SDStaff Doug misstates the nature of Chiggers in his report . Chiggers are not “mite nymphs,” they are mites that have three developmental stages: larva, nymph, and adult. The only stage at which they seek hosts is the larval stage. Once they are engorged with blood, they drop off the host and pass to the nymph stage, and thence become adults. During these latter stages, they feed on the eggs of other tiny insects (typically mosquitos or springtails) or isopods (a form of crustacean).
I’ve noticed the same itch reaction with mosquitos as well. Living between two small no-engine lakes (maybe 500 feet in front and behind my house), we get a ton of them. Like anyone else, I used to scratch them afterwards. Then, I noticed that if you don’t scratch, or even rub, them right away (wait at least ten minutes or so) they won’t last as long or be as irritating.
Now, instead of having a reminder a day later, mine are just about gone in the morning. I’d guess it’s because you let your blood deal with the “poison”, instead of smashing it into your tissues, but it’s just a guess.
We can make this discussion really useful if we would post home remedies for chigger bites – or would that be chigger sucks. Mine is Carmex. I personally developed this, not adapting it from Heloise or other folk sources, so when you use it next summer and it works, just thank me in your will. :rolleyes:
Interestingly, treatment with a dab of Carmex fits in with the facts as they are developing here. Which are: don’t scratch it, and get it off before it falls off 4 days later!. The menthol or whatever it is in Carmex abates the itching, and the petroleum base kills (smothers) or makes the larva jump off. The traditional nail polish remedy, as mentioned above, is not always handy for men, and it has always semed weird to me to put those chemicals on an open would, but that is just me.
My home remedy is one that I don’t recommend to anybody because IANAD but here it is anyway.
DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS!!!
I scratch the top off of the sore, squeeze it until it bleeds and then rub rubbing alcohol on it. And yes, it hurts like hell. The itching goes away within a couple of hours. I’ve done the same thing with bleach and it works too.
I know that these are extreme measures but when your legs are covered with bites, you’ll do anything to get it to stop.
I don’t have that much willpower. And sometimes, I don’t know that I have chigger bites until it’s too late. I just instinctively reach down and scratch my ankle thinking that it’s just dry skin. At that point, the flood gates have been opened and the dreaded “itch-scratch cycle” has been unleashed.
Actually, with my method, (DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!!) the itching goes away much faster than that. It’s just replaced with intense, unspeakable but somewhat shortlived pain. Sometimes, when I can’t stand the itching anymore, I’m willing to make the trade.
I also try to do it just a little before bedtime so that I can wake up itch-free. Then, all I have to do is wait for the scars to heal.
The best way I’ve found to deal with chiggers is to cover your skin with any kid of alcoholic beverage. The chiggers will drink it and since they can’t really handle their liquor, they die and fall off.
Chiggers do not burrow into the skin as most people believe.
Once it feeds on your blood, it falls off. A chigger produces an
enzyme that prevents the blood from clotting. This enzyme
causes a histamine response by our body. Thus, redness an
itching. Now if one wants to talk about insects that burrow into
our skin… Step into a nest of seed ticks. Those nasty teenie tiny
little suckers can cause misery for weeks.
For itches in general, I’ve found it’s sometimes helpful to scratch the area immediately around the itch, say a centimeter away. This avoids further irritation of the problem spot, but still partially satisfies the psychological urge to scratch.