Chiggers might be tiny, but they sure can bite. These mite larvae cause intense itching that’s enough to drive you crazy. Antihistamines and corticosteroid creams are useful, but natural remedies work just as well. If you spend a lot of time outside, watch out for these little guys. Chiggers live in areas like woodlands, berry patches, orchards, lakes, golf courses