Wondering how to stop chigger itch? Here are six proven home remedies for chigger bites and how to identify an infected chigger bite.
Chiggers: A Tiny Mighty Irritating Mite
Chiggers are nearly microscopic mites measuring less than 1/60th of an inch and are found in forests, grasslands, woodlands, orchards, near lakes and streams, golf courses, and parks. More like a spider than an insect, chiggers are also called spider mites, berry bugs, bush mites, red bugs, or scrub itch mites. Their scientific name is Trombiculidae. But whatever name you call them, their bites can cause itching, irritation, swelling, and can sometimes lead to infection.
How long do chiggers live? The lifespan of a chigger runs through four stages, lasting two months to a year: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Only in the larval stage will the chigger be parasitic, searching for hosts to munch on, feeding its development. Most prolific in spring, summer, and fall, the larva feed on the skin of humans and animals. With saliva rich in digestive enzymes, the chiggers don’t actually bite their host’s skin as much as dissolve the outer layer of skin. This creates a hole where the chiggers can feed on the inner layers of their host’s skin.
How to Identify Chigger Bites
If you’ve got red, itchy bumps, welts, blisters, or hives with a bright red dot in the center, you may have a chigger bite. This inflamed, bumpy reaction is also called chigger dermatitis and represents a swelling of the skin formed around the chigger’s body. Attracted to warm, moist environments, they attach to the thin skin around the ankle, waistline, behind the knees, in the groin, or armpits.
The bites often appear in groups and get itchier over time. Itching typically begins three to six hours after the chigger attaches to the skin, peaking in a day or two but sometimes persisting for a week or more. Try to avoid scratching the chigger bites since this can lead to infection.
How to Prevent Chigger Bites
Your best defense against chigger bites is to avoid them altogether. If you plan on being in an environment they favor, wear protective clothing like long pants, long-sleeved shirts, shoes or boots. Looser-fitting clothes with tight weave fabrics, tucked into socks or boots, with collars and sleeves buttoned are most effective. Treat the skin with DEET and clothing with permethrin for an extra layer of protection. DEET must be frequently re-applied to the skin, but permethrin will last on clothes through several washings.
Launder any clothing worn in chigger territory as soon as you get home. Take a hot, soapy shower, scrubbing your skin with a washcloth to remove any chiggers that may have attached there. Around your home, keep the lawn cut short and bushes trimmed back to avoid creating a chigger-friendly habitat.
Six Home Remedies for Chigger Bites
Sometimes even the best preventative measures can’t keep you from getting chigger bites. If you find yourself afflicted with their irritating itch, here are six home remedies for chigger bites sure to deliver fast relief:
- Take an antihistamine like Benadryl
- Apply anti-itch creams or ointments containing camphor, menthol, calamine, hydrocortisone, or Pramoxine
- Use an antiseptic ointment to prevent infection
- Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and irritation
- Take an analgesic drug to relieve pain
- A warm bath using colloidal oatmeal can soothe irritated skin
American Family Care: Urgent Care for Bug Bites and More
Sometimes home remedies don’t provide the relief you seek, and seeking medical attention for chigger bites may be necessary. Here are common signs you may need to go to urgent care for your bug bites:
- A hypersensitive reaction, developing severe chigger dermatitis
- An allergic reaction impairing breathing, causing wheezing, or a spreading rash
- An infected chigger bite with oozing and irritation that won’t heal
- A fever
At American Family Care, we can attend to your family’s urgent care needs. From chigger bites to COVID-19 tests and vaccinations to routine check-ups and primary care services, we ensure the health of your loved ones in one convenient location. Our skilled medical staff is prepared to treat patients of all ages with a variety of services. American Family Care is focused on accessible, affordable services without long wait times or an appointment.
Don’t wait to get the medical attention you and your family need. Find a location near your neighborhood today.