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Continued skin problem - chinches? Allergy?

Maggie :)

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
October (2016)
#1
Hi,

I posted four days ago about chinches. Have treated twice since this time (putting all belongings possible in hot dryer + spraying with permethrin those I couldn't, spraying sleeping bag and liner with permethrin spray I got from pharmacy). I have also sprayed myself with permethrin spray every evening before bed + put hydrocortisone cream I got from pharmacy on bites.

Things seemed to be - finally improving, but I am still struggling with two problems:

1) Last night I got fresh bites. Another girl in my room at alburgue had one bite and wasn't sure if it was bedbug. I think mine are though no telling if from last night or prior.

2) I have a lot of red bumps/small blisters all over my neck and chin. It looks like acne but isn't. I'm not sure whether these are more bites or an allergic reaction to the bites or allergic reaction to permethrin spray (which I did spray on neck but not face). Bumps are hot feeling and itchy. Other than this I feel well.

I am a bit at a loss of what to do. Do I re-treat a THIRD time in the space of about 5 days? Do I try to find a doctor about the small bumps/blisters or just keep putting hydrocortisone on them?

I feel so frustrated and down about this. Not to mention itchy. Really bringing me down on the Camino as it feels never ending at this stage. Any further prevention advice much appreciated ... Maybe I should be avoiding large alburgue rooms? I will also visit a pharmacy again for advice.

I am so appreciative of advice I got last time, and it was very very helpful. And I did end up telling next alburgue owner about chinches which was no biggie and they were helpful.

Thanks,
Maggie
 

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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#2
I think your skin is reacting to all the stuff your are putting on it: Permethrin+Hydrocortison creme! I would leave the permethrin away from everything for the moment. This stuff isn't exactly easy on the skin if you are sensitive. Do continue to wash and dry your belongings and if skin symptoms get worse/not better, see the next doctor. Buen Camino, SY
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#3
Hi Maggie,

I do hope you sort something out - I have great sympathy having had to deal with this problem a couple of times myself.

On the assumption you have been bitten again by bedbugs, I can offer some suggestions. I would not be spraying permethrin on myself. It is pretty useless as a bedbug deterrent. It does kill bedbugs (provided they have not developed a resistance) but only after the bedbugs have been in contact with the permethrin for some time - by which stage the little blighters may have feasted well on you!

The chemical that is most likely to deter attacks is DEET applied all over. It comes in various strengths, up to 80%, obviously the stronger it is the better it works, but in your case you also might like to patch test it on your skin for a few hours to see if you have a reaction. Unfortunately it does smell - we had great difficulty in persuading our daughter that the smell was infinitely better than getting malaria, when she visited the Amazon.

As far as ensuring you do not continue to carry bedbugs (or bedbug eggs) with you, your sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner may be the problem. You can put them DRY directly into the commercial dryers at self-service laundries (lavanderia autoservicio) on high heat, for 20 minutes. This will definitely kill bedbugs and their eggs.

I can't give you any medical advice on what to do about treating your problem, but it does sound as if you need to see a doctor.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#4
And I do agree with SY that it would be good to give your skin a rest for a while. I know bedbugs can be anywhere, but it you catch a bus to somewhere off the main camino routes you are probably less likely to encounter them.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#5
@Kanga I would be very careful about putting something like DEET on an already damaged/irritated skin. The OP writes

I have a lot of red bumps/small blisters all over my neck and chin. It looks like acne but isn't.
Putting DEET (or anything else apart of the prescribed cortisone cream) on a skin like that could be real recipe for disaster. Buen Camino, SY
 

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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#6
I did suggest she do a skin test. And see a doctor
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Camino(s) past & future
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
#7
I'm sorry this is still ongoing--it's not fun walking when everything itches. I would agree with the advice given--no bug sprays on you, HC cream only where you had original bites you showed the pharmacist (not on face/neck)--some are too strong for the face, and you don't know for sure what is going on with your face/neck. It could be bites, allergic reaction to what you are using for bugs or something else, bacterial infection, sun reaction, so many things. I'd just keep your face/neck washed w mild soap and well rinsed, and see a doctor.
I hope you are feeling better soon
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#9
@Jimmy Smith

Yes, Permethrin can be used on skin, in the end it is the first-line treatment for scabies. Buen Camino, SY
 

linkster

Nunca dejes de creer!
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 05/17 brazo roto Portomarín
Francés 09/17 SJPdP - Santiago
(Portuguese: 09/18)
#10
First and very important all instructions on PERMETHRIN state that it should never be used directly on skin.

However the most important thing is never put permethrin on your skin. Ask a pharmacist for advice now that you have.
I agree with @JimmySmith it is NOT advisable to apply premetherin to the skin as a bug spray. It can come in contact with your skin after it has dried on treated garments and gear without ill affects. I use the Sawyer product and it contains a warning label NOT to come in contact with your skin when applying.

