The Chigger is the larvae stage of a red mites life. The adult red mite also known as a red bug is not a parasite. The larvae stage which is directly after hatching will seek out human hosts. The chigger is also the larvae of the Harvest mite also known as the Scrub mite. Mites develop in four stages: eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults. Nymphs and adult mites do not feed on humans, they feed on vegetation. Chiggers need to feast on a host to get the nutrients they need to further their development into the nymph stage It is for that reason that you may find yourself bothered by chiggers in picnic areas, woods, grasslands, and lawns. Chigger bites appear as red bumps on the skin. Like most insect bites, chigger bites are very itchy. They are non host specific and will wait in the grass until they can jump on any animal including the human species.
Chigger bites are not a result of this parasite seeking a blood meal, the chigger is actually feeding upon the liquids found in skin cells. Chigger bites break down skin cells with a digestive enzyme so that the chigger can have its food. The area around chigger bites harden when the skin cells break down and then raise forming a funnel or tube (stylostome)for the chigger to suck up the fluids. There is a fluid that seeps out from the wound as the body begins to heal itself. This fluid forms a hard crust known as a cap and is unique to Chigger bites. Chigger bites itch for several days. Chiggers spread typhus in Asia but are disease free in the USA.
First Aid Treatment for chigger bites
Chiggers are microscopic insects which lead some people to believe that they enter the skin they do not.
Insect repellants containing DEET and tick repellant containing permythrine are effective ways to ward off Chiggers before they bite.
Keeping lawns mowed and removing weeds will also keep the chigger populations down.
Taking a bath of shower after being exposed to lawns and woodsy areas where chiggers congregate will lessen the chances of carry chiggers on your body.
Chigger bites are common in tight places on the body; they will bite under bras, tight underwear, socks, inside shoes, under arm pits and in the genital area. Wearing loose clothing keeps down the chances of chigger bites.
If you apply a nail varnish to the infected area, it will prevent air from entering the site. Exposure to air makes chigger bites itchy.
Benadryl will relief the itching. Antihistamine topical creams such as hydrocortisone with Aloe or Caladryl will also relieve itching. Not only will the creams stop the itching but they will prevent infection from setting in.
However, if the itching continues after several weeks, it is time to seek medical attention. Chigger bites sometimes need medical care.