No country is free from the presence of chiggers. These yellow, red, or straw-colored insects can be hard to see as they are only 0.3mm long, but they still cause trouble. They are so small that you may not know you have come in contact with them until you come home to find an itchy rash on your arms or legs seemingly out of nowhere.
What are the most common symptoms of chigger bites? How do you get rid of them?
How do you treat the bites naturally without an expensive trip to the doctor? Keep reading to learn more.
What Are Chiggers?
Chiggers are tiny mites which live in many places. You can find them in moist, grassy fields such as forests. You may encounter them near streams and lakes. They may also make a home in your yard. They are also known as harvest bugs, harvest lice, or mower’s mites and are actually small outdoor ticks.
The adults do not bite, but larvae or babies can be quite the nuisance. They spend their lives close to their hatching site and the chigger larvae stick together in groups once they hatch. They stay on leaves and grass near the ground until animals or people pass by. When that happens, these mites look for patches of skin and latch on with jaw-like, sharp claws.
How to Detect Chiggers
You may know you have a chigger infestation if you are itching in areas which have been exposed to tall grass, woods, or shady areas. You may have itching around delicate skin such as behind the knees or around the ankles, waist, and groin. Red bumps looking like small blisters come soon after the itching starts. You itch so badly you can’t sleep, and after several days the area crusts over and scabs for up to several weeks.
If you suspect chiggers near you, put a small bowl of water on the floor and wait a few hours. Chigger larvae and adults will be unable to resist this. Look through a magnifying glass for tiny red or yellow specks floating in the water dish.
Effects of Chigger Bites
The effects of chigger bites are not immediate. After a few hours, irritation and itching will occur. The saliva of the chiggers digests the surface of the skin and turns some cells into pulp. The chiggers can live off of this pulp for several days. The most common place for bites are the waist and lower legs, but painful, itchy rashes can occur anywhere on the body.
When men get bites in the groin region, they can experience trouble urinating, swelling, and itching. It can take days or weeks to heal. Often you cannot sleep restfully due to the severe itching. The itching can last for days. Blisters, hive-like rashes, or red bumps around the bites can take up to over a week to heal. You are the most likely to experience chigger bikes during the summer, spring and early fall.
How to Prevent Chigger Bites
There are several ways you can reduce your risk of receiving chigger bikes. Wear long pants and sleeves and tuck the legs of your pants into your socks. Wear thigh-high boots and keep your pets away from infested areas. Do not go into tall weeds or grass. Do not sit or lie down on the ground.
How to Get Rid of Chiggers
If you have ever experienced a chigger bite, you probably want to know how to eliminate chiggers from your lawn. Here are 10 tips for ridding yourself of these nuisances:
- Mow your lawn and cut down tall grass
- Keep your pets away from your yard
- Use diatomaceous earth
- Add sulfur powder to your shoes and socks
- Brush exposed skin
- Take a hot shower once indoors
- Wash your clothes by themselves in hot water
- Try permethrin repellent for clothes
- Try diethyltoluamide (DEET) repellents for skin
- Use natural sprays
Chiggers need cool, damp places to live. Pull out tall weeds and cut your grass so your yard is sunny and has plenty of air circulation. Also, trim any bushes, decorative plants and other shrubs. You will have to do this more often in warmer, more humid climates. Keep your pets inside as chiggers frequently choose animals as hosts. Do not keep open containers of water in your yard. Keep your garden neat to discourage mammals from making a home in your yard and so attracting the pests, and secure trash cans to keep animals such as raccoons away.
Diatomaceous earth is formed from soft sedimentary rock formed by fossilized creatures called diatoms. It is natural and organic and will not damage your plants. Sprinkle the white or off-white powder in areas of your yard where you suspect chiggers may hide. Also sprinkle it on your shoes to kill them before they can latch on. Sulfur powder will not kill chiggers, but the offensive odor will keep them away.
Brush your skin and clothes off every 30 minutes to ensure a chigger does not find a suitable place to latch onto. Take a hot shower after hiking near a lake or anywhere else you suspect you have been bitten. Wash your clothes with water at least 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry the clothes in the sunlight.
Apply permethrin repellent to your clothes the day before you plan to wear them. Thoroughly spray both sides of the clothes and openings such as cuffs, collar, or waistband. Let the repellent dry before you wear the clothes. Avoid spraying on plastic or painted or varnished surfaces. If it is too hot to cover all of your skin, use DEET insect repellent every two to three hours. Do not apply DEET near the eyes, nose or mouth. Tea tree, lemongrass, citronella, and geranium essential oils are natural chigger repellents. Spray these natural insecticides on yourself or your pets to safely repel these annoying young insects.
Home Remedies for Chiggers Bites
It is important to know how not to deal with chigger bites. Do not use aspirin without a doctor’s recommendation. It can be dangerous for certain individuals. There is an old wive’s tale saying nail polish will suffocate the chigger, but by the time you notice the symptoms there may not be anything on your skin anymore. At best, nail polish does not work. At worst, you are putting a toxic substance directly into an open wound.
So how do you remedy chigger bites naturally?
- Take a hot shower
- Use a baking soda scrub
- Rub salt in the wound
- Spray salt water or herbal tea on the bites
- Use castor oil
- Use diatomaceous earth
- Use a natural itch cream
- Try cooling aloe vera
- Soak in magnesium or Epsom salt baths
It can take chiggers several hours to find a suitable patch of skin to latch onto. If you take a hot shower during this window you will avoid all the side effects of its destructive saliva. Make a paste of equal parts water and baking soda and rub onto the affected areas. Let this sit for a few seconds then shower it off. It will sting but it will relieve the itching enough to let you sleep.
Use a homemade vapor-rub salve mixed with salt to avoid the petroleum byproducts of traditional vapor rubs. The salt neutralizes the saliva causing the itching while the vapor-rub soothes it. Again, this will sting, but it is well worth the relief from the itching. For cooling, calming relief, make a strong chamomile tea, add a few tablespoons of natural salt and spray some onto your wounds.
Castor oil is entomologist recommended for itchiness. Diatomaceous earth works remarkably well as it kills off any chiggers remaining on your skin and dries out the bumps, reducing the itching. Sprinkle it in your socks and on your boots as a preventative measure if you are going hiking near a lake. Calamine lotion is a great solution for eliminating any itches you may have.
Mix 1/4 cup of fresh aloe vera gel with a drop of peppermint essential oil and rub over the irritated skin to calm and soothe it. Finally, you can add a cup of Epsom salt or magnesium flakes to a warm bath if you prefer baths over showers with baking soda.
Chiggers are tiny mites which are found in every country in the world. Chigger bites are characterized by itchy, red bumps and sometimes welts and scabs that show up hours after bites. To naturally get rid of chiggers, mow your lawn, trim hedges and pull weeds. Use diatomaceous earth to kill the mites or sulfur powder on your clothes to keep them away.
Use DEET repellant for your clothes or natural essential oil repellents on your family and pets to kill or repel the insects. To heal your wounds, use a baking soda paste, herbal tea spray or etymologist approved castor oil. Natural itch creams such as chamomile oil, cooling, fresh aloe vera gel, and magnesium or Epsom salt baths are also great ways to relieve the annoying itch received after chigger bites.