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Chigger bite – Treatment, Photos

Chiggers are a type of mites that are in the larvae-type form and belong to a family known as Trombiculidae. As is with spiders and ticks, chiggers are also arachnids

Chiggers can generally be founded in densely wooded areas that have plenty of bushes and small shrubs such as gardens, forests and grassy pastures. Their habitats also include those parts of the world that are abundant in moistures such as those areas near rivers and lakes. The larva that cause the chigger bites can generally be found on plants that are near the earth’s surface, because of the fact that they require a high degree of moisture and humidity to survive.

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Chigger bite symptoms

Some of the signs and symptoms of chigger bites are as follows:

  • One may not detect a chigger bite even after a few hours have elapsed since the bite. A prey will only notice and feel the chigger bite after the digestive enzymes have been passed on by the chigger into the body of the host. This causes the characteristic symptoms of a chigger bite, generally a few hours after the occurrence of the chigger bite
  • The most common sign of a chigger bite is itching and irritation of skin
  • The site of the chigger bite tends to become excessively red. The affected area may be either flat or elevated. On occasions, it may have the appearance of a bump or a blister
  • The feeding tube stylostome, is what leads to the intense itching, which can result in extreme discomfort, a day or two after the chigger bite. The itching may last for many days and a complete cure of the skin irregularities may be possible only in two weeks
  • The chigger bite does not result in any major health complications. However, when a person affected by chigger bite indulges in severe scratching to relieve the itching, then the skin in the affected area may break up causing a wound. The wound is then susceptible to secondary infections by bacteria and other microbes

What do Chigger bites look like ?

  • Chiggers are generally not visible with the naked eye due to their microscopic nature. Their size is only around 1/150th of an inch
  • Chiggers are reddish in color. When they cluster together on the skin, one can see them. The infant chiggers have 6 legs while the adult chigger mites have 8 legs
  • Humans may come in contact with chiggers when outdoors in the open fields or wooded areas. The chiggers initially latch onto the clothes of the humans. Once firmly attached to the clothes, they are free to travel to any part of the host’s body which provides the optimum opportunity for a feeding session. There is a belief that chiggers can burrow inside the human skin and stay there, which is untrue.
  • A chigger bite is caused when the mite punctures the skin and puts the feeding hose into it. The enzymes are then injected to damage the victim’s tissue. This results in hardening of the skin around the chigger bite, and the easy entry of the feeding-tube known as stylostome that facilitates the feeding session on the damaged tissues. A chigger can continue feeding on the host for days, unless disturbed early by intense scratching.
  • The mouth and the feeding hose of chiggers are quite fragile. Therefore they can puncture only those areas of the body where the skin is not thick, such as those regions which have skin creases or wrinkles and where the skin is fragile.
  • The groin regions, the ankles, the armpits, the crotch and the area behind the knees are the usual areas where chigger bites occur. Chiggers are generally not able to migrate to other areas of the body due to restrictions such a belt or tight clothing. Hence most chigger bites occur below the waist, where they can move about freely.

Chigger bite treatment

  • Chigger bites do not cause any major complications other than the itching. Hence, the treatment for chigger bites is focused at alleviation of skin irritation and itching.
  • Corticosteroid creams and calamine lotion may be used to reduce the itching and inflammation.
  • The doctor may also recommend oral antihistamines for relief from symptoms of chigger bites.
  • Secondary infections of chigger bites by bacteria may be treated with antibiotics
  • Chigger bites can be prevented by:
    • Washing all the clothes after returning from any outdoor activity in the woods. One also needs to take a shower with antiseptic soap and water to get rid of any chiggers that may have attached itself to the body.
    • One can wear adequate clothing when outdoors and limit the amount of exposed skin. Wearing gloves and boots is also helpful in preventing chigger bites.
    • One can apply mosquito repellants like DEET on the skin to prevent the chiggers from hooking onto the skin.
    • Since chiggers require moisture for survival, it is good to go outdoors in weather conditions with cooler temperatures, i.e. below 60 F/15.5 C or in hot condition with temperatures above 99 F/37.2 C.
    • Chigger bite pictures

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