What the Heck are Chiggers?

Ok, so don’t laugh, but I have never, in my life, heard of Chiggers. Ever.

Want to know how I know about them now? Well, Lucy was attacked by them!

On Thursday, I spent all day outside with the kids. We even went back outside to play more after dinner because it was so gorgeous. We stayed out well past dusk, and when we finally came in, everyone was so exhausted that I just sent them to bed. I skipped the nightly bath routine, (bad Mommy!), and decided I’d just do baths the next morning, since I needed to wash the sheets on Friday anyway.

As Friday went on, I noticed lots of little red dots all over Lucy’s ankles. I thought they were just mosquito bites. She also had the same red bumps in her diaper area, and I thought those were just a nasty diaper rash starting because they were so concentrated in one area. But, by Friday afternoon, her little ankles were just as swollen as could be, and diaper rash cream wasn’t helping her at all.

I called the doctor’s office, but wouldn’t you know it? It was Friday and her doctor doesn’t work Fridays. And no other doctor or nurse was available to take my call. Ridiculous.

So, I got online to see what I could find. I couldn’t figure out why the mosquito bites were focused in one area, and how on earth they got into her diaper area.

It turns out, they aren’t mosquito bites. They are chigger bites. At least that’s what I get from this article:

Chiggers, which are also called harvest mites or red bugs, are very small and can not usually be seen without a magnifying glass or microscope. Their ‘bite’ also isn’t usually noticeable, which is why you usually don’t even know you were around chiggers until you start itching and notice the rash about 12 or 24 hours later.

Once on your body, they typically move around looking for a good place to feed, which is usually a thin layer of skin. They will also begin to feed if they reach a barrier, such as the waistband of your clothes or your armpit.

The article went on to describe exactly the problem I was having with Lucy – and the reason:

Although chiggers can stay attached to your skin for several days and continue eating, they are very easily brushed off and are usually knocked off once you begin to scratch the rash or take a shower or bath. That is why it can be a good idea to have your kids take a quick shower or bath after they have been playing outside in any type of ‘wild’ areas of your neighborhood.

Note to self: Never, ever skip the nightly bath again. And Lucy will definitely wear socks every time she goes outside from now on. No questions asked.

Lucy has really had a hard time with the itching and the swelling. Benadryl helps, but I don’t want to give that to her all the time. I plan to call the doctor today to find out if there’s anything else I can do.

So, this city girl turned countrified just learned something new. All those years of playing outside, climbing trees, playing in dirt, and I never knew what a chigger was. Now I know, and now I’m totally grossed out.

Have you all heard of chiggers? Have you had an experience like this? Got any tips to keep my 2 year old from scratching her legs to the bone? I’d love to hear!

Angie Vinez (2893 Posts)

Angie is a wife and mother to 8. Her life revolves around cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other household duties. She is passionate about her life in Christ and wants to encourage other mothers in their own walk of faith. Angie is active on many social media networks, loves technology, photography, and graphic design, and loves creating blog designs for other mom bloggers.


  1. 1
    Stephanie's Mommy Brain says:

    Oh, my! I know all to well about chiggers! Basically they are tiny ticks, so just treat it like you would a tick bite.

    If she hasn't scratched the area raw, I suggest wiping with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. You want to make sure every one of those things is dead. And it will feel cool on her skin and kill any germs in the bites.

    Other than that there is nothing a doctor can (or probably will) do unless she's having a severe allergic reaction (which it doesn't sound like she is).

  2. 2
    shallowOcity says:

    This post just brought back horrible childhood memories! I was born and raised in Kansas, and I SO remember being bit up daily after a day of play. My mom would put Calamine lotion on the bites and tell me not to scratch. *HA!*


    I could of went all day w/out seeing that pic of a chigger! DISTURBING!! LOL!!!!!

  3. 3
    Lindsay Harris says:

    Yuck! Poor thing. I'm following you from the mom bloggers follow me club. I hope you follow me at http://www.glowbabyfamily.blogspot.com.

  4. 4

    I've never heard of chiggers. Actually, I think there was a take out place in Streamwood by that name?
    Poor Lucy has so much bad luck.

  5. 5

    I never heard of chiggers until I moved south. We always played in the yard barefoot no issues. Moved down here and its something different. With socks make sure you pull them off her when you come inside. They like to get in and keep biting.

  6. 6
    Heather22 says:

    Good thinking on the avoiding too much benadryl. You can get a topical lotion that will dry out the "bites" and will also provide some anesthetic to help avoid the itching. Caladryl is a popular option, but it also contains benadryl. So buy the Calamine, it doesn't have the benadryl in it, which she doesn't need if she already taking it orally.

    First: Clean the area with soap and water. Dry by patting with a towel.

    Next: Apply the calamine lotion (found in a pink plastic bottle) by wetting a cotton swab with the lotion (which is more like a liquid) and dabbing it gently on the affected area. Don't buy the kind that's advertised as "clear." It doesn't work as well. Don't blow on it to help it dry, it will just get more germs on it. It will dry rather quickly. Only apply a small amount. If you really slap it on, it will get cakey and fall off.

    Third: It's difficult to keep a child from scratching. The problem with scratching is that germs hiding under the fingernails get into the wound. Clip her fingernails short and wash her hands often with soap. Antibacterial soap is not neccesary. If she continues to fuss with it, put mittens on her hands. She'll still rub at the area, but won't be picking at it.

    I hope this helps, Heather

  7. 7
    cbdkndmom says:

    There is a product called chigga-rid (sp?) or you can use clear nail polish. Brush it on the bites. What it does is suffocate the buggers and kill them. Keep the bite areas as clean and dry as you can (tough with diaper area), because they like moist, dark areas. I've never seen them, but I've been bitten by them and yes they can itch. Benadryl or caladryl can help and don't forget the nightly bath, *especially* if the kids are sitting in the grass. They can jump a little bit, which is how they get the ankles. To get them by your bottom, your butt has to be pretty close to the ground (i.e. sitting on it). Thankfully they are mostly just a nuisance. Other than that, you've gotten good advice already. Hope it helps!

  8. 8
    Mamatoosi says:

    Whoa, hmm… I wonder if that's what happened to ME a few months ago. Crazy itching with small red bumps on my lower legs. I couldn't figure out what it was and itch cream was not helping. I ended up buying this stuff:


    Temporary relief, but it was the only thing that saved my skin and allowed me to heal without scratching myself to death.

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge