First, I want to say this: I know there are some people who are going to want to give me a lecture on the evils of bleach, especially putting it in any form on your skin. Please don't - especially if you've never had a chigger bite! I know about the dangers of putting chemicals on your skin, or even worse, on a child. I think the effects of DEET are way more toxic then bleach, and I have not tried any other method that will actually prevent chigger bites or ease the insane itch from them - and believe me, I've probably tried most of them!
I never knew what chiggers were until I moved to Oklahoma. I don't think I've seen an insect that is worse! They wait in the grass and jump on you when you walk by. They crawl until they are stopped by socks, underwear or just can't go anywhere else - so common places for multiple bites are around the ankles and underwear line, the armpits, and the groin. You don't even know you've been bit at first, it usually takes several hours or the next day - and then you have this horrible, insane itching for days/weeks and terrible scars up to dime-size. If you have the misfortune to be allergic to them, as one of my sons is, it's even worse - he's spent up to 2 weeks on oral steroids and antibiotics to deal with results of chigger bites. They like his armpits. He's had swollen glands in his armpits.
My 2 youngest spent an ENTIRE summer not being able to play outside AT ALL because they were SO sensitive to these bites. Yes, you can use bug spray to help, but it doesn't always prevent them and I don't like the idea of bathing my kids in bug spray several times every day. Treating our yard only helped minimally.
About 5 years ago, I met a woman who had been a Boy Scout leader for many years. Boy Scouts around here tend to suffer a lot of chigger bites in the summer because they camp at least every month. She told me that she had learned a solution that stopped the insane itching before it ever starts and had used this method for years to great effect! I began using the same method at home and we haven't had more than a couple of chigger bites that got out of hand in all these years since!
Basically, you do this at night before bed or when you've come inside for the day. DON'T wait until you know you've been bit, it's too late! If you know you have chiggers around, do this when you come inside. Take a small bucket or bowl of water and add just a tiny bit of bleach. It doesn't take much, you just want to BARELY be able to catch the smell of the bleach, if the smell is strong then you've used too much. I can't give you a measurement, because I keep bleach in a contact lens solution bottle and just add a quick squirt. Then you use a washcloth or rag to wipe the skin down. If you tend to just get bit on your legs, wipe just your legs. My boys would get bit all over, so I stripped them and wiped them from neck to toe. Let the water dry on the skin.
Now the Boy Scout leader said they mixed up a dishpan of bleach water and had the boys stand in it at bedtime and wipe their legs before entering their tent, then they left it on. I didn't like the idea of leaving bleach on my kids skin, especially since I had to use it over their whole bodies. So I would wipe them down about 10 minutes before bath time and by the time I had their bath ready, they were dry. Then they took their bath as normal. This seems to work as well as leaving it on does. And no, JUST taking a bath didn't seem to help the chigger bites, they still got the itch the next day if I didn't use the bleach solution.
For a couple of summers, every time I went outside I ended up with chigger bites. just walking outside to my car was enough for them to get me. They only seemed to like my legs, and my feet suffered terribly because I wear sandals all summer. I use the same method when I come in for the day, only I just wipe from my knees down, let it dry 10 minutes, then rinse it off.
I'm not sure exactly what the bleach does. My theory is that maybe it neutralizes or disinfects the poison that the chigger injects into the skin. Many people believe that chiggers lay eggs under your skin and the itching is from the eggs hatching - this is a HUGE myth! The itch is caused when the chigger (or mosquito) injects a poison into the skin that works to liquefy/dissolve the tissues to that the insect can then feed on it. Still gross, but not as bad as the idea that you have baby bugs under your skin! LOL!
By Judy = Oklahoma from Tulsa, OK
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Here is a much easier solution to Chigger bites. My husband and I and half of the state of North Carolina did it for years. You simply put a layer of clear nail polish on the bite. The chigger is still alive and buried under the skin. You can scratch the surface area and get no relief as the itch is further down. You need to seal off the air way supply so it will die and stop gnawing away at you. The air way supply is the tiny hole it makes. Any color nail polish will do but clear makes your remedy unnoticeable.
