Preventing and Treating Chigger Bites

We are all moving outdoors more with Springtime here. We are outside exercising, taking the kids to the park, golfing with a buddy, playing catch with the dog, relaxing, and socializing in an outdoor setting. That also means that we are more susceptible with coming into contact with a little pest called a chigger.

What is a chigger?

A chigger is a tiny, barely visible, mite whose parasitic larvae live on or under the skin of warm-blooded animals. These mites can cause irritation and dermatitis. Sometimes they can transmit scrub typhus which is a rickettsial disease transmitted to humans by mites.

Chiggers are extremely small and are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. They are about 1/50th of an inch in size. Most people need a magnifying glass to view Chiggars. They look like tiny spiders and are red in color. They tend to cluster in groups on a person’s skin.

Chiggers inject their digestive enzymes into human skin and then feed upon the decomposed tissue. A human comes into contact with a chigger when they are out in vegetation. The chigger will attach to a person’s pant cuff, short-sleeved shirt or collar. Chiggers insert their feeding structures into human skin. Then hardening of the surrounding skin results in the formation of a feeding tube called a stylostome. Chiggers feed through the stylostome for a few days.

Signs of a chigger bite

The most common symptom that you experience after a chigger has bitten you is intense itching which can last for several days. You may experience blisters or raised red areas.

Located

Spring and fall months are the most common time for chiggers to be out. They are very common in warmer southern and mid-western states, but they are throughout the United States.

Places you find chiggers:

  • Forests
  • In fields and gardens among long and overgrown grass in fields and gardens
  • Grassy areas around rivers, lakes, and streams
  • Berry patches
  • Around rocks
  • Among weeds
  • Around large numbers of rodents
  • Areas of high humidity

To avoid chigger bites, simply do not walk in long grass and bushes.

Remedies

Home remedies to help relieve the itching associated with chigger bites may help some people. These can include

  • Applying cool compresses
  • Take a cool shower
  • Sitting in a cool bath
  • Using ice on the bites
  • Using colloidal oatmeal bath products
  • Using over-the-counter (OTC) anti-itch medications which include hydrocortisone or calamine lotion.

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