Chiggers are a type of mite which belongs to the Trombiculidae family. These chiggers are arachnids identical to spiders and ticks.
Chigger mites can be seen all over the world. They normally thrive in thick forest regions filled up with bushes, grasses, shrubs etc. Grassy fields, forests, gardens that are found be growing near and around a river and/or lake are often rich in moisture and thus an ideal environment for chiggers. The chigger mites need high level of moisture to survive and therefore feed on these shrubs and plants which are near to the ground surface.
Symptoms of chiggers rash
Following are some of the common symptoms of chigger’s rash:
- Chiggers bite rash is not immediately noticed; it takes some time for patients to detect the bite. A person may become aware of the chigger bite only when the digestive enzymes of chiggers have penetrated the skin and found a home there. All these factors result in development of distinctive symptoms, around 1 to 3 hours after a chigger has bitten.
- The most common symptom of chiggers rash bite is a clear visible rash accompanied by itchy feeling.
- The affected part turns deep red and may be flat or raised. The chigger’s rash may appear to be similar to a boil or sore.
- Itchy feeling due to the chemicals released via the stylostome might increase in one or two days after chigger has bitten. Itchiness might continue for many days and may take around 2 weeks for full resolution of skin abnormality, i.e., chiggers rash.
Chiggers rash bites do not cause serious complications. Still, severe itchy feelings due to chigger bite might lead to prolonged and excess rubbing and scratching of the bitten portion. This in turn may facilitate gradual infection by varied organisms like bacteria, etc., thereby resulting in formation of sores of the affected area.
Causes/Characteristics of chiggers rash
- Chiggers are very tiny in size and they grow up to only about 1/150th of an inch. Therefore, they can seldom be seen with the naked eye.
- Chiggers are red colored. In rare cases, chiggers may bite together in a cluster on the skin, thereby making them visible to the naked eye.
- A young chigger has 6 legs whereas adult chigger, which is not harmful, has 8 legs.
- Chiggers plague the skin when it comes in touch with the human skin. It typically lives in regions with thick vegetation, or in garden etc. and can latch on to the human skin when visiting such areas.
- Usually, chigger mites may initially get latch onto the clothes and then move from clothes to those skin areas where it is best for them to have an undisturbed feeding session.
- There is a belief that chiggers go inside the skin and stay there, but that is not true.
- Chigger mite inserts its feeding pipe inside the human skin and injects a substance which destroys the host tissues. This hardens the adjoining skin area where the chigger mite has bitten which makes it easy for the insertion of its feeding pipe known as the stylostome; it also helps larvae to feed on the damaged skin tissue. Chigger mites can feed continuously for some days. This is only true if the patient does not scratch the affected skin area to alleviate the associated itchiness, if it occurs
- The feeding pipe and mouth of chiggers are fragile and therefore cannot go deep into the skin but can pierce through only those areas where the skin is very thin. Skin areas where the skin wrinkles or folds and such parts which are delicate.
- Chigger’s rash bite is common on the body near areas like groin, ankle, crotch, armpit, and behind the knees.
- There are many obstructions in the path of chigger mites when they migrate from one area to another area of the body. These obstructions might be compressions, or belts, or it could be tight clothing. Therefore, chigger bites are confined to body parts below the waist or to areas which doesn’t restrict its movements.
Some people, as a home therapy, apply alcohol, nail polish, and bleach on areas where the chigger mite had bitten so as to choke and wipe out the mites. This home remedy was opted because of a myth that circulated that chigger mites burrowed and remained inside the skin. However these methods are not helpful because chigger mites do not go inside the skin.
Following treatment methods can be opted for chiggers rash bite:
- The main goal of the treatment of chigger bite is to get respite from swelling, inflammation of skin, and itchy feeling. To control these reactions corticosteroid creams and calamine lotions may be applied on the chigger bite area.
- Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, is also a good alternative for relief from the reactions of chigger’s rash.
Few preventive measures can be taken to avoid chiggers bite rash. These are:
- After any outdoor activities, it is necessary to wash the body with soap and water. This will wash away chigger mites, if present on the body.
- Also wash the clothes that are worn during the outdoor activities. It will remove the chiggers from the clothes.
- Mosquito repellents such as DEET can be applied all over the body and clothes, it may be effective to keep away chigger mites and the subsequent development of chiggers rash.
Chiggers rash pictures