Doctors give advice on how to avoid chigger bites during the summer

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SHERMAN, TX -- During the summer months, many people spend more time outdoors.

Before you do, you'll want to make sure you've got the bug repellent handy.

Doctors say chigger bites are a common problem this time of year.

"A nuisance," said parent, Renee Rodriguez.

That's what most people will say when chiggers come to mind.

Dr. Angela Latham says these tiny critters are almost invisible to the naked eye and they like to come out in the warmer temperatures.

She says contrary to popular belief, when you get bit, the insect itself does not bury itself in your skin.

"They don't burrow themselves in your skin," Latham said. "It's actually the larvae that comes and bites you and it releases an enzyme, and that's what causes the horrible itching."

She says the insects are drawn to areas on the body where your clothes are the tightest.

"Chiggers do like to go up in the folds," said Latham. "So they like to go up in your arms or in your groin. They will just bite you around your ankles too but they like to get into the fold areas."

Latham says the bugs are usually found in tall, grassy areas.

If you think you've been bitten, wash the area with soap and water immediately to remove the larvae from your skin.

She says any over-the-counter topical creams should help relieve the itching, which can last about a week.

"If you know you're in an area that has chiggers there are some preventative things you can do," Latham said. "An insect repellent with deet and also sulfur, you can take sulfur around your ankles."

That is the number one purchase for parents like Renee Rodriguez around this time of year.

"A lot insect repellent, a lot of off spray," Rodriguez said. "Keep stock of it, especially in the summer months, that's all I can tell you to do."

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