Parasitic bugs in Southern California?

Hey Guys,
I hike in the back country of the Los Padres National Forest near Ojai frequently (~100 miles northwest of Los Angeles if you dont want to google it). I get off the beaten path fairly often and hike / bushwhack through some pretty thick brush. I also like hiking along streams or other water sources frequently. From spring-fall I like to cool off in the creeks as well.

I have had ~3 rounds of parasitic skin bugs this summer and they’re driving me nuts. One had a chicken pox look to them with small red bumps appearing all over my body. Another type groups together more and creates clusters of almost wart like bumps then they spread and itch. A possible 3rd type leaves little streaks under your skin. They all itch like HELL and I’d like to avoid them going forward as much as possible. A good 5% permethrin lotion bath (or 2) does the trick, but I’d really prefer to minimize the amount of poison i apply to my body.

So, to the wise ones,

  1. what parasitic bugs are common to this area
  2. what plants, terrain, or other natural features do they live in / attract them (i.e. bug hot spots to avoid)
  3. I have sprayed my hiking clothing with 0.5% permethrin but still got some on my ankles (may have gotten under my pants?). Besides treated clothing (already doing this) and not hiking (not an option) what can I do to minimize this incredible annoyance?!?!
  4. Are any parasitic bugs that live in the water (like Sespe creek or Matajila creek)? if so, is there any way to avoid them other than dont go in the water?

Last, on a semi-related note, does anyone have a gypsy cure for poodle dog bush (Eriodictyon parryi) rash? I try and avoid them religiously but occasionally fail and end up with an itchy rash for weeks!

Thanks much!

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The chicken pox type sounds like chiggers.

Chiggers or ticks are the only real possibilities that occur in those areas, It is also possible that you came/come in contact with a plant that does not agree with you.

Whoa - deep sympathy!

This one sounds a bit like granuloma annulare, which I think I caught from working in my old pond with bare hands. But the doctors said it has no real known cause. It formed a rough circle of itchy bumps that would slowly migrate outward. It would get better during cold winter and reoccur the next year near the same place it had stopped spreading before. It eventually went away for good.

Or, ringworm is a possibility with this description. I got ringworm when I volunteered at an animal shelter. Then I gave it to my cat. Then we kept infecting eachother. It was a ~bitch~ to get us both rid of it. Curiously, the vets took it much more seriously than my own doctors.

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