By Carole Gamelin
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As their name suggests, this is their time! Chiggers swarm in the middle of summer and attack both humans and animals, especially dogs and rabbits. Neotrombicula autumnalis, of its Latin name, is a larva of a parasite which belongs to the mite family.
Synonym of itching sometimes violent, the sting of chiggers causes pimples to appear which must be monitored so that they do not become infected.
Who can be bitten?
The chigger is easily recognizable by its Red color. But since it measures less than a millimeter, it is difficult to spot it with the naked eye. Close-cropped hair covers his body. It has the particularity of having three pairs of legs when it is in the larval state and four when it develops.
It is mainly found in grasses, in the garden but also in fields or meadows. Hence the bites on animals: cats, dogs, rabbits, some rodents. He also likes to colonize horses or the cows. And he will not hesitate to attack you if you walk barefoot.
It is warm blood that attracts chiggers, but they do not suck this blood: they feed on pieces of skin. There is no contagion from dogs to humans.
How can I relieve my animal?
If your dog licks his paw a lot or scratches his ears, if he even bites himself, there is a good chance that he has been bitten by chiggers. Once you’ve ruled out the possibility of a spikelet, you need to take a close look at its leg and pads or the itchy area.
The veterinarian we interviewed recommends cleaning the paw and hairs that could be bloody. Then apply a treatment that will both eliminate the presence of larvae, treat inflammation and protect against recurrence.
This treatment combines spray, ointment and pipette. It is sold to veterinarians. The chigger being a vector of several diseases, do not hesitate to also treat the environment of the animal in the house.
Diatomaceous earth for lawn treatment
It is a nature-friendly solution. To eliminate chiggers from your lawn, you can use diatomaceous earth.
It can be found in gardening stores, DIY stores and even supermarkets.
Just spread it on the lawn and especially in places where you can’t pass the mower.
How to recognize the chigger bite in humans?
As in dogs, chiggers larvae attack humans. But how do we know that our bites come from this mite?
For this, it is necessary to look carefully at the stung area. If pimples appeared that look like small reddish papules (pimple) in the center of a lighter area, these are the chiggers.
You should know that the larvae can remain attached to your skin for more than 24 hours and that itching appears when they come off. Itching which can be quite violent. Courage, do not scratch! And do not hesitate to consult your doctor if you suffer more than three days or develop an allergy.
To relieve you: corticosteroid ointment
You have been stung. To avoid the appearance of itching after the rash, it is necessary disinfect your skin.
For example, you can take a hot bath with a neutral soap (or Marseille soap), then pass an antiseptic on your pimples.
“We will then proceed as for an insect bite”, explains this pharmacist from Rennes. “We apply an ointment that contains cortisone on the pimples. This will calm the inflammation and the urge to scratch. If really the temptation to tear off the skin is too strong, one can also supplement with an antihistamine tablet”. Some of these solutions are available in pharmacies, without a prescription.
And to avoid being stung, a recommendation: do not lie down directly in the grass if you are not dressed from head to toe! Think sheet or blanket to insulate yourself from the ground.
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