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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 only have a problem now when I forget. I also have a bad reaction to mosquito bites and they really like to chew on me, I think they just wait for me to step outside in the evening! Within minutes of getting bit, I start to itch and swell. I've learned that this trick works on those bites most of the time too, if you do it as soon as you get bit.
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
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.
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.
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.
If you get a chigger bite, take a oatmeal bath. It really works. Thanks!
By Jason from Vineland, NJ
I use the acne treatment medicines. Neutrogena Body Clear lotion is great. Or use the cleansers, it helps reduce itching and swelling.
I made a trip to Oklahoma as a teen and learned what chiggers were as well as the correct term for fireflys, "Lightin' Bugs"! LOL ! I never heard of the bleach solution before. My aunt ran a bath for me loaded with salt and that took care of the problem for me. As far as the "skeeters" go I dab a bit of ammonia on the bites and voila, no more itch. I have purchased commercial products for mosquito bites and primary ingredient is ammonia. Have a good summer!
Gale from Ca.
A week ago I went to a park in Texas. I was walking outside while a man was mowing the grass and there was pollen floating everywhere. After the park I went home and I forgot to take a shower since I felt passed out. Next morning my leg, ankle, hip, butt, and underwear line was itching like crazy. They ended up being those darn chigger bites! I went searching on Internet to find a solution to help with the itching. I tried almost everything that they said would help. Nothing did! My mom finally helped me. I want to share this with you because this really works!! Put ice.... Yes, ICE!!! First take a shower to rinse and clean. Apply ice on the itching bump and hold it there for a min or 2. It will numb the itch. Do NOT scratch! Do not touch. Make little movement. If it itches again, do it again. It works:) you can also try putting Carmex or hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide will only bubble if your bleeding.
It helps for a little bit also if you get aloe like you use on sunscreen, and then itching cream, and putting that in a bath. I used this and it works really well. Also just putting the aloe on helps, not as well as the bath, but it still works.
Once you discover that you have been bitten by chiggers, apply clear nail polish to the bite. It stop the itch and heal the areas where you have the bites
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What do you do for chigger bites? The itching is horrible.
Esther from Hanover, PA
I use the acne treatment medicines Neutrogena Body Clear lotion is great . Or use the cleanser. It helps reduce itching and swelling
The best OTC remedy I've found is the products for "feminine itching", like Vagisil or Walmart's much cheaper version called Vagicaine Cream (around $1.50/tube). It has 20% Benzocaine, more than the stuff made for bug bites!
I also keep a prescription Cortizone cream around, which helps in the long term, but the other stuff is instant relief.
We have a big chigger problem here in Oklahoma and my son is allergic to them(the little buggers like to get into his underwear and chew on him!) and once even had to have a week of oral steroids from chigger bites.
The itching doesn't usually happen for about a day AFTER you get bit, so if you wait for the itching before doing something, it's harder to treat. It's easier to stop the itch from happening in the first place. To do this, use a mild bleach solution. It seems to work for mosquito bites too.
It takes very little bleach, if I can barely smell it, that's usually enough. When my kids have come in from a day of playing outside, I mix up bleach water and have them wipe themselves down before they shower.
Whenever I've been out in my yard, as soon as I come in, I mix a couple of drops of bleach in a cup of water, wipe my legs and feet down with it, then wipe it off with a damp paper towel.
If I know I have been bitten by a chigger or mosquito, sometimes I just get a dab of straight bleach on my finger and apply it directly to the bite and let it dry.
We have been plagued every year with chiggers. They really like me and my boys. My reactions are usually nickel to quarter size itchy spots that stay for weeks even if I don't scratch. Since we've been using the bleach method, we haven't had even 1/4 of the problems we usually do! A Boy Scout leader told me the bleach kills the enzyme in the chigger saliva that causes the itching. (07/16/2007)
We seem to get into them at least once a year too. The thing that works best for us is to put some Crisco in a baggie and some salt. Squish it together then rub some on the bites. The salt feels like you are scratching and the Crisco stopped the itch. (07/16/2007)
I know this sounds crazy, but I learned in college that is you put a bit of CLEAR nail polish on the bite, the air can not get to the bite to make it itch. Yes, I know, it sounds crazy, but it works.
Good luck (07/20/2007)
What really works is Preparation H. (07/20/2007)
There is something available at the drug store called Chigger Guard. Here we have to ask for it at the counter where the druggist is. I am from the south and they are a big problem here. The bottle is small and I think it's a little high in price. But believe it or not, CLEAR NAIL POLISH is the same thing only a bigger bottle and cheaper. WORKS REAL GREAT! My husband just had them from the tips of his toes to the tops of his legs some on the behind and belly. He was almost solid bites. Really works great but don't put on personal areas. (07/20/2007)
The best thing is the nail polish. Paint over the bite to cut off the oxygen supply to the chigger. It may take a couple of days - it will work. You may already have nail polish at home, sure clear is the most desirable. Any nail polish will work for you. (07/21/2007)
Good old vinegar will stop the itch and also Milk of Magnesia is wonderful too. (07/21/2007)
By sweet GA peach
I have tried the nail polish, vaseline, hydrocortisone, calamine lotion and even athletes feet spray for the chigger itch. I have over 100 bites on my feet and legs and have itched them til they have bled and I know I am working on an infection if I don't stop it. I have had these little boogers for 4 days now and it's so annoying. I just scratched them raw and poured vinegar over them and that seemed to soothe my itching for now.
