Chiggers Rash Symptoms, Treatment, Spreading and how Long it Takes

Did you just become aware of these pesky insects and are wondering “What do chiggers rash look like?” they are some reddish orange mites that infest humans and cause untold misery. Here, we look as chiggers rash symptoms, infection, spreading, treatment and how long it lasts.

Chiggers Rash

Chiggers, also referred to as harvest mites or red mites, are microscopic insects belonging to the same Arachnid class as ticks and spiders. Just like scabies, they are a form of mites and are common in the outdoors. They can be found all over the world and are most active from early spring to autumn. They thrive in the outdoors and are therefore likely to be experienced in the forests, gardens and parks especially those close to a water source. 

Mostly considered harmless, chiggers are quite tiny and barely visible to the naked eyes. However, if they clump together, the groups can be seen with the eyes. Before we get into the details of chigger rash, it is important to understand the cycle chiggers go through right from attaching on the host to inflicting chiggers bites which then leads to a rash. The details are outlined below.

Chigger Bites

Although the adult chigger is harmless, the larval stage of chiggers can bite humans and animals. They have claws that allow them to attach to the skin, plants as well as clothes. Once it attaches itself on a substrate, it may travel a short distance until it finds something suitable to feed on. For example, if it attaches itself on clothes, it will travel until it gets to the skin so it can feed. 

Most insects are known to consume human blood once they attack. According to phaa.com, chiggers are different in that they feed on human skin cells. Once they have attached themselves on a human host, the mites move around looking for appropriate feeding sites. 

They find reprieve in areas where the skin is thin such as on skin fold. The waist, armpits, groin, crotch and ankles are prime areas susceptible to chigger bites.  Their preference is attributed to the fact that their mouth and feeding pipe are quite fragile and can thus not go deep into the skin.

Upon finding suitable ground, the chigger bites on the skin and injects saliva into it. The saliva then contains digestive enzymes which serve to dissolve skin cells. After this, the chigger forms a feeding tube known as a stylostome which allows it to consume the dissolved skin cells. The chiggers will then feed on the skin for some days before falling off the host.

Chiggers Rash

While scabies mites burrow underneath the skin and lay eggs, chiggers do not. The areas where the chigger bites went through and had their skin dissolved will have bite marks instead. These may appear as red itchy bumps on the skin. Itching may continue days after the chiggers have fallen off. These bumps should however resolve with time.

With multiple chigger bites, the many itchy red bumps result in chiggers rash on the skin. In addition, the skin around may experience welts or hives. Chiggers rash is, therefore, an inflammatory reaction on the skin resulting from chigger bites. The rash appears within one to three hours after a host experiences a chigger bite. With the mites still attached to the skin, the bumps and itchiness tend to increase in intensity over time.

Causes of Chiggers Rash

Chiggers rash is caused by the digestive enzymes deposited by the insects to facilitate feeding. These enzymes which are injected into the skin penetrate the skin’s surface and into underlying layers. The result is skin irritation which triggers inflammatory and allergic responses that lead to formation of a rash.

Chiggers Rash Symptoms

With the above in mind, what does a chiggers rash look like? Some of the pointers indicating you have suffered chigger bites are as listed below.
  • Formation of a clear visible rash accompanied by itching. The area becomes raised and may appear like it has sores or boils.
  • Reddening of the chigger bite site.
  • Itchy sensation due to the release of stylostome.
  • The symptoms of chigger rash do not appear immediately. They could take up to three hours after the mites have attached since. They only become obvious after the chigger ingests digestive enzymes into the skin.

Chiggers Rash Infection

Where the host itches on the chigger rash, skin tears may result. This will give room for secondary infections. An infected chiggers rash will exhibit symptoms such as
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pus discharge
Where the infection is mild and only affects the skin’s superficial layer, it is referred to as impetigo. On the other hand, a severe infection of the chigger rash is known as cellulitis.

Chiggers Rash Treatment and How to get Rid of Chigger Rash Bites

Chigger rash treatment is aimed at offering respite to skin inflammation, itch and swelling. This can be achieved through the following.

Thorough Wash

This should be done immediately you realize you have come into contact with chiggers. Clean your skin with soap and water to dislodge any chiggers still on the skin surface.

Cold compresses

These come in handy in quelling skin inflammation that comes with the chiggers rash. You could use a wash cloth soaked in cold water or wrap some ice up and hold it on the affected part of the skin

Calamine Lotion

This can be applied on the skin to soothe the rash and stop itching at the site of chigger bites.

Antihistamines

These may be prescribed in cases of severe itching as a result of the bites

Corticosteroid Cream

This will help deal with the itching, swelling and redness of chiggers rash.

Home Remedies for Chiggers Rash

In addition to the above treatments, you can make use of good old home remedies to relieve the symptoms of chigger bites rash. An Epsom salt bath will help get rid of itching. You could also use oatmeal soaks to relieve inflammation and itch.

In case of infections of the rash, antibiotics may be prescribed. Superficial infections can be treated with antibiotic creams while cellulitis may require oral antibiotic medication.

How long does chiggers Rash last?

The duration taken for the rash to clear depends on the severity of the infestation. It mostly takes up to two weeks for the rashes to clear up. Avoid rubbing or scratching the affected skin as it could aggravate the situation. Instead, concentrate on various ways to eliminate the itch. The chigger rash marks should start diminishing with time and be gone in about two to four weeks.

Chiggers Rash Spreading

can a chigger rash spread? Chigger bite rash spreading is a common observation among individual hosts. This occurs as the intensity of the bites become felt and as the digestive enzymes reaction takes place. It is simply a matter of one chigger biting before the other with the multiple bites manifesting in no uniform duration.

This though does not mean that chiggers rash is contagious. On the contrary, the rash cannot be spread from one person to another despite spreading within the affected individual.

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