very disciplined in getting there.