Everyone is different and treatments vary but I believe if you rub them raw and pour something that stings over them and let it burn them cover with clear nail polish that you will get relief for several hours. (07/22/2007)
Go to DOCTOR I moved from CA to MO years ago and got chigger bites my first summer and the prescription lotion was a Godsend. That lotion worked for YEARS.
When I was little, my brother and I used to get the chiggers at my grandmother's lake. The only thing that worked for us was taking a shower/bath with Fels Naptha soap. It's made by the Dial Corp. and is usually found near the laundry soap. Then she'd have us rub calamine/caladryl lotion all over the spots. We looked like we had the chicken pox w/the pink spots all over, but it helped.
Hope all the info helps! They are no fun to have! (07/23/2007)
By Vikki LaPierre
Vinegar after a hot shower does seem to help for awhile, but usually I have to apply clear Benadryl gel (available over the counter) to the worst areas. You only need a small amount of gel. Since Benadryl is absorbed through the skin, they warn you on the bottle not to take any oral forms of Benadryl while using the gel. It can make you a little groggy, so I do it at bedtime. The itching seems to not bother me the next day, until I get another dose of chigger bites. (08/05/2007)
A chigger digs into your skin and lives there for days, weeks or months. If you put clear nail polish on chigger bite overnight, it will kill the chigger and stop itching. (08/19/2007)
After wasting my time in the ER at Tampa General Hospital I was fed up with my beautiful itch. I had at least 200 maybe 300 bites from chiggers the best thing being that I'm allergic to all insect bites is take a hot shower and apply Cortizone-10 all over your bites and then let that dry then every bite put a good sized amount of clear nail polish over all your bites the itch will be gone. Then when it comes back later you can either reapply the nail polish or apply the cortizone-10 which helps the best. Take over the counter Benadryl as this will help with the itching, and reduce your swelling, but it will make you tired. Normal pills are like 10mg 15mg. I was prescribed 50mg tablets and told to take 2 every 6hrs as needed. So I bought a pack of Benadryl and dosed up to get to the 50mg. I took 3 Benadryl regular tablets and that helped me sleep without scratching.
Now for all the old wives tales out there the so-called chigger bug or red bug whatever you want to call it, doesn't live in your skin. It feeds on the host for 3 to 4 hours, then drops off. No chigger can rebite. Once it has feed, if it falls off. That the end of its life. If it doesn't get full, the bug will die. The bug has a saliva that has powerful enzymes that break your skin down to liquid. The redness and hardening of this bite allows it to form a tube-like structure to suck the liquefied skin, just like us sucking on a straw to get a drink.
The itching is caused by the enzyme and the tube structure getting air. That's why all the remedies people pasted are true. You are blocking the hole from getting air, which in essence stops your itch. My best advice to all of you, is do what I said up top of this message. I promise you will be very pleased go out walk around the block, read a book find your self-keeping active and you will forget they are there. It all a mental thing. If you don't scratch, your body won't say "hey I'm itching". Try my remedy. I've told friends about my remedy and all have said it works. All of this stuff shouldn't cost you more than $20.00. good luck.
Sincerely. Jason K. (11/30/2007)
By Jason From S.Tampa,Fl
Try A+D gel. It didn't seem instant to me but after about 5 to 10 minutes, the itch seemed to be relatively gone. Luckily for me, I have a brother with tattoos so I had some handy. (06/09/2008)
The best remedy for chigger bites is prevention. If you are going to be in a chigger infested area, wear appropriate clothes (not sleeveless shirts, shorts or sandles), and dust the openings (leg and waist) of your clothes with powdered sulfur (also known as "flowers of sulfur") which can be purchased at pharmacies. Yes, it stinks, but this is about the only prevention product out there that is tried and true.
Here is a link to a Missouri Department of Conservation article that backs up this advice. http://mdc.mo.gov/nathis/arthopo/chiggers/.
This article acknowledges several of the remedies posted here but in fact, the only true remedy is time. When the chigger bites, the body reacts by hardening the cells around the bite area. These hardened cells become the chigger's feeding tube. Though the chigger will be long gone, the itch will remain until your body has reabsorbed these cells.
I suggest that you read the article, it's a solid page long and very informative. Having grown up in central Missouri and spending a lot of time in the woods and tall grasses, sulfur is, by far, the best prevention product. And once bitten, thorough washing and standard itch remedies, plus time, will heal all wounds. Enjoy the outdoors and good luck.
Me and my fiance just recently moved to South Carolina. I have in the past received a few chigger bites, but nothing like what we are going through this last few days. We have tried just about everything with no relief. If someone could come up with something that stops the itch, they would never have to work another day in there life. We both have decided that we will never touch another blade of grass again. I wouldn't put this on my worse enemy. The best thing that worked for us is Desitin cream (08/18/2008)
I was working on a cabin in Missouri and received over fifty chigger bites. Having no fingernail polish, I used PVC glue on the bites. It stopped the itching in a few minutes and didn't come off for two days. It really works great.
Editor's Note: I don't think that I'd recommend using this unless there is nothing else available. (08/28/2008)
I have chigger bites all over my ankles I have tried everything. I came on here to see what I can use. I will write back more later to tell you what works the best. (10/09/2008)
By Rhiannon B