Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Don's Blog Chiggers 5-4-16

AND HE SAID, "SPEAK TO ME OF CHIGGERS."

Chiggers are mites that are bright red members of the genus Trombiculidae in the Arachnid family. As adults they are called red bugs and are a little larger than the period at the end of this sentence. The female chiggers lay eggs which hatch into six-legged larvae which cannot be seen. If they
come off grass onto a human they puncture the skin with blade like mouth parts called chelicerae. This allows them to inject saliva into the skin.
The saliva contains a proteolytic enzyme that liquifies the skin tissue. At this site a narrow hardened tube is formed called a stylostome. The larvae feed on dead skin through this tube as if through a straw. If not removed the larvae will feed for 3-4 days before dropping off.
 The bite shows up as a reddened raised bump which itches. Scratching the bump can result in secondary infection and slower healing.

WHAT TO DO
The chiggers do not carry diseases that affect us. Initial treatment is to dislodge the larva from the stylostome. All of this without being able to see them: brisk rubbing without breaking the skin will dislodge or crush them. Using soap and water is important. The skin reaction is fully dependent on the time the chigger stays attached. Use of cortisone cream is recommended for the itching. Sealing the wound from the air is reportedly helpful. This is accomplished with nail polish or thick cortisone cream or vaseline.
My personal experience indicates that it can take up to 3-4 weeks for the red bump to completely disappear. Time heals all chigger bites.

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