I have 17+ remedies on how to treat chigger bites that will offer you some relief. Do you have little red bumps that itch like the dickens? Do you want to dig your skin off or jump in a vat of hot boiling water to find relief? Then you, my friend, may have been bit by chiggers.
What are Chiggers?
Chiggers are a microscopic parasite that hang out in tall grasses, especially in humid climates. They like to jump on anyone who walks by them and crawl their way to soft areas of the skin. Usually places like armpits, the backs of knees, groin, in folds of skin, under the breast, you know all those hard to itch places.
Do Chiggers Burrow in Your Skin?
Interesting fact….Most people think that chiggers “bite” or “sting” like an ant or mosquito. Actually, what they do is drill a small hole in your skin and inject some saliva (poison). That remains in your skin and causes the itch.
Using a drying agent will help to draw out the saliva that causes the itch. Products that cover the bite will only seal it in and make it itch longer.
Does Nail Polish Work?
While many, and I mean many, people swear by nail polish, there isn’t any logical or scientific reason why those would find comfort or relief by using nail polish to treat chigger bites.
As I mentioned earlier, chiggers do not burrow, the itch you feel is from a reaction to them drilling a hole and injecting an enzyme into your skin. Covering up the site with nail polish may prevent you from itching but it will not treat the irritation.
Do Chiggers Stay in Your Skin?
Although chiggers would like to stay on your skin, chances are they have fallen off by the time you feel the insatiable desire to itch. They rarely stay on their host for more than 48 hrs., however, the itching from their human feast can last for weeks.
Ideally, chiggers would like to feed on your cells 3-4 days, realistically, they will be removed or destroyed before that can happen. At the slightest touch, chiggers can be brushed off a human body.
How to Prevent Chigger Bites?
Before we talk about how to treat chigger bites, I would like to discuss how to prevent chigger bites.
Changing your clothes as soon as you return from the outdoors (wash clothes immediately) and a hot shower is your best defense for preventing chigger bites that you’ll have to treat later.
However, there are some other ways to prevent chigger bites that you can try. Use as many of my suggested preventatives in order to save yourself from the extreme discomfort of itching for days on end.
Chiggers take a while once they land on you before they bite so you have time to wash them off before the damage is done. When you return from the outdoors, remove your clothes, place them in a plastic bag until you can wash them, and take a hot shower.
Sulfur on Shoes and Socks
A lot of old-timers swear by dusting their shoes and socks with powdered sulfur to keep away chiggers and other biting insects. You should be able to find it at your local hardware or online.
You can use an old sock or burlap bag and place the sulfur in it. Wear and mask and make sure to be outdoors when applying. Hit the sock against your shoes, socks and pant legs to dust with sulfur.
Many exterminators and professional outdoorsmen use Permethrin as a protection against chiggers, ticks, and more. Apply permethrin to clothing, hiking boots, and your backpack, and let dry thoroughly before wearing. Permethrin products should never be used on skin. It remains effective on clothing for several washings.
Rubber Band On Pant Legs
I remember back in the day my mom used to make me wear rubber bands around my pant legs when I would ride my bike so they didn’t get caught in my spokes, of course back then we had bellbottoms!
Now you should wear rubber bands around your pant legs so the chiggers can’t crawl up them. There is still the chance you’ll get bit around your ankles where the rubber band is, however, those biting buggers will be blocked from attacking the rest of your body.
In addition to Permethrin, regular bug spray added to your shoes and socks before going outside can help repel chiggers and other biting insects.
Scents like Tea Tree Oil and Mint tend to repel chiggers while scents like lemon and citronella work for mosquitoes and flies. These would be a great addition to your homemade bug spray in repelling biting insects.
Stay On Course
Chiggers like to hang out on tall grasses. With this in mind, if you stay on the trails and paths that have been mowed or have rocks, you can avoid infested areas.
How to Treat Chigger Bites?
Chances are, once you feel the burning desire to itch, the chiggers are long gone. In order to make sure there aren’t a couple hanging around trying to turn you into a human slushy, start with our first chigger bite remedy listed below.
Best Home Remedies for How Treat Chigger Bites
When you feel the onset of the intense itching, you’re going to want to know how to treat chigger bites and fast. Thankfully, there are a lot of home remedies for treating bites that use ingredients you probably already have on hand, so there’s no need to rush to the store.
As I mentioned earlier, your first line of defense is to shower. Use a brush or exfoliating cloth to get rid of any remaining chiggers that may be lingering around.
Plantain (Plantago sp.) – is a drawing herb with a reputation for quickly soothing insect bites and stings. It helps to draw out the source of irritation and inflammation quickly bringing relief to that itchy, irritated area.