It sounds like you are having an allergic reaction to the bites, and applying premetherin or other bug spray maybe aggravating your condition. You may consider a Benadryl like product until you can see a doctor. Calamine lotion was more effective than a topical hydrocortisone cream last time I had a bunch of chigger bites.

The following has been excerpted from https://sawyerdirect.net/t/FAQPermetherin

Q. Is Permethrin dangerous to my skin?

A. The warning labels on the cans or bottles are often misunderstood. Your skin metabolizes, or breaks down Permethrin within fifteen minutes of contact with skin. Therefore, it is of no value to you as a personal protection insect repellent when applied to the skin. In addition, the EPA precautionary statement, "Do Not Apply to Skin" indicates that Permethrin is ineffective when applied to skin; therefore, do not apply to skin.

The following has been excerpted from http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/PermGen.html

What are some signs and symptoms from a brief exposure to permethrin?

When people get permethrin on their skin, they may have irritation or tingling, burning and itching at that spot. If permethrin gets in the eyes it can cause redness, pain or burning. If people eat permethrin it could cause sore throat, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. People that have breathed in permethrin have had irritation in the nose and lungs, difficulty breathing, headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.[/quote]
 

Dancing Rain

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Salvado (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
#11
1) I found it took quite a while to recover from my bites, and it was my impression that some of them got worse before they got better. It also seemed like it sometimes took a few days for a bite to show, so it was hard to know where I was originally bitten.

2) I echo - Put everything possible including sleeping gear into a really hot dryer for 30 mins, and keep doing it as you have the opportunity. It took me a while to realise that I didn't have to wash things first, and it was in fact better if the clothes, etc. were already dry - saved time and money.

3) I'm not convinced chemicals help.

4) Staying in places that have tiles, metal beds, plastic covered mattresses, and no wood is an option to consider. (In Galacia this describes the Xunta albergues.)

5) For my peace of mind I cut along the length of my silk sleeping bag liner and turned it into a sheet which I used it to cover every mattress I slept on. It was really easy to wash & dry.

6) I bought another sleeping bag liner and used it to cover my pillow every night. This gave me peace of mind.

All the best with it all. I was able to successfully get rid of ours without chemicals. Here's hoping you find your best way
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#12
Consensus of untested opinion is that silk liners offer the best protection
Possibly that is the consensus of untested opinion. However, I think that the consensus of tested opinion is that silk has no advantage over other fabrics. Any fabric with a reasonably fine weave/knit will be a barrier that the bugs must get around. Silk is a wonderful light fabric, though, so it is a good choice for a sheet.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
#13
Hi,

I posted four days ago about chinches. Have treated twice since this time (putting all belongings possible in hot dryer + spraying with permethrin those I couldn't, spraying sleeping bag and liner with permethrin spray I got from pharmacy). I have also sprayed myself with permethrin spray every evening before bed + put hydrocortisone cream I got from pharmacy on bites.

Things seemed to be - finally improving, but I am still struggling with two problems:

1) Last night I got fresh bites. Another girl in my room at alburgue had one bite and wasn't sure if it was bedbug. I think mine are though no telling if from last night or prior.

2) I have a lot of red bumps/small blisters all over my neck and chin. It looks like acne but isn't. I'm not sure whether these are more bites or an allergic reaction to the bites or allergic reaction to permethrin spray (which I did spray on neck but not face). Bumps are hot feeling and itchy. Other than this I feel well.

I am a bit at a loss of what to do. Do I re-treat a THIRD time in the space of about 5 days? Do I try to find a doctor about the small bumps/blisters or just keep putting hydrocortisone on them?

I feel so frustrated and down about this. Not to mention itchy. Really bringing me down on the Camino as it feels never ending at this stage. Any further prevention advice much appreciated ... Maybe I should be avoiding large alburgue rooms? I will also visit a pharmacy again for advice.

I am so appreciative of advice I got last time, and it was very very helpful. And I did end up telling next alburgue owner about chinches which was no biggie and they were helpful.

Thanks,
Maggie
Hi, Maggie,
So sorry to hear you still have to deal with this bedbug problem. Two years ago I had to deal with it for at least a week or so. In the end there were about 200 bites. By that time I was mentally so very down that I was thinking to just go to hospital emergency, lie down and say "here I am and not going anywhere until you deal with this because I'm already becoming a basket-case" :) I washed/dried all my stuff 4 times and finally things improved in A Rua (Camino de Invierno) where nice hospitalera Asun treated me with some homeopatic medicine but at the same time I took anti-histaminic pills (forgot which brand). Asun also told me that my body simply over-reacted to just a few bites with producing unreasonable number of new "bites". The hygiene is very important too, maybe taking a shower in the morning not just after everyday walk. Asun gave me this Nosa Gel (gel higienizante hidroalcoholico con aloe vera), I guess it's available in pharmacies, and told me bedbugs really hated it.
Last year the problem emerged again but in smaller amount of bites. This summer we were just discussing bedbugs with other pilgrims and a bite appeared on my hand. And I have never ever saw single bedbug! That's why I think from now on bedbugs are my psychological problem :D

I'm sorry I can't be of more help. Wish that you solve problem soon and continue your Camino. Ultreia!

