What are chiggers?
Chiggers are a parasitic larvae form, also known as redbugs or jiggers. They are almost invisible, measuring 0.15 to 0.3mm, and have a reddish-orange color. It bites only when they are immature. They enter the predator stage of their lives as beneficial arthropods and eat small insects.
They continue eating until they molt, then move on to the next stage, the nymph. Finally, they have to feed and become fully-fledged adults.
Chiggers are only harmful when they are in the larval stage, which lasts only a few days. The bite from one of these larval mites causes the injection of the mites’ saliva into the human skin. This saliva contains an enzyme that dissolves the skin cells, which the chigger then swallows through a tube it creates in your skin cells, known as a cyclostome.
This process can be rather unpleasant, and it frequently ends in a rash that is red and itchy, known as chigger bites. However, other parasitic bugs have similar characteristics, such as burrowing into the host’s skin and feeding on the host’s blood. The bugs will fall off your skin in three to five days and begin their lives as nymphs.
Habitat of chiggers
Chiggers are present in places with long grass and weeds, as well as in berry patches and woodland areas. Some are in your backyard, others are along the lake, and others are along your preferred hiking track.
Chiggers stop moving and feeding when the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 degrees Celsius. When the mercury dips below 42 degrees Fahrenheit and 6 degrees Celsius, they can no longer survive.
Symptoms of chiggers
Dr. Shawn Kwatra, an associate professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, says, “Chigger bites might seem like little, red pimples that are typically shows on the limbs.” Sometimes they look like tiny blisters or pimples. Chiggers love warm, moist skin folds like the armpits and behind the knee. Consider the bra lining and the bands around your ankles, waist, and groin.
Treating Chigger Bites
A common misconception about chigger bites is that the insects burrow into the skin and remain there. This belief is incorrect. To kill or suffocate chiggers, people use bleach, nail polish, and alcohol to treat bites, but these remedies do not work because chiggers are not in the skin.
Chigger bites can treat with creams and lotions that reduce itching and inflammation. Calamine and glucocorticoid lotions are useful for relieving itching. Oral antihistamines like diphenhydramine can also provide relief. After returning from a chigger-infested location, washing your clothes in warm soapy water for about half an hour is a good idea.
You should wear infested clothes again once they have been appropriately washed or exposed to the sun. Clothes that don’t wash in cold water will retain chiggers. They can re-infest the skin. The person should take a hot shower or bath and wash their skin with soap. Although the chiggers are removed from the skin, the person will still experience severe itching.
A secondary infection can contract by someone who scratches their skin to remove cyclostomes. Apply hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or benzocaine to relieve itching temporarily. Cold cream, Vaseline, or baby oil are all options. The long-term effects of chigger bites are not severe. Itching and scratching for prolonged periods can cause skin infections.
How to Prevent Chigger Bites?
Chiggers are most common in spring, summer, or fall. These are some ways to prevent chigger bites on humans:
- Avoid long grass in forested areas that chiggers could infect.
- When hiking, be cautious: Always walk in the middle of the paths and not to the sides.
- Wear full-covering clothes: Long-sleeved shirts or slacks can be worn with socks or shoes.
- Apply Insect Repellent on Your Shoes, Clothing, and Waistline
- After returning from the outside, shower as soon as possible.
- Wash your clothes with warm water
How are chigger bites diagnosed?
After a visual exam, your healthcare professional will diagnose chigger bites based on the pattern of the bites, which arrange in a line, and the location where clothing that fits closely rests. It will be helpful for the doctor to diagnose this disease if you can remember where you were bitten, mainly if you were outside in grassy, wet, or forested regions.
Is there an at-home remedy for chigger bites?
It is feasible to treat chigger bites at home by using an anti-itch cream such as calamine lotion, which is available over the counter. Taking antihistamines, which will reduce the intensity of the irritating feeling. Because ticks do not burrow into human skin, there is no need for other home cures to treat chigger bites.
Are there any complications?
It is not known that chiggers in the United States can transmit or carry diseases. They can cause severe itching. Further, it can cause severe itching if scratched.
Bites from chiggers typically heal independently, although they can cause intense itching and swell in the affected area. If the intense itching causes an infection, which manifests itself clinically as redness, swelling, or the discharge of pus from the skin, you may require medical attention.
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