Do your kids end up with a bad itch and burst of red rashes every time they go out to play in the garden?
Then, in all probability, your garden or yard is infested with chiggers.
Chiggers are minute parasitic mites that live in grassy and shady areas around the house.
Chigger larvae attach themselves to the skin of humans and animals and feed on their skin cells.
These tiny mites inject a digestive enzyme into the skin tissues which leads to the formation of a feeding tube and hardening of the surrounding skin. The chigger larvae then feed on the destroyed tissues.
Although, there are no severe effects of chigger bites but the intense itching and scratching can lead to secondary infection.
In this article, we have put together some of the most effective home remedies for chigger bites that can be used for kids also.
First Aid for Chigger Bites
Before getting on with the natural remedies for chigger bites, let us know how to deal with the itch right after the chigger attack.
- Get back to your house as fast as you can.
- Remove all clothes and check your body for chiggers.
- Check the soft and tender areas of your body for fast moving red dots.
- Take a hot shower immediately with a mild antiseptic soap.
- Scrub your skin thoroughly with a loofah to wash away the chiggers.
- Wash the clothes that you were wearing along with the towel that you used in hot water.
- Don’t scratch the chigger bites to ensure quick recovery and avoid secondary infection.
- Apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or ointment that contains menthol.
18 Best Home Remedies for Chigger Bites
Cold Compress- Placing an ice pack on the chigger bites is one of the easiest ways to provide instant relief from the itching and prevent swelling. Ice numbs the sensation of itching, pain, and discomfort and reduces the chances of secondary infection.
- Put a few ice cubes inside an ice bag or in a muslin cloth and place it directly over the affected area.
- Hold the compress against the affected area for 10 minutes at a time.
- Space out the application of the compress to prevent skin damage.
Vicks Vapor Rub – The menthol present in Vicks Vapor Rub provides a cooling effect on the chigger bites and numbs the itch receptors in the skin which relieves itching immediately. It also reduces inflammation and curbs the risk of blisters.
- Take a tablespoon and Vicks Vapor Rub and add a teaspoon of salt to it.
- Mix the ingredients properly and spread it evenly over the affected area of the skin.
- For best results, apply it on the affected area at night before bedtime and rinse off in the morning.
- Repeat this procedure again if inflammation and swelling still persists.
Calamine lotion – Calamine lotion is an age-old remedy for all types of skin disorders and insect bites. Zinc oxide, an active ingredient in Calamine lotion is an astringent that shrinks the tissues and helps to reduce the size of the bumps. Calamine lotion forms a protective layer over the chigger bites and acts as a barrier that protects against itching, irritation, and rashes.
- Purchase a bottle of Calamine lotion from the local drug store.
- Apply the lotion topically on the affected area 2 to 3 times a day.
Tea Tree Oil – The usage of tea tree oil not only prevents the secondary infections but also reduces the itching and swelling due to its anti-inflammatory property. Avoid applying undiluted tea tree oil on the skin.
- Mix equal quantities of tea tree oil and water (or carrier oil) and stir well.
- Dip a clean cotton ball and dab it on the affected area.
- Leave it for a few minutes to get dried completely.
- Rinse off with lukewarm water and dry the skin gently.
- Apply moisturizer and repeat it regularly.
Clear Nail Polish – Many people believe that chiggers burrow into the skin and sealing the skin with clear nail polish will kill the chigger larvae. But this is not true. Clear nail polish acts as a protective layer over the chigger bites and prevents too much scratching which may otherwise lead to secondary infection.
- Buy a bottle of clear nail polish.
- Clean the affected area and dry with a towel.
- Apply a coat of nail polish over the chigger bites.
- You can also use Elmer’s Glue instead of nail polish to coat the bites.
Listerine Mouthwash – Mouthwashes with and without alcohol contain antimicrobial properties that fight bacteria that can cause a secondary infection. Menthol present in mouthwash soothes the inflammation, redness, and swelling while its cooling sensation numbs the itching. Listerine or any other mouthwash containing menthol will do the trick.
- Wash and clean the affected areas of the skin and wipe dry with a towel.
- Soak a cotton ball in the mouthwash and dab it over the chigger bites.
- Let the mouthwash soak into the skin.
- Reapply the remedy if inflammation and itching are still present.
Aspirin Tablet- The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of an aspirin tablet is a great medicine for treating severe chigger bites. It has salicylic acid that helps to reduce redness and inflammation along with clearing itching and swelling, which in turn reduces the risk of infection. The number of tablets required for this remedy depends on the extent of the chigger bites.
- Crush 3 to 4 aspirin tablets to form a fine powder.
- Add a few drops of water to this powder and mix to form a thick paste.
- Slather this paste evenly over the chigger bites and let it dry out completely to rinse the area.
- Repeat this remedy if inflammation itching and pain still persists.