And don't scratch bites with fingernails, just finger pads!
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#14
Consensus of untested opinion is that silk liners offer the best protection, but a good polyester one is just as light and may be just as good.
Possibly that is the consensus of untested opinion. However, I think that the consensus of tested opinion is that silk has no advantage over other fabrics. Any fabric with a reasonably fine weave/knit will be a barrier that the bugs must get around. Silk is a wonderful light fabric, though, so it is a good choice for a sheet.
.. Can you supply the source of the bag liner test evaluations?
I'm not able to followup my various links at the moment as I'm away on work without computer time. You are right to challenge my words! :mad:;) I was playing with the words a bit.

I should have said that there is simply no consensus of opinion on silk sheets, and there is little to no testing of the theory that silk is more repellent than other fabric. My opinion, based on the fact that I have seen no evidence to the contrary, is that the physical barrier of a silk liner is the same as the physical barrier of other fabrics. They bite exposed skin, and they are not small enough to crawl through fabric liners. (Corrected)
 
Last edited:

julia-t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015-17
Kumano Kodo March 2018
Camino Portuguese Valenca-SdC April 2018
#15
Monday night last week I stayed in a private room in Santa Clara albergue in Carrion de los Condes. Number 101. It was immaculately clean, and I did pull back the sheet and check inside the pillowcase. It was cold that night so I used a blanket from the cupboard. I slept in leggings and a vest, and during the night I got hot so put my arms outside the covers.

Next morning I woke with no less than 6 clusters of 'bites' - one cluster of 3 on my face, the rest on my back, shoulders and arms. I tend to react badly to bites.

I went straight to a pharmacy where I bought Fenistil gel (an antihistamine) and Cetirizine (oral antihistamine) which I took twice a day for 5 days (double dose). Thankfully the bites didn't itch too badly.

It was my last night on the Camino, and once I got home I switched the Fenistil for Anthistan which I find more effective for insect bites (different ingredient). I have washed and dried my stuff on high temps, sprayed my backpack and double black-bagged it, and it is now stowed in a dustbin outside where it will stay for a few more days. Some stuff is in my tiny freezer. The rest, mostly toiletries, papers, personal bits and pieces, I have risked bringing in.

And I still have the little itchy red bumps exactly where they were a week ago. Scritch scratch.

Maggie, I do sympathise, and really hope you find a solution soon.
 

Maggie :)

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
October (2016)
#16
Hi forum,

Thank you all so very much for taking the time to respond - I really appreciate all of the empathy, fellow chinches warrior's tales, healthy debates about products and materials, and even the nervous questions from those who are yet to embark on their Camino and don't wish to encounter these critters.

1) Fantastic advice about going to see a doc: I did this today and it seems like I have a mix of bed bug bites + irritation on face from bites. I was prescribed Fucibet cream to take thrice daily.

2) I will stop with chemicals-on-body for the time being (excluding the Fucibet) to give my body the chance to heal. For the record: the Permethrin I got from pharmacy certainly seems to be designed to go directly on skin, though my Spanish isn't great so I suppose I could be wrong.

3) I will continue to hot-dry my belongings when possible.

4) I may also give my bag and liner another spray. I do have a silk liner but don't know how effective this has been as a deterrent.

5) Anyone know where in Spain I can get DEET? (Just in case a return to chemical territory seems a necessity it would be good to have on hand)

The bites are truly maddening and hearing others having the same experience makes me feel sane!! It's amazing how possibly one encounter (or maybe more - who knows) has left me with so many bites and new ones that keep cropping up. They are very itchy and annoying! For this reason, I would highly advise those who are planning to walk El Camino to treat your belongings with Pemethrin BEFORE you come here. Yes, it's a nasty chemical but I do believe it beats the alternative. Please learn from my mistake! Also: I have heard from two others on my ten days on the Camino who may also have been bitten. There could be others. But numbers-wise I've yet to hear from or see someone with a comparable experience to mine. Just to bring down the paranoia a little bit!!

