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Oak Mites could be coming back to bite again in the DMV. Here’s how to treat those itchy bumps

Last year, a surge of Northern Virginians reported mysterious, furiously itchy red welts and rashes. Now, the infamous mites that were blamed may have made a return.

ARLINGTON, Va. — Oak Leaf Itch Mites may be back with a vengeance this year after causing a stir in Northern Virginia late last summer. The mites are tiny creatures that hang around oak trees and feed on cicada eggs.

After some speculation, experts said the mysterious red welts and rashes were likely attributable to the mites. Locals grew desperate for relief from the furiously itchy skin patches.

Now, residents in Northern Virginia Facebook groups have once again posted about the possible bites. Here’s a refresher on how experts say you should go about avoiding - or, worst-case scenario, treating - the bites.

In an effort to be proactive, it’s always a good idea to opt for long-sleeve clothing, covering as much skin with a layer as possible. It would also be advantageous to wear bug repellant when out and about, especially when in a woodland area or partaking in other outdoor-centric activities. 

However, if a bite has already popped up, it’s important first not to assume its origin. It never hurts to consult a health professional about what you’re feeling and to especially beware of a bite that develops a red ring around the initial rash, which is a sign of a Lyme disease-carrying tick bite.

Regardless of what kind of bite it is, often over-the-counter creams can help relieve itchiness. Experts also advise against irritating any bites or welts further.

"We suggest to refrain from scratching the areas," Christine Lienau, a dermatology physician assistant with Luxe Dermatology and Aesthetic Center in Arlington County told WUSA9 last year. "That's easier said than done." 

RELATED: July is peak tick season. Here's what to look out for

She added it can be helpful to see a dermatologist as well if the itchiness persists.

"We can formulate a tailored treatment plan for you and oftentimes prescribe topical steroid cream that is more effective than the options that you can get over the counter," Lienau said.

The Arlington County Health Department has also suggested applying ice to any red spots a person may have to ease swelling.

In addition, it could help to reach out to neighbors in community forums, like Facebook groups or on Reddit. Sometimes, homemade remedies can make a difference - especially those that are tried and true from others experiencing the same.

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