Ever came across ‘Red bugs’ on your skin? They are small insects you can barely see without a microscope. You can’t believe, they belong to the spider and scorpion family. But this tiny creature causes such itching with their spit, you can hardly ignore the harm caused by ‘Chigger Bites’.
What are Chiggers?
Chiggers come with many names – harvest mites, harvest lice, red bugs, berry bugs etc. Where are they found? In long grasses, woody areas, weed patches and any place which have thick vegetation. When they come across a human body, they attach themselves to it.
Which are the places they target? The thin-skinned parts of the victim’s body – like armpits, ankles, behind the knees, waist and groin.
Did you know – Red bugs or chiggers have an enzyme that can get inside the skin?
Chiggers are a misery. But what causes them to breed and survive? Let’s take a look.
- When the outside temperature is warm or hot (not extremely hot or cold), that becomes the breeding temperature for chiggers.
- In moist and grassy regions (for instance, places with tall grass, and excess of weeds), chiggers can be found lurking.
- Live or work in dirty environments? Then you are inviting chiggers as they breed in unclean places.
- Lack of sunlight also fuels the breeding of chiggers.
- Damp areas with lots of birds and insects make a perfect home for chigger infestation.
The Most Common Areas Where Chiggers Can Be Found
Not all grass is green. Chiggers thrive most in parks, gardens, grassy fields, forests, and moist areas, near rivers or lakes. Since they are red, they can be easiest to spot when in clusters on human skin. While juvenile chiggers have six legs, the adults have eight.
That’s why they are so powerful, despite being invisible.
Signs and Symptoms
- Itching which can turn intense 1-2 days after the chigger bite
- A raised or flat red bump on the skin
- A skin bump which looks similar to a blister (or a pimple)
- Desire to scratch (and keep on scratching the infected skin)
I know it’s a touchy and sensitive issue to talk about – but chigger bites on the male private parts can lead to severe itching, swelling and pain while passing urine.
No need to itch any more. There are home remedies at our disposal. Not one, but several.
Home Remedies for Chiggers Bite
Here is how we are going to shoo away the chiggers:
1. Hot Shower
What all you need: Mild antiseptic soap, hot shower
- While taking a shower, rub your body with a mild antiseptic soap.
- Once you are through with the shower, use a soft towel (gently not vigorously) to pat your body dry.
- Then apply an olive oil or moisturizer to make your skin moisturized.
How it works: The first line of defense in case you have had a chigger bite is a hot shower. This causes the chiggers to ‘fall off’ from your body. It also minimizes reactions from the chiggers bite.
Tip: Never use hot water at the time of taking a shower. Also, washing your clothes in hot water helps.
2. Apply Ice
What all you need: Ice cubes
- Put some ice cubes in a piece of cloth
- Place the cloth on the chigger bites for about 10 min
- If you wish to reapply ice packs to further bring down the itching, take a break and reapply
How it works: A cold compress (and the numbing effect which follows) is one of the good ways to reduce the itching that comes from chigger bites.
Tip: Soaking the affected area in cool water may also bring relief from itching.
3. Baking Soda
What all you need: 1 cup baking soda, and some cold water
- To a bathtub filled with cool water, add 1 cup baking soda
- Stir the baking soda continuously in the bathtub
- Now soak yourself in this water for about 15 minutes
- Then dry yourself with a towel
- Do this treatment once daily
How it works: Baking soda is a natural acid neutralizer which helps relieve itching and reduces rashes.
Tip: Alternatively, you can also make a paste of 2 tsp baking soda and a little water, and apply it on the affected area.
Word of Caution: AVOID using baking soda whether it is on open wounds or broken skin.
4. Vicks VapoRub
What all you need: A jar of Vicks VapoRub
- Take a small bit of Vicks VapoRub
- Add a bit of table salt to it
- Mix it well and apply it to the affected area
How it works: This common product in your medicine cabinet can put an end to itchy chigger bites (almost immediately). Thanks to the cooling menthol in it which affects skin’s itch receptors.
Tip: Repeat the process, if inflammation persists, or else skip it.
5. Aloe Vera
What all you need: Aloe vera leaf, peppermint oil (optional), olive oil (optional)
- First of all, extract the gel from the aloe vera leaf
- Now apply it on the affected, itchy and irritated skin
- After 15 min, rinse it off with lukewarm water
- Apply this remedy minimum twice a day
How it works: Aloe vera plant has fantastic anti-inflammatory properties which helps cut down swelling, pain and inflammation.
Tip: As an option, take a few drops each of peppermint oil and olive oil. Mix it with half cup aloe vera gel. Now apply this mixture.
