Attention all Mom’s and Dad’s!  I very recently realized I was misinformed about chiggers.  I knew they were a form of mite, lived in grassy fields and forests and were highly annoying if you happen to come in contact with them.  I also knew they caused a heck of a bumpy red, itchy and nasty rash!  However, I thought those nasty bugs stayed on your skin or burrowed into your skin….boy, am I glad to know, I was wrong!

Chiggers are in fact mites but are the juvenile larvae of a certain type of mite.  They are most commonly found in grasses and forests and on plants that are relatively close to the ground.  They are almost impossible to see, so it is hard to know if you are in danger of coming in contact with them.  Chiggers do not burrow into the skin, but inject their feeding structure into the skin while injecting enzymes that cause a hardening of the affected skin. Chigger larvae then feed on the destroyed tissue.  If you are still paying attention, I know this has completely grossed you out about now…but, do not fear. I have some helpful tips that may prevent these mites and their attack.

Applying a bug spray repellant such as a product containing DEET to your skin AND clothing can help prevent chigger bites. Most folks I know, myself included, apply bug spray to the skin that is exposed and sometimes as an afterthought when the bugs are already being a nuisance. Being proactive and spraying your entire body, clothes and all, BEFORE going out, may help prevent chigger attacks.  Of course, you can always tell your kids to just not play in the woods, forests and fields, but I have 3 children and that has not worked for me yet!

If you do have a chigger incidence (and I feel for you if you do), the rash will be very itchy, with red pimple-like bumps or hives. The main goal of treatment will be to relieve the discomfort and itching. The rash will heal itself. You may use antihistamines and corticosteroid creams or lotions to provide relief.

Best of luck for a chigger free summer!

Kiersten DeVine

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