July 02, 2015

Q: What are chiggers, and what should I do if I think my child's been bitten?

A: Chiggers are tiny red mites that attach to a child's skin, inject saliva, feed on blood, and then fall off. They're typically found in sandy, grassy areas, like the dunes of a beach. If chiggers bite your child you'll notice small, itchy pimples or welts, similar to a mosquito bite, except that you'll likely find several bites in one area. To ease the itch, apply a hydrocortisone cream and discourage scratching, which can lead to infection. Keep your child chigger-free by dressing him in long sleeves and long pants if he's planning to play in fields where chiggers are common. You can also spray him with an insect repellent containing DEET. --Betty S. Wong

Copyright © 2002 . Reprinted with permission from the August 2002 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009

Answered by Parents Team