Chigger Bites – Treatment, Prevention, Pictures

Chigger BitesChigger Bites - Treatment, Prevention, Pictures

Chiggers are tiny creatures that cause chigger bites. These mites can not be seen by the naked human eye and they are about 0.4mm. Chiggers do not bite instead they cause holes within the skin, which are very painful. These holes help them to eat the inner skin and cause swelling.

Chigger bites can be easily differentiated from the bites of other bugs. Like other bug bites, these bites also have some symptoms and also give itching skin sensations. Chigger bites are very intense and they give bumps and marks to the skin. Chigger bites can be treated with calamine lotions, Antihistamine Pills, etc.

If you’ve ever had Chigger bites, it’s not an experience you’ll soon want to have again. Chigger bites are incredibly uncomfortable, and unfortunately often occur in the most, shall we say, uncomfortable locations“.

Do You Have Chigger Bites?

Chigger Bites on a young female
Chigger Bites on a young female

While Chigger Bites are what most people call them, they are, in fact, not “bites” as we think of them at all.

Chiggers, instead of actually biting, form a hole in your skin and proceed to consume small portions of the inner skin. This process causes severe irritation and often swelling in most people and animals.

The area of irritation, where the severe itching occurs, is often referred to as a Chigger bite and shows itself as a red, pimple-like bump.  

These bumps often occur in numbers and are close to each other, resembling a skin rash (see photo to the right of a young female covered in Chigger bites).

Differences Between Chigger Bites and Bug Bites!

Determining that you actually have chigger bites at first can be a bit difficult, as Chigger bites often look like many other bug bites, including flea bites and bed bug bites. In fact, Chiggers and commonly confused with bed bugs. But they are very different.

There are a few distinctive traits for chigger bites vs many other bug bites. These include:

  • Red whelps look more like red pimples than typical insect bites, like mosquito bites.
  • The whelps are close together and often widespread.
  • Most commonly located on your ankles, legs, and groin.
  • Chiggers bite randomly and not in any pattern, like bed bugs.
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Symptoms for Chigger Bites

Like other bug bites, a person’s individual symptoms can vary based on the person’s reaction. Chigger bite reactions are a combination of:

  • Reaction to the Enzyme Chiggers inject into you to help digest your skin
  • Damage from the hole that is made in your skin, which is very small but somewhat traumatic
  • Allergic reactions to the enzyme or bite itself
  • Immune response to your body taking damage.
  • Additionally, if chigger bites are scratched, an infection can also set in, causing additional and sometimes severe symptoms.
  • Men can get a fairly serious symptom called “summer penile syndrome” when bitten in their genital regions, especially on the penis. This syndrome causes itching and swelling, which is more problematic as it can cause difficulty urinating.

The bottom line is, you’ll have:

  • Lots of small red whelps or pimple-like marks on your skin. These are often on your feet, legs, and groin.
  • Intense itching – The Enzyme Chiggers placed in your skin causes very intense itching.  When they are located on sensitive areas of your skin, such as your stomach, groin, or genital area, and on the back of your knees, Chigger bites are even more intense.

What Is a Chigger?

Chigger Close Up

Chiggers are tiny mites that are actually in the same family as spiders and ticks. Chiggers are so small that they are tough to see with the naked eye, at only about 1/60 inch (0.4mm).  What does help is that Chiggers are orange-red in color, making them easier to see.

What Are the Places to Find Chiggers?

Chiggers live in grasslands and forests, often around damp areas. They can be found in:

  • Woodlands
  • Orchards
  • Lawns
  • Golf Courses
  • Parks
  • and even around lakes and streams

So yea, pretty much anywhere.

Chiggers are most prevalent in early summer, as the grass begins to grow and temperatures warm up. Read more about Chiggers.

Why Do Chiggers Bite?

As we mentioned earlier, Chiggers don’t actually bite.  They instead get on your skin and form a hole so they can access the softer skin under the surface.  

They then inject their saliva into that hole.  Their saliva contains an enzyme that almost immediately begins digesting your skin, and the Chigger feeds.

Chiggers are not insects but mites, and therefore primarily feed on skin.  In fact, they are closely related to spiders and ticks.  Human skin is preferred as their preferred food, but they can feed on other skin from animals such as dogs, rabbits, rodents, and more.

Chiggers remain on your skin for about a week before they drop off, leaving behind itching, swollen welts that have a very distinctive look and pattern.

Be sure to browse our Chigger Bite Pictures page, for lots of photos, from the web submitted by our readers.

Chigger Bites

How to Treat Chigger Bites?

Chigger Bites Anti-itch Cream

Treatment of chigger bites is similar to other insect bites. The following treatments work very well:

  • Anti-Itch Creams
  • Calamine Lotion
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Antihistamine Pills
  • Hot showers and baths are also highly effective at reducing discomfort

If Chigger Bites do not get better on their own within a few days, we recommend seeing a doctor as you may be having a more serious allergic reaction.

The key to effective treatment is to treat the bites as soon as possible. The longer they go without being treated, the worse they will get.

Chiggers are so problematic that there are even specific products targetted at preventing and treating Chigger Bites:

How to Prevent Chigger Bites?

The single most effective way to prevent chigger bites is to avoid going into areas where they live. We realize, though, that given how pervasive they are, this isn’t easy.

Before venturing out into a potentially chigger-infested area, be sure to:

If you think you’ve been in a chigger-infested area, once you return home, immediately remove all of your clothing (including undergarments), and put them into a hot wash. This will remove and kill any chiggers on your clothing.

You’ll then want to immediately take a shower or hot bath, and wash vigorously with soap, to kill and remove any chiggers on your skin. Pay particular attention to your feet, legs, groin, and genital areas.

Fields Chiggers

Closing Thoughts

Chigger bites can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience, but with the right knowledge and precautions, you can minimize your risk of getting bitten. If you do get bitten by chiggers, remember to avoid scratching the affected area, keep it clean and dry, and try some of the home remedies we’ve discussed in this article. And if your symptoms persist or you experience any unusual reactions, be sure to seek medical attention. With a little awareness and care, you can enjoy the great outdoors without the annoyance of chigger bites.