The summer months bring excessive heat to North Texas – and with that heat also comes an excessive amount of insects. With many families spending time outdoors, conditions are just right for painful and annoying bug bites.
Chiggers, also called trombiculid mites or red bugs, are a common culprit of bites across North Texas. This tiny species of arachnid live in grassy areas and are barely visible to the naked eye, but their bite lingers and can cause extreme itchiness and discomfort. Learn how to identify chigger bites and treat your child if they are bitten.
What do chigger bites look like?
Chiggers often bite in places where clothing fits tightly or in the folds of skin, such as the ankles, waist, armpits, groin or behind the knees. Chiggers stay attached to the skin for a few days. It's common to be bit by more than one, so bites will often appear in groups and appear to spread over the course of a few days.
Symptoms may look differently in each child, but most often include:
- Small, reddish bumps on the skin
- Pain or intense itching in the area
- Possible swelling or blistering, or a hive-like rash
How do I treat chigger bites?
If you think your child has been exposed to chiggers, you can take steps to reduce the pain and itchiness.
- Clean the area well with soap and water. By bathing your child shortly after exposure, you may be able to wash off any chiggers still on him or her.
- Apply an anti-itch cream, ointment or lotion to the bites.
- Give your child an antihistamine for itching. Be sure to follow the instructions on the medicine label.
- Use a cool compress to relieve itching and pain.
Treatments to avoid? Because chiggers do not actually burrow into the skin, but rather fall off after a few days, some home remedies such as applying nail polish or alcohol to the skin are not effective.
How can I prevent chigger bites?
You can help prevent your child from getting chigger bites by:
- Applying insect repellent before spending time outdoors
- Not using heavily scented soaps or lotions
- Having your child wear long sleeves and long pants when possible
- Tucking your child's pant legs into his or her socks or shoes
- Making sure your child avoids wooded, brushy and grassy areas when possible
When should I call my child's doctor?
Chigger bites should heal after a couple of weeks. Call your child's health care provider if your child has the following symptoms:
- Pain or itching that gets worse
- Signs of infection such as redness, warmth, swelling or fluid leaking from the skin
- Nausea and vomiting
If your child shows signs of an allergic reaction such as trouble breathing or tightness in the chest, call 911.
See more ways to prevent and treat other common insect bites and stings in children.
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