When we were very little my mother would fill a bathtub up with hot bathwater and add baking soda to it. You could just see the little buggers coming off of your skin and float to the top. As for the clear fingernail polish...I heard that one too...and used it but it never quite gave me enough relief. I wonder if that bleach water would work on Poison Ivy as well.
Chiggers live for a while under your skin. Bleach may kill them as does chigger rid or clear nail polish. Then there is a period of time where the skin still itches until the bite heals. The itching can be stopped by applying aspercreme or tiger balm but the main thing is to kill the chigger. They do not jump. They get on your body when you brush against a plant where they are crawling, or if you are standing in grass where they are and they crawl on you. Yes they are horrible because there are usually hundreds in one spot so when one gets on you fifty more follow. It takes several weeks for a chigger bite to heal.
I tried the Tiger Balm that you get at Dollar Tree. Almost instant results!
Actually it is an old wives tale that the chiggers are under the skin, they don't burrow but rather bite and cause a tube like canal to form in the skin. Nasty I know. What works just as well as anything is to take a shower and wash your clothes as soon as you come in. Chiggers are small bugs, and it doesn't take much to get them off the skin, washing with warm soapy water is just as effective and less stringent on the skin. That being said, I hate the buggers!
If anyone has any problems with poison ivy there is a product at Walmart called Zanfel for poison ivy. It is not cheap, but it works! I am so allergic to poison ivy that I actually had to spend time in the hospital when I was younger from such a severe reaction. Every time I get it my skin turns into a huge patch of leather and I used to have to get shots to treat it. Not anymore. One use with this stuff and it is GONE! Period. Worth every penny! I swear by it.
This is excellent. I have used this for when I know I have been exposed to poison ivy and it works. I think it breaks the oil on the skin from the ivy. Now I'll try it on chiggers. Thank you!
Relocating from the west coast, imagine my surprise when I first heard about fire ants, which are just as ornery and painful as chiggers! I'm gonna use your remedy to treat ant bites as well, because I'm so allergic to them! (Another surprise moving to Texas was all the horrible spring and fall storms/tornadoes complete with humongous hail, I will definitely freak out if I ever see baseball-size hail!)
Thanks for sharing your tried-and-true bug bite recipe!
The other thing that works very well is ammonia.
I have found that ammonia works well also.
Thank goodness that we don't have chiggers here in northern Saskatchewan. We have black flies and mosquitoes. I have found that I have built up a tolerance to mosquitoes over the years, but I do use Deet (Deep Woods Off), if they are rampant. It works very well for mosquitoes; it is not very effective for blackflies.
I have never tried the bleach, but I did once step on a honeybee just before I went into the swimming pool. I pulled the stinger out, and could feel the sting starting to swell, but I ignored it and went swimming anyway. After an hour in the pool, there was no sign of the bee sting at all, so I guess that is the same as your swabbing down your kids with bleach water. I personally don't think that this is such a harmful thing, everything in life is a trade off. Likely washing down with diluted bleach is no worse than swimming in a pool.
Living in the UK I had no idea what chiggers where but I do understand mosquitoes :). You seem like a sensible person who has found a solution to a problem that suits you. I now know what to try when mosquitoes and stuff become a problem. Thanks.
Judy from Tulsa here in Georgia and Florida they are called red bugs and are actually a mite, the lady is correct in that you brush against the brush and grass they are on to get them. You are also right about the bleach being the best remedy for killing them. Funny how things names are different in different parts of the country but saying that we have a snake show showing or telling every year at a nearby state park and they show a black snake and roll his belly toward the light of the sun and you can see the millions of tiny red dots on his skin. Red bugs and bleach was one of the antidotes. My son also almost died of Red Bugs when he was 16 while working for the school during the summer.
Keep on bleaching dear, it works and if you are allergic to them you'll try anything to stop the insane itching.
I wish I had known this chigger remedy when I lived in Indiana and suffered from chigger bites every summer! We used to use clear nail polish on the bites but it never seemed to help much. I'll never forget the terrible time I had for weeks after squatting to pee in the woods while hiking one summer. I'm going back to visit Indiana soon and will be sure to take your advice about using dilute bleach water.
