Are Chiggers Contagious?

Chiggers are an annoying larva form of the Trombiculidae mite.  People and animals often get them while walking through grassy or woodland areas, and they cause intense and miserable itching for weeks.  Because Chigger Bites are so uncomfortable and so common, you may be wondering: Are Chiggers Contagious?

We'll dive into that question, answer it, and also teach you a little more about Chiggers in the process.  Let's go!

What exactly are Chiggers?

Before we answer the question, Are Chiggers Contagious, it's important to understand exactly what a Chigger is, and why the bites are so uncomfortable.

Chigger

Photo by: Hansell F. Cross, Georgia State University, Bugwood.org

Chiggers are the common name for the larval form of the Trombiculidae mite.  Trombiculidae mites lay eggs, and the extremely small larva that hatch from the egggs migrate, in large groups, onto the tops of grass and small foliage.  They wait for a person or animal to walk, and jump on to them.

Chiggers then seek out open areas of soft skin, where they tear the skin open, inject an enzyme that begins to dissolve the soft skin, and they then feed on the liquid skin mixture.  

Chiggers can feed for 2-3 days until engorged, where they will drop off.  They leave behind a straw-like appendage used to feed embedded in your skin.

A very common misconception is that Chiggers burrow into your skin and live.  This is NOT true.  

Chigger bites often take a day or two to begin itching, which helps spread this rumor.   By the time you begin to notice the bites, and itching, the Chiggers have generally dropped off and moved on.

The remaining appendage, combined with the torn skin, and allergic reaction to the enzyme cause the "bite" area to being to swell and become inflamed.  This leads to a pimple like marks on the skin, usually in large groups, that intensely.  

Chiggers not only bite humans but pretty much all animals with skin, including reptiles.  This includes your pets as well, and in particular dogs.

Those that have been bitten, don't forget, and generally, go out of their way to never get bitten again.   This causes many to search for answers to questions like:

Are Chiggers Contagious?

The short answer is: No.

Chiggers aren't a disease, so they are contagious in the true sense of the word.   They can, however, spread from one person to another, but the risk is low.  

When Chiggers are crawling around on your body or clothing, in search of a good place to attach themselves, they can spread from one person to another, if they are in close contact with each other.

Chiggers only spend a few hours walking around looking for an exposed skin area to attach.

Most people shower often, and especially after being outdoors.  Washing with warm water and soap (as most people do), removes and kills Chiggers.  So even if you have Chiggers still on you, a shower will kill them, and keep them from spreading to others.

Once Chiggers do find an area of soft skin that meets their personal preference, they latch on using their jaws.   Once they latch on, they generally will either stay or die.   They will not move to another person.

Once the bites are made and the Chigger is fed, the Chigger will fall off.  Chiggers are not contagious and cannot spread further, on the same person or to another person.

Wrapping Up

The bottom line is no, chiggers are not contagious.  The rash or set of bites they leave behind will not cause an infestation on another person or animal.  

Chiggers also do not transmit or spread any diseases.

In fact, other than being so uncomfortable, Chigger bites are harmless.  The only real risk is an infection.  Infection can occur when a person or animal scratches the bites, causing open wounds.  These wounds can quickly become infected and can lead to very serious complications.

If you've been bitten by Chiggers, be sure to treat the chigger bites to help relieve itching.  Chigger bites should not interfere with normal activities, and other than being a bit uncomfortable, you can go along with normal life activities and routines.s

 

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