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How to Cure Chigger Bites

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August 13, 2013
How to Cure Chigger Bites - 6

I had been pretty lucky with bug bites this year—that is, until last week. At some point I stumbled through a bed of chiggers (aka red bugs) and those little demons made a meal out of me. I have never been torn up this bad. My feet, ankles, calves, thighs, and unmentionables welted up in itchy evidence of my unlucky encounter. For those fortunate to have never experienced this torture, a chigger bite is every bit as itchy as poison ivy or a mosquito bite, but the itch can last up to two weeks and it intensifies greatly if you are undisciplined enough to scratch it.

If you run afoul of chiggers, you will try anything to rid yourself of this scourge. Standard anti-itch creams and lotions like calamine don't do much to help. I have heard of people using nail polish on the bites, applying other odd household chemicals, and even going so far as to burn them with a cigarette.

There are only two things that I have come across that have helped me maintain sanity during this prickly time of duress. The first is a store-bought product called Chiggerex. This salve is basically a numbing agent with 10 percent benzocaine as the active ingredient. There are other healing items in the mix, but the big relief comes when the benzocaine goes to work disrupting sensation where applied. But you have to keep using this product—it’s not a cure.

My other (and favored) treatment is a homemade one: comfrey leave salve. I started using this treatment on chigger bites earlier in the season, and it drastically shortened the healing time. It didn’t help the itch much in the short term, but the bites only lasted half their normal span, so overall there was a lot less scratching. I originally made this jar of salve for burns, and you can concoct your own from just two ingredients.

First, positively identify comfrey (Symphytum officinale), which is a perennial that grows to about three feet tall in moist grasslands and farm lands. Comfrey has lanceolate leaves that are fuzzy and resemble mullein; but unlike mullein, comfrey has bell-shaped purple or whitish flowers. Use a field guide if in doubt. Dry the leaves in a dehydrator if you need the salve soon, or just dry them indoors for a few weeks if you are making salve for the season. Melt one cup of Crisco or lard in a crock pot (try to get it around 150 degrees). Then add in one cup of crushed, dried comfrey leaves and let it soak for 3 hours at 150 degrees. Next, strain the solid leaf bits out by pouring the mixture through a strainer, and store the green-colored salve in the fridge up to one year.

Try this remedy on bites, burns, cuts, and scrapes, but keep in mind that herbal cures are highly variable, so your results may vary.

Tell us about your chigger bite remedies in the comments.

Comments (6)

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from kbusick wrote 34 weeks 5 days ago

As a forester in the south, I have suffered from red bugs many times and tried most of the usual remedies. If I forgot to spray down with DEET, I paid the price. By accident one day, looking for some releif, I slathered down my legs with GOJO waterless hand cleaner. Next day no itching, just red marks that looked like I had been shot with #8 shot. Have used it many times since. Usually works as good as the first time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josey wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

Take a hot bath or shower immediately when you get home after walking through grass or vegetation. The chiggers bite and feed and then fall off. The swollen bites are your body's reaction to the chiggers' bites and the fluids the chigger transfers to you. If you take a quick bath, you can get many of the chiggers off before the bites turn severe.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gary Allen wrote 35 weeks 11 min ago

Get chigger-treatment.com for a chigger treatment that acts fast and lasts. It is the best there is.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1uglymutha wrote 35 weeks 13 hours ago

when I was about 9 or 10 years old I ran afoul of a nest of chiggers. The itch was unbearable. I was infested from ankles to waist. My uncle Bill applied copious amounts of kerosene to the affected areas. This was not pleasant as you may imagine. To tell the truth it burned like fire but even that was an improvement over the ungodly itching. In just a few hours the chiggers were gone. There is no pleasant remedy. You just have to grin and bear it (Or grimace and bear it.) A lot of four letter words seem to help somewhat. Prevention is the best cure.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 35 weeks 19 hours ago

The only time I've gotten into chiggers is by sitting on the ground in the spring. Never had any troubles this time of year. I just kept them covered with petroleum jelly. Seemed to take care of it.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jack Johnson wrote 35 weeks 20 hours ago

All you have to do is if you live on the coast go down to the ocean or bay and soak for a few hours. If your to far from the sea just add 2 cups of pickling salt, 1/2 cup of epsom salt and 1/4 cup of baking soda into a hot bath tub of water and soak until you can't stand it anymore. If any of the bites still bother you just apply a baking soda paste and its lights out to the intense itching.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from Gary Allen wrote 35 weeks 11 min ago

Get chigger-treatment.com for a chigger treatment that acts fast and lasts. It is the best there is.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1uglymutha wrote 35 weeks 13 hours ago

when I was about 9 or 10 years old I ran afoul of a nest of chiggers. The itch was unbearable. I was infested from ankles to waist. My uncle Bill applied copious amounts of kerosene to the affected areas. This was not pleasant as you may imagine. To tell the truth it burned like fire but even that was an improvement over the ungodly itching. In just a few hours the chiggers were gone. There is no pleasant remedy. You just have to grin and bear it (Or grimace and bear it.) A lot of four letter words seem to help somewhat. Prevention is the best cure.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josey wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

Take a hot bath or shower immediately when you get home after walking through grass or vegetation. The chiggers bite and feed and then fall off. The swollen bites are your body's reaction to the chiggers' bites and the fluids the chigger transfers to you. If you take a quick bath, you can get many of the chiggers off before the bites turn severe.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kbusick wrote 34 weeks 5 days ago

As a forester in the south, I have suffered from red bugs many times and tried most of the usual remedies. If I forgot to spray down with DEET, I paid the price. By accident one day, looking for some releif, I slathered down my legs with GOJO waterless hand cleaner. Next day no itching, just red marks that looked like I had been shot with #8 shot. Have used it many times since. Usually works as good as the first time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jack Johnson wrote 35 weeks 20 hours ago

All you have to do is if you live on the coast go down to the ocean or bay and soak for a few hours. If your to far from the sea just add 2 cups of pickling salt, 1/2 cup of epsom salt and 1/4 cup of baking soda into a hot bath tub of water and soak until you can't stand it anymore. If any of the bites still bother you just apply a baking soda paste and its lights out to the intense itching.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 35 weeks 19 hours ago

The only time I've gotten into chiggers is by sitting on the ground in the spring. Never had any troubles this time of year. I just kept them covered with petroleum jelly. Seemed to take care of it.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

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