Picture this. You are out on a stroll or playing with your kids in the park when suddenly, your leg breaks out in tiny red spots which start to itch. You’ve just been bitten by a chigger.
These tiny red bugs are merely 1/150th of an inch in length. In other words, you won’t see one before it bites you and leaves you scratching like crazy.
What Are Chiggers?
What do chiggers look like you ask? Chiggers are little red bugs that are barely visible to the naked eye. The younger mites have 6 legs while adults have 8 legs apiece. These bugs frequent humid environments and vegetation that grows low to the ground. In other words, if you brush past a bush that hosts these annoying critters, you may become their (unwilling) second host so to speak.
Since these vibrant insects are the larvae of mites, they are also known as harvest mites and scrub mites (Source). Even though they don’t carry diseases or feed on blood, these small red bugs use enzymes to dissolve skin cells which cause itchy rashes (Source).
What do chigger bites look like? They look like tiny clusters of small vibrantly red dots peppering the skin. However, contrary to popular belief, chiggers don’t burrow into the skin and live there.
When a chigger bites, it injects enzymes into the skin of its host which actually disintegrates or digests the tissue. The affected part of the skin hardens and a stylostome or a feeding tube develops there which the insect uses to feed for a couple of days.
Think of the stylostome as a straw that a chigger uses to feed. When it latches on, this mite keeps injecting saliva into the skin to make it react and keep that tiny channel open as it drinks its fill (Source).
These small mites are usually found in small clusters and migrate the same way. In other words, a friend of yours may get a whole bunch of chiggers on their body while you don’t get a single one even if both of you brush through the same host plant.
Getting Rid of Chiggers
Needless to say, these pesky critters can ruin a picnic or a solitary hike and make you miserable till the itching stops. The good news is that you don’t have to suffer for long.
Here are some tips that can help:
1. How to get rid of chiggers on the skin
Take a hot shower or bath immediately
When you discover chigger bites on your skin or feel itchy, take a warm shower or bath immediately! Rub your entire body with shower gel using a bath sponge and scrub the affected part of the skin thoroughly. This way, you can dislodge any chiggers that are still hanging on. Scrub yourself from head t