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How Do You Prevent and Treat Chigger Bites?

chigger-3

WHAT ARE CHIGGERS?

Red bugs, chiggers, berry bugs, scrub-itch mites and harvest mites are all terms used to describe members of the family of insects known as Trombiculidae. These reddish-orange mites can be found worldwide, but they really enjoy hanging out in damp, grassy and wooded areas, especially at the edges of forests.

In the United States, chiggers are mostly found in the southeast, south and midwest. They are most active from early spring to early autumn, until the first frost.

HOW DO CHIGGERS BITE US?

Chigger larvae infest humans by crawling up our shoes and legs as we make our way through the scrub.

What’s kind of cool is that chiggers do not actually bite us. Likewise, they do not burrow into our skin, and they do not suck our blood. Instead, chiggers use their mouths to drill tiny holes into our skin through which they secrete specialized salivary enzymes designed to break down our skin cells from the inside. Then, the chiggers slurp up the mixture through a tube formed by hardened skin cells called a stylosome. Basically, it’s like drinking a big “YOU” protein shake!

Your skin does not take too kindly to all of this drilling and parasitic digestion. Consequently, humans typically develop intensely itchy, bright red pimple-like bumps or hives or a generalized skin rash in the areas where the mites were attached, even up to 24 to 48 hours after exposure.

Chiggers prefer to attach to skin at areas where the clothing fits tightly against the body, such as at the tops of socks or around the elastic edges of underwear, so a rash in these areas may be a clue to the specific cause.

HOW DO YOU TREAT CHIGGER BITES?

So, what can you do for a chigger rash? First, forget the old myth of applying fingernail polish to the affected areas. Chiggers do NOT burrow into the skin, so trying to suffocate the chiggers with polish makes no sense at all. Second, chiggers do not lay eggs in the skin, so stop worrying about that.

chigger-2Chigger wounds are a complex mixture of mechanical damage to the skin (the drilling), enzymatic disruption of the skin (the digestion), and your body’s own attempt to get rid of the parasite. Consequently, the most important thing to do is to prevent chigger infestation. Avoid camping in warm, moist temperate climates of high mammal density, including livestock pastures, with tall grass.

If the area is infested, get out of there quickly and wash your skin vigorously with soap and water. Itching is best alleviated through the use of topical corticosteroids (either over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% ointment or prescription strength from your physician) and anti-histamines like Benadryl.

Watch out for severe chigger rashes that can become secondarily infected with bacteria; in these cases, consult a doctor immediately.

Now you know a “mitey” bit more about chiggers than you did before!

55 Comments on How Do You Prevent and Treat Chigger Bites?

  1. Stop the chipper bite itch. One medium cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide. Let it soak-in until it burns.

  2. I have over two hundred bites. i was wearing long jeans socks and shoes. i went to pick grapes but the deer had already got the ones that were reachable. i left the area within. five mintues. . I am miserable .

  3. how can you get them out of your mattress and clothes?

  4. Preparation-H ointment

  5. Any kind of toothpaste works and I had chiggers on me and I put toothpaste on and it was cold and soothing and I guess it’s froze Em off

  6. Mix gumbo file’ and olive oil and mix well to make a black paste. It will draw out the poison. Cover infected areas.

  7. Itchy O'Malley // September 1, 2015 at 4:09 pm // Reply

    Take a warm bath with a cup of bleach in it.
    Soak for 30 min then rinse in shower with cool water and soap.

  8. chigger hater // August 27, 2015 at 10:28 pm // Reply

    I got chiggers walking through tall grass. I am sitting here now with Crest toothpaste on the bites and it works. It helps to stop the pain, plus the red areas do not have a chance to spread. I showered and washed all linen and clothing. If they don’t stop, I will be getting into the pool in hopes that the chlorine will at last prevent them from biting.

  9. Growing up and even now with working outdoors all the time I get red bugs every now and then. To get rid of them I’d take a bath with just a small amount of bleach and that’d kill them all.

  10. Yeah but how do you get rid of the bumps, I’m going to the beach in five days

  11. Add a little bleach to your bath, not a lot or it will burn your skin and use blue star onitment afterwards on affected areas

  12. time to get rid // August 7, 2015 at 11:26 pm // Reply

    red bugs and chiggers

  13. I have red bugs

  14. Soak in hot/ warm bath. Pour bottle rubbing alcohol,they die….die die . Nasty critters. All mouth!!!

  15. Sounds like scabies.

  16. Raised in the South, we always had red bug bites in the summer! Vicks vapo-rub
    always stopped the itching for us kids! I have some now from a trip to the woods two days ago! Getting the Vicks ready to apply after my bath!

