Chiggers are known and defined as pests that are pretty diminutive in size that you would need a microscope to see them correctly. Since they are relatively small in size, you may never realize when they would latch onto your skin. In this article, we will explain more about what chiggers are, how their bite appears, and what treats chigger bites.
So let’s dive in!
All You Need To Know About Chiggers
Chiggers are a type of arachnids that are in the same family as ticks and spiders. They are a form of mite that belongs to the Trombiculidae family. Over the years, people have associated many nicknames with chiggers, such as harvest mites, red bugs, berry bugs or scrub-itch mites. They are red and have six legs in total.
In appearance, these mites or bugs range to less than 1/150th of an inch. However, due to their size, they quickly go unnoticed by the human eye and attack the skin without much resistance.
Chiggers can be found anywhere outdoors. This includes wet areas such as lakes or ponds, grassy areas and the woods. Though there is proper treatment available for chiggers, as they say, prevention is better than cure.
Chigger Bites and What to Expect
Before we discuss the bites, let’s understand one thing. Adult mites don’t bite. It’s the babies called larvae that bite.
Since you physically can’t see a chigger, you wouldn’t know a chigger has bitten you until you see a bite. It is most likely that the chigger will bite you on the warm, moist areas of your body. You’ll notice flat red bumps that can also transform into a blister as time goes on.
Chiggers have sharp and pointy claws that they use to grab onto the skin. Once a chigger has successfully latched on to your skin, it will attach its mouth to the skin and inject its saliva. The saliva from the bites contains an enzyme that breaks down the skin for the chigger to enter safely. A common myth about chiggers is that they turn red after their eating session. Well, this is not true. Larvae chiggers are primarily red, yellow and orange. However, they tend to turn yellowish after having a meal.
Most chiggers bite in the waist, crotch, armpits, and ankles or behind the knees. Adding on, identifying chigger bites can be a challenging task. The chiggers usually brush away after a few days of eating.
Nevertheless, they come with their own sets of symptoms which can make it easy to pinpoint whether a chigger has been bitten or not.
- There is constant itching in the affected area
- The affected area would be red and swollen
- There is a visible reddened blister or pimple
- The itching persists for a few days after the bite
Though chigger bites aren’t that dangerous, they can multiply and appear in groups if the itching and scratching continue. Due to the consistent scratching, your skin can have cracks, further increasing the risk for infections. Apart from the usual areas where chiggers bite, chiggers happen to bite around the penis area as well. If this happens, it can cause severe swelling, painful urination and itching – known as “summer penile syndrome.”
Prevention from Chigger Bites
You can apply specific measures whenever you plan to step out of your house to avoid the lurking chiggers biting you.
Ensure you have worn a bug spray whenever heading out or are directed explicitly to a grassy area. You must also ensure that the bug spray is applied in specific areas where the chiggers are most likely to bite.
Kindly don’t make yourself an easy target by wearing short clothing. Wear long sleeves, long socks and long bottoms. This can put the danger of chigger bites at bay for good. Moreover, wear a bit of thick clothing so that the chiggers can’t dig their claws through the material of your dress.
If you have travelled outdoors near vegetation or wooded areas, then shower as soon as you get home. Wash your clothes with warm or lukewarm water to get rid of any chiggers that might have hopped on your clothing. Take a review of your skin correctly before changing clothes or going to shower.
Apply products that contain permethrin to clothing to protect yourself from chigger bites. Don’t apply it directly on your skin; instead, do it on the clothes and wait for it to completely dry.
Chiggers are highly uncomfortable and irritating. Therefore the treatment for chiggers is majorly based on relieving the itchiness. The last thing you would want is to scratch your bumps and cause an infection.
Chigger bites take 1 to 3 weeks to disappear entirely, but the time spent shall be unpleasant with the itching and scratching. Therefore, it is better to try remedies and talk to your doctor, who might suggest the following treatments:
- Calamine Lotion – used to relieve the pain, itching and control scratching.
- Use an ice pack or ice cubes to compress the itching and soothe the area.
- Corticosteroid creams are used to control itching.
- Your doctor can also recommend oral antihistamines.
- Use of certain over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.
If your symptoms or bite marks don’t go away in three weeks, then you are advised to pay a visit to your doctor. A common misconception about chiggers is that they burrow under the skin. This is a false statement; thus, there is no need to take scalding showers.
Most of the time, there is no treatment required. However, in rare cases, you might develop an infection where the doctor will recommend antibiotics.
Chiggers are tiny insects that a naked eye can’t see. Hence, the only way to avoid getting bitten is to keep yourself away from chiggers-infested areas. Don’t wear short clothes or sandals when you head out to grassy or moist areas.