Saba Conservation Foundation informed the Public Health Department Saba that quite a few tourists and locals have complained about an itchy rash caused by Chigger bites. Chiggers are tiny little larvae of mites (Trombiculidae) that are common in the Caribbean. They live in forests and grasslands and are also found in the vegetation of low, damp areas and even in drier places where vegetation is low, such as Rendezvous, Buds Mountain, Spring Bay and the Sulfur Mine trails on Saba.
Chiggers typically infest human skin via areas of contact with vegetation, such as pant cuffs or shirt sleeves and collars. Chiggers are very small (measuring 0.4 mm (1/60 of an inch), are chrome-orange and migrate on the skin in search of an optimal feeding area, preferably areas of wrinkles, folds, or other areas of skin that are thin. If they are not disturbed (which is rarely the case because they cause intense itching) they may feed for a few days.
Chiggers are not known to carry any diseases in the Caribbean.
How to prevent Chigger bites?
-Avoid spots where chiggers are commonly found
-Wear light coloured shoes, socks, long pants and shirts with long sleeves when hiking or working in chigger habitat
-Use a bug repellent containing DEET on your clothes (use according to instructions)
-Shower well after possible exposure and wash clothing
How to treat chigger bites?
The itchiness can be relieved with hydrocortisone cream or an antihistamine. Try not to scratch as that can cause secondary bacterial infection.
The bites will disappear by themselves after one to two weeks.
The following local tips can also be tried:
-A mix of Vicks Vaporub and table salt, directly applied to the bite.
-Trail Manager, James ”Crocodile” Johnson swears that “Money Bush” is the best natural remedy to treat rashes caused by Chiggers or other insects. Boil the leaves of the bush like a tea and use in bath water (refer to “Folk Remedies on a Caribbean Island by Suzanne Nielsen, page 54).
Also check out http://www.medicinenet.com/chiggers_bites/article.htm
Other types of rash
Rashes come in all forms and shapes. A rash covering the whole body that is accompanied by fever, muscle or joint pain, eye infection or feeling very ill should be seen by a doctor at the Saba Health Care Foundation.
Message from Saba Public Health Department