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    Chiggers

    Harvest mite; Red mite

    Chiggers are tiny, six-legged wingless organisms (larvae) that grow up to become a type of mite. Chiggers are found in tall grass and weeds. Their bite causes severe itching.

    Causes

    Chiggers are found in certain outdoor areas, such as berry patches, tall grass and weeds, and woodland edges.

    Chiggers bite humans around the waist, ankles, or in warm skin folds. Bites commonly occur in the summer and fall months.

    Symptoms

    The main symptoms are:

    • Severe itching
    • Red pimple-like bumps or hives

    Itching usually occurs several hours after the chiggers attach to the skin. The bite is painless.

    A skin rash may appear on the parts of the body that were exposed to the sun. It may stop where the underwear meets the legs. This is often a clue that the rash is due to chigger bites.

    Exams and Tests

    A doctor can diagnose chiggers by examining the rash.

    Treatment

    The goal of treatment is to stop the itching. Antihistamines and corticosteroid creams or lotions may be helpful.

    Possible Complications

    Secondary infection may occur from scratching.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if the rash itches very badly, or if symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment.

    Prevention

    Avoid outdoor areas contaminated with chiggers, if known. Applying bug spray containing DEET to skin and clothing can help prevent chigger bites.

    References

    Diaz JH. Mites (including chiggers). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 296.

    Elston DM. Arthropods and leeches. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 367.

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    • Chigger bite - close-up ...

      illustration

      • Chigger bite - close-up ...

        illustration

      Review Date: 10/6/2012

      Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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      St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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