Chiggers: How to Prevent & Treat Chigger Bites (& Treatments to Avoid) by Donna John
Have you ever said, "I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy?" Those are my feelings when it comes to chiggers. My two experiences with chiggers happened within the last year. When you “get into the chiggers” down South, you’ll be told to use clear nail polish, swab them with rubbing alcohol, take a bleach bath (what?) and other home-grown remedies.
After painting myself with clear nail polish on my first chigger challenge, dry, irritated skin was the result after the bites started to heal. Alcohol felt good the second chigger battle, but only while applying it, then, you guessed it, dry skin. To shed a little light on this chigger confusion, Dr. Joel Schlessinger, a board-certified dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon and president of LovelySkin.com, answered a few questions about these invisible insects from hell.
First, what the heck are they? “Chiggers are small mites that live in every country and love moist, grassy areas during seasons when the ground is warm,” says Dr. Schlessinger. "While chiggers are not much more than a nuisance, their bites can cause some trouble if over-itched. When a chigger bites, it attaches to the skin, introducing a special enzyme via their saliva, which then leads to skin irritation, cell death and itching.”
Here’s how Dr. Schlessinger suggests treating chiggers:
- “Take a shower and wash your clothes in hot water. Hot, soapy water will remove any chiggers that remain on the skin and clothing to prevent future bites and exacerbating existing ones. If you have any blankets or towels that touched the ground, wash those, too.”
- “Apply an anti-itch treatment. Since repeated itching can increase inflammation, rashes or even bleeding and infection, an anti-itch treatment is a must. FixMySkin Healing Body Balm unscented with 1 percent hydrocortisone is my favorite treatment for skin irritation. I patented and invented it with my son, Daniel. The main ingredient is hydrocortisone, which heals irritation, nourishes and hydrates skin.”
To try and prevent chiggers in the first place, Dr. Schlessinger suggests the following:
- “Avoid wet, grassy areas when you can. Chiggers live in moist, warm areas on and near the ground. Try to avoid grass and other areas near water, especially during the day and evening when the ground is still warm.”
- “Wear long clothing. Wearing long, tightly-woven clothing is the best way to prevent chiggers from biting because they won’t be able to penetrate the fabric. It’s also a great way to stay protected from the sun!”
As for the clear nail polish and alcohol? “I am not sure that these remedies really work,” says Dr. Schlessinger. “In fact, it may be possible that they aggravate these in some situations!”
How do you deal with chigger bites? Share below!
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