When I was young we learned a song about chiggers that has always stuck with me, sung to the tune of Polly Wolly Doodle:
Oh, there was a little chigger
And he wasn't any bigger
Than the point on a very small pin.
But the lump that he raises
Just itches like the blazes
And that's where the scratch comes in.
Yes, that's where the scratch comes in.
The lump that he raises
Just itches like the blazes
And that's where the scratch comes in!
There's also a fine chigger song, called "Chiggers", written and performed by Alex Whitmore on YouTube:
to everyone who says the chigger is under your skin: This is not true, it's an old wives that was passed around for years. They know better now, because they have microscopes & stuff to actually examine the skin.
Chiggers are like mosquitoes in that when they bite you, they inject a tiny bit of poison/saliva under your skin that liquifies the tissue around it so that they can eat it! It is the poison/saliva that causes you to itch so insanely! I don't know what freaks me out more the idea of them actually under my skin, or the idea of my tissue dissolving! Yuck!
At summer camp in Texas we always used Sevin dust each morning on our ankles and it prevented chigger bites. I learned the hard way one day when I forgot! We used an old sock and poured the seven inside then just swung it to tap against our ankles to apply. I still use this on my kids today. Since we swim or just get really sweaty every day, we Shower every night and wash it all away. Wish it worked for poison ivy too!
Thanks to all for the tips on these horrendous creatures. I experienced them after spending a winter in Florida trying to clear our lot. OMG! The itch is nothing a Michigander has ever experienced. I didn't realize what it could be. I had never heard of chiggers A friend casually asked me how I dealt with them. I didn't! How can something so small you can't see with the naked eye cause such an itch? I think it was the insane itching & scratching that causes additional injury. My bites turned purple and it did take weeks to heal. I thought I'd be scarred for life. Months later the purple seemed to slowly diminish. In desperation I did dab bleach on them thinking it would burn & I welcomed that over the itch! Clear brush and mow grass short. Not much after mow but I showered more than once a day also. Does anyone know if they bother dogs/cats? Thanks.
I don't have chiggers, but I did put on some suntan lotion that raised an itchy rash like nothing else. I tried this, and wow, no more itching. I put the bleach/water mix in a spray bottle, labeled it, and this will be my lifesaver when the mosquitoes start. Thanks, Judy. I was about to go out and spend a small fortune on anti-itch cream. This works better, faster, and is cheaper. Hooray!
I was attacked by chiggers in my yard, when I foolishly forgot to apply insect repellent to my legs and arms. I took a hot scrubbing shower, so I think the creatures were gone, but the welts and itch remained. Cortisone cream was little help; bendadryl spray was better but too temporary. Online, I found other remedies & tried them - witch hazel (no effect), hydrogen peroxide (no effect, but bottle was opened so probably weakened). Then, out of sheer desperation, I tried bleach based on this post. I used my kitchen bleach spray cleanser on my legs. Relief! Hours of relief, in fact. I'm spraying only a couple of times a day. Because the spray is already diluted, there is little smell and no skin problem. Thank you for this tip! (By the way, we swim in chlorinated (bleach) swimming pools, with no ill effects)
I'm not sure if I ended up with chiggers or we had fleas, but I do have the itchy rash on my feet and hands. I tried the Aspercreme/Tiger Balm trick using Dollar Tree's version of Tiger Balm and am getting instant results! Only downside is this treatment is greasy. I'm buying another pot of this stuff tomorrow!
When I know I've been exposed to chiggers, I run a little bit of water in the bathtub and add maybe a half cup of bleach. I quickly run a washcloth over me from the neck down while sitting in the water. Then I stand up, let the water out, and take my regular shower.
We have chiggers in our native buffalo grass, so I try to stay out of the grass from June until mid-to-late August.
I had never heard if chiggers either until I moved to SC. After much trial and error I found that Avon Skin So Soft is by far the best deterrent to getting bit. If I dont forget to apply it everywhere I dont get bit anymore. If I should get a bite the best remedy to prevent the horrific itching and swelling is a product called Chigger X that I got at WM but more recently at Amazon. It works almost immediately to stop the itching and prevent that hard boil like lesion that accompanies the bite. Good luck all.
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