A chigger belongs to the arachnid family – it is technically a spider and not an insect. A chigger is actually a very small larva, which is red in color and parasitic in nature. At the larval stage, it is dubbed a chigger, but once it gets past this stage, a chigger turns into a scrub mite.
Other names by which this mite is known are harvest mite or red mite. In its other forms (say the nymph form or the adult form), this mite does not really cause health problems for humans. In the larva form – the chigger – the mite can cause irritating skin problems, among other things.
Where can you find chiggers?
In general, chiggers can be found in areas which are damp and which have a lot of vegetation. Chiggers like to stay in areas with tall grass and berry patches as well. Being in this location makes it easy for them to jump onto a host, such as an animal or a human being. Chiggers are normally prevalent during early fall and late summer.
How do you know that you’ve been bitten by a chigger?
When you’ve been bitten by a chigger, you will experience extreme itchiness in the affected area. This is then followed by the formation of red bumps on your skin, where the chigger has attached itself. Since the chigger is very small, you will not notice it immediately. After some time, though, more bumps or welts will appear.
How do you cure chigger bites?
Once you determine that you’ve been bitten by chiggers, the best thing to do is to remove them. This is due to the fact that the longer the chigger stays under your skin, the more damage it will cause. So Chigger Bug Bites treatment is necessary.
Being parasites, chiggers will feed off of your skin and leave on their own eventually. However, it leaves behind a feeding tube that will continue to irritate your skin weeks after the bite. More so, this can cause infection.
In order to remove the chiggers, take a warm shower using soapy water. You should also scrub your skin with a towel or a loofah – this will ensure that the chiggers will fall away from your skin. An alternative is to take a very hot bath – using soapy water as well.
Other people who have had experience with chigger bites recommend using a solution of bleach and water. Add about 4 ounces of bleach to your bath water and soak for at least 10 minutes. As an added precaution, scrub your skin as you would when taking the hot shower prescribed above.
Once you’ve removed the chiggers, you will still have to deal with the itchiness and redness for a while. You may use over the counter medication to relieve the itchiness and swelling. Common products include hydrocortisone cream and aloe vera gel. You may also make your own paste by combining baking soda and water, and then apply it to the affected areas. If there is extreme swelling, you may also take oral medication such as ibuprofen to alleviate it.
How Long Do Chigger Bites Last?
The chigger bites can last from a week up to three weeks.
It may not be noticeable at first when you’re bitten by chigger mites. What you’ll notice initially are bright red spots on your skin some of which may be flat while the others may have developed into bumps or welts.
After a day or two, itching can already be felt. This can become intense and blisters are possible to occur if you have very sensitive skin.
For this reason, immediate treatment should be done on the skin. So How Long do Chigger Bites last?
If not treated right away, the chigger bites can last from a week up to three weeks. In some rare cases, people affected by this skin problem had to endure the effects for up to several months.
The itching effect of chigger bites differs among people. Factors that can prolong the itching and chigger bites rash are the body’s reaction to the digestive enzymes from the larvae and a person’s skin sensitivity.
Chigger mites feed on human skin to get the nutrients they need to enable them to proceed to the next stage of their life. Those that do this are still the larvae and not the adults.
The chigger larvae normally complete their feeding in about three to four days. When they’re eventually done with the baby stage, they then leave the skin and thrive in vegetation. In short, they become vegetarians upon reaching their adulthood.
When you’ve been bitten by the chigger mites, chances are your clothing got in contact with grass, shrubs, bushes and other plants from moist areas such as your garden, forests and areas near the lake or swamp or in areas where there’s damp vegetation.
The larvae crawl up and find their way to parts of your body where the skin is soft and moist. Chiggers often feed on wrinkled skin as well as in armpits, behind the knee, around the ankles, wrist especially where your wristwatch is positioned and in your groin.
It should be understood that chigger mites do not suck blood underneath the skin. They just attach to human skin and feed on tissue that’s been liquefied through the use of their enzymes.
How to Treat Chigger Bites?
Chigger bites can cause skin problems to people and they can have a longer effect to those who have sensitive skin. They’re just like any other mites that can prick the skin of humans particularly those who have been exposed to areas where they live. Prevention is, therefore, always vital to avoid their bites.
In cases when you weren’t able to avoid these tiny mites, immediate chigger bug bites treatment is necessary to lessen their irritating effects.
Chigger Bites – How to Treat? You can choose between the Chigger Bites Remedy home and the over-the-counter (OTC) medications depending on what’s available in your situation.
Chigger Bites Remedy Home
Chigger Bites Nail Polish
Nail polish has been a popular home remedy for chigger bites. This is applied on the bitten areas to prevent air from entering into the wound or skin opening and to kill the chiggers that may still be there. When nail polish is applied, itching is lessened.
Lotion – Chigger Bites Home Treatment
The lotion is also good to use to relieve itching as it covers the bitten parts. The better type of lotion to use for this purpose is one that contains antihistamines.
