A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Chiggers in Wisconsin? Mosquito bites have company

Low angle of someone walking through woods, leaves - Chiggers in Wisconsin

Chiggers are tiny mites that cause lesions on your skin when they bite. You can find them in grasses and weeds.

For most Wisconsinites, mosquitos are the first thing that comes to mind when getting bit by a bug outside. However, another pesky and often overlooked bug called a chigger can be just as frustrating.

Chiggers are a tiny mite found in grasses and weeds growing in forests, fields, parks, gardens and around lakes or rivers. They cannot fly, so chigger bites typically cluster around shoe and sock margins.

Typically you find chiggers in the Southern U.S., but you can also find them in Wisconsin.

“Individual lesions caused by chigger bites can look very similar to mosquito bites,” said Dr. Erik Stratman, a dermatologist with Marshfield Clinic Health System. “However, mosquito bites tend to occur on any skin that is exposed and are less likely to be clustered like chigger bites.”

With many similarities to a mosquito bite, chigger bites can:

  • Be very itchy
  • Cause red spots on your skin that can be raised or flat
  • Cause red spots that may look like blisters or pimples

How to treat

“Using over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or ointment applied twice daily can help decrease the inflammatory reaction that makes them itch,” said Stratman.

He also recommends anti-itch cooling lotions, such as Sarna®, to help with the urge to scratch. If the bites are itchy, you should take care to not dig and scratch at the areas.

“The trouble people get into with these bites is with secondary infections from scratch sores,” said Stratman.

These sores and possible infection could lead to needing medical attention. However, most chigger bites do not require a medical visit. Typically the lesions heal within 1-2 weeks.

For more information about how to treat chigger bites, talk to your primary care provider.

For questions about bug bites, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

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