How to Identify and Prevent Chigger Bites?

Have you ever experienced chigger bites? Are you a victim of the red and swollen skin rashes that itch profusely? Are you confused about these rashes? How to Identify and Prevent Chigger Bites?

What do chiggers bite look like?

So, allow us to decode what chigger bites are and how you can identify them to get the rightful treatment in time. 

Identifying chigger bites is not a difficulty. They itch intensely, and if you’ve ever been bitten, you’re sure not to forget the experience anytime soon.  For those unfamiliar with Chiggers, identifying Chigger Bites from other bug bites can be difficult.  Chiggers Bites have some tell-tale characteristics, though, that make identifying them very easy once you learn them.

What are Chiggers?

Chiggers are are the larvae stage of Trombiculid Mites.  Trombiculid Mites generally live in tall grasses and woodlands but can also be commonly found on golf courses and lawns.  They are also commonly called Red Bugs, Red Mites, and Harvest Mites.

Chiggers are very small and difficult to see.  To progress from larva to adult Chiggers, they must feed on skin, and preferably human skin.  But they aren’t too picky, as any animal with skin will suffice.

What are Chigger Bites?

Trombiculid Mites larva wait in the grass and foliage for a host to walk by and jump onto the host, and within 2 hours, find an open patch of skin.  Using their legs, they rip a hole in the skin, inject their saliva, which contains a skin digesting enzyme, and ingest the digested skin using a straw-like appendage.

They feed for 3-4 days, then drop off.  The remaining “bite” mark within 24-48 hours becomes highly inflamed, swells up, and forms a red pimple-like mark that itches intensely.  Chigger bites can begin itching within 3-4 hours of being bitten.

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>> Learn more about Chiggers in our Chigger Guide.

Identifying Chigger Bites

Like most other bug bites, Chigger Bites form red marks on the skin and itch after the bite actually occurs.  But that is where the similarities stop.   Chigger Bites have several unique characteristics that make identifying Chigger Bite actually very easy: 

  • Chigger bites are small, red, pimple-like marks on your skin.
  • Chiggers often “attack” their host in large groups and the same area of the body.   There will generally be a large number of bite marks very close together, making it look almost like a rash.
  • Chigger bites are very often located where clothing transitions to skin.  Areas like above the top of your sock line, below the bottoms of your pants, at your waistline, neckline, and groin area.
  • Chigger bites are intensely painful and itch terribly.  Chigger bites are the most uncomfortable about 3 days after the initial bite occurs and then begin to subside after.

If you think Chiggers have bitten you, it is essential to begin treatment immediately.  The longer treatment is put off; the more intense the swelling and discomfort will be.

>> Check out our Chigger Bites Photos page for lots of photos of chigger bites you can reference.

Do Chigger Bites Spread?

Another common misconception about chigger bites is that by itching the bites, they’ll spread.  This is not true.

However, what can happen is that as Chiggers jump onto your body and migrate to an area of exposed skin, they will not always bite and begin to feed immediately.  Chiggers can often stay on your body for up to 4 hours before beginning to feed.   Because of this delay, it can sometimes take a little time for the series of Chigger Bites to fully show itself, resulting in what appears to be a spread of the bites.

To avoid this “spread”, it is essential to shower as soon as possible after thinking you’ve been exposed to Chiggers.  This will wash off and kill any remaining Chiggers that may not have bitten you yet, and minimize the number of Chigger bites you receive.

How to Treat Chigger Bites?

There is a widespread belief that Chiggers embed themselves into the host’s skin and remain there.  Thus many will recommend using nail polish, alcohol, and even bleach on the bite marks to kill the Chiggers.  Contrary to this belief, Chiggers do not embed themselves in the skin.  In fact, many of these treatments will make the bites even worse by irritating them further.

Who should treat chigger bites as early as possible to reduce swelling, inflammation, and irritation?  The earlier a bite is treated, the less painful and uncomfortable it will be.   Bites generally begin showing on your skin within 3-4 hours and will last for up to a week.  They are most painful around the 2-3 day mark.

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The following are effective treatments for Chigger Bites:

  • Avoid touching or scratching the bites – This will only irritate them more and potentially break the skin, where the infection becomes a serious risk that can cause severe complications.
  • If you’ve been bitten, immediately take a cold shower, and wash vigorously with soap.  The cool water will soothe the irritation, and the soap will remove and kill any remaining Chiggers on your skin.
  • Use cold compresses on the bite area to relieve pain and irritation
  • The use of essential oils for Chiggers is effective as well.  Oils like Lavender, thyme, and tea tree oil have been known to relieve discomfort from Chigger bites.
  • Baking Soda paste, placed on the bite marks and the bite area, is a time-proven treatment for relieving discomfort.
  • Over the counter, anti-itch creams and ointments are highly effective and your best treatment option for reducing swelling and discomfort from Chigger bites.


How to Prevent Chigger Bites?

Once Chiggers have bitten a person, their interest in preventing any future Chigger bites is considerably high for most.  Fortunately, learning how to prevent chigger bites is pretty easy:

  • When venturing into grassy areas, where Chiggers may live, always wear long pants, long sleeves, and boots.  Be sure to tuck your pants into your boots.
  • Cover yourself with a Chigger Repellent.   We’ve found DEET-based products to work the best, and specifically Deep Woods Off and ChiggAway.  Place the repellent on both your skin and your clothing for maximum effectiveness.
  • Once you return to your home, immediately take off ALL of your clothing in the laundry room, place your clothing in the washer, and start the wash cycle.  This will kill any live chiggers on your clothing.
  • Immediately take a hot shower, and wash vigorously with soap to remove and kill any Chiggers on your skin.
  • If you think who may have bitten you, go ahead and apply an anti-itch cream to minimize your reaction to the Chigger Bites.

Wrapping up

Chigger bites pain intensely. However, if identified at the right time, they can be treated easily without giving you much difficulty. This is why you need to identify them in the first place and turn to a reliable health professional for further guidance. 

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