Many people don't know it yet, but as the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer approaches, we are usually well into chigger season.
Unlike most of the other things cause itchy rashes this time of year, such as poison ivy and mosquito bites, there are a lot of myths, misconceptions, and misinformation out there about chiggers.
For one thing, not everyone even knows how to recognize chigger bites?
Mostly because chiggers are nearly microscopic and their bites aren't painful. So unlike a fire ant or a mosquito, you usually don't know when you or your kids are bit by a chigger. Instead, you simply start itching the next day.
The location of the bites should give you a clue that your kids have chigger bites, which are often at your belt-line, neck, armpits, and ankles.
Treating Chigger Bites
In addition to not always recognizing chigger bites, parents sometimes have misconceptions about the best way to treat them. They often use nail polish to suffocate the chiggers, but since chiggers don't actually burrow into your skin and it is their saliva and digestive enzymes that cause the itchy rash, nail polish isn't very useful.
Instead, treatments should be aimed at controlling the itch, including over-the-counter steroid creams and other anti-itch medications.
Avoiding Chigger Bites
As with most things, it can often be more helpful to try and avoid chigger bites than attempt to treat the bites after your kids are already itchy.
One way is to have your child wear long pants and tuck them into his socks. Since that isn't usually practical in the summer heat, using an insect repellent with DEET is another good defense, being especially careful to apply it to your child's ankles, wrists, waist, and neck.
It can also help to avoid fields where the grass seems overgrown, since that is where chiggers can usually be found. If you have chiggers in your own backyard, treating the area with an insecticide may also be helpful, although may only get a temporary benefit.
Lastly, anytime your child is playing in a grassy area, have him take a quick bath or shower to wash off any chiggers that may be on his body, before they find a place to feed.