Are Chiggers Contagious?

Chiggers are quite annoying, especially when they leave many itchy red bites. Basically, chiggers are everywhere. This article answers the question: are chiggers contagious?

Overview

As mentioned earlier, chiggers are almost everywhere; as long as there are outdoor theaters, parks, forests, woods and grassy areas. In Asia, some chiggers come with a harmful disease, but it’s rarely the case in the US. However, chiggers are known to leave a bite, or patches of bites, which generally fall on tender skin. The bites are red in color and usually harden over time. Of course, chiggers are virtually unseen with the naked eyes. Hence, their bites are definitely very small; almost unnoticeable. The affected area appears red, appears like a pimple and hardens with time.

Are chiggers really contagious?

Well, chiggers are not contagious. The rash that comes from chiggers cannot be spread to another person. Of course, a chigger can switch from one person to another. In such case, a rash will develop on both people. However, that does not make the rash itself to be contagious in any way. You don't actually have to worry about helping someone. Most often, they’ll only latch onto your clothes and find a way to your skin, use their claws to make holes and start digesting your skin.

The habitat of chiggers

Chiggers live in tall weeds and grass. You can also find them on berry patches and in wooded areas. They are prone in seasons such as spring, summer and fall afternoons. Generally, they love warm and inviting temperatures.

Chiggers can quickly attach to your clothes and later to the skin when you walk by or brush up against vegetation. However, chiggers become inactive when the temperatures fall below 16 degrees. Worse still, temperatures below six degrees make them die off.

As mentioned earlier, chiggers can be extremely tiny. For instance, the adults are about 1/60 of an inch. They have eight legs. The larvae are red in color, without wings, and are six-legged. When they feast on human skin, they turn yellowish in color.

The symptoms of chigger bites

Of course, some chiggers can latch onto you when walking through an infected area. After biting and falling off, the chiggers leave you with some reddish bumps. You can even notice a bright red dot at the center. The red dot is actually the tube formed when your skin responds to the saliva of the chigger.

Interestingly, chiggers can stay latched for some days. It is also common to get bitten by more than one. Hence, you will notice the bites in groups which get larger after days or a week. While many insects love biting exposed skin that’s easy to get to, chiggers like biting where the skin is folded. In addition, you’ll find them where clothing fits tightly. You’re sure to find a lot of chiggers biting around the ankles, waist, armpits, crotch or even behind the knees.

It is quite impossible to feel a chigger latching on you. Similarly, most people feel nothing as the tiny chigger bites. However, most people have reported symptoms after hours of the bite. Among the most disturbing symptom of chigger bite is severe itching and urge to scratch your skin continually.

Treating chigger bites

Unfortunately, a chigger bite takes about one to three weeks to heal. Perhaps you’re suspecting that you have some chigger bites. Don’t panic. You can wash the area immediately using soap and water. This will help you eliminate the chigger and any other clinging to your body. Then, you ought to apply some antiseptic on the area.

You need to avoid very hot baths and showers in chigger prone areas. You will actually offer them a thriving environment. Should you experience symptoms of chigger bites that don’t improve, you need to see a doctor or a specialist.

Prevention of chigger bites

Chigger bites are quite prime in summer, spring and fall seasons. Hence, if you’re walking along wooded areas that are prone to chiggers, avoid brushing up against the vegetation. What’s more, if you’re hiking, you’ll want to walk in the center of trails and not along the sides. Another way to prevent chigger bites is by wearing long sleeves that can easily be tucked into shoes or socks. Alternatively, the use of chiggers’ repellent can be worthwhile too. One can opt to apply some around the shoes, shirt neck, cuffs and even waistband. Notwithstanding, as soon as you’re indoors, it is important to first take a shower and wash your clothes with hot water. Below are detailed ways to prevent chiggers.

Cultural control method: Chiggers love shady, moist, and well-vegetated areas. To do away with them, you can opt to make the surrounding less welcoming for them. How about clearing up the vegetation, getting rid of long grasses and pulling out any weeds?

Use of Chiggers Repellent: Another way to keep the chiggers away is by use of chigger repellent. The sulphur powder is an effective bug repellent. Of course, the repellent does not have a pleasing smell. However, if you don’t mind the smell, how about dusting it around the areas affected by the chiggers? Dusting your socks and shoes when walking in an area prone to chigger infection can also be worthwhile.

The use of permethrin to eliminate chiggers on clothes: If you suspect that your clothes have some chiggers, how about using the permethrin? It’s quite effective. However, you need to apply the repellent on the clothes and not directly on the skin. Since the repellent is quite active even after a number of days, you can opt to use the following safe procedure:

  • Use the repellent on your clothes and not on your skin.
  • Leave the repellent to dry before wearing the clothes.
  • Make sure to follow the instructions from the manufacturer. However, you ought to report any allergic reaction to a doctor immediately.
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Last Reviewed:
June 20, 2018
Last Updated:
June 23, 2018