Chiggers are the larval mites, which belong to the family known as Trombiculidae. Their bites may lead to the formation of red sores, which begin to itch intensely. They have very delicate mouth and feeding structures. These feeding structures cannot penetrate skin areas that are thicker. They prefer skin areas that are thin near the ankles, crotch, groin, behind the knees, armpits, waist, etc.
What is a Chigger Bite?
Chiggers do not burrow under the skin and feed your blood. In fact, they just insert their feeding structures into the skin and inject some enzymes. These enzymes destroy the host tissue and form a feeding tube called 'stylostome'. Then, the mites feed on the destroyed tissue and continue feeding for a few days if left undisturbed. Though, it's not possible for the chiggers to go unnoticed even for a few minutes as you will feel absolutely itchy, an immediate bath or wash will be useful in brushing off these nasty creatures.
The first thing to do in case of chiggers bite is to remove the chigger from the skin, where it is stuck. This will help reduce the severity of the symptoms experienced. Just wash the affected part with soap and water, and rub the skin lightly with a soft towel. This will help remove the mites from the affected part. Then, apply any over-the-counter anti-itch medication like calamine lotion, hydrocortisone, oatmeal baths, etc. These medications help control the terrible itching sensation. Many people think application of nail polish helps suffocate the chiggers; however, this is not true.
The chigger bites take up to 10 days to three weeks to heal. The tissue that has formed stylostome takes time to heal, and thus, you may feel uncomfortable for a few days. There is intense itching in the bite area, and there may be development of skin infection due to continuous scratching. If you find the skin has become red, painful, inflamed, and hot, it means it has developed an infection. Pus and fever may also be a symptom of infection. Thus, you should visit the doctor immediately to treat the infection.
Many times, some people develop allergies to chigger bites. These allergic reactions cause breathing trouble, tightness in the throat and chest, fainting spells, dizziness, hives, nausea, and vomiting. You should seek immediate medical attention in such a case for chiggers treatment.
Chiggers are found every where, in forests, grassy areas like gardens, parks, areas around the lakes, rivers, etc. They are just 1/50th of an inch in size, therefore very difficult to spot. They are red in color, look really red when they form clusters on the skin.
When you go out for a walk, picnic, or are passing grassy areas, please ensure that you avoid wearing sandals, sleeveless shirts, shorts, etc., that expose the skin for a possible chigger attack. You should wear long pants that are made of woven fabric, full-sleeved shirts, high boots or shoes with socks, and you should tuck your pant legs in your socks as it will give no chance to the chiggers to pop into your shoes.
You should also protect yourself by generous application of insect repellents around your ankles, wrists, neck, waist, or any other parts that can be exposed to chiggers. Stay away from high grass and weeds to avoid chigger bites. You should keep your backyard lawn groomed and treat it with insecticides to avoid chigger infestation. Make sure you take ample care for weed control in your surroundings if you want to prevent chigger bites.
You should avoid areas that you know may be infected with chiggers. You should warn children about chiggers when they venture out to play, and ask them to come home immediately if they are bitten by them. You should ask them to take a bath and gently wipe themselves with a soft towel. Their clothes should be put into a hot wash right away to get rid of the mites hiding in the clothes. Since you cannot eliminate chiggers from your surroundings, prevention and precaution are the only ways that will help you prevent chigger bites.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.