6. Apply Calamine Lotion
What all you need: A bottle of calamine lotion, and cotton balls
- Soak a cotton ball in a small amount of calamine lotion
- Now apply the cotton ball to the irritated area
- Let the calamine lotion stay put on the affected area for few minutes
- Wash it off with mild soap and water
How it works: Calamine lotion is a widely used remedy when it comes to treating itching and irritation.
7. Listerine Mouthwash
What all you need: Listerine mouthwash, and a cotton ball
- Wash the affected area on the skin first
- Pat it dry using a clean towel
- Dip a cotton ball in the mouthwash
- Apply it on the insect bites
How it works: Listerine mouthwash has ‘menthol’ in it which cools the irritated skin and gives relief from itching. The antiseptic properties of Listerine also help in reducing the swelling.
Tip: Why Listerine, you can use any other brand of mouthwash which has ‘menthol’ in it.
8. Use a Dryer
What all you need: A Hair dryer
- Turn the hair dryer on (keep it on the lowest setting)
- Hold the dryer a few inches away from your affected skin
- Let the hot air blow directly on the site of the chiggers
- Do it twice or thrice a day to get relief from symptoms
How it works: Blowing a dryer on the affected skin is also a good way to provide relief from itching.
Tip: Make sure you hold the hair dryer some distance away from the skin or else your skin could burn.
9. Peppermint Oil
What all you need: Peppermint essential oil
- Apply the oil of peppermint on the chigger bites
- Massage the oil in circular motions for few minutes
- Then let it dry completely
How it works: Peppermint oil has a cooling sensation which provides total relief from skin irritation and itching.
Tip: Have sensitive skin? Or cannot bear the strong nature of essential oils? In such a situation, dilute peppermint oil with any carrier oil (e.g, olive oil or coconut oil).
What all you need: 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal, and lukewarm water
- Fill a bathtub with lukewarm water
- Add colloidal oatmeal into it
- Stir it thoroughly so that the granules get distributed evenly
- Soak yourself in this treated water for 15-20 min
How it works: Oatmeal has soothing properties which provide instant relief from itching (which is the most common symptom of chigger bites).
Tip: Have severe symptoms of chigger bites? Then try out oatmeal remedy twice a day for best results. If the situation is bearable (and not worse), then make use of this remedy only once a day.
11. Castor Oil
What all you need: Castor oil bottle (or put 1 tsp of castor oil in a tiny bowl)
- Put castor oil on a cotton ball
- Apply it on the affected skin
- Repeat it twice a day for best results
How it works: Castor oil gets you relief from the constant itchiness and irritation caused by chigger bites.
12. Tea Tree Essential Oil
What all you need: 1/2 tsp tea tree oil, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 cup of pineapple juice, 1/2 tsp dish soap, cotton ball
- Mix dish soap with pineapple juice (in the mentioned qty)
- Now add tea tree oil
- Stir all of them
- Add cayenne pepper and stir it again
- Get a cotton ball to apply this solution on the chigger bites
How it works: This remedy has a mix of several ingredients which gets your chigger bites problem on the road-to-recovery soon after application.
What all you need: Few aspirin tablets
- Crush 3-4 aspirin tablets into a fine powder
- Put some water into it to make a fine paste
- Now apply this paste to the affected areas on the skin
- After 10 to 15 min, wash off the paste with water
How it works: The salicylic acid in aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties. This helps reduce the redness, pain and swelling caused by chigger bites.
14. Tea Bags
What all you need: Herbal tea bag (or green tea), and a cup of water
- Boil a cup of water first
- Now add either green tea or herbal tea bag into it.
- Let it steep for 5 minutes
- Remove the tea bag
- Keep it aside and let it cool down
- Put the cooled tea bag over the chigger bites for few minutes and then remove it
- Do this twice a day
How it works: Some ‘Tea gyaan’. Did you know, tea has tannins which has astringent properties. These provide ample relief from redness and swelling.
Tip: You can either use green tea, herbal tea or black tea.
What all you need: 2 cups ACV (raw and unfiltered), bath water (lukewarm)
- To the bath water, add ACV (in the qty. mentioned above)
- Soak yourself in this water for 15 min
- Then pat your skin dry
- Apply this remedy once or twice a day (depending on the extent of your chigger bites)
How it works: Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has anti-itching and anti-septic properties. This helps in getting rid of itching and inflammation/ swelling.
16. Nail Polish
What all you need: Nail polish (1 to 2 tsp)
- Coat the area affected with chigger bites with nail polish
- Let it stay for 15-20 minutes
- When it has dried naturally, wipe it off using cotton ball soaked in nail paint remover.
