If you are a hiker or love staying in the outdoors, you may have at one time experienced small, itchy raised bumps on your skin. These prickly sensations are a result of tiny insects known as chiggers. Also known as grass mites, they thrive in outdoor spaces such as grasslands. However, they can easily find their way into your home and bed.
In the unfortunate situation, you transport chiggers to your bed, there are ways to get rid of them. So, what are chiggers, and how can you control them? Here’s a detailed breakdown.
What Are Chiggers And How Do They Appear On The Skin?
Chiggers are the larvae form of a mite known as Trombiculidae. You can find these red bugs in grass or shady areas.
Chiggers are microscopic, about 0.3 mm in length; therefore, you can’t see them with the naked eye. However, these insects can sense human presence from the carbon dioxide we breathe.
Chiggers stay in clusters and feed off the human skin. Then, after feeding for about three days, they drop to the ground and transform into adults who don’t attack humans.
As adults, they become mites. Unlike other insects such as ticks, chiggers don’t feed on blood. Instead, they inject their saliva into your skin tissue, which they consume.
Once they feed on your skin decomposed tissue, your skin will start itching immediately. The bites may appear on your skin as blisters or red bumps.
Chigger bites appear on your skin as clusters around areas of your body where you wear tight clothing. For some people, the bites may be severe as compared to others.
The bites can last on your skin depending on how long the chiggers stay put and the level of exposure. If they stayed for a short period, your symptoms would be mild. However, if they clung onto your skin or longer, your bite marks and symptoms may take a few weeks.
Apart from humans, chiggers also attack your pests. If your cat or dog is scratching more than usual, check for bite marks. Pets infested by chiggers can transport them to your home and bed.
How To Treat Chigger Bites
The most common area for chigger bites are your ankles or around your waist. You may not spot the chiggers but will find itchy rashes and hives that intensify with time. Although these insects don’t transmit diseases, it’s advisable to treat yourself immediately you spot a reaction.
Here’s how to.
1. Don’t Scratch
Before starting any treatment, make sure you avoid scratching the inflamed areas. This makes your skin appear worse and slows down the healing process. In addition, scratching can result in infections that require medical attention.
2. Take A Hot Shower
Immediately you get back home, take a hot shower with soap to thoroughly get rid of any chiggers clinging to your skin. This way, you will not transfer any insects to the rest of your home or bed.
3. Use A Cold Compress
If your skin is very itchy, you can opt to take a cold shower or apply a cold compress on the affected areas. You can also sit in a cool bath. This process will cool off the skin and make it less itchy.
4. Use Over-The-Counter Medications
There are several over-the-counter medications that you can use to relieve the pain for severe or increased pain. Go for topical creams, ointments, and lotions such as Calamine lotion to control the itching.
5. Take Oral Antihistamines
You can also take antihistamines to reduce inflammation. This medication helps control the swelling and itching.
If the wounds or spots worsen, it could result in a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics to treat. Therefore, it’s best to avoid scratching.
Ideally, chiggers don’t have to cause any adverse medical conditions. However, if the symptoms worsen with time or the itching persists, you should see a doctor for further treatment. Likewise, if you develop additional allergic reactions or excessive swelling, make an appointment with a qualified medical practitioner.
Can Chiggers Live In Your Bed?
Ideally, you will find chiggers in tall grass and damp areas. However, you or your pet are responsible for bringing them indoors. They could also get in if there is an opening or an open window in your bedroom.
So how do you stop them from getting to your bed? Let’s look at some of the precautions you could take.
Change Your Outdoor Clothes
If you know you have chiggers infestation in your yard, remove all your clothing immediately you come from the yard or garden. Then, wash your clothes with detergent and hot water and your skin with soap and water to eliminate any chiggers on your skin.
If you had gone for a hike where there is thick vegetation, shower immediately you get home. This is the first step in preventing the insects from spreading to any other part of your home.
Wear Proper Outdoor Clothing
Similar to mosquito bites, you can protect yourself from chiggers by wearing protective clothing when you go out. Have in place some long-sleeved shirts, pants, boots, and socks to prevent them from holding to your skin.
Avoid Long Grass
When going for walks, it’s best to avoid areas with long grass since it’s home to chiggers. Instead, stick to mowed paths to reduce your risk of bites.
