Know these home remedies for chigger bites, or better yet, avoid the bug’s bites in the first place with helpful tips included here!
In this article:
- What Is a Chigger, Exactly?
- Where Do Chiggers Live?
- Identifying Chiggers Bites
- Home Remedies for Chigger Bites
- Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection
Home Remedies For Chigger Bites
What Is a Chigger, Exactly?
Chiggers are members of the arachnid family. They are extremely tiny, and my guess is you won’t even see them as they jump from the tall grass onto your skin and/or clothing.
Adult chiggers are about 1/60 of an inch and have eight legs. The larvae are red, wingless, six-legged creatures which measure less than 1/150 of an inch.
Because of their red color, you might be able to spot the larvae when they cluster together, especially on white clothing.
What Is the Arachnid Family? It is a large group or class of invertebrate animals where the spiders and scorpions belong.
Where Do Chiggers Live?
Chiggers reside in tall weeds and grass, berry patches, and wooded areas. They could be in your backyard, by the lake, or your favorite hiking trail.
They are most active in summer and fall afternoons – the warmest part of the day.
Identifying Chiggers Bites
Only the larvae bite humans and they tend to choose warm, moist areas of the body.
Chiggers also have claws which help them grab onto your skin. The chigger then attaches its mouth to the skin and injects saliva.
The saliva contains an enzyme which breaks skin cells down to liquid form. Your body responds by hardening skin cells around the saliva, creating a tube (cyclostome) through which the chigger sucks the dissolved skin cells.
Chiggers can stay attached and feeding for several days before falling off.
When the chigger falls off, you are left with reddish bumps. You may notice a bright red dot in the center—this is a remnant of the tube your skin formed in response to the chigger’s saliva.
The bumps may look like welts, blisters, pimples, or hives. Bites generally appear in groups and get larger for several days to a week.
While many insects bite exposed skin which is easy to get to, chiggers like to bite in folds of skin as well as places where clothing fits tightly on the skin. Most chigger bites occur around the ankles, waist, armpits, crotch, or behind the knees.
Home Remedies for Chigger Bites
Just remember, no matter what, DO NOT SCRATCH THE BITES! I know, easier said than done. But, breaking the skin on a chigger bite can lead to infection.
Here are 5 home remedies to help with the itching and swelling.
RELATED: Spider Bite? Here’s How To Treat It
1. Vicks Vapor Rub
Vicks Vapor Rub can put an end to itchy chigger bites immediately and will even reduce the risk of blisters. It’s the cooling menthol in it which relieves itching by affecting itch receptors in the skin.
- Take a hot shower (use antibacterial soap.) Pat dry your skin with a soft towel.
- Take a small amount of the vapor rub and add some table salt to it.
- Mix well and apply to the affected area.
- Repeat if the swelling continues (otherwise, there is no need to repeat the process)
2. Cold Compress
A cold compress can help reduce the itching associated with chigger bites. Its numbing effect helps reduce the sensation of itchiness.
- Wrap some ice cubes in a thin cloth.
- Apply the compress to the bites for 10 minutes. Repeat if needed to relieve itching.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another effective remedy to reduce rashes as well as itchiness. It acts as a natural acid neutralizer which helps relieve itching and reduces the risk of infection.
- Add 1 cup of baking soda to a bathtub filled with cool water.
- Stir well and soak in this water for 15 minutes and pat your skin with a soft towel. (Do this once daily)
Another remedy using baking soda:
- Prepare a thin paste of 2 teaspoons of baking soda and a little water.
- Apply the paste on the affected areas and leave it on for about 10 minutes.
- Rinse it off with cool water.
Note: Do not use this remedy more than once or twice a day. Never use baking soda on broken skin or open wounds.
Oatmeal contains anti-irritating, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties providing instant relief from itching–one of the common symptoms of chigger bites. It is recommended to use colloidal oatmeal, meaning oats which are ground into an extremely fine powder.
(You can accomplish this yourself by grinding regular oats in a sealed Ziploc bag, using the backside of a spoon to crush the oatmeal.)
- Add 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal to a bathtub filled with warm water
- Stir thoroughly
- Soak in this mixture for at least 15-20 minutes
- Repeat 2-3 times a day
5. Olive Oil
Olive oil can also be used to get relief from the irritation and inflammation. It is rich in vitamin E and antioxidants which reduce itching and facilitate healing.
- After rinsing the affected area with water, apply olive oil to the chigger bite.
- Reapply several times a day.
Another option using olive oil:
- Mix a few drops of tea tree oil in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and apply on the affected area.
- Repeat a few times a day.
Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection
As summer and fall are prime time for chigger bites, it is best to take the following precautions:
- When hiking, stay in the center of the trail and avoid brushing up against vegetation.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants when going into the woods.
- Apply mosquito repellent on your hands, feet, and exposed skin on your arms before going outside.
- Shower immediately after being outdoors and use antibacterial soap.
- Wash your clothes in hot water.
- Resist the urge to scratch because breaking the skin on chigger bites can lead to a possible infection.
This video from Online Pest Control will show you tips to avoid chiggers and ways to get rid of chiggers:
Chigger bites much like other insect bites aren’t only discomforting, they can be dangerous too. Many of these insects including chiggers carry diseases in some cases.
The best way to deal with these bugs is to avoid them or control them with our tips here. But, if you’re so unlucky, you also now know the best home remedies to chigger bites!
Have you had to deal with chigger bites before? Tell us how, including more useful tips which worked for you in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 28, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.