Meth Mites And Bugs: What Are They?

Methamphetamine creates mental health instability in the person that uses the drug, leading to psychosis and specific types of hallucinations called formications. The result is that people with a meth addiction often believe that bugs are crawling under their skin.

Get Help Now!
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Meth mites, also called crank bugs, meth bugs, or ice mites, are not a real type of insect. Instead, they’re an effect of meth on the body.

These imaginary bugs are the result of a condition created by methamphetamine use in which people engaged in heavy, daily meth use believe that bugs are crawling on or under their skin.

This belief is derived, in part, from the intense itching that they feel when they are high on meth. But it is also derived from the mental instability that methamphetamine creates.

Causes Of Meth Mites

In short, the cause of meth mites is methamphetamine. In people who use meth long-term, the drug can create psychosis and formication.

With these conditions, people engaged in meth abuse believe in a reality that does not exist. Unfortunately, methamphetamine confirms this reality with side effects of the drug use.

Formication Hallucinations

Formication is a narrow category of hallucination. When people have formications, they have the feeling that bugs are crawling over them.

Formication can result from:

  • depression
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • some prescription drugs
  • meth drug use

Especially in the case of certain types of drug use, an intense itching accompanies formication, making the person believe that meth mites are actively crawling on their skin.

Studies have shown that 40% of people in treatment centers for meth addiction have experienced formication.


Psychosis is a mental health condition in which a person’s thoughts and emotional responses do not correspond to reality.

Psychosis caused by meth use can result from damage to the central nervous system, especially if someone has been using the drug heavily for a long period of time.

In the same studies mentioned above, 70% of those who experienced meth psychosis also experienced formication.

Suppressed Immune System

The effect of meth mites on people can be seen in sores on their skin.

These sores can often be infected and, in rare cases, lead to debilitating skin diseases because methamphetamine use suppresses the immune system.

Restricted Blood Flow To Skin

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug similar to amphetamine, and as such, it can raise your body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Additionally, it restricts the blood flow of the person using the drug through vascular constriction.

With decreased blood flow, the skin fails to get the nutrients that it needs. This makes it more prone to infections.

What Do Meth Bugs Look Like?

Since meth bugs are a formication, the only tangible sign of their presence is the sores they leave behind or scabs.

Meth sores can appear as:

  • rashes
  • scratches
  • open sores
  • blisters
  • pustules

Risks And Side Effects Of Meth Mites

Meth mites have terrible side effects that ultimately continue to deteriorate a person’s mental and physical health.

Skin Infections

Meth sores can turn into skin infections. The poor personal hygiene of many people who use meth means that bacteria can easily transfer from hands to face (where meth sores are usually located).

Sleep Deprivation From Itching

The intense itching due to meth use can cause sleep deprivation, which can further deteriorate mental health.

Open Sores

Open wounds caused by meth bugs are so common, they have been dubbed ‘meth sores.’

These sores will likely not heal until the person seeks addiction treatment for his or her substance use disorder.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is a common side effect of methamphetamine use. People who use meth often do not take care of themselves by eating and practicing good personal hygiene.

Either the intense level of dopamine resulting from the high or the debilitating side effects of meth distract people who use the drug from completing even the basic necessities of life.

Meth also increases a person’s metabolic rate, which means their bodies require more food when people using the drug actually give their bodies less.

How Do You Treat Meth Mites?

The skin sores that result from meth mites can be treated like any other sores, either by simply allowing them to heal or by the use of antibiotics and skin ointments.

However, people with a long history of addiction to meth will not likely be able to leave their sores alone, which means that the best treatment for meth mites is addiction treatment.

Treatment For Meth Addiction

treatment program for methamphetamine abuse will likely involve evidence-based therapy. These therapeutic approaches can include such models as cognitive behavioral therapy and Matrix model therapy.

But treatment can also include meth detox, inpatient or outpatient care, and continuing care through support groups.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

At Bedrock Recovery Center in Massachusetts, we know how difficult methamphetamine addiction is to overcome.

But we bring years of recovery experience to your treatment program, so we can find an approach that best fits your needs.

Whether it is for you or one of your family members or other loved one, recovery is achievable. Call our helpline today and start your journey toward freedom from meth.

  1. Frontiers in Neuroscience
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  3. Neurologic Clinics

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.
(617) 657-2877
icon-angle icon-bars icon-times