Walking Dandruff In Humans: Symptoms And How To Get Rid Of It

Dandruff is one of the most common skin problems, which affects your scalp. It is characterized by the presence of white flakes dotting the hair. However, if the whitish flakes on your hair appear to move, you may be suffering from walking dandruff instead.

Walking dandruff can be described as a form of mild dermatitis that occurs due to the presence of a mite called Cheyletiellosis on your scalp. These mites, are more commonly found in animals like cats, dogs, rabbits and horses, but can also spread to humans. They look a lot like dandruff flakes on the hair.

The motion of the visible mites give the condition its unusual name, as the dandruff seems to walk around the scalp.

Walking dandruff is highly contagious, as Cheyletiellosis mites easy spread from one host to the other. You can contract walking dandruff through extended personal contact with an infected animal. The entire life cycle of the mite on one host is around 21 days. Once the infected animal is treated, the possibility of transference to humans is eliminated.

Symptoms Of Walking Dandruff In Humans

Many owners do not even realize that their pets are infected, because animals do not necessarily show symptoms of the mites. You will know that you are suffering from walking dandruff in case you notice whitish, dandruff-like flakes on your hair, which seems to be moving around. Some of the other signs and symptoms of walking dandruff include:

  • Severe itching and blisters on the scalp.
  • Red bumps on the arms, trunk and buttocks.

These symptoms usually disappear within a time span of 3 weeks, as people are not the preferred hosts for these mites. However, humans can experience a lot of pain and discomfort because of the mites. Therefore, walking dandruff should be treated as soon as possible.

How To Get Rid Of Walking Dandruff In Humans?

Getting rid of Cheyletiellosis in animals in comparatively easy; walking dandruff in animals can be treated by applying some form of topical pesticide or anti-flea product on the skin. However the treatment of walking dandruff in humans is different. There are several home remedies that you can use to get rid of Cheyletiellosis and these include –

  • Fresh Aloe Vera gel or extract mixed with regular shampoo.
  • Coconut oil mixed with colloidal silver.
  • Oatmeal paste (to relieve the symptoms).

The treatment for walking dandruff is only effective if all the members of your household, including all your pets get treated at the same time. To ensure that the mites do not come back, wash all your carpets, towels and bedding at the same time.

In case the remedies mentioned above do not work, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist for medication to get rid of walking dandruff.

17 comments


  1. Pratt

    I have been going through this ‘walking dandruff’ problem since last September and have gone through home remedies to lotions, shampoos, creams and topical medical creams. I am upset because I have to wear homemade hats to hide my scalp. This dandruff goes in my eyes, ears and nasal cavities. This is like living in hell.

    I am 39 years old and getting ready to have my first child. I pray this illness will not affect my child but I know I am not that lucky. Kindly suggest some remedy.

  2. Pam

    You can try rinsing your hair with vinegar mixed with water. Also take garlic caps 500 mg. or 1000 mg. for 2 weeks. You should protect yourself from mosquitoes also.

  3. Lorri

    My outside bunnies were diagnosed with walking dandruff mites. It was a nightmare trying to figure out what it was and where it was coming from. I had bites/sores on my chest, arms, back and lower legs. The bunnies, cat and my 3 hens were all treated with revolution. I tried permethrin, ivermectin with limited results as originally I was treated for possible scabies/bird mites/rat mites. Lesions are starting to heal.

    Apple cider vinegar baths 1-3 cups in large tub depending on what your skin tolerates. Do this 3 – 4 times per week. I am also spot treating lesions with neosporin and permethrin cream. I had the creatures migrating to the corners of my eyes and itching in my nose. It’s been a nightmare, but I think I am clearing them. Use Vaseline on brows and eyelashes and wipe off if you are having a problem there.

    Make sure and treat your animals and at the same time clean your environment thoroughly inside and out. Limit clothes that you wear and wash or dry clean all clothing /bedding you wear daily in laundry soap. Empty lint collector after every wash and look for small oval balls covered in lint. The less of these the less of the mites are around.

    Vacuum daily. Use alcohol on all surfaces it can be used on. Use paper towel instead of towels for hand drying/cleaning. Clean brushes in alcohol and throw out tooth brushes.
    Wash and vacuum your cars often. Look for white dandruff. I sprayed the cars with permethrin based bug sprays. Change bags after each use for the first few cleanings. Wrap and seal vacuum bags and filters up and deposit in garbage outside.

  4. Laura

    I am 34 years mom I got a puppy for my girl and the dog was infested With walking dandruff. Since two years I have not seen a good day and I gave the puppy away. I can’t sleep as I am getting bitten all over including my nose, eyes and even my mouth.

    I took every thing, all the creams but no improvement. I am lost it took over my life, if any one knows how to cure this kindly let me know.

  5. C S

    I am not certain if anyone has tried this but I have read that you can use a fogger and an upholstery spray (make sure to spray the bottoms of all drapes as well). It is for fleas but I have read that it is quite effective. Also washing all bedding and clothes in hot soapy water. In addition use coconut oil and colloidal silver on affected parts of your body. These are just tips I am collecting as I brought home a rescue dog who I took to the vet and found out she has scabies. But I am concerned that she may have walking dandruff.

  6. Judy

    I think I have walking dandruff. I first thought it was head lice and I treated it, however, I still have something crawling on me and it is making me crazy. I will be going to my dermatologist in a few days. I am 66 years old and this is just too much for me.

  7. Kathy

    I have been going from Doctor to doctor trying to figure out what the heck I have. It has been over 4 years and I finally stumbled on to a Vet site because my cat has bad dandruff and is itching. After years I find out I have “walking dandruff. I am totally infested. I have them in my mouth, my nose, my ears. I will go to my regular doctor and I hope and pray that she will be able to cure me now. I am going to try some of the suggestions that I have read on this site.

