Chiggers are the larvae of a mite that belongs to the family Trombiculidae. These mites are known as trombiculid mites. They can be widely found in the forests, grasslands, orchards, and near the rivers and lakes. They become a nuisance, particularly during early summer. So, any outdoor adventures like hiking and camping may introduce you to these arachnids.
They can attach themselves to the skin, and inject saliva that contains digestive enzymes. The enzymes can destroy the tissues of the particular area, which are then consumed by the chiggers. The enzymes secreted by them can produce itching and allergic reactions.
Symptoms of Chigger Bites
Trombiculid mites are very small arachnids, and so, these mites and their larvae can be seen only with the help of a microscope. However, the digestive enzymes injected by the mites can produce intense itching that can persist for several days. This is the most common symptom of chigger bites.
Additionally, the affected area may turn red, and become raised. The bites are more commonly found in areas like the ankles, armpits, waist, and the groin area, where the skin is either very thin or it folds, thereby enabling the chiggers to penetrate easily.
On attaching to the skin, they usually move around to find a favorable place to feed on; usually a place where the skin is thin. Some individuals can develop an allergic reaction to chigger bites. An allergic reaction can produce symptoms like skin rash or hives along with severe itching
Chigger Bite Cure
Itching and the allergic reaction produced by chigger bites can be treated with anti-itch creams that contain hydrocortisone or benzyl benzoate. You can also use a calamine lotion on the affected area. Even hydrogen peroxide and corticosteroid creams can provide considerable relief.
Antihistamines are the drugs used for allergy treatment, as they can inhibit the secretion of histamine. They can reduce the inflammatory response of the immune system. Therefore, if the bite produces an allergic reaction, antihistamines can be used to treat the condition. The most commonly used oral antihistamine for this condition is benadryl.
One of the most common misconceptions about chiggers is that they burrow into the skin and remain there. So, many people believe that they are still present on the skin when the symptoms appear. For this reason, some individuals use nail polish and chlorine bleach on the affected area to kill the larvae of the trombiculid mites.
But chiggers do not burrow the skin, and they are no longer there on the skin by the time the symptoms appear. So, covering the area with nail polish or bleach is not an effective treatment. The best way to prevent an allergic reaction to the insect bite is wash the area with soap and warm water as soon as possible. You can add some Epsom salt to the water, that can help reduce the itching.
To avoid chigger bites in the future, consider to wear dresses that can cover your entire body. Always wear shirts with long sleeves, along with long pants, socks, and high boots, while going out to chigger-infested areas. On returning from such areas, be sure to wash your clothes with hot water and detergents or soaps. Take a warm water bath so that no chigger can remain attached to your skin. You can also apply an insect repellent on your skin while going to a chigger-infested place.
Make sure that you do not irritate or scratch the affected area. Scratching the bites vigorously can cause wounds, that can lead to an infection. Instead, try an anti-itch cream to alleviate the symptoms of chigger bites. But if the bites produce an allergic reaction, then talk to your physician.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.