How it works: Nail polish is a good remedy as it prevents you from scratching and itching the chigger bite excessively.
Tip: Just a single coat of nail polish is enough to treat chigger bites.
17. Olive Oil
What all you need: Olive oil
- Rinse your affected skin with water first
- Now put some olive oil on it
- Keep doing it many times a day till you get relief
- Other option is – make a paste by taking equal parts of olive oil and honey. Then apply it on the affected skin.
How it works: Olive oil can give you major respite from skin irritation and inflammation (as a result of chigger bites). Being rich in Vit. E, olive oil reduces itching and helps in healing of the skin.
18. Baby Oil
What all you need: Baby oil (Johnsons and Johnsons)
- Put a few drops of baby oil on a cotton ball
- Apply it on the affected itchy area of the skin
- Keep repeating this 2-3 times a day
How it works: Expect your itchy skin to get some relief from chiggers bites when you apply baby oil on it.
19. Ace Bandage
What all you need: Ace Bandage (small)
- Wrap the itchy area with an ace bandage
- This naturally prevents the urge to itch.
How it works: Using a bandage on the itchy area reduces excessive itchiness. It also interferes with the air supply and reduces itching.
What all you need: 1 cup cornstarch
- Add a cup of cornstarch in your bathwater
- Soak yourself in it for 15-20 min
- Then rinse it off with water
- Pat your skin dry
How it works: Cornstarch is effective when it comes to reducing soreness and itching of skin caused by chigger bites.
Tip: Whenever you feel the urge to itch, repeat the cornstarch remedy.
21. Epsom Salt
What all you need: 1 tbsp Epsom salt, 1 cup water
- In a cup of water, put Epsom salt in the mentioned qty.
- Now soak a cotton ball in this solution
- Time to place the cotton ball on the affected itchy skin
- Let the cotton ball stay on the skin
- Repeat this application 2 to 3 times a day for about 2 weeks.
How it works: Epson salt has magnesium sulphate (and other minerals) which soothe irritated skin.
What all you need: Neem leaves, water
- Boil neem leaves (handful of them) in 2 – 3 cups water for about 15 min
- Strain the solution and then let it cool
- Now use this water to wash the itchy-and-affected area few times daily
How it works: Also called Indian lilac, neem is very effective in treating chigger bites. From Grandma’s days, we all know neem to be the best Ayurvedic recipe which treats skin inflammation and infection.
Tip: Don’t want to take the trouble of boiling neem leaves? Then, take a neem-based cream or lotion and apply it on the affected skin.
What all you need: Fresh limes
- Cut a fresh lime into half
- Rub one of the lime halves on the irritated area
- Allow the lime juice to stay on the area (till it has dried)
- Then wash with soap and water
- Repeat it 3 times a day
How it works: Being acidic in nature, limes help eliminate chiggers quickly. Plus, the anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties within the limes help stop any itching.
Tip: Since limes cause a stinging sensation, be careful to use this remedy if you have bites that are bleeding.
24. Rubbing Alcohol
What all you need: Rubbing alcohol
- Get a cotton ball
- Apply rubbing alcohol on the chigger bites using cotton.
- Let it dry completely
- Keep applying rubbing alcohol on the affected skin throughout the day until the itching completely subsides.
How it works: When rubbing alcohol is applied on the chigger bites, it evaporates in the a second. It is this evaporation which creates a cooling sensation on the itchy skin.
What all you need: Turmeric root (fresh)
- To start with, crush the turmeric root in order to form a paste
- Now apply it on the affected skin
- Wait for half an hour for the haldi paste to seep in the itchy area
- Then wash it off with water
How it works: Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties which heal the swollen and irritated chigger bites.
Tip: Don’t have fresh turmeric root? No probs. Use dried turmeric powder. Mix the powder with few drops of water so as to make a paste. Now apply this paste over the chigger bites. Let it dry first. Then wash it off with water.
What all you need: Chamomile flowers (dried), water
- Make 2 cups of chamomile tea
- Then cool it in the refrigerator
- Soak a cloth piece in this tea solution
- Place it on the affected area on skin for 10 minutes
- Repeat it for few days
How it works: Chamomile is another useful remedy for relieving itching, soothing the skin, reducing inflammation and promoting healing.
Tip: Alternatively, go ahead and dilute 4 to 5 drops of chamomile oil in 1 tbsp coconut oil. Just apply this mixture on the affected skin and rinse off with water.
