Chigger Bites: Treatment, Prevention, and Symptoms

You could be taking an afternoon stroll through the garden with the children. Perhaps you’re enjoying a relaxing day on your golf course. 

However, this outdoor adventure can come at a cost- an itchy rash caused by pests you can’t detect.

They’re known as Chiggers bugs that are so tiny you require a magnifying glass to see them. They’re not harmful. However, their bites could make you feel an overwhelming desire to scratch.

Keep them from taking your best! Learn what chigger bites are, symptoms, treatment and much more.

What Are Chigger Bites?

Chigger larvae will attach to your clothing and then move onto the skin to feed. 

The larva of chigger releases the chemical in liquid form into your skin that kills your skin’s cells (digestive enzyme). 

Dead skin cells form tiny straws (stylostome) to allow the chigger to drink your tissue. 

Chigger’s chemical causes itching that can be extremely intense during the first 24 to 48 hours before gradually diminishing over two weeks. Chiggers will disappear from your skin if you start to scratch.

The Signs Of Chigger Bites

Most chiggers can attach themselves to people moving through an affected area. After the chigger has fallen off and you’re left with reddish bumps. 

There may be a bright red dot located in the middle, a remnant from the skin tube that formed as a result of the saliva of the chigger. 

The bumps can appear as blisters, welts, or pimples.

Chiggers can stay attached to the same location for a long time, and, in most cases, more one’ll bite you. 

Therefore, bites usually are seen in groups and grow bigger for a few days to a week.

A variety of insects are known to bite skin that’s easily accessible. Chiggers love to bite folds of skin and areas where clothing is tight.

Most bites from chiggers occur at the waist, ankles and armpits, the crotch, or behind the knees.

It’s not noticeable when the chigger can latch on it, and you’ll probably not feel anything after it has bitten. But, most people experience symptoms within a few hours after the bite. 

The most threatening symptom of Chigger bites is intense itching and the urge to scratch. Chigger bites on the penis may result in severe itching, swelling, or painful urine.

How to Treat Chigger Bites?

Since chiggers do not penetrate the skin and the rash generally appears when the mites are removed, treatment specifically designed to eliminate the mites isn’t necessary. 

The treatment for chigger bites concentrates on reducing itchiness. It includes:

  • Applying topical creams or lotions (calamine lotion).
  • Doing diphenhydramine (Benadryl (r)) and any other analgesics.
  • A medication to combat parasites (permethrin).
  • Applying the cold compress.
  • Cleansing the affected area of skin using soap and water frequently.

If itching that is severe leads to an infection, in which the skin becomes red, swelling, or releases pus, your physician might prescribe antibiotics.

Chigger Bites Can Pose Health Risks

Chigger bites can be painful, irritating, and itchy and may cause insomnia. In most cases, Chigger bites aren’t causing any negative effects on your health. 

However, chigger bites could be infected by excessive scratching. A fever or swelling are signs of infection, so contact your doctor immediately.

Can Chigger Bites Be Prevented?

To help avoid bites from chiggers in the outdoors:

  • Apply an insect repellent containing 10%-30 DEET.
  • Wear long-sleeved tops and pants that you can tuck into your footwear, particularly during hikes. It also helps shield children from other biting creatures like mosquitoes and ticks.
  • Wash your clothes in hot water after taking a hot shower when you get home. You can also treat your clothes with insecticide to help avoid bites.

Chigger bites don’t transmit disease, which means that kids won’t be able to catch the bites from someone else or pass them to someone else. 

They can continue participating in sports and other normal activities unless itching is too painful for them.

What Do Chigger Bites Look Like?

At first, a bite from a chigger can be seen only through tiny red dots that appear on the chigger on the skin. 

Once the body’s immunity responds, the bites may appear as clusters of small red, itchy bumps. 

The reaction could happen within hours if a person has experienced a previous exposure. The swelling and redness can persist for several weeks after the bite.

Last Words

Chigger bites, though not necessarily dangerous to humans, are very itchy and annoying. 

You can protect yourself from chigger bites by using insect repellents or treating your clothing with permethrin and staying cautious in places where chiggers are anticipated. 

Whatever you do, do not let the chiggers or any other insect stop you from enjoying outdoor time. 

With a little awareness and planning, you’ll be able to have an insect-free experience.

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