Everyone loves spending time outside in the summer. The sun feels great on your skin, the breeze keeps you cool, and the air smells amazing.
But one element of the outdoors isn’t so much fun. The mites.
One particularly pesky mite is the chigger.
You definitely don’t want these around. So, let’s talk about how to get rid of chiggers.
What Are Chiggers?
Chiggers are super tiny little red mites. Even though they are very, very small and hard to see without a magnifying glass, they do bite, which makes them majorly irritating.
Baby chiggers will bite both people and animals, so you definitely want to keep them away from your pets.
What Do Chigger Bites Do?
As with other mites, chiggers attach to the skin with their tiny claws.
They then pierce the skin and inject their saliva. Yuck!
Although you won’t feel the actual bite take place, you will certainly feel its effects. Their saliva dissolves skin cells because it holds digestive juices.
The chigger then feasts on the dissolved skin cells for a few days, then falling off your skin and leaving behind a red bump.
It’s Going to be Itchy
The red bumps caused by chigger bites are not only unsightly, but they’re also very itchy. It’s difficult to resist the urge to scratch, especially because the bites tend to get bigger and itchier over time.
The itching will begin just a few hours after you have been bitten, it will continue for several days. The bites themselves won’t disappear for even longer, sometimes lasting as long as two weeks.
As you can see, chigger bites are no fun at all, and you want to do whatever you can to avoid them. Keep reading to find out how.
How to Avoid Chigger Bites
The best way to avoid chigger bites is, of course, to avoid chiggers altogether. To do this, you need to know where chiggers are commonly found.
Avoid Places Where Chiggers Grow
Chiggers typically live in tall, overgrown weeds and grass, or in berry patches and wooded areas. Most of us have an area like this in our yard or near it, so be sure to keep your lawn trimmed and your garden weeded.
Chiggers are most active when the weather is warm, like on a pleasant summer or fall afternoon. Unfortunately, this is also the time when you probably want to be outside, enjoying the weather.
And even if you’re only outside for a little while, it does not take long at all for a chigger to attach to your skin. All you need to do is walk by the grass or weeds they are living in. If you brush up against their resting place, they can quickly attach to your skin and start snacking.
Chiggers Hate Winter
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about chiggers in the wintertime. When the weather gets chilly, less than about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, they will become inactive. And if the temperature continues decreasing and gets to be less than 42 degrees Fahrenheit, they chiggers will die off.
Keep on Track
If you do suspect your yard or woods to be full of chiggers, do your best to stay on trails. This way you will be less likely to brush up against the weeds and grass that contain chiggers. Stay in the center of the area rather than the overgrown sides.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Also, you can lower your risk of getting bitten if you wear long sleeves and pants. There will be less skin exposed for the chiggers to feast on. Of course, it is not always fun to wear long sleeves and long pants in the summertime when it’s hot outside.
But it’s better to be a little warm and sweaty than to be covered in itchy red bites, isn’t it?
What Kinds of Insect Repellent to Use
Of course, insect and tick repellent will also help keep the chiggers from biting. They hate the smell and taste of the repellent, and it can be quite harmful to them as well, so they will stay away from your skin.
Insect repellents that contain 10%-30% DEET are most effective at preventing chigger bites. Many serious insect repellents contain way more DEET than this (some have up to 98%) because they are meant for pests much larger than these tiny mites.
Some repellents that will surely work well to keep chiggers away are Chig-R-Blok and Chigg Away.
If you would rather use a natural repellent, this is definitely an option, too.
A very popular natural repellent is sulfur, which luckily comes in a few different forms, depending on how you want to use and apply it.
You may choose to dust your clothes, shoes, and other belongings with a coat of sulfur powder before you head outside. This should help keep the chiggers away, as they detest sulfur.
If you want to keep chiggers away from your entire lawn, consider spreading around sulfur pellets. Do this before chigger season starts when it gets warm outside. Although, you probably do not want to keep sulfur pellets on your lawn if you have pets, as the sulfur could harm them if they consume it.
If you’re looking for a less messy option, but still want to use sulfur, you can actually consume sulfur tablets yourself. Sulfur supplements are available online and in stores. After you take your dose, the bugs will be sure to stay away.
You can also spray your clothes with white distilled vinegar to get rid of chiggers trying to bite you. You may even choose to eat a clove of garlic. This will keep chiggers and mosquitos both from biting.
How to Treat Chigger Bites
Even if you try your best to avoid bites, you’re bound to eventually get one in your lifetime.
Keep It Off Your Skin
The first thing you need to worry about if you believe a chigger has attached itself to you is that it shouldn’t stay on your skin. You will want to detach the chigger as soon as possible.
This can be done by immediately washing with soap and water, as soon as you get back inside after your playtime or hike. Bathing makes sure no more pesky chiggers are hanging onto your skin.
But if you notice you do have a bite once any potential chiggers are washed off your body, what do you do?
You don’t want to scratch away at the bite, making it more inflamed. Scratching too much could leave scars and actually lead to an infection, so try your best to keep your fingers away from the bitten area.
Anti-Itch Medications You Can Try
There are a few ways to make the irritating itching go away. You can try using over-the-counter anti-itch medication, such as calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream.
Hydrocortisone cream comes in different strengths, but your pharmacist can help decide which one will best suit your bites. The cream will make the swelling, itching, and redness go down, calming your skin considerably and making you less likely to scratch at it.
All you need to do is apply a thin layer of the cream over the affected area a few times a day, and you should notice results quite soon. Make sure not to get the cream near your eyes, and wash your hands thoroughly after applying.
Calamine lotion similarly provides a cooling sensation, which will help your skin from feeling so irritated and itchy. Again, you will want to keep the lotion away from your eyes and mouth. Wash your hands well.
Let Vicks Do the Trick
Another option for relieving the itch is to apply Vicks Vapor Rub, which contains the cooling element menthol. This will help calm down your skin and take away the irritating itchy feeling. Add some table salt to the vapor rub to make it work faster and last longer.
Try Cold Compress
Cold compresses can also make you feel less itchy. Apply ice wrapped in a thin cloth to the bitten area, and the numbing effect will take away any itchy feelings.
Luckily, there is not much else to worry about with chigger bites. Unlike other pests such as mosquitoes, chiggers feed on skin cells rather than blood. They do not carry diseases like malaria, and they will not transmit diseases to you.
As long as you don’t scratch too much, you will be fine.
Keep the Chiggers Away
Now you know how to get rid of chiggers, so the most important thing is just to keep using these methods.
Never forget to protect yourself against these irritating bugs.
If you follow simple steps to keep them away, you will no longer have to worry.