Q:

What do chigger bites look like?

A:

Symptoms of chigger bites do not occur until several hours after being bitten and are typically characterized by a small pustule or blister that is extremely itchy, according to MedicineNet. The itching is caused by a chigger injecting its digestive enzymes into the skin. The worst of the itching usually passes in one to two days but the bites sometimes takes as long as two weeks to heal.

Chiggers do not burrow under the skin and therefore do not need to be removed to treat the bites, according to MedicineNet. The insect larvae simply pierce the skin, feed and then leave. Treatment is primarily aimed at relieving the inflammation and itching, making calamine lotion and corticosteroid cream good choices for topical application. Oral antihistamines are also helpful in providing some relief. Do not scratch the bites; scratching increases the risk of infection and lengthens the time the bites require to heal. Visit a doctor for any chigger bites that show signs of infection, such as oozing pus, swelling or pain.

As always, the best fix is prevention. Wear long pants and sleeves when chiggers or other biting insects are likely to be a problem. Use insect repellents on skin and clothes. Wash clothes after being outdoors, and shower with soap and water after outdoor activities. Chiggers do not bite at temperatures lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit and do not live in areas that are hotter than 99 degrees Fahrenheit.

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