Use A Repellant
If chiggers commonly attack you, you can consider using a chigger repellant when venturing outside. Repellants can keep you safe from other insects such as mosquitoes and gnats. This tactic acts as protection for your skin and makes it easier to go for outdoor activities such as hikes and gardening.
Some of the best chigger repellents are:
OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent
Chigg-Away The Soldier’s Choice
Take Care Of Your Yard
One way to eradicate chiggers from your yard is to make the conditions unfavorable. You can trim the tall grass and bushes that could hosts these insects.
Remove the dead weeds to let in more sunlight on the damp areas, which are hiding spots for chiggers. Make sure to rake often if there are dead leaves and any other plant waste.
Use Chemical Pesticides
If the issue persists, you can use a pesticide specifically designed to kill flies and mites. The chemical pesticides work by killing the chiggers in your yard. Before starting the process, ensure you are safe.
Keep the chemicals away from children and pets. Also, wear protective gear during the session as a safety measure.
Once you eliminate the problem, there will be no insects to cling to your skin or pet, making your home and bed safe. For this process, you can also contact a professional to help with the pesticide application.
Regular Pet Checks
Your dog or cat may be responsible for bringing chiggers to your bed. Apart from checking yourself, it’s critical to inspect your pet, especially if they are itchy regularly. Check areas around their ears and keep them clean to ensure they don’t bring insects to your home. When your pet stays outside in the long grass, make sure you wash them with warm water and soap.
How To Get Rid Of Chiggers In Your Bed
You might take the above precautions and still have chiggers in your bed. Besides, if you are not careful with the post outdoor cleaning routine, these insects still have 1 or 2 days to get to your bed. Because they are invisible, they can keep you up at night before they fall off to continue their life cycle.
Here are some methods you can use to get rid of the chiggers in your bed.
Wash Beddings In Hot Water
Remove all your bed linen and wash with detergent and hot water. This includes pillows, sheets, and any other fabric that got exposed to the insects. Use boiling water because they can’t survive in there.
Dry The Beddings
After the wash, dry the bed linen in the hottest temperatures possible. You can set your dryer in the highest heat setting to make sure no chiggers survive. This method should kill all the remaining insects making it safe to use your beddings again.
Use A Steam Cleaner
You can go further to use steam cleaners such as McCulloch MC1275 Heavy-Duty Steam Cleaner, BISSELL SteamShot Hard Surface Steam Cleaner & Handheld Pressurized Steam Cleaner to get rid of chiggers on your bed. Move this device over your pillow, mattress, and sheets to eliminate the insects and keep your bed clean.
To get rid of insects and arachnids in your home, you can use sulfur as a repellant. If you have chiggers on your bed, you can sprinkle the powder or dissolve it in water and spray the solution. This product can be harmful to your eyes and skin; therefore, it’s advisable to wear protective gear during application.
An important thing to note is that sulfur has a powerful smell, similar to rotten eggs. Therefore, if this is an extreme solution for you, you can opt to wash your bed fabric in hot water instead.
Use Essential Oils
For individuals who don’t want to use sulfur, you can use essential oils to eliminate the chiggers. Have a mixture of oils such as lemon eucalyptus, lavender lemongrass, and citronella, which naturally repel pests and insects. Besides, these essential oils are the active ingredients in most commercial repellants.
Essential oils are a much safer option for both your skin and bedsheets.
Vacuum The Bed and Floor
When your bed linens are drying, it’s the perfect time to vacuum your mattress, carpet, and box springs. You can spray them with sulfur or essential oils solutions and then vacuum to dry. Cleaning the floor and area around the bed is also critical in keeping these insects away permanently.
Chiggers are often confused with bedbugs. Their bites appear similar, but chiggers thrive in a different environment. Chigger bites are such a nuisance because they get very itchy. Immediately they cling to your skin, they feed on the tissue, and leave painful red bumps.
For individuals who are mostly outdoors, they are more likely to encounter a chiggers infestation if they don’t take vital precautions. Keeping your yard tidy, showering, changing clothes immediately, and using insect repellants are crucial in ensuring that you don’t transfer chiggers to your home and bed. However, if you or your pet move these insects to your bed, there are ways to eliminate the insects completely.