2 Ways To Treat Chigger Bites: Complete Guide 2024

By Vanessa Richards

January 10, 2024   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

chigger bites

You and the kids may be taking a walk in the park. Maybe spending the day on the course. Sometimes the price of enjoying the outdoors is an itching rash caused by tiny insects you can’t even see.

Chiggers are microscopic insects that are invisible to the naked eye. Although chigger bites provide little immediate threat, they may cause an intense itch and scrub typhus.

Find out how to calm your inflamed skin cells and protect yourself from more bites the next time you go outside.

Chigger Bites: What are Chiggers?

Chigger bites
Photo: Canva

Chiggers, sometimes known as red bugs, or harvest mites, are in the larval stage of the arachnid family. They belong to the same family as spiders and ticks. The larval mites may be little, but their bites are anything from harmless. Adults are about 1/60th of an inch having eight legs.

When they land on your skin from that tall tuft of grass, they quickly attach you probably won’t even feel them.

The tiny mites may stroll in undetected on your vehicle straight up to your front door. However, once you do feel them on your skin, you may find that they are rather irritating.

Where Do These Chiggers Lurk?

Chiggers do not carry disease but they bite really bad. They mostly lurk in regions that have moist soil, wooded areas, tall grass, weeds, and berry patches, which offer shaded and wet environments in which they may reproduce.

These wooded areas or places also have an abundance of animal hosts, such as mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, from whom they can draw blood.

What to Expect From a Chigger Bite?

Chigger bites
Photo: Canva

There is a common misconception that feeds on human blood and burrows into the skin. However, only the larvae form feeds on human skin cells.

Chiggers are tiny and their feeding structures are delicate. You can see them using a magnifying glass.

They are inserted into the skin when Chiggers bite a person and inject an enzyme due to which a hole is created in the skin. When the area hardens, a feeding tube, or stylostome, is formed through which it feeds.

What are the Symptoms?

Chigger bites
Photo: Canva

Waistbands, bra lines, sock lines, waist, ankles, lower legs, and other regions where your warm skin folds near your clothes are prime locations for their feeding. Some of the signs and symptoms of a chigger bite that may help diagnose chigger bites are:

  • Reddish bumps, spots, or pimples dotting your skin
  • Bites in the areas where your clothes are snug
  • Extreme itching
  • Summer penile syndrome (chigger bites on the penis)

In the next week, they will often see growth in size, after that the chigger falls off. If the condition is not addressed, the itching might linger for a week or even longer.

In the case of Summer penile syndrome, there can be swelling, itching, and trouble when peeing.

How to Prevent Bites?

Spring and autumn are peak times for chigger activity. Chiggers may be found in every state in the United States, although they are most numerous in the South and Midwest because of the higher average temperatures there.

Avoiding strolling through tall grass, shrubs, and other potential chigger habitats is the most effective strategy to lessen the likelihood of being bitten. This, however, is not open to all people.

It’s advisable to wear long sleeves and sturdy boots if you plan on walking in thick grassy areas. They need to wear pants underneath and have long pants tucked into their shoes.

The last piece of advice is to always keep your belt on and your sleeves rolled up. Therefore, the chiggers are prevented from penetrating the skin and you are safe from skin infection.

As soon as someone leaves an infected zone, they should take off their garments and wash them in hot water. They need to wash their bodies thoroughly with soap and hot water thereafter.

A person’s risk of having chigger bites decreases with the amount of time spent away from the infected plants. Prevent chigger bites through the ff:

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Chigger bites

If you want sweat-resistant mosquito protection, this is the best bug spray for you. It contains DEET which prevents chigger bites and red bumps due to ticks or other insects. Moreover, OFF! Insect repellent protects parasitic mites and chiggers bite for up to 8 hours.

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What to Do If You Get Chigger Bites?

If you suspect you’ve been among chiggers, do a thorough body check. You may see little red spots that are either rapidly moving or adhered to your skin.

