Those who spend a lot of time outdoors during the spring and summer season either camping or hiking, you might have heard about chiggers. If you have not encountered chiggers before, they are capable of leaving behind annoying itchy, red-colored bumps.
Important facts about chiggers
Chiggers are also called as red bugs or harvest mites. These are small-sized and cannot be seen unless a magnifying glass or microscope is used. The bites are not also noticeable which is why many are not even aware that there were chiggers around until the rash and itchiness develops in 12-24 hours after.
Once chiggers are present on the body, they move around in search for a suitable place to feed on, preferably areas with a thin layer of skin. They also start to feed if they reach a barrier such as the waistband of clothes or the armpit.
Chiggers attach to the skin where they introduce saliva that contains digestive enzymes that break down the skin cells that they drink. These enzymes are responsible for triggering the itchy rash. Even though they stay attached on the skin for a number of days and continue to feed, they are easily brushed off once the individual starts to scratch the rash or takes a bath. This is the reason why it is recommended to take a quick bath or shower after staying outside.
Management of bites by chiggers
There are a number of measures that can help ease the discomfort caused by the bites by chiggers.
- The individual should take a shower or bath as soon as possible after being exposed in the outdoors.
- Apply any over-the-counter anti-itch medication such as calamine lotion, hydrocortisone or even oatmeal baths.
- Prescription-strength steroid creams can be used.
Even though the bites by chiggers do not usually carry diseases, the bites can become infected if they were not properly cared for. Do not forget to watch out for signs of infection.
How to avoid bites by chiggers
Since it is hard to avoid the outdoors, especially during the spring and summer season, it is vital that you are familiar with protective measures against bites from chiggers.
An important measure is to avoid clothing that can put the individual at risk for chigger bites such as sleeveless shirts, sandals without socks and shorts. It is best to opt for long pants made out of tightly woven fabric, high top boots or shoes as well as long-sleeved shirts. As an added protection, it is recommended to tuck in the pant legs into the boots or shoes.
The application of insect repellants is another way to avoid chiggers. Aside from applying on the exposed skin, it is best to apply the repellant around the wrists, ankles, waist and neck which is where chiggers often gain access to the rest of the body via the shirt, shoes, pants and shoes.
Another option to avoid chiggers is to keep them out of the garden or backyard, particularly if the lawn is infested. Take note that chiggers prefer high grass and weeds, thus you have to keep the lawn properly trimmed and treat the infested areas using an insecticide.