Anti Lice Shampoo
You can also use an anti-lice shampoo on the bruised area and leave it overnight. Or another alternative is petroleum jelly which acts in the same way as nail polish.
Of course, washing your entire body with soap and water after exposure to vegetated areas is still an effective way to get rid of those mites and the easiest chigger bites home treatment. Make sure to scrub your skin with a soft cloth to remove those tiny chiggers that may have attached to your body.
Sulphur powder is also best to use and you can buy this from your local pharmacy. Considered as the most effective solution to chigger bites, you can put just a small amount of this powder in your socks, boots and in the openings of your pants so as not to attract chiggers when you’re outdoor.
The only downside of this is it can cause a foul odor when this gets mixed with sweat. It can also cause irritation to sensitive skin.
To relieve skin inflammation and itching, you can purchase corticosteroid creams and apply to irritated areas. Oral antihistamines such as those that contain diphenhydramine can also help.
The oral medications can be taken when symptoms of chigger bites occur. If you’re not sure about the dosage and how frequent to take them, remember to consult with your physician first.
If you’re an outdoor person, it would be a good idea to always keep a stock of handy insect repellants. They will come in handy when you need to go to areas where there’s thick vegetation.
When you have small children to bring there, be sure that they wear the right clothing that can protect them from the chiggers and apply the insect repellants ahead of time.
Complications of Chigger Bites
Many people may just brush off the after-effects of chigger bites as something that can easily be treated by topical solutions. But before you dismiss them as ordinary skin problems, you should know that they can cause complications due to the Chigger bites’ allergic reactions.
These chiggers being so tiny and not visible to the naked eye feed on human skin to gain the nutrients they need for their continued growth. The larvae are the ones that attach to the skin and not the adults or the so-called nymphs.
What these chigger mites do when they are on the skin is to go parts of the body where the skin is softest and moist. They then search for the pore or hair follicle where they can insert their mouth and inject their saliva containing digestive enzymes.
As they’re able to penetrate the skin pore, the saliva that gets into the skin causes the tissue to liquefy or to break down. The surrounding area eventually hardens as the stylostome is created in that opening.
The saliva that contains the enzymes cause an allergic reaction to the skin. This leads to redness and bumps or welts as well as itching after a few hours. The red areas can be clustered similarly to the teak bites.
But it should be understood that people do not react in the same way to these chigger bites. Some may not feel the effect while others can experience intense itching and skin redness. The worst that can happen to the bites are to result in blisters, wounds and even skin bleeding.
The intense itching can be experienced in areas where the larvae may have fed for a longer period. This can cause irritation lasting for up to two weeks or more and thus providing chigger bites rash. When frequent scratching is done and proper hygiene is not observed, it is possible that this can lead to secondary bacterial infection.
Chigger bites are known to spread a disease called scrub typhus in the Asia Pacific region. However, this has not been reported in North American countries. The best thing to do then if you are frequently engaged in outdoor activities is to first consult with an expert on insects and mites to find out the kinds of chiggers that thrive in the area you’re heading to.
Symptoms of Chigger Bites
There are just so many mites around us that can cause skin problems.
One of are the chiggers, those tiny mites that thrive in moist vegetation such as forests, gardens and areas near lakes.
These chigger mites feed on human skin where they suck liquefied tissue. They do this through the pore or hair follicle where they inject digestive enzymes that liquefy the skin tissue.
Common symptoms of chigger bites are
The bitten area normally becomes red similar to a mosquito bite and the surrounding part hardens. It can be flat or raised as in the case of bumps caused by the stylostome.
But compared to mosquito bites, these are redder even after a few days. In addition, the bites are normally in clusters similar to teak bites. But this does not mean, the chiggers bit all those areas.
The itching effect does not necessarily occur minutes after the bite. It can be felt after a day or two and the itching can become very persistent that can lead people to react normally by scratching the skin.
This brushing and scratching action, however, is a good way of getting rid of the chiggers. Contrary to the belief of some people, these chigger mites don’t burrow under the skin and suck blood but are only attached to it hence, they can easily be removed just by brushing the skin off with your hand.
Among the many mites, the chiggers are quite unique in that only their larvae feed on vertebrate animals. The larvae need to feed on human skin in order to get into the next stage of their life during which they become vegetarians and thrive on the soil.
The soft and moist parts of the human body are perfect targets of these mites. This is because of their short and delicate mouth that can only penetrate soft skin.
Areas of the skin where chigger Bites often feed on include the wrist especially the area under the wristwatch, behind the knees, around the ankles, armpits and even the waist area.
How Do Chiggers Bite Humans?
Chigger mites normally get to human skin when it comes in contact with vegetation specifically from grassy areas, gardens, forests, parks and areas near rivers and lakes.
They exist in humid conditions and their larvae usually thrive on plants growing near the soil.
These mites can reach the skin through a person’s collars, shirt sleeves and even pant cuffs. The reason for their migration is to find a good feeding ground and the skin is perfect for them. Chigger bites are most likely to occur in early autumn and late summer.