First things first: give yourself a good soap and water scrub in the hot shower or bath. This removes any remaining chiggers from you.

Wash your clothing, blankets, and clothes that have touched the ground with hot water to eliminate any remaining insects.

Chigger bites often heal on their own. However, if yours persist after a few days, see a physician.

How To Treat Chigger Bites?

Chigger bites have a healing time of a few weeks ranging from one week to three weeks. If someone is bitten by chiggers, there are a few natural things they may do to treat the intense itching.

1. Natural Remedies

If you are bitten and do not have access to anti-itch creams right away, putting ice on the bite may assist alleviate the need to scratch. The cold compress may relieve the red bump and cause an early fall of the ticks, mites, or chiggers.

A person who discovers they have chigger bites should bathe or wash as soon as possible. Any remaining chiggers may be washed away with a vigorous soap and water scrub. Hence, you won’t be bitten anymore.

2. Over-The-Counter Medications

Wondering how are chigger bites treated with OTC medicines? Here are some of the best products for you to try:

  • Applying an over-the-counter anti-itch lotion or cream to the skin (Calamine lotion).
  • Using antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl).
  • Using a drug that kills parasites (Permethrin).

Some of the products to relieve intense itching include:

A. Proven & Trusted: Calamine Lotion

Chigger bites

Calamine is a versatile and effective skincare remedy that has been used for decades. Its cooling properties make it perfect for alleviating minor skin irritation and scratching, whether it’s caused by chigger bites or rashes.

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B. Fast-acting Itch Relief: Cerave Itch Relief Lotion

Chigger bites

Formulated with 1% Pramoxine Hydrochloride, Cerave can help you get back to your life without the discomfort of itchiness due to chigger bites.

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C. Soothing Gel: Benadryl Itch Stopping Gel

Chigger bites

When you need relief from chigger bites itch and pain, turn to Benadryl. It has a cooling gel formula that acts as a pain reliever due to the presence of 2% topical analgesic diphenhydramine hydrochloride. Its mechanism of action involves blocking histamine mediators which help to soothe itches.

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D. Intensive Healing: Cortizone Itch Relief

Chigger bites

Looking for a high-quality, maximum-strength hydrocortisone cream? Then check out Cortizone 10! Their unique formula contains 7 moisturizers and 3 skin-nurturing vitamins.

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E. Perfect For Sensitive Skin: Sarna Itch Relief

Chigger bites

This powerful cream is recommended by dermatologists for relieving even the most stubborn itch. And because it’s designed for sensitive skin, it contains no steroids, parabens, or fragrances.

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F.  Severe Itch Relief: Medagel Bug Bite Relief Patch

Chigger bites

Medagel relief patches prevent chigger bites and relieve severe itching on the exposed skin. It contains Lidocaine to calm itching and pain after chigger bites. The patches are easy to use as they stay in place and do not cause irritation while removal. These are the perfect solution for kids.

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Chiggers are extremely small and their bites are itchy and annoying. The best way to avoid them is to prevent them in the first place by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outside.

If chiggers or ticks bite you, do not scratch! Scratching will make the itch worse and can lead to infection. Instead, treat the bite with an anti-itch cream such as Cerave.

Click here to get Cerave Itch Lotion at a Discounted Price.

Chigger Bites FAQs

What does chigger bite look like?

Chigger bites are red, itchy, and often have a small bump in the center. They can be quite itchy and can take several days to heal.

How are chigger bites diagnosed?

Chigger bites are diagnosed by their appearance and the symptoms that they cause. The bites are usually small red bumps. Most of the time, chiggers that bite people will disappear up to two weeks.

Can chiggers live in your bed?

It’s very unlikely that chiggers live in your bed. They require a blood meal to survive and cannot live off of anything else. Although they are very small, they are not tiny enough to live in the dust mites that reside in your bedding.

Vanessa Richards

Vanessa is a mom of 3 lovely children and a software geek. Outside of her career as a health and wellness instructor. She enjoys writing and researching on topics such as finance, software, health and culinary.

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