Chigger Bite - Pictures

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Entomologist (ret.)
my resume

Summary: Chiggers are tiny biting mites that occur outdoors in dry, brushy areas. Bites from these mites initially form watery blisters (right) then open into red, intensely itchy lesions (below, right). Sores can last 2 days to two weeks but generally heal on their own. Bites may also be a source of so-called "mysterious bug bites" when they erupt suddenly with no obvious cause.

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chigger bites - blisters
Chigger bites - watery blisters. Photo by CDC

Chigger bites initially cause blisters.

Chigger mites do not burrow into skin but instead feed at the base of hairs. Bites are painless but result in very itchy lesions soon after an encounter with these mites (see Identification and Life History of Chigger Mites for additional information). Bites from chigger mites at first form watery blisters (see photo above right). By the time these blisters form the mites may already be gone.

Bites often cluster around areas of the body that were constricted by clothing. Reactions can vary, from intense to relatively mild, depending on an individual's immune system, similar to other types of allergic reaction, and importantly can change over time.

The blisters and rash are caused by substances in the chigger's saliva that trigger a response by our immune system. When the mites feed they release enzymes that dissolve skin cells on which the mites feed. It is these enzymes that cause the allergic reaction.

Blisters turn into an angry, itchy rash.

The watery blisters soon form clusters of intensely itchy sores or lesions (see photo right). These are typical of a variety of allergic reactions caused by "bug" bites, and can vary in appearance between individuals. The bites will normally heal on their own but over-the-counter anti-itch and antibiotic ointments can be used to prevent infection at this stage. If a secondary infection does occur you should seek medical attention. See How to Identify Chigger Mites, Avoid Bites, and Treat the Rash for additional information.

Chigger bites as "mysterious bug bites"

Bites from these tiny, nearly invisible, mites can also contribute to the phenomenon of "mysterious bug bites". When bites appear "out of nowhere" people sometimes conclude that their homes are infested with "mysterious and unknown bugs".

chigger bites - rash
                                stage
Chigger bites - rash. Photo by CDC

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