Natural Remedies for Chigger Bites

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Upon stepping outside the comfort of home, you become the prime target of many different insects and other pests that want to make life miserable for you. Feeding on a range of hosts, chiggers accidentally choose humans for their meal. When they do, home remedies for chigger bites can help ease the symptoms that follow.

What is a Chigger?

Also referred to as ‘red bugs,’ chiggers are tiny parasitic larvae of mites that come in red, yellow or orange colors [1]. These creatures are closely related to ticks. While chiggers prefer a meal from small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, they often feed on humans by mistake. They have hairy bodies and move with the help of six legs.

Chiggers measure about 1/150″ in length, but you can’t detect them without the help of a magnifying glass. They can become easier to see if several chiggers gather close to your waistband or wristwatch – giving off a bright red color [2].

Chiggers often appear during the late spring and summertime. They like to frequent overgrown lawns, leaf litter, shrubbery, and other damp, shady places. Once chigger larvae have found a human host, they work their way to places where clothing fits tightly over the skin (like socks) and prefer delicate or wrinkled skin to bite.

A Chigger Bite

Chiggers bite us in a similar manner to the tick. They attach to our skin by inserting tiny specialized mouth parts – commonly into skin pores or hair follicles. The mouth parts that pierce the skin are short and fragile. Penetration can only take place in thin skin, wrinkles, or folds. Common places where chigger bites are found are around the ankles, the back of the knees, around the crotch, under the belt line, and in the armpits.

It is not the bite alone that causes the skin to itch. The chigger injects saliva into a host after attaching to the skin. A strong digestive enzyme is found in the saliva that actually dissolves the skin cells it comes in contact with. Contrary to popular belief, the chigger is not after our blood – it feeds off of liquefied tissue.

When feeding, a chigger often goes undetected for one to three hours. This will be the chigger’s one and only meal. Once a chigger is fully engorged, it cannot bite again, and will eventually die. Many are accidentally brushed away or scratched off before they have a chance to finish a meal.
Victims of a chigger bite experience intense itching accompanied by a small, reddish welt on the skin.

Chigger Bite Home Remedies

You might not be able to see a chigger on your skin, but you certainly will know when you’ve been bit. To calm the itchiness, redness and other symptoms, become familiar with the following home remedies for chigger bites to gain soothing relief:

a) Aspirin:

Moisten an aspirin tablet and rub on chigger bites to ease the pain and itchiness.

b) Nail Polish:

To stop the itching and help remind you to stop scratching your bite, apply a small amount of clear nail polish an affected area.

c) Vitamin E:

Taking 400 I.U. of vitamin E is said to bring relief within 15 minutes. Until your bites clear up, take 200 I.U. every three or four hours.

d) Calamine Lotion:

To calm the itchiness of chigger bites, consider slathering on calamine lotion for relief.

e) Icy-Hot:

To cool the itch of chigger bites, Icy-Hot (or Mineral Ice) can come to the rescue.

f) Kosher Salt Water:

Some people bathe in water with added Kosher salt to treat the itching of chigger bites. While running water into your tub, add five cups of Kosher coarse salt. Soak in the tub for 10 minutes, and then pour one cup of salt over the bites. Vigorously rub affected skin while in the tub. It is reported that some burning may occur, but the itching will subside. Soak the skin for an additional five minutes. Once out of the tub, dry off. This home remedy comes in handy when you’re looking to get a restful nights’ sleep.

g) Diaper Rash Cream:

Who knew that the same cream used to treat diaper rashes could address symptoms of chigger bites?

h) Epsom Salts:

Stand in a bathtub filled with hot water and pour in ½ bag of Epsom salts. On the following day, repeat the procedure with the remaining half of the bag. It is said that the Epsom salts draw out the components that irritates human skin. This remedy supposedly cuts down the time it takes for you to heal.

i) Baking Soda:

Take a bath and wash affected skin with soap and water. Next, apply a paste made from baking soda and water to bites after getting out of the tub.

j) Listerine:

This popular mouthwash is said to take away the itch of a chigger bite. Soak a washcloth in the liquid and rub over affected skin. The Minty Cool flavor is a preferred choice amongst home remedy users.

k) Meat Tenderizer:

Sit on the edge of your tub and wet down your legs and ankles with warm water. Rub unseasoned meat tenderizer in a very gentle manner on the places where you’ve been bitten by chiggers. Leave the remedy on for about five minutes, and then rinse off with warm water.

l) Milk:

Have a glass of milk after suffering chigger bites, as the enzymes are thought to soothe itching the skin.

m) Elmer’s Glue:

Apply a thin coating of Elmer’s Glue on chigger bites to soothe the itching.

n) Hot Soapy Bath:

A warm soapy bath can remove and kill any chiggers attached to your body before they feed. Don’t forget to thoroughly scrub your body.

o) Avoid Afternoon Hikes:

Chiggers are most active during the afternoon hours when the ground temperature is between 77 and 86 degrees. However, the pests are useless when temps fall below 60 degrees. If the temperature falls below 42 degrees, the chiggers that bite humans actually die.

p) Clothing Choices:

One of the smartest things you can do to protect yourself from chigger bites is to wear proper clothing when traveling to places known for chigger infestations. Leave behind shorts, sleeveless shirts, and sandals. Choose long sleeves and long pants to protect your skin.

q) Pant Leg and Cuff Check:

When walking in wooded areas, tuck your pant legs inside boots, as well as button cuffs to keep chiggers outside of your clothing.

Resources

[1] http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/ehs/ehschig.shtml
[2] http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/avoid-outdoor-pests/chiggers

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  • Laura DeCourcy

    when going out, rub vinegar on the parts of your body that chiggers are known to bite and this will keep them away.

  • Ron Smith

    Growing up in the Ouchita Mountains in central Arkansas I had many a chigger bite. To remedy the effects of these noisome critters we would put one cup of twenty mule team borax in our bath water and soak for thirty to forty minutes. The bath water had to be cool and not hot. The hot water only made the itching worse. The borax relieved the itching and also killed the chiggers. One can also repeat the treatment and bath as often as it is felt necessary.

  • Jennifer Williams

    Question: Regarding the Epsom salts, why do you stand in the tub & not lay down?

  • Ray

    Pour a half cup of Clorox bleach into a bath of cool water and soak ten or fifteen min in it. You can shower rinse to get rid of bleachy smell before drying off like at a community pool.

  • patti

    Lanacane ointment,..kept in the fridge,..helped the pain and itch,..and also brought the little bumps to a head,..next day scrub in Epson salt bath