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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!

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

  1. I use iodine, straight away when I feel the slightest bite. It kills the bugger instantly. The problem for me now is – how to stop them from being attracted by my body. I can not go to my garden any more, not just for a minute! Are they fly or what? I don’t go around, I just stand on the patio, and they still manage to get me !

  2. The following works best for me. Put a cup of pine sol in your bath water and soak for 5-10 minutes. Works for me every time.

  3. Bacon grease.

  4. yourwelcome // August 13, 2017 at 5:58 pm // Reply

    LAST CRAWL, guys is the best and ony 100% effective and easiest and fastest way to GET RID of chiggers instead of just treating the bite for itching. Its sold just about everywhere and is safe for humans and pets and can even be consumed its so safe but it works!!

  5. Nook from Alaska // August 7, 2017 at 3:59 pm // Reply

    After reading all the comments and since I have so many bites I decided to try a few.
    Liquid bandaid stopped the itch but is tightening the skin.
    Vicks and salt stopped the itch but the area where I applied it is cold.
    Turmeric did not stop the itch.
    Witch Hazel worked the best. It soothed the skin and the itch is gone.

  6. Ozark woods // August 3, 2017 at 9:29 pm // Reply

    When you come in from outdoors, immediately soap up your feet, legs, arms and hands and don’t rinse it off. Let the soap lather dry on your skin. Change clothes. Just leave the dry soap lather for about half an hour. Then you can rinse the soap off. Really works. Hardly ever get any chiggers.

  7. I went camping this weekend came back with bites all over my legs just tried the bleach rub some on my legs the itching stopped

  8. Ewwchiggers // July 21, 2017 at 5:34 am // Reply

    Mixing alcohol and vinegar helps with the itching within minutes

  9. When you first notice that red bugs have gotten on you, take a bath with about 1/2 cup Clorox in a bathtub full of water. Soak in the tub for about 5 minutes — if there is any place on your body that the water doesn’t cover, use a cup to pour water over the area. Usually, you will feel the first “itch” within an hour or two of getting the red bugs on you. If you get a Clorox Bath soon after you notice the problem, the Clorox will kill the little buggers before they have had time to do much damage.

  10. Put sulfur powder on your shoes and socks and it will repel the nasty critters.

  11. Spelled it wrong. It’s Chigarid.

  12. Chiggarid is the best!! Eight of our scouts had them all over their bodies at summer camp.

  13. Monkey.D.Kirito // June 23, 2017 at 11:23 am // Reply

    thank you this helped me so much with treating the chigger bites now I don’t have to do the old way I was doing… YAY HA SUCK IT LIFE!!!!!

  14. Monkey.D.Kirito // June 23, 2017 at 11:21 am // Reply

    this can help so much thank you for making this article now I don’t need to do the way I was dong before.

  15. Oregano oil works great for chigger bites!

  16. Salicylic acid (Brand name Scalpicin) a clear liquid applied with a Q-tip works best for me.
    CAUTION: Scalpicin maximum strength hydrocortisone Anti-itch liquid does NOT allevciate chigger itch.

  17. Stop the Itch // June 16, 2017 at 7:31 am // Reply

    I seem to get them all the time and they itch forever plus scar. I take kosher salt or sea salt and mix it with my shower gel and not only does the itching stop but the scars also go away.

  18. Me and my little baby’s dog and brother have them had them for weeks my poor kids I’ve tried nail polish technic live shampoo you name it nothing has worked

    • If you have had them for weeks, then they are not chiggers. It could be scabies. Go see a doctor or dermatologist quickly.

      • Anonymous // July 26, 2017 at 2:05 pm //

        Applying acne wash containing Benzoyl Peroxide to the area with the bites immediately took away the itch!

  19. MrsItchyBod // June 7, 2017 at 6:47 pm // Reply

    Took 3 days to figure out not mosquito or nosee’em bites and my 82 yr old Southern mom identified the bites for me. Hydrocortisone and Benadryl cream not working and have applied both all over my body for 2 days. Tried a little bit of hand sanitizer while at work today (was desparate cuz of itching) and it seemed to calm dawn the itching (probably the alcohol content). I’m going to buy try the nail polish and calamine lotion tonight.

