There are little red critters known across the country by different names—harvest mites, red bugs, mower’s mites and, most common of all, chiggers. Chigger problems are found virtually everywhere and can leave you itching for days. Learn how to prevent and treat chigger bites before summer is in full swing.
Chiggers pose zero threats
The pictures of chiggers can be quite terrifying. They’re bright red, have eight legs like a spider and are too small to see with the naked eye. Chiggers live all over the world and dwell in frequently visited places like the park and bike trails. But don’t let these critters fool you—chiggers are nothing to worry about. They don’t carry diseases, and bites heal on their own after just a few days.
The symptoms are mild
The symptoms of chigger bites crop up a few hours after you’ve been outside. Chiggers create clusters of red, itchy bumps on the skin. These pests cause itchiness when they dig holes in the skin and inject saliva. Chigger saliva breaks down human cells, which serve as food for the larvae. Once chiggers become adults, they no longer need the food supply and move on.
Chigger bites resolve themselves in as little as several days but can stick around for up to two weeks. The bites are rarely cause for concern, although a few individuals have received steroid shots to keep the itching under control. People who scratch the bites could break their skin’s surface, which increases the risk of infection.
Apply anti-itch lotion
Chigger bites don’t require a trip to see your doctor. To treat chigger bites, all you need is an over-the-counter lotion that soothes itchy skin. Doctors recommend hydrocortisone, menthol ointments and calamine lotion. All these options are available at your local drugstore.
Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics as a preventative measure so that an infection doesn’t occur. As mentioned earlier, steroid shots along with prescription anti-itch creams might be necessary for individuals who are extra sensitive to chigger bites.
Wear long clothes outside
There are a few simple steps you can take to prevent chigger problems. Wear long pants, socks and sleeves whenever you visit wooded areas. Chiggers like to gather in groups no more than a foot above the ground. They prefer cool, damp environments like the tall grass that grows right next to hiking trails. Since chiggers are close to the ground, people are most likely to develop bites on their ankles.
Before heading outside, apply an insect repellent to your clothes and skin. Pay special attention to parts of the body where chiggers can easily access skin like sleeve cuffs, necklines, shirt hems and socks. DEET works great, but if you prefer a natural alternative, chiggers tend to stay away from citronella, lemongrass, eucalyptus and tea tree oil.
These pests are so common that, chances are, you’ll have to treat chigger bites at some point in your life. Chigger problems can crop up anywhere—even your backyard! Protect your family from chigger bites by calling in the professionals at Excellence Pest Control. No matter how small chiggers can be, our exterminators will get rid of them, so you can stop itching and start enjoying the summer fun.