We’ve always chewed a raw leaf (not recommended-yuck) and packed it on the bite/sting. However, our friends at Common Sense Home share this simple Plantain Salve you can make.
If you don’t have mint essential oil available, try dabbing a little toothpaste gently on the chigger bites. Allow it to dry, after which you can wash it off with water.
Salt and Vicks
Try adding a small amount of table salt into some Vicks Vapor Rub, and rub it onto the affected areas. The salt dries out the spot, and the Vicks helps to cool the sting in the meantime.
Last year when hubby tangled with a poison ivy patch, his arms were covered in blisters. This remedy was the only thing that offered him any relief.
Take a spoon and either heat it in the burner or in hot boiling water. Once it cools just a touch, where it’s hot but won’t burn you, place the back of the spoon on the bite until it cools off.
This is the one I use most and use with mosquito bites too. Careful not to burn your skin, but it needs to be as hot as you can stand it. The heat neutralizes the local histamine response.
Cold from playing outside? Have some oatmeal. Upset tummy? Here’s some oatmeal. Itchy from head to toe? Oatmeal is your answer again. Enjoy a nice soothing oatmeal bath to cure what bugs you!
Epsom salt has magnesium sulfate which soothes irritated skin. We add a little olive oil to some Epsom salt and cover the bites. Works like a charm.
Salt, Baking Soda
My friend Joy says “We used a scrubbing paste with three parts baking soda, one part salt and enough water to make a paste. Rub it on to the affected areas for about 20 seconds, if you can stand it that long because you will Feel the burn. . . But it’s fire fighting fire”
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint oil is an ingredient in a lot of anti-itch medicines and creams. It offers a cooling effect and reduces the desire to scratch your skin off. Seriously, chigger bites are the worst!
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an active ingredient in an OTC Chigger Bite spray that we bought and it works not only for chiggers but other biting insects as well.
As with all essential oils, dilute Tea Tree with a carrier oil before applying to your skin. Such as olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, or any other carrier oil you have on hand.
Lavender oil kills germs, reduces any swelling and stops itching. It also aids in cell growth so it can assist repairing any damage from scratching.
Not only is raw honey great when you’re looking for natural ways on how to treat chigger bites, it aids in treating other skin irritations and burns. Honey has powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, so it’s a good remedy for treating chigger bites.
In the same way Plantain works for stings and bites, Jewelweed and & Chickweed are great remedies. Similarly to plantain, you can use a fresh poultice or make a salve to treat chigger bites.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has anti-itching and antiseptic properties. This helps in getting rid of itching and inflammation/ swelling.
Other Natural Remedies
Along with knowing how to treat chigger bites naturally, we have some other natural remedy articles you may want to save
- Top 10 Natural Remedies for Allergies
- Plant a Mosquito Repelling Garden
- 6 Natural Remedies for Sunburn
How to Treat Chigger Bites with Over The Counter (OTC) Medicine
When the home remedies just won’t soothe the itch, there are some OTC medications you can try that others swear by.
ChiggereX 2x Power Medicated Ointment provides fast, soothing relief for chigger, tick, mosquito and other insect bites. Formulated with 10% benzocaine, a topical anesthetic, ChiggereX immediately soothes and helps relieve itchy, painful bug bites. It is also infused with nourishing botanicals like aloe vera, chamomile and peppermint oil and absorbs quickly into skin.
You can find ChggerX to treat chigger bites at Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, or online.
Another great OTC for relieving chigger bites is Absorbine Jr. Its proprietary blend of menthol and natural herbal ingredients differs significantly from other topical pain relievers and unlike many competitive products, has been proven to be effective, safe and long lasting for generations.
Hydrocortisone is the active ingredient in many over the counter drugs. It’s a corticosteroid, similar to a natural hormone produced by your adrenal glands.
It’s often used to replace this chemical when your body does not make enough of it. Hydrocortisone relieves inflammation (swelling, heat, redness, and pain) and is used to treat certain forms of arthritis; skin, blood, kidney, eye, thyroid, and intestinal disorders (e.g., colitis); severe allergies; and asthma.
When you’re all itchy and have bites that are swelling, your body is doing its job at attacking foreign invaders. Your body produces these things called histamines. These histamines are little soldiers that fight on your behalf. Sometimes, histamines do too good of a job and need to be calmed down a bit.
OTC’s that contain antihistamines help reduce your body’s allergic reactions. Thus, easing your discomfort from chigger bites.
A Special Thanks
In closing, I want to send a huge thank-you to the members of our Mighty Network Community and our group on Facebook, Old Paths to New Homesteading, for coming to our rescue when we were covered in chigger bites and offering us these amazing remedies!