Chiggers in the Beaufort & Hilton Head Island Area
Chiggers, also know as red bugs, live throughout the southern area and their range even goes far north. The chigger is a near microscopic mite and is a relative of the spider family. Only the "larva" attacks humans. Red bugs live around pine straw, dead vegetation, tree bark, high grass, and spanish moss that has fallen to the ground. The chigger is about 1/100th of an inch in size and is chrome-orange in color.
Chiggers crawl onto the victim when he or she brushes against whatever the chiggers are on. They begin to search for tender, warm and moist skin, most likely around the ankles, wrists, waist or groin areas, where clothes are tight and body temperature is high. Chiggers do not burrow into the skin or suck blood. They attach their mouth part to the skin and secrete saliva which digests and breaks down the tissue. They suck up the digested tissue through a tube formed by hardened skin cells called a stylostome. The victim becomes aware of the chigger attack when intense itching occurs. The more one scratches, the worse the itch becomes, as saliva is spread to other tissue. Often there will be red spots or a inflamed red rash on the victim. Chiggers usually have already fallen off by the time the itch is noticed. Sulphur powder or DEET are effective repellents.
Chigger & Redbug Treatment
The burning itch can be unbearable and keep even the most sound of sleepers awake scratching all night long. The itch can last for
3-4 days. and scratching the area will only make matters worse. A popular over the counter treatment, "Chigger Rid" may help, but more popular treatments are - "as hot as you can stand" shower water on the area every 4-5 hours or to flood area with vinegar. Treatment should begin as soon as the itch begins, avoid scratching and wear loose or no clothing around the affected area.
Do not squeeze the "pimple type sores", as the chigger is no longer present. Wash immediately after being in chigger infested areas.