What do chigger bites look like? Photos to help identify and treat them

You may see a line of small red spots or what look like pimples – raised red bumps or pustules (pus-filled bumps). Chigger bites can happen anywhere on your body, but they often show up in clusters around your waist or lower legs.

Chiggers can stay on your skin for a few days while they feed. Once they’re full, they’ll drop off. But you don’t need to wait for that to happen. Scratching or washing the area is enough to bump a chigger off even sooner.

Chiggers are so small that you probably won’t see them. Although you’ll see (and feel) their itchy bites, they usually don’t cause serious harm. (Photo Credit: WebMD Illustration: Dreamstime, Wikimedia Commons).

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And, often, “you’ll have a history of a patient who was out in the grass in a wooded area,” Levoska says. “It’s really (common) in areas where there’s tall grass where the chiggers will lay their eggs, and then they’ll attach to your clothing and then get on your skin to actually bite you,” she explains.

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

You don’t need an anti-parasite drug to get rid of chiggers. Oral drugs like ivermectin are prescribed to treat a different kind of mite, called scabies.

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.

What do chigger bites look like? Photos to help you identify and treat them

Identifying chigger bites

To help keep these pesky mites out of your yard, try to stay on top of mowing, weeding, and removing brush. In severe cases, some pest control treatments can help. Look for a lawn spray that contains one of these chemicals:

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Chigger Bite FAQs

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.

Chiggers can stay on the skin after the initial bite, according to Cleveland Clinic. When they bite, they release a digestive enzyme that allows the chigger to drink skin tissue without burrowing into it. Due to this enzyme, the itching is most uncomfortable in the first one to two days after the bite. But once you notice the itching feeling and begin to scratch, the chigger will fall off.

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What are Chigger Bites?

Chigger bites usually get better on their own. But if yours still bother you after a few days, see your doctor. In rare cases, you may need steroid shots to calm itching and swelling. Your doctor may also ask you to take antibiotics if your bites become infected.

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Treatment options can include:

While the Cleveland Clinic notes that chigger bites can be difficult to prevent because of how small chiggers are and they way they can cling to clothing, there are a few ways to prevent chigger bites.

What do chigger bites look like? Photos to help identify and treat them

Chigger Bites: What They Look Like And Photos To Identify Them

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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Symptoms of Chigger Bites

If your skin gets worse, call your doctor. You may have an infection that needs to be treated.

Why do they do it? To a chigger, those now-liquid cells are food. Once they’re attached to your skin, a chigger may stay there for several days while they feast.

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