  8. Buffy

    I have been suffering from this problem for two and half years. I have been to many doctors including a dermatologist. I was first diagnosed with scabies and was treated three times for that. Although, I wasn’t diagnosed with it, I thought I had lice too. I treated myself for that so many times. I really didn’t think that any doctors believed me and had given up on being properly treated for whatever I have.

    None of these doctors scraped me or ran any other test to find out what it is. So today, I decided to research for scabies and dandruff. I do have always had dandruff, but it has never bothered me like this. After being told I had scabies, I noticed the dandruff had become worse. Which is why I researched on these two and came up with walking dandruff. I have never heard of this before. The more I read from various websites about it the more I itch and the more I want to know how to get rid it.

  9. Rachel

    Try cedar oil or stuff used for hardwood floors or furniture. It works, I read about cedar oil and I was at my sisters apartment. She didn’t have cedar oil but she had murphys wood soap concentrate. It worked. I have been dealing with these things for almost a year. I got the murphys soap and left it in my hair til it dried and it got rid of it it. Hopefully. It has been three days of no crawling.

  10. Sam

    It was driving me insane and for whatever reason I am the only one that seems to be getting bitten. I searched and finally discovered these mini mites. Cedar essential oil works immediately. Mixing cedar oil into grape seed oil and applying to the hair and skin is very helpful followed by coconut oil. Getting rid of the evil little buggers is another thing altogether. I can get them off me well enough for a few days and as soon as a cat shows up it is back in force.

    I know I have got to treat the cats- cedar oil mixed with other oils does seem to work but I know I have got to get some hard core collars. At least I can get them from crawling on me and literally stop the irritating bites from itching. There is a remedy in this but I have not discovered it entirely. The trick is treating the entire house but that is just going to be such a challenge I don’t know how that is going to happen.

  11. Withers

    All of my doctors say that I have Dermatitis. I have used every thing they have prescribed, as well as home remedies like tea tree oil mixed in with my shampoo, bath soap, etc. I don’t believe regular dermatitis moves. Does it? How can I get any of my doctors to acknowledge that I might actually have Walking Dandruff?

  12. Lakeitha

    I have also been dealing with this problem for a long time. I have been to doctors at least twice a week and they never listen to what I am telling them. They only want to tell me what’s wrong with me. It is very frustrating and depressing because everyone thinks you are crazy and imagining these things are happening to you.

    I been fighting this for 2 years and have lost my job for having to leave early or not being able do much work. Because of this I feel so alone and not knowing what to to do? I am always looking and searching for some type of answers. I can’t sleep at night and cry all day. It has been hell and just really tired and depressed as it consumes my entire day and life. I am at the end of my ropes just asking for help.

  13. Janet

    I have been dealing with this for almost two months now and the doctor prescribed Ivermectin and permethrin. So far it seems to be working fine. Before this I used dog shampoo with oatmeal and permethrin. I know these things are laying eggs in my hair and am wondering if I need to cut my hair. I am not sure if permethrin kills the eggs.

  14. Mario

    I have suffered with it for three years. I came to know about sulfer powder. I sprinkled it all over my house and myself and my cat. Also paid attention to baseboards and mattresses. I was severely attacked for the first two nights and after that they were gone. So go away for a couple of days right after laying the powder. Do not vacuum. Leave it in all the carpets and furniture for at least three weeks. You will find peace of mind. Use the food grade sulfer powder.

  15. Diana

    I have been dealing with what I thought was scabies for at least a year. I went to the doctor and was given ivermectin and permitherin cream. I have been dealing with cancer and my roommate has HIV, therefore, our immune systems are very low. My roommate was told by his doctor to use Head and Shoulders shampoo all over his body. Nothing was mentioned about how highly contagious these mites are.

    I have a large dog and a small dog and they are miserable, itching, biting, scratching all the time. I can feel these nasty mites crawling on my scalp and entire body. I have purchased Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) to apply on myself, the dogs, carpets, furniture, etc. I was told I should mix it with 2% sulphur (that was when I thought it was scabies). I have used a magnifying glass and can see these mites on my skin. I have scraped them off my body with a knife.

    I am 62 years old and I can’t take care of this by myself. My roommate doesn’t seem to have a care in the world. I don’t know where to start with this problem. If anyone has any advice please tell me where to begin.

  16. Lisa

    I am a hairstylist and have been dealing with this for over a year. I have been in the profession for 17 years and have never had a problem until I changed saloons. The building I work in is old and a dog groomer is 2 floors down. I have never had a problem with dandruff or bad skin. Now not only am I constantly itching but also break out of what appears to be hives. My scalp and forehead is flaky and itches terribly.

    All dermatologists say is that it is my profession and the chemicals. It seems that my clients having pets, who don’t wash their hair for 3-4 days then come in. As soon I just brush their hair, their dander starts making me itch. Nothing the doctors give me works and they won’t listen to me or even test my skin to see if there are mites living on me. It is so frustrating. Is it possible for people to carry this is their hair but not be affected by them?

  17. Renee

    These things are ruining my life. My eyes constantly water. They go on my lips and in my nose, mouth, ears, feet etc. I had to put all my cats to sleep and my two dogs had to be given strong medicines. I tried peremethrin, frontline, tea tree oil and sulfur shampoos. The only time the itching stopped and I felt as they were gone was when I would leave my house. They itch like lice on my scalp and I have shaved my head twice. I have gained 220 pounds.

    It causes pus filled lesions on my face. I never use to get zits. If I try to wear makeup they start moving and mess it up. My lips are always chapped. If I sweat they viciously start biting me. Its like they have taken ownership of my body. It is going on for three years. I found out what it was a few months ago. They effect my pets and me but not my boyfriend. My face looks horrible because of these.

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