Chiggers >:(

Discussion in 'The Great Outdoors' started by Bear76, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. Bear76

    Bear76 New Member

    Jan 9, 2008
    Does anyone else have a problem with these darn little bugs!? I had NEVER been bit by one when I was in NY and late spring out here in Kansas I started getting attacked(Spence did too), and now its to the point where my legs are all red & itch ALL THE TIME! My feet are swollen from being bit so many times. I don't know what to do to get rid of them but I am miserable right now! Anyone else have this issue?
  2. burley

    burley Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2006
    Chiggers don't really bite , they attach to your skin and use an enzyme to break down the skin. The enzyme causes your skin cells to dissolve and the chiggers drink the liquid. Mosquito repellent with DEET will help repel chiggers ( Chiggers are the tiny larvae of chigger mites) , use some bug repellent. Wash with warm soapy water after exposure, your clothing too as it can transfer chiggers back onto your skin.  It don't hurt to wash off exposed skin periodically if you are outside working/playing , a soapy washcloth will help remove the bugs and the enzyme .Relief after exposure can be had by using green tea extract , calamine lotion or hydro-cortisone cream . Note some home remedies can actually be bad and make the situation worst like putting nail polish over bites as that will only trap the enzyme and can cause a worst skin irritation.

    I have heard of spraying your arms/legs with hair spray before going outdoors helps but never tried it myself.

    Some good info here too;

  3. 2Eagle_Dad

    2Eagle_Dad Well-Known Member

    We don't have chiggers up here in the rain forest, but Mosquitos come in clouds!  Not as big as up in the Tundra (been there too) but just as numerous!

    We (scout leaders) recommend this stuff.  You treat your clothes (do NOT forget your socks!) and do not have to apply stuff to most of your skin.

    For exposed skin we recommend the ever popular Jungle Juice.
    Like 98% DEET!  Be careful.  Will melt some types of plastic, like the clear base of a nice Silva compass.  :-[

    Both by the same manufacturer, both list chiggers on the "repelled" list.

    Good Luck!

    ETA: This stuff is also from Sawyer:
  4. torrent

    torrent Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2006
    We are issued Sawyer insect repellent as part of field packs and most of us carry the stuff with us in our cargo pockets every day. It's the rub on stuff in a tube and it works well. Usually when I'm out in the warmer months I spray repellent on any explosed skin and up under my pant legs if I'm wearing pants. I don't know of any way to keep the red spots from itching but scratching them makes it worse.
  5. 2Eagle_Dad

    2Eagle_Dad Well-Known Member

    Dang!  Endorsed by both the Boy Scouts and the U.S.Army!  Or is there a difference?  ;)

    In all truth, it works better than anything else that I have ever tried...

    I actually like the liquid squirt bottle of JJ better than the spray...

    Never tried the tube.  Cream I presume.
    REI has it all.
  6. torrent

    torrent Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2006
    Yes it's a very thick cream that doesn't wash off very easily and is almost sweat proof.
  7. remf

    remf New Member

    Feb 20, 2006
    Torrent - dude, wear pants! :D

    Bug dope is the only good dope.
  8. 2Eagle_Dad

    2Eagle_Dad Well-Known Member

    Is this what you are referring to?

    Looks like the 16 oz version could do some damage!
  9. TxCajun

    TxCajun Administrator Staff Member Administrator Moderator Supporter

    Sep 7, 2004
    Off topic replies have been moved to [link=]This Thread[/link]
  10. Bear76

    Bear76 New Member

    Jan 9, 2008
    YIKES! If it melts plastic I don't know I want to put it on my skin lol I will have to try some of the other stuff however. I just want the stupid little bugs to go away! :)
  11. 2Eagle_Dad

    2Eagle_Dad Well-Known Member

    YIKES! If it melts plastic I don't know I want to put it on my skin lol I will have to try some of the other stuff however. I just want the stupid little bugs to go away! :)[/quote]

    Did not mean top scare you off of jj!!

    It is safe, if used per directions.  Just a few drops of the liquid spread over a pretty good area.  I had been stupid and dropped the compass and the liquid jj bottle into the same ziplock for winter storage.  Somehow the jj started leaking, and when I pulled the stuff out a few months later, the compass base was ruined.  the black plastic top and the dial were OK, as was the ziplock.

    It has the SAME active ingredient that most of the effective repellants use: DEET.  Only difference?  They often have only 10-20%, or even less.  JJ is 98.11% pure DEET!!  A little goes a long way, so you don't need to schlep a big bottle around to get big protection.  The little 2 oz bottle of liquid seems to last forever.