Baking Soda – The alkaline nature of baking soda helps to neutralize acids in the skin and restores the pH which, in turn, relieves itching. The astringent and anti-inflammatory properties will help to reduce pain and swelling. It also provides a cooling effect on the skin that reduces irritation.
- Take a cup of baking soda and add it to a bathtub filled with cool water.
- Let the baking soda dissolve into the water.
- Soak in this water for 15 minutes and then dry yourself with a towel.
- You can also make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it directly to the affected areas of the skin.
- Leave it on for 10 minutes and wash off with cool water.
Castor oil – The anti-inflammatory properties of castor oil helps to relieve itching and minor rashes caused by chigger bites. Its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties also help to prevent infection and relieve the itching of the infected skin.
- Take some castor oil in a glass bowl.
- Dab a cotton ball into it and apply generously on the chigger bites.
- You can also massage the affected area with castor oil.
Household Ammonia – Common household ammonia such as blue window cleaner is an effective remedy for all types of insect bites. The alkaline nature of ammonia neutralizes acids of the chigger bites which prevent swelling, itching, redness and pain.
- Mix equal parts of household ammonia and water in a glass bowl.
- Immerse a cotton ball into this solution and dab it onto the chigger bites.
- Leave it to dry on your skin.
- Repeat this treatment as necessary.
Aloe Vera – Pure aloe vera gel is used for treating various types of skin conditions. It is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent that soothes inflammation and reduces pain, itch and swelling of the chigger bites. Vitamin E in aloe vera gel keeps the skin moisturized and speeds up the healing process.
- Cut the leaf from an aloe vera plant.
- Extract the white gel from inside the leaf using a spoon.
- Apply it evenly all over the affected skin.
- Leave it on for 15 minutes and then wash off with lukewarm water.
- Reapply this remedy 2 to 3 times in a day.
Tea Bags – Both green tea and black tea contains tannic acid that is a powerful astringent and anti-inflammatory agent which reduces inflammation and suppresses itching and irritation. Tea also prevents the bite marks from turning into ugly scars.
- Boil a cup of water and dip a green tea or black tea bag in it.
- Let the tea bag soak for 5 minutes and allow it to cool down completely.
- Place the wet tea bag over the chigger bites and let the tea soak into the skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar (ACV) balances the pH of the infected area and thereby relieves your redness, pain, and swelling. It effectively prevents the secondary infection and heals the skin from breakouts.
- Dilute ACV in a little of water and soak a cotton ball in this mix.
- Dab the cotton ball on the chigger bites affected areas.
- Let it sit for a few minutes and discard the cotton ball.
- Repeat it regularly to get rid of the chigger bites completely.
Rubbing Alcohol – When you apply alcohol on the skin, it starts evaporating instantly and this evaporation leaves behind a cooling effect on the skin that relieves itching and irritation. Rubbing alcohol also acts as an antiseptic and prevents secondary infection. It prevents the histamine action in the areas of the chigger bites and prevents swelling.
- Dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and dab it on the chigger bites.
- Leave it on and let it evaporate.
- Apply a fresh coat every time the irritation resumes.
Turmeric – The antibacterial, astringent and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric will help to soothe the irritated and itchy chigger bites affected areas.
- Take a fresh turmeric root and crush it to form a paste.
- Apply it all over the affected areas.
- In case if you don’t have fresh turmeric then use dried turmeric powder mixed with some water. Stir to make a paste and apply it on the rashes.
- Let it dry for about 30 minutes and rinse the area with water.
- Repeat it as needed to get relief from these bites.
Epsom salt – The soothing and anti-inflammatory effect of Epsom salt reduces inflammation, redness, and itching. It is especially effective in reducing the swelling of the bites. It soothes the irritated skin and draws out the toxins from the skin by drying out the oozing bumps.
- Add a tablespoon of Epsom salt in a cup of water.
- Stir it well so that the salt dissolves completely.
- Dip a cotton ball in the solution and apply it at the point of the bites and leave it on.
Oatmeal – Oatmeal has skin soothing property that relieves redness, itching, swelling and irritation caused due to chigger bites. It provides a cooling effect on the skin and thereby prevents you from scratching.
- Grind 1/2 cup of oatmeal in a blender to get powder.
- Then mix some warm water to this oats powder.
- Stir well to make a smooth paste and apply it evenly on the affected areas.
- Let it sit to dry out naturally and rinse the area with lukewarm water.
- Repeat the process as needed to get rid of the problem.
Chamomile – Chamomile is an extremely popular herb that is used to treat various types of bug bites and insect bites. Its potent anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory properties soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, relieve itching and pain and promote the healing process.
- Add a tablespoon of dried chamomile in a cup of hot water.
- Let it steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Allow the tea to cool down completely.
- Soak a cotton ball in the cool chamomile tea and place it over the affected area.
