Chiggers  
 
  

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Chiggers

Definition

Chiggers are tiny, six-legged wingless organisms (larvae) that grow up to become a type of insect called a mite. Chiggers are found in tall grass and weeds. Their bite causes severe itching.

Alternative Names

Harvest mite; Red mite

Causes

Chiggers are found in the southern part of the United States and in other countries. They are usually restricted to certain areas such as berry patches, tall grass and weeds, and woodland edges. The chiggers bite humans around the waist, ankles, or in warm skin folds.

The itching usually occurs several hours after the chiggers attach to the skin. The chigger can sometimes be seen in the center of a red, pimple-like bump that has not been scratched.

Symptoms

The main symptoms are severe itching and red pimple-like bumps (papules) or hives. The skin rash may appear on sun-exposed area only. The rash may also stop where the underwear meets the legs. This is is often a clue that the rash is due to chigger bites.

Exams and Tests

A doctor can diagnose chiggers by examining the rash.

Treatment

The objective of treatment is to relieve the itching. Antihistamines and corticosteroid creams or lotions may be helpful.

Outlook (Prognosis)

This condition heals itself without treatment.

Possible Complications

Secondary infection may follow intense scratching as a complication.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if the rash itches very, very badly, or if symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment.

Prevention

Avoid outdoor areas contaminated with chiggers, if known.




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