Chiggers lingering later into summer months - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Chiggers lingering later into summer months

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GRAYSON COUNTY -- The end of the summer is typically the time when chigger bites tend to taper off.

But this year, they seem to be sticking around a little longer.

Chiggers are a fact of life for Texomans in the summer.

The itch, most say, is unbearable. While almost everyone knows of a home remedy to ease the symptoms, don't expect them all to actually work.

Chiggers are difficult to see but the mark they leave is far from it.

But, for those who've ever experienced a chigger bite, the look is the least of their concerns.

"Extremely itchy, like you've got bugs crawling all over you," Denison resident Annissa Riley said.

Dr. Mark Koone is a dermatologist at Texoma Dermatology Clinic in Sherman.

Each year, he says he sees more patients with chigger bites during the early summer months. "But this has been a great summer for chiggers," he said. "We're seeing them even now."

Chigger larvae – the only type that bites humans – are about half a millimeter in size and are often found in tall grass.

"You can see them but they're just a tiny speck," Dr. Koone said.

They typically bite ankles, feet and legs then days later, develop into dime-sized knots on the skin's surface.

"Once you've got the bite, the chigger is gone they don't burrow in the skin. They don't live in the skin so all we're doing is treating the reaction left over from the bite," Dr. Koone said.

Spraying your skin with any product containing deet, he says, will keep chiggers away. However, treating a bite isn't nearly as cut and dry.

There are numerous home remedies for treating chigger bites including taking a bleach bath or covering it up with nail polish.

While Dr. Koone says these may not do any harm, don't expect them to actually work either. He says the sure-fire way to relieve itchy side effects of a chigger bite is by using cortisone creams and antihistamines.

He says they take two to three weeks to go away.