Spending time outdoors can easily be ruined by chiggers and their bites, which can be quite uncomfortable. It is important to recognize chiggers and their symptoms in order to be able to react adequately.
What are chiggers?
Chiggers are small animals that are part of arachnid family, just like spiders. They are tiny, bright red with hairy body. They can be found anywhere is the world in areas rich in vegetation like forests, fields, shrubs, fields, on the green river banks, lakes and streams. Chiggers found in North America do not transmit any diseases, however, in Asia and South pacific they can be quite dangerous as they may carry scrub typhus or Japanese river disease.
Chiggers that bite people are fertile females. They bite so they can make a hole in the skin, through which they insert their feeding tube. Through feeding tube they inject digestive enzymes. They prefer soft, thin skin, like in folds so they usually attach themselves to the crotch, groin, ankles, armpits, and behind the knees.
Symptoms of chigger bites
Itching is the first reaction to a chigger bite. It occurs because the chigger’s saliva irritates the skin and causes an allergic reaction. Itching becomes particularly intense after a few days and it may last for as long as two weeks.
The skin at the site where the chigger bit becomes red. It may take shape of a blister, or it may be flat. The area acquires a bumpy appearance, or resembles hives. The bumps may even grow bigger.
Treatment and prevention
Chigger bites can be treated at home and in most cases there is no need to see a doctor. the first and the most important thing is to make sure the chigger is removed from the skin and that there are not any others on the body. It is recommended to take a warm shower or bath using soap.
After cleaning the skin, it helps to make a paste out of baking soda and water and spread it onto the affected skin. This will relieve the itching and the rash.
If a chigger is tough to remove, it can be rubbed with castor oil, nail polish, rubbing alcohol, baby oil, menthol or a wet Aspirin tablet. This will suffocate the chigger, it will relax the jaws and let go of the skin.
The best way to prevent chigger bites is to wear long sleeves and pants wile spending time outdoors, to change clothes upon returning home and to apply an insect repellent like DEET.
It is also important to know that chigger bites may get infected by bacteria and this requires medical attention. The signs of bacterial infection are warm or hot red skin, severe itchiness, puss and increased pain.