Thank you again for the incredible kindness on here - it really means a lot (and it makes me get a little teary, actually... My all-too-common response to any kindnesses on the Camino)

Buen Camino,
Maggie
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#17
I wouldn't just spray my sleeping bag and liner. I would wash and dry them onHOT as well! Those bugs are incredibly tiny at first hatch and can easily hide in seams.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#18
5) The usual trademark for DEET in Europe/Spain is Autan ;-) Buen Camino and speedy healing, SY
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#21
But please, please don't apply it to already damaged/irritated skin. The cure might be worse than the illness! Buen Camino, SY
 

trecile

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug-Sept(2016) SJPDP-Finisterre, July-Aug(2017) SJPDP-Muxia-Finisterre, July-Aug(2018) El Norte
#22
Hi forum,

Thank you all so very much for taking the time to respond - I really appreciate all of the empathy, fellow chinches warrior's tales, healthy debates about products and materials, and even the nervous questions from those who are yet to embark on their Camino and don't wish to encounter these critters.

1) Fantastic advice about going to see a doc: I did this today and it seems like I have a mix of bed bug bites + irritation on face from bites. I was prescribed Fucibet cream to take thrice daily.

2) I will stop with chemicals-on-body for the time being (excluding the Fucibet) to give my body the chance to heal. For the record: the Permethrin I got from pharmacy certainly seems to be designed to go directly on skin, though my Spanish isn't great so I suppose I could be wrong.

3) I will continue to hot-dry my belongings when possible.

4) I may also give my bag and liner another spray. I do have a silk liner but don't know how effective this has been as a deterrent.

5) Anyone know where in Spain I can get DEET? (Just in case a return to chemical territory seems a necessity it would be good to have on hand)

The bites are truly maddening and hearing others having the same experience makes me feel sane!! It's amazing how possibly one encounter (or maybe more - who knows) has left me with so many bites and new ones that keep cropping up. They are very itchy and annoying! For this reason, I would highly advise those who are planning to walk El Camino to treat your belongings with Pemethrin BEFORE you come here. Yes, it's a nasty chemical but I do believe it beats the alternative. Please learn from my mistake! Also: I have heard from two others on my ten days on the Camino who may also have been bitten. There could be others. But numbers-wise I've yet to hear from or see someone with a comparable experience to mine. Just to bring down the paranoia a little bit!!

Thank you again for the incredible kindness on here - it really means a lot (and it makes me get a little teary, actually... My all-too-common response to any kindnesses on the Camino)

Buen Camino,
Maggie
You should be able to buy a DEET spray at any pharmacy. That's where I bought mine.
It really stinks though, so try to use it outside, not in the albergues.
 

jerbear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
Coast of the dead malpica to muxia
#24
My bet is that you have either chiggers or poision ivy. Not bed bugs. Wash warm water. Talcum powder. Show ys a picture. Go see a doc.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Camino Portugues 2018

Now: http://egeria.house/
#25
My bet is that you have either chiggers or poision ivy. Not bed bugs. Wash warm water. Talcum powder. Show ys a picture. Go see a doc.
Not likely - especially not poison ivy as it doesn't grow in Spain. Also a bit late in the year for chiggers (which aren't a major problem on the Camino anyway). Buen Camino, SY
 

Gail A.

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances in segments (2015-2017)
#26
When packing for my Camino trip, I brought two items intended to provide a physical barrier to bed bugs: (1) A protective mesh sleep sack that I made using two pre-treated Life System bed bug sheets that I sewed together down one side, across the bottom and part way up the third side (which I finished off with a zipper, but could be tied off). Thus it was shaped like a liner, but I used it outside of my sleeping bag not inside, unrolling my sleeping bag inside of this sack. It was intended as a barrier to prevent any bed bugs from getting onto or into my sleeping bag, and it was long enough that I could pull it up and over my head while sleeping to protect my face and neck like mosquito netting. Even if I got hot and pushed off my sleeping bag, my entire body was still encased inside of this mesh sack barrier. (2) A large plastic trash bag with a cinch-tie top. Upon arriving at an albergue, I put my entire backpack, and all other belongings, inside the trash bag and kept them there. I did not put any of my stuff on the floor or loose on my bed at any time. At night, I closed up the cinch-tie top tightly, to keep any bed bugs from getting into any of my clothing or gear.
 

Jacobus

Pilgrim since 2008
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2008 2009, 2014
Del Norte 2011. Portuguese 2015, 2017Ingles 2015 Fisterre 2015.
Camino??? 2018
#27
Please excuse the blank post. I am using a mobile.

First I am not a doctor.
Second when I experienced similar complaints I was advised that in my case there were 2 issues. The first was dehydration, the second was a skin reaction to synthetic fabrics.
I was told to drink more water and get rid of the synthetic "wicking" materials that came in contact with my skin.
It appears the dehydration enhanced what otherwise would have been a very mild, in fact unnoticeable reaction caused by the materials and friction.
As treatment I was given a shot of antihistamine for the itch and some moisturizer. For me that solved the problem.

I have had bed bug bites. This problem was not similar except for the extreme itch.
I hope you find a solution.
Regards
Jim
 


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