    That being said, we encourage our guys to wear lightweight long sleeved shirts and lightweight pants (as opposed to shorts) with long socks, and a hat when out.  If you treat the clothes and socks, you only need to worry about the face, neck (and ears!) and hands.  Don't need near as much sunscreen either.  Healthier all around.  We like lightweight nylon or microfiber fabrics, as they do not hold moisture and dry quickly.
  12. supertex

    supertex New Member

    Jul 18, 2010
    pine sol in a shallow bath , was the cure when i was young
  13. Rando

    Rando New Member

    Jun 28, 2009
    Bt the time the wounds itch the chiggers are alredy gone. Very effective repellent in FL is flowers of sulphur available at Walgreens and CVS type places - apply the powder to pantlegs and boots.
  14. artimus_prime

    artimus_prime Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2007
    Central FL
    i got chiggers when i was younger. Mom had me put clear nail polish on the areas to "suffocate" them. Seemed it worked at the time.
  15. atm7819

    atm7819 New Member

    Aug 8, 2010
    I hate chiggers!!! Now that I got that out of the way, I found some interesting info on Missouri Conservation Dept. website.

    "By far, the most effective and time proven repellent for chiggers is sulphur. Chiggers hate sulphur and definitely avoid it. Powdered sulphur, called sublimed sulphur or flowers of sulfur, is available through most pharmacies. Dust the powdered sulphur around the opening of your pants, socks and boots. If you plan to venture into a heavily infested area, powdered sulphur can be rubbed over the skin on your legs, arms and waist. Some people rub on a mixture of half talcum powder and half sulphur.

    But a word of warning: sulphur has a strong odor. The combination of sulfur and sweat will make you unpleasant company for anyone who has not had the same treatment. Sulphur is also irritating to the skin of some people. If you have not used sulphur before, try it on a small area of your skin first.

    The best precaution against chigger bites is simply taking a warm soapy bath with plenty of scrubbing as soon as possible after exposure. If you bathe at once, while the chiggers are still running over your body, you can wash them off before they bite. A bath will also remove any attached and feeding chiggers before you start to feel the itch.

    Warm soapy water is all that is necessary to remove and kill chiggers. There is no need, and it is rather dangerous, to apply household products such as kerosene, turpentine, ammonia, alcohol, gasoline, salt or dry cleaning fluid. Don't do it.

    Attached chiggers are removed by even the lightest rubbing. If you are away from civilization, you can remove attached chiggers before they do much damage by frequently rubbing down with a towel or a cloth.

    What can you do to alleviate suffering if these precautions fail? Lotions will relive the itching somewhat, but no substance is completely effective. The only ultimate cure is time, since there is nothing you can do to dislodge the chigger's feeding tube, the true cause of your itch. You must simply wait until your body breaks down and absorbs the foreign object.

    In the meantime, local anesthetics such as benzocaine, camphor-phenol and ammonium hydroxide may provide you with several hours of comfort at a stretch. Over-the-counter creams can also help. In rare cases, some people are allergic to chigger bites and require prescription medications from their doctor.

    The most popular home remedy for which there is little justification is to dab nail polish on the welt. This cannot "smother" the chigger because it has not burrowed into your skin, and it was probably scratched off long ago. The only benefit to applying a thick coat of nail polish is that it helps to remind you not to scratch the bite.

    Chronic scratching will only cause the stylostome to further irritate. Scratching deep enough to remove the stylostome will probably cause a secondary infection that is worse than the original chigger bite. If you do scratch, disinfect the chigger bite with topical antiseptics."
  16. Liberty4Ever

    Liberty4Ever Moderator Moderator Supporter

    May 19, 2006
    Lexington KY
    I've had chigger bites many times. WAY worse than mosquitoes. I'd often get four or five at a time, usually in folds of skin, around the ankles under socks, or around the waistband. I considered a bad chigger time to be ten. A few years ago, a friend and I were camping and we decided a clearing where a lot of pine trees had blown down in a spot tornado the year before would be a good site. It turns out, pine mulch is a favorite for chiggers. I estimated I had over 800 chigger bites. It's the sort of thing that can drive a person insane. I wondered how many chigger bites would be fatal. We were a couple of Happy Meals for chigger larvae (little chiggers). I have always avoided pesticides. My friend who used a lot of pesticide (Cutter? Deep Woods Off?) estimated he had about 200 bites.