- Let the tea soak into the skin.
- Repeat this procedure a couple of times in a day.
Peppermint – Peppermint is a well-known remedy for its cooling sensation that helps to block itching and stinging sensation and thereby prevent it getting into a secondary infection. It increases blood circulation to the affected area and reduces pain.
- Apply a few drops of peppermint essential oil directly on the chigger bites.
- Or simply dilute this peppermint essential oil with any carrier oil (like coconut oil or olive oil) and apply it on the affected areas.
- Continue this application regularly until you get complete relief from the problem.
Medical Treatment for Chigger Bites
Most cases of chigger bites can be treated with over-the-counter medicines and ointments. But if you develop an infection by itching the rashes then it is best to consult a doctor who can administer steroid shots to reduce itching and swelling and prescribe some antibiotics to cure the infection.
Calamine lotion – Calamine is a topical medication that helps to relieve itching, pain, and discomfort from minor skin irritations. It helps to dry out the oozing from the rashes. You can apply it to the affected areas with a cotton pad and allow it to dry on the skin.
Hydrocortisone – Topical hydrocortisone is used to treat a number of skin conditions including insect bites, allergies, rash, itching, eczema, dermatitis, etc. This medicine reduces swelling, itching, and redness that is associated with these conditions. It is a mild corticosteroid. Wash and dry out your hands and affected area before applying the medication. Apply a small amount of medication to the skin, rub it in gently and leave it.
Antihistamine pills– Our body produces chemicals known as histamines when it comes in contact with mites, and allergy triggers which cause an itchy rash on the skin. Antihistamines reduce or block the histamines and relieve itching and rashes. Antihistamines are also available in the form of capsules and sprays. Simply use it to get rid of these bites on the skin.
Steroid shots – Steroids are hormones or chemicals produced by the body naturally. But in medical terms, steroid also refers to man-made medicines – corticosteroids and anabolic-androgenic steroids. Corticosteroids fight inflammation caused by the chigger bites. These drugs slow down or stop the immune system process that triggers inflammation. Corticosteroids are also available in the form of pills, liquid and skin cream.
Antibiotics – Antibiotics or antibacterials are a group of medication that helps to treat secondary infection caused by itching the rashes. They work by destroying or slowing down the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics won’t work off when there is no infection present on the rashes.
Key Takeaway – Most cases of chigger bites are harmless and can be treated with over-the-counter ointments and lotions, but severe cases of secondary infection require prescription antibiotics.
Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites
- Cover your skin when going out – If you need to work in your garden or yard then make it a point to cover your skin with proper clothing in order to avoid chigger bites. Wear loon sleeves, long pants, and tall boots. Tuck in your pants into your boots.
- Sprinkle sulfur in your socks and shoes – The strong odor of sulfur powder drives chiggers away. You can sprinkle fine sulfur powder in your shoes and socks before you wade into the tall grass.
- Brush your exposed skin frequently – Chiggers take some time to attach to your skin and inject the enzyme. Brushing the exposed parts of your arms and legs every half hour can help to get rid of any chiggers that have climbed up your body. You can also brush your clothes to remove chiggers.
- Don’t sit or lie on the ground – Although, chiggers don’t roam around in well-mowed lawns, but they can migrate to those areas and bite the exposed skin of your neck or face if you lie down on the ground.
- Take a shower with hot water after coming inside – After you finish our work in the garden; make it a point to take a shower with hot water and soap to ensure the extermination of chiggers.
- Wash your clothes – Wash the clothes you were wearing in hot water which should reach a minimum temperature of 125 degrees F/52 degree C.
- Mow your lawn or garden regularly – Weeds, bushes and tall grass are the ideal hiding spots for chiggers. So, trimming the bushes and keeping the grass short is one of the simplest ways to get rid of the chiggers living around your house.
- Avoid tall grass – If you walk or play with your kids and pets in a park o picnic area then try to avoid the places with tall grass and weed and try to stick to well-worn paths or mowed trails.
- Get rid of wood piles, briars and brush piles from the yard.
- Use natural or chemical insecticides to treat your yard. It will eliminate the chigger population around your house.
- Contact a professional pest controller to treat your lawn, trees, and shrubs if commercial insecticides fail to show effect.
- Apply insect-repellent sprays containing DEET (diethyltoluamide) before going out in the garden or into the woods.
- Avoid scratching an itching area of the skin because it can spread the infection if you have been bitten by chiggers.
- Avoid shady areas, tall grass, and woods and make it a point to mow the areas around your house where children play.
- Avoid sitting or lying down on the lawn to prevent exposing your neck and face to chigger bites.
Chigger bites usually don’t require any medical attention and can be cured with home remedies. But don’t hesitate to contact a doctor if your symptoms worsen or you experience high fever, shortness of breath, a new outbreak of rash, vomiting, fainting or drainage of pus from the bites.