Everything You Wanted to Know About Chiggers (And Maybe More Than You Wanted to Know)
On a recent trip to visit my family, I brought home an unwelcome souvenir–chigger bites. Chiggers are mites, but they have many nicknames like harvest mites, harvest bugs, harvest lice, mower’s mites, or red bugs. Technically chiggers are arachnids, in the same family as spiders and ticks.
Since I haven’t experienced chigger bites since I was young, I had forgotten how heinous those bites can be. I want to share my experience with you, so you can avoid a week-long itch fest if you get chigger bites.
Where chiggers reside. Chiggers live in every country. Their favorite spots are moist, grassy areas like fields, forests, and even your lawn. You can also find them near lakes and streams. My sister has a beautiful garden near a creek in a wooded area; in other words–chigger utopia.
Preventing chigger bites. If you believe you’ve been in an area where chiggers roam, you can prevent the itchy, red, uncomfortable bites by taking off your clothes as soon as you go inside. Wash the clothes in hot water before you wear them again and take a hot shower. A shower will wash away any chiggers that are already on you.
If you know you are going to an area that may have chiggers, use an insect repellent that has DEET or wear clothing treated with an insecticide like permethrin. Pay special attention to areas where chiggers might travel from clothing to skin, like cuffs, necklines, and the top edges of socks. You can also prevent bites by wearing long sleeves and long pants, while also tucking your pants into your socks.
What to do if you get chigger bites. Take a bath or shower and scrub your skin with soap and water. Again, you’ll want to wash your clothes and any other items, like a blanket, that was outside with you.
Treat your bites with an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or ointment, like menthol, calamine lotion, or hydrocortisone. You can also get relief if you take an antihistamine or use a cold compress. I found the over-the-counter remedies didn’t work well for me, so I sought out a home remedy. The remedy that worked for me was ¼ cup of aloe vera gel with a drop of peppermint essential oil. It must be re-applied after a shower, so you will need all of the preparation.