Itchy Bumps That Look Like Mosquito Bites But Aren’t

After hatching, baby chiggers wait on plants for people or animals to pass by. When they do, the chigger attaches to them using tiny claws. Once attached, it pierces their skin and injects its saliva (spit). The spit contains digestive juices that dissolve skin cells. The chigger then eats the dissolved cells, which provide the protein it needs to grow into an adult. After a couple of days the chigger falls off, leaving a red bump on the skin.

Many conditions that look like mosquito bites can cause itchy bumps on the skin. They include other types of bug bites, infections, or skin irritations. Just about everyone at some point will have an itchy bump on their skin that isn’t from a mosquito bite. This article will cover seven common causes of itchy mosquito-like bumps and how to treat them.

Bed bug bites appear as very itchy welts in a cluster of three to five spots. These spots can form a zigzag pattern on the body. There may also be tiny spots of blood on the person’s bedding.

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Chigger Bites

A healthcare provider may also suggest using phototherapy, which uses ultraviolet (UV) light to treat psoriasis.

Chiggers are members of the arachnid family (the same family that includes spiders and ticks). They are smaller than a period at the end of a sentence. Most can only be seen with a magnifying glass.

Reproduced with permission from © DermNet New Zealand 2023.

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Chiggers (also called harvest mites or red bugs) are tiny red, biting mites. Their bites aren’t painful, but do cause intense itching.

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Unlike mosquitoes and ticks, chiggers don’t carry disease. So they are not harmful, only annoying. You can usually treat chigger bites at home:

To treat flea bites, wash the area with soap and water. Apply calamine lotion or an anti-itch cream like over-the-counter hydrocortisone. Try not to scratch the flea bites, as this can cause them to become infected.

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Chiggers are found all over the outdoors, including in grassy fields, along lakes and streams, and in forests. It’s the baby chiggers that bite people and animals.

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Keeping fingernails short can help prevent skin damage from scratching. Antibiotics may be needed if a skin infection does happen.

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