    Mosquito bites last a few days. Chigger bites last a couple of weeks, because the crusted tube of liquified skin (yuck) must heal.

    After a couple of days, the suffering was so bad, I ran hot water in the tub, and nothing but hot water. I jumped in and submerged myself. It's the lobster treatment. When I could take it no more, I stood up and turned the shower on cold, and nothing but cold. This works because the hot water causes greatly increased blood flow to the outer surface of the skin which flushes away the hystamine that causes the itching. The cold water then restricts the blood flow and deadens the nerve endings. I got enough relief to go to sleep that way.

    You can use hot water on a wash cloth for a localized lobster treatment if your entire body isn't covered in chiggers like mine was. Anti-histamine ointments are used for a similar purpose.

    I bought a spray pen with 100% DEET after that. I had dreams about getting some DDT from overseas and revisiting that area with a space suit and industrial backpack sprayer and reigning down death from above... as if revenge against microscopic mite larvae is rational.

    I hope your chigger bites are feeling better.

    Chigger Trivia:  Only the microscopic six legged chigger mite larvae bite. After that, they drop off and morph into 8 legged nymphs which eat lots of tiny stuff, including mosquitoes! Then they morph again into the 8 legged red adult mites that eat slightly larger food. Adult females can lay 400 eggs.
  17. torrent

    torrent Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2006
    Sulpher must work pretty well because some of the SF guys go around sucking on match heads. They say it works well after they've eaten quite a few over a period of two or three days. I've been told it works on sand fleas too.
  18. JR37

    JR37 Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2009
    Jonesboro, Arkansas
    When I was growing up on an Arkansas hill farm, chiggers were as much apart of summer as the heat was. When we picked blackberries, we got chiggers, when we chopped cotton and sat in the shade at the end of the row, we got chiggers. We got chiggers just because we were there.
    We had no knowledge of insect repellents at that time. One of the methods we used to protect our selves was to put coal oil (kerosene to you folks not from the south) on a rag and tied it around out ankles. We did all of the old methods to get rid of the bugs and the itch. We did the fingernail polish, hot wather, and rubbing alchol, did that burn, and some other remedies that I don't remember. I do remember that chiggers seemed to gather at the ankle, around the waist, and at and around sensitive male organs.
    In later years when I did bivouacs with the Arkansas Guard, we head some pretty good stuff to spray on our clothing. That has been a few years ago, and I don't remember the name of the stuff, but it did contain DEET. It was recommended not to spray it directly on your body, but to spray your clothing the day prior to wearing them Either that worked, or I had become to old and tough for a chigger to eat on.
    Enough of this ramble. Chiggers are here, and they are mean.
    Life is short, be happy
  19. 535

    535 New Member

    Aug 21, 2010
    We're not really food to chiggers, they bite, figure that out and fall off. But when they bite they inject a small amount of a fluid to dissolve skin cells. In people this causes a histamine release at the site causing profuse itching. The best thing you can do is wash the area, keep it dry and apply benadryl lotion to the affected area or take benadryl pills. (don't take the pills and lotion at the same time. ) Then you just wait for the bites to take their course and itch you brains out in the mean time.  Hydrocortisone creme can also help speed healing of the affected area and assist with some of the itching as well.

    Contrary to popular belief, they don't dig under your skin.

    Best thing you can do is pull your socks up and tuck your pants into your boots then spray your shoes and legs with at least 20% DEET. Also keep your shirt tucked in and sleeve cuffs down and spray your clothes with DEET.
  20. Narsil

    Narsil Active Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    This is what I do when I know I'm going somewhere there are likely to be chiggers and/or ticks. I have never been bitten (picked several ticks off me but none were attached) while doing this. It was recommended by a Marine corpsman at Camp Lejeune. I have never experienced any ill effects from this but, of course, you're responsible for your own actions. Your eyes are supposed to twitch whenever you sit down, right? :eek:

    I tear the head off a couple paper matches and swallow them with a glass of water. The sulfur in the match heads is secreted in your sweat which turns your sweat into a highly effective bug repellent. Again, you do it at your own risk but it has worked amazingly well for me. I spent two weeks in the woods of Camp Lejeune and was just about the only guy in my company that had zero tick bites. I pulled my pants down to use the restroom one night and found a tick crawling on my upper thigh. I hadn't been in the woods that day for several hours but it had never actually bitten me; just crawled around <shudder>.

    I'm not sure what the long-term effects would be if you were doing this, say, every day in a summer for years on end but I do it whenever I'm heading out for a day in the woods.