Itchy Chiggers

Chigger bites are at their itchiest up to 48 hours after exposure, and the bites can last for up to two weeks. Courtesy Kambrose123/Wikimedia Commons. via Wikimedia Commons

In the U.S., chigger bites are most common in the late spring, summer, and early fall. The bugs are active when the ground temperature is between 77 and 86 F, and they can’t survive once it gets colder than 42 F.

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Remember, chiggers are so tiny that you probably won’t see them. (But you’ll feel itchy.) You can see an adult chigger, though. Not only are they bigger and bright red, but they have eight legs instead of six. The good news? Adult chiggers won’t bite you.

The itching is usually at its worst 24 to 48 hours after the bites appear, Cleveland Clinic explains. From there, the itchiness will subside and eventually stop completely after two weeks.

Once chiggers latch onto your pants or shirt, they crawl around until they find a patch of skin. After they make tiny holes in your skin, they inject saliva (spit) that turns some of your cells into mush.

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Chiggers often bite the ankles, leaving behind clusters of itchy, red bumps. Courtesy TimVickers/Wikimedia Commons. via Wikimedia Commons

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Chigger bite symptoms

If you’re a fan of things that creep and crawl, you may find chiggers to be really cool. If not, a close-up picture of a chigger may remind you of something out of a horror movie.

The most obvious symptom of chigger bites is the bites themselves, which tend to be red, raised pimple-like itchy bumps.

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Identifying chigger bites

They typically appear in specific areas on the lower body where tight clothes meet skin, like at the cuffs of your socks or the waistband of your leggings. Chiggers might also bite in between warm skin folds, MedlinePlus says. When chiggers bite, it’s usually painless — the itching begins hours later.

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How do you get chigger bites?

Chiggers are no more than 0.3 millimeters long, but zoom in and you’ll see that they’re hairy and red. (And turn yellow once they’re full.) Once chiggers become adults, they have eight legs, but the young ones that bite you only have six. And while chiggers do have mouth parts that can pierce your skin, these pinchers are short and not very strong. That’s why chiggers bite soft parts of your skin that fold or wrinkle.

In addition to the bites, MedlinePlus notes that you might also experience:

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