    • Use Vick and salt. It will take them away in 2-3 days. A dab of Vick and sprinkle with salt and rub on bite. It’s been a life saver for me.

  20. Just wanted to say thanks to all ideas . I hope they work,cause they are driving me crazy.

  21. Anonymous // May 27, 2017 at 9:20 pm // Reply

    As long as you use a insect repellant BEFORE you venture into yards, woods, or any other place they tend to show up..pine trees seem to be a hotspot..spray around the tops of socks and underwear…good luck!

  22. chiggers be gone // May 19, 2017 at 5:10 pm // Reply

    Finger nail polish remover (Acetone) is the quickest way that I have found to get relief. The enzyme has got to be killed to stop the melting of the skin. Stings like fire for a short time (minute or two), but well worth not having the prolonged itch for a week.

  23. My guys swear by Calamine lotion, the pink stuff. Worked better then all the other remedies they tried.

  24. Turmeric works great. Even just dusting on some of the culinary stuff from trader joes.

  25. Had them once really bad had no idea what they were as I live in the north and had never seen nor heard of them my doctor recommended kwell!!!Killed them on contact and no more itch.

  26. Witch Hazel! It is sold in a bottle and is also the active ingredient in Preparation H. Witch hazel on a cotton ball immediately calms the itch and helps speed up the healing process.

  27. Help Me !!!!!! // March 7, 2017 at 6:01 am // Reply

    I’m tired of this crap !!!!

  28. Help Me !!!!!! // March 6, 2017 at 10:04 pm // Reply

    I don’t know what this is the doctor told me that no one can catch it but my mother called it and she’s 90 years old I am so pissed at the doctor now I’m here trying to save everybody in the house if anyone knows anything I could do please write and tell me

  29. I use CHIGGEREX after they get me and “OFF” to help keep them off. Both seem to work.

  30. I had them all around my waist. I applied a OTC products made to get rid of them, much like fingernail polish. A friend applied it to places I couldn’t reach. When it dried I discovered that I had glued my underwear to my skin all around my waist! Ouch! It sure got rid of the red bugs along with patches of my skin! 😀

  31. chigger eaten // October 21, 2016 at 7:52 am // Reply

    just got some! uggg… really itchy. does the clear polish really work?

  32. nobugsallowed // October 19, 2016 at 7:30 am // Reply

    i think they are coming in on my dogs and then they are laying on furniture and beds and i found them in my bed…is there anything safe for the dogs to use as a preventative?

  33. I have made a homemade spray. It really works! Use 1 gal. of distilled water or boil 1 gal. of tap water for 5 minutes. Add 8 tsp of table salt. Mix solution well until salt is dissolved. Add 1 Tbl spoon of household bleach and mix well before using. This solution can be stored for 1 month at room temperature. (Be sure storage container and mixing utensils are clean and sterile).

  34. Use SULFER. They leave within a few hours after applying it.

  35. I have been putting alot of rubbing alcohol (90 proof) and has helped to dry the spots which stopped most of the itching.never had them in my life.

  36. I have them in my back yard woods. We scrape them off with green pads in the shower right after going in the woods. Then we put on young living thieves oil and lavendar to stop the itch each day. Takes a few days for the bites to go away.

  37. Chigger Infested Texan // September 7, 2016 at 6:31 pm // Reply

    The clear fingernail polish for sure stops the itch!! I’ve used Benadryl cream, Allegra cream, Benadryl orally and I have literally clawed my skin into infection. I put the nail polish on every bite and BAM, it stopped the itch. When I shower and the polish comes off, the itch is back. I really the polish and the itch stops until my next shower. I highly recommend the polish to stop the itch, just to keep your sanity

  38. Milk of magnesia!!

  39. had them 4 times..ugh this last time was awful..liquid bandage helps a lot if you touch up every bite but turns white and crusty.. pain to get off..also believe it or not the best relief is windex with ammonia..put it in a fine spray bottle and every time they itch spray the area .. really helps..sounds insane but works the best out of anything ive tried and ive tried them all.

  40. augh!! why dosent itch cream work?!

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