Identifying Red Bug “Bites”
Both humans and pets can be affected by bites from the red harvest mite. Chigger bites don't carry diseases but can be very uncomfortable. Harvest mite larvae feed not by going under skin but by thrusting their small hooked fangs into the skin surface. The larvae do not burrow into the skin or suck blood. They inject fluid containing digestive enzymes into the skin that breaks down skin cells. The resulting liquefied skin tissues are then sucked back into the digestive system of the larva. When they come into contact with any warm-blooded animal they tend to congregate in areas where there are little hair and the skin is quite thin.
They do not actually "bite," but instead form a hole in the skin, and chew up tiny parts of the inner skin, thus causing severe irritation and swelling. Red bumps and a rash or lesions accompany the severe itching on a sun-exposed area. For humans, itching usually occurs after the larvae detach from the skin. Chiggers prefer to feed on areas of skin under tight clothing (like waistbands, socks, etc.) or where skin is thin or tender (ankles, armpits, back of knees, groin). A few hours after the chigger begins feeding, small, red itchy welts appear, sometimes with a white center. The itching welts can last up to a week.
Treating Red Bug “Bites”
After leaving a chigger–infested area, wash clothes in very hot water to dislodge and kill the chiggers. Take a hot shower or bath and scrub skin with soap to dislodge chiggers. Make sure to wash all cracks and crevasses really well. Skin may still itch, so applying calamine lotion, hydrocortisone ointment, or other itch relief products is helpful. Some people find Vaseline, baby oil, and even nail polish to be helpful. It’s best to treat a bite as soon as possible.