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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A chigger is a tiny mite (similar to a spider or tick). It may also be called a red bug or harvest bug. A chigger is too small to be seen without a magnifying glass. Chiggers are usually found in grassy areas, often near forests, lakes, and rivers. Only baby chiggers bite. They use their claws to attach onto your skin when you brush up against grass or a bush that contains chiggers. Then they pierce the skin and inject saliva. The saliva breaks the skin down so they can feed on it. A chigger will feed for a few days and then fall off.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- Your skin has signs of infection, such as pus or swelling.
- You have a fever.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given as a pill or lotion to reduce swelling or itching. You may also need medicine to treat a bacterial infection if the bite becomes infected from scratching.
- Calamine lotion or cortisone cream may help reduce itching. This lotion and cream are available without a doctor's order.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
A cool bath,
compress, or oatmeal bath may help reduce swelling and itching. Keep the water lukewarm or cool. Hot water may make itching and redness worse. Pat the area gently to dry your skin. To prevent irritation and infection, do not rub the sores.
Prevent another chigger bite:
- Protect yourself when you go to places where chiggers are found. Check the weather before you go to the area. Chiggers only bite when the temperature is between 60˚F (15.5˚C) and 99˚F (37.2˚C). Cover your skin. Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts. Wear thick socks and high boots that cover your ankles. Tuck your socks into your pants legs to prevent chiggers from attaching to your legs.
- Apply bug repellant. Only spray the repellant in an open area so you do not breathe it in. Follow the directions that come with the repellant. Wash the repellant off as soon as you come inside. Wash all sprayed clothing before you wear it again. Repellant may contain DEET or permethrin:
- Spray DEET on your clothing and bare skin. Do not spray your face directly. Put a small amount on your hands and apply to your face. Avoid the eye and lip areas. Do not apply DEET to a child who is younger than 2 months.
- Spray permethrin only on your clothing. Do not spray your skin.
- Wash with soap and water. As soon as you come inside, wash all areas of your skin that were exposed to chiggers. This will help remove the chiggers. Gently rub your skin as you wash so you do not detach the chigger's head from its body. The head can continue to irritate your skin.
- Wash clothing in hot water. The hot water will kill any chiggers left in your clothing.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.