Chiggers, sometimes known as red bugs, are tiny arachnid larvae. The larvae are pretty little, yet their bites are extremely powerful. They are so small that when they jump from that tall blade of grass onto your skin, you will probably miss them. As they hitch a ride directly into your house, you won’t notice. When you do feel them, however, you may find that they are highly itchy.
Chiggers can be found in tall grasses and weeds, berry patches, and wooded areas. They could be growing in your home, near the lake, or along your favorite hiking trail. They are most active in spring, summer, and fall afternoons when the weather is warm and welcoming.
If you walk by and brush up against the vegetation they live in, they can immediately attach to your skin. Chiggers become inactive when the temperature drops below 60˚F (16˚C), and when the temperature drops below 42˚F (6˚C), they die.
Chiggers are extremely small and require a magnifying glass to see. Adults are roughly 1/60 of an inch long and have eight legs. The larvae are six-legged, red organisms with no wings that measure less than 1/150 of an inch. You might be able to detect the larvae when they cluster together because of their red color. They turn a yellowish color after feasting on human skin.
How Chiggers Bite
Humans are bitten only by the larvae. They like parts of the body that are warm and moist. Chiggers have claws that allow them to grip the skin. The chigger then bites the skin with its mouth and injects saliva. Skin cells are broken down into liquid form by an enzyme found in saliva.
Your body responds by hardening skin cells around the saliva, forming a tube, or cyclostome, through which the chigger consumes the host’s body fluids. Chiggers can attach to you and feed for days. They usually last four days until they fall off.
Symptoms of Chigger Bites
A person strolling through an infectious area will usually get bitten by multiple chiggers. You will notice reddish lumps where the chigger used to be. There may be a bright red dot in the center, which is a remnant of the tube your skin formed in response to the chigger’s saliva. Wends, blisters, pimples, and hives are all possible symptoms.
Chiggers can stick to the same spot for days, and it’s not unusual to be bitten by more than one. As a result, bites tend to occur in clusters and grow in size over several days to a week.
Many insects prefer to bite exposed skin. Chiggers prefer to bite in skin folds and places where clothing is tight. Chigger bites are most common in the ankles, waist, armpits, crotch, and behind the knees.
When the chigger latches on, you won’t feel anything when it bites. The majority of victims have symptoms within hours of being bitten. Chigger bites are characterized by intense itching and a strong desire to scratch. Itching, swelling, and painful urination are among symptoms of chigger bites on the penis.
How to Treat Chigger Bites
If you think chiggers have bitten you, wash your hands with soap and water immediately. This will get rid of any chiggers that are still on your body. Then use an antiseptic if there are any welts.
In the meantime, avoid scratching your skin, as this might lead to infection. Anti-itch drugs such as hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion are available over-the-counter. To reduce the itching, you can also apply ice to the bites.
Baths and showers that are hot should be avoided. Consult your doctor if you become infected or if your symptoms do not improve.
Health Risks of Chigger Bites
Chigger bites are unpleasant, itchy, and irritating, and they can make sleeping difficult. Chigger bites, in most cases, do not affect your overall health. Chiggers eat skin cells rather than blood. They don’t transmit disease or carry it.
Too much scratching can cause chigger bites to get infected. Swelling, fever, or other indicators of infection should be notified to your doctor.
How to Avoid Chigger Bites
In the spring, summer, and fall, chigger bites are the most common. Avoid brushing up against vegetation in wooded regions where chiggers may be present. Hiking routes should be walked toward the center rather than along the sides.
Long-sleeved shirts and long pants that can be tucked into socks or shoes are recommended. Apply insect or tick repellent on the tops of your shoes, the neck, cuffs, and waistband of your shirt. As soon as you enter the house, take a shower and use hot water to wash your clothes.
Other Biting Bugs and Insects to Look Out For
There are a variety of different biting insects to be aware of in addition to chiggers. Here is an example of what people may come across:
Ticks can bite individuals and can be found in plants and shrubs. Although their bites are frequently thought harmless to people, they can transmit diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
These mites burrow into the skin of a victim, causing severe itching. When a person comes into direct contact with an infected person, scabies can spread.
- Bed Bugs
Bed bugs have a mild bite and are smaller than 1 millimeter long and are commonly found in beds and old furniture. After a bite, they usually leave a tiny, red, irritating lump.
Fleas do not only harm pets, but they also bite people. These insects feed by sucking blood from their hosts and leaving little itchy lumps behind.
Mosquitoes feed on humans and generate itching hives on their skin. Although they are usually harmless, some species can carry dangerous diseases.
- Fire Ants
These ants have a severe bite and a stinger. Fire ant stings are incredibly unpleasant and frequently result in pus-filled blisters.
Frequently Asked Questions
Following are some of the most asked questions:
How long do Chiggers Live?
Chiggers live for one or two weeks as six-legged larvae. They then molt into their eight-legged nymph form, which they retain for a few weeks until becoming adult harvest mites. A female adult can live up to a year. However, chiggers only bite while they are in the larval stage.
Chiggers don’t stay on your skin for more than three days on average.
How to Get Rid Of Chiggers?
If chiggers bite you, wash them off. When in grassy or forested regions, cover up exposed skin and apply bug repellent containing DEET to avoid getting them on your skin.
Can Chigger Bites Spread?
Chigger bites are not harmful because they only emerge on those who the mites have bitten. As a result, chigger bites cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Attached chiggers usually slip off the skin quickly, whether the person scratches them off, tight clothing rubs them off, or they fall off on their own once they’ve eaten enough. The chigger typically dies soon after it releases from the skin.
Important Facts to Know About Chigger Bites?
Chigger bites originate when mite larvae attach to a person’s skin and bite, which happens when people walk through grassy regions in humid climates. The bites show as little red bumps that are often clustered around the borders of tight clothes, such as the waistband, and are itchy. Because each mite bites only once, chigger bites cannot spread from person to person or around the body.
The presence of related signs and symptoms and a history of potential chigger exposure are used to make the diagnosis. Anti-itch lotions and bathing the skin with soap and water to kill the mites are common treatments. Chigger bites can be avoided by wearing clothing and applying insect repellent to the skin. It is essential to read and carefully follow the instructions on the product label before applying any insect repellent.