When chiggers come in contact with human skin, they target the skin pores or hair follicles where they then insert the feeding part of their body and release digestive enzymes.
The enzymes that enter the skin then destroy the tissue causing the surrounding area where the bite occurred to harden. A feeding structure called a stylostome eventually develops on that part which is used by the mites to get the nutrients they so badly need. Itching often results from this.
The next stage is for the chigger larvae to feed on the skin tissue that’s been damaged. It sucks up the fluid from the skin cell and at the same time inject saliva to liquefy the destroyed tissue.
Although there is a possibility that they will feed via the stylostome for several days particularly when they are not disturbed, this rarely happens because of the normal scratching reaction of humans when they feel the itch. At this stage, proper treatment may already be required.
It takes three to four days for these chigger mites to complete their feeding. Once they’re full, they then leave the skin and become nymphs. From being larvae, they need nutrients in order to move to the nymph phase.
Chiggers bite humans in areas where the skin is softest and thinnest and where moisture is present. These include folds and wrinkles.
They are found in areas under wristwatches, socks, underwear and in parts of the body with tight clothing. Research shows that they bite mostly around the ankles, behind the knees, in the armpits, crotch and groin areas.
In addition, these mites can attach to the skin where clothing is very close to the body. One common breeding ground is the waist where the belt allows clothing to be in close contact with the skin.
Chigger Bites Look Like
Chigger mites love to feed on both animals and humans.
In humans, their favorite part is the skin, particularly in soft and moist areas.
These tiny mites that breed in moist vegetations are able to get to the skin when parts of a person’s clothing get in contact with grass and plants close to the soil where these chigger larvae thrive.
From the clothing, they then make their way to the parts of the body where skin is moist and soft. These include the armpits, groin, waist, areas behind the knees and around ankles.
Oftentimes, they easily get to the skin when a person wears tight clothing such as in the waist area where the belt allows the clothing to stick to the body.
As they are attached to the skin, their goal is to feed on the pore or hair follicle which they then use to inject digestive enzymes.
The enzymes liquefy the skin tissue which the mites then suck. As they suck through that skin opening, the surrounding area hardens but the chigger bite is not noticeable right away.
An itching effect results and eventually, the bitten part turns red. Chigger Bites can look like a blister or pustule and can either be flat or raised. It closely resembles a mosquito bite although it can be bigger and redder.
The itching of the skin is caused by the stylostome that develops after the bite. It can become very itchy after a day or two and not necessarily immediately after the bite occurred. The bitten area will remain red and can heal in about two weeks.
Chigger bites are often seen in clusters similar to flea bites. Women and children are most vulnerable due to their soft skin.
Chigger mites stay on the skin and continue feeding for up to four days when they’re not disturbed. But they’re not likely to stay that long because with the itching that they cause on human skin, the normal reaction of people would be to scratch the area. This scratching and brushing action could already get rid of them as the mites are only attached to the skin.
How to Avoid Getting Chigger Bites?
People need to avoid getting in contact with any kind of mites including the chigger larvae that can cause skin problems and even blisters.
But since these tiny mites are not easily noticeable to the naked eye, the best thing to do is to avoid areas where they thrive because they can cause damage to your skin and body if ignored.
Chiggers are known to exist in uncultivated areas and places where there’s thick vegetation such as forests and those around lakes and swamps. They are also present in grasses and plants such as those in your gardens.
As these chigger mites come in contact with human skin via the person’s tight clothing, be sure then to check that your clothes fit snugly. They should not be tight in parts of the body where chiggers usually enter such as in the armpits, ankles, wrists and collar.
To protect your body, wear long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Tuck the shirt inside your pants and if possible, tuck also the pants inside the socks. You need to wear closed shoes as well so the larvae won’t be able to get in.
If you and your family are outdoor lovers and camping is one of your favorite activities, try to use a cot when sleeping. In this way, you won’t get in contact with soil, particularly the moist type, where these mites can also be found.
A good practice as well is to use insect repellants containing diethyl toluamide or DEET that will prevent the larvae from attaching to your skin. There are various forms of insect repellants safe for human skin and these include the spray and cream types. Apply or spray them lightly on the usual entry points as well as on shoes, socks, around the waist and ankles.
Sulfur powder has also been known to be effective in getting rid of chigger mites. You can buy the pure sulfur powder at the pharmacy and what you can do with this is to sprinkle some amount around the waist area, your ankles and even on your armpits.
If you need to go through an area where vegetation is thick, make sure to avoid brushing yourself and parts of your body against tall grass, bushes and don’t even sit down on grass.
Once you’ve arrived home, immediately remove your clothes and take a warm shower. Scrub areas which are chigger target points including parts of the body where there are folds. You can wipe them with alcohol afterwards. And don’t forget to wash your clothes well to remove those tiny mites.
Chigger Bite Pictures on Humans