  17. The itch is real // August 3, 2015 at 3:02 pm // Reply

    These are the worst thing I have ever incountered. Nothing has worked including prednasone beneydrel anti itch creams dermablast the list goes on. I would never wish this on anyone😩😩😩😩😩

  18. A good scratch followed by antiseptic cream is best!

  19. vicks vapor rub the best itch relief

  20. How to get rid of them

  21. I PUT A DROP OF SUPER GLUE ON EACH ONE. IT SEEMS TO KILL THEM ALMOST INSTANTLY. THE ITCH STILL COMES BUT YOU STOP THAT WITH BENZOCAINE UNTIL IT HEALS.

  22. Wear boots and tuck your pants in.

  23. frankentad // July 24, 2015 at 8:15 am // Reply

    The problem is no-one knows they have been bitten until after the fact. So if you don’t get to the shower and watch it off, same thing with poison ivy, then your back to being a scratch addict. Finger nail polish does help with the itch and it’s the only thing that helped me when I sat on a colony of chiggers while fishing. It wasn’t until
    half way home from fishing I was itching!

  24. southernhiker // July 22, 2015 at 9:52 pm // Reply

    Apply the deet before going in, EVERY TIME!

  25. xpressgirl // July 22, 2015 at 6:34 pm // Reply

    Mom always painted chiggers with finger nail polish remover, it suffocates them and they heal.

  26. I used nail polish and it has worked everytime.

  27. As a kid my grandmother put one cup of rubbing alchohol in my bath………worked everytime

  28. Paint with clear nail polish. It works

  29. A bleach bath will clear everything up within 48 hours

  30. Peppermint oil works great as well. A good preventative is sulfur. You can buy Home Depot or other stores like it. After you buy it come home get an old sock, fill it with the sulfur tie a knot in the top and your ready to use it. When going out in tall grass you bang the sock around your ankles waist or any other place one of these nasty bugs can get.

  31. Clear fingernail polish isn’t to kill them. I grew up using it to stop the itching. Also, a good way to check for chiggers is to place a white paper plate in the weeds or grass where you intend to camp. If it’s infested, you’ll see them on the plate gathering. They move pretty quick. And by the time you feel the itching, their gone.

  32. scoutmomma // July 22, 2015 at 12:19 pm // Reply

    Used Chigarid. There is also Chiggerex, but it doesn’t work as well. Ask your pharmacist to show you where to find these in the drugstore.

  33. On them and poison ivy I like to wash area then dry with a hot hair dryer. Don’t burn yourself but it’s more wonderful than scratching. Then put on an ointment. Won’t itch for a couple of hours.

  34. One capful of bleach in your bath water will stop the itch. We’ve used this successfully for over 50 years. It works!

  35. For prevention use a mixture of baby powder & sulfur power. Mix together & sprinkle in underwear. For relief make a paste with Vaseline & sulfur powder, treat affected spots.

  36. tomahawk patrol man // July 21, 2015 at 2:58 pm // Reply

    The boy scout book says calamine lotion or clear finger nail polish

  37. Very hot water provided intense relief and one week into this torture I used Biofreeze gel and it worked great!!!!

  38. All I can say is they are the worst little creachers out there. What eats them anything?

  39. Vicks or any other ointment containing menthol helps relieve the itch almost immediately. Just be cautious where you apply because it can sting sensitive areas.

  40. Put bleach on a paper towel let it dry of course don’t use it on certain places might not want to use it on the kids

  41. foxtrot 4511 // July 11, 2015 at 8:06 pm // Reply

    i light the end of a spoon with heat and put it on the wound and it helps.

  42. A Dr. told me a few years ago that the cheapest way to go was clear nail polish. That is what we have been using every since then. But, is a chigger also called a Red Bug.

  43. Clorox will kill chigers!

  44. Hot showers help too

  45. I know they say chiggers don’t embed into your body but thats not entirely true. I have had one embedded in my leg for at least 2months-waiting to get into a doctors office to help me with it. I finally found what it was on the internet and have it with me to take to the doctor tonight.

  46. Pinesol, my grandma taught me this. Put pinesol straight on a wash cloth put it head to toe avoid eyes etc in about a couple minutes take a shower use hot water and soap on the pinesol cloth and scrub up good. repeat with a clean washcloth just the soap and rinse. It works and it works on the itching!!!! Yes I use this on the dog also!!!!! Use common sense and not get in their eyes or yours when they shake…

    • Hi I hope it works I just put it on a friend from head to toe he is covered in redbugs he went down on motorcyle and landed in the woods thank you

  47. Quick relief // July 5, 2015 at 10:59 pm // Reply

    For immediate relief: best I’ve found is Carmex lip balm.
    For larger area: Witch Hazel has a cooling effect which may restore sanity long enough to buy Carmex.

  48. 💕💁🏼💕 // July 5, 2015 at 2:52 pm // Reply

    Hydrocortisone 10.

  49. What I did I used hydrocortisone 10 on mine it worked for me.💁🏼

  50. I heat up the side of a lighter and touch it several times on the red area. Stops itching. Works on the smaller ones, but the big angry areas not so
    Much.

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