27. Drinking Herbal Tea
What all you need: Green tea or chamomile tea (preferably in tea bags)
- Boil a cup of water in a vessel
- Transfer the warm water in a tea cup containing the tea bag
- Infuse it for a few minutes
- Now drink the herbal tea
How it works: Drinking any form of herbal tea (without milk) brings soothing relief to the itchy chigger bites.
What all you need: Raw honey, band-aid (preferably)
- Apply a small dab of honey to the pad side of a band-aid
- Now place it on the bite site
How it works: Honey has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. So it is a good remedy for treating chigger bites.
Tip: Honey remedy is good for other insect bites too.
What all you need: Garlic clove
- Eat 1 garlic clove a day
- This will reduce the itching with time (with constant intake)
How it works: Have plenty of chigger bites? Go in for garlic cloves and watch chiggers and mosquitoes stay away.
Tip: Apart from treating chigger’s bites, garlic is also good for immunity.
30. Lavender Oil
What all you need: Lavender Essential Oil
- Apply the oil on the affected skin (either by hand or using a cotton ball)
- Repeat it many times till you get relief
How it works: For prompt alleviation from chigger bite, try out lavender essential oil.
What all you need: Raw onion
- Put a small and raw onion on the bite or sting on the skin
- The itching will slowly and surely reduce
How it works: Holding a raw onion on the insect bite helps to tackle chigger bites.
What all you need: Herbal calendula lotion or cream
- Take a quarter-sized amount of the calendula cream or lotion on the finger tip
- Apply it on the area affected with chigger bites
- Do it twice a day to relieve symptoms until the chiggers have gone
How it works: Calendula is a herb which has soothing, moisturizing and rejuvenating properties. Good for treating chigger bites.
Tip: You can also apply calendula cream (which are found in health food stores and pharmacies)
33. Mild Soap
What all you need: Mild and gentle soap, warm water, towel
- First of all, rinse the affected area with warm water
- Wash it with soap and then rinse it off
- Pat it dry with a small hand towel
- Repeat it twice a day (until the chiggers have disappeared)
How it works: Washing the affected area with mild soap and warm water calms the skin and soothes the bites right away.
Tip: See to it that the soap is ‘unscented’. Fancy soaps can irritate the bites more.
34. Apply Organic Vegetables
What all you need: Choose any of these organic veggies – Papaya, Garlic, Onion
- While going for Papaya, put a slice of it on the chigger bite for 1 hour
- While going for Onion, rub a cut of onion on the chigger bite.
- In the case of Garlic, crush a clove and apply it to the affected area.
How it works: There are few foods grown from the ground which have chemicals that can decrease swelling and tingling. The organic vegetables mentioned above can be of help in treating chigger bites.
35. Ammonia Solution
What all you need: Few tsp of ammonia solution, and water
- Blend water with ammonia solution.
- Using a cotton ball, apply the solution on your chigger bite.
How it works: A swap of ammonia on the bite is enough to reduce the pain and itching caused by a chigger bite.
When you know how to prevent chigger bites, you have won half the battle. Here are some prevention tips.
- Since summer and fall season is when chigger bites will be rampant, take best precaution when going to ‘grassy’ areas
- Going for a hiking expedition? Avoid brushing up against the thick vegetation
- Whenever you are out in the woods, do wear full-sleeved clothes and pants (no shorts, bermudas and capris this time)
- What’s a mosquito repellant cream for? Protection, isn’t it? That’s what you need to apply to your skin before you go out in the dense woody areas
- Try and resist the urge to doing scratch-scratch on skin. This can cause infection.
- After potential exposure to chigger bites, immediately take a hot shower.
- Using insecticides (natural or chemical) to treat your yard is always recommended. When done, it will reduce the chigger population around your house in a major way.
- From time to time, get a professional pest controller to treat your trees, and shrubs (in case commercial insecticides fail to show results).
- Avoid sitting in the lawn for a long period. This will prevent exposing your face and to those pesky chigger bites.
- Keep the grass in your yard short. If it needs mowing your yard, do so. Also, get the trees and bushes pruned to allow more sunlight into the yard.
When to Visit a Doctor?
Should you experience the following – fever, headache, vomiting, shortness of breath, joint pain or pus from the chigger bites, go and see a doctor immediately.
After Care Tips
Started to itch, did you? Or spotted little red bumps on your skin after spending a summer day outside? Turn to home remedies for chiggers in order to ease your symptoms. They are fast-acting and highly effective in getting these tiny insects off your skin.
Ever had chigger bites? How did you treat (and survive) them? Share with us if you have any more home remedies. Or just write in, and tell us how you found this article.