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What's Going Around: Chigger Bites

June 4, 2012

If you spend a lot of time outdoors in the grass or wooded areas, you may be at risk for more than just poison ivy. In this week's what's going around we're focusing on chigger bites.

Dr. Stephen Schmitz of Afton Family Medicine is providing our medical information for us this week.

Symptoms of chigger bites include itchy red bumps, often clustered at the ankles and waist. They typically last for two weeks. Anyone who is around tall grass or woods in the summer can get them.

Schmitz says there are a couple of things you can do to treat chigger bites. They include: washing vigorously with soap and water, which removes the chigger, use over the counter steroid creams like hydrocortisone or calamine lotion, which can help with itching.

When it comes to prevention, Dr. Schmitz says you should avoid tall grass in the summer, tuck pants into socks if you have to go into grassy areas, and use bug spray.

Dr. Schmitz is also reminding people that chiggers don't actually burrow into the skin, they stay on the surface. It's just the chemicals they put into the skin that are so irritating to us. Usually, one scratch or washing of a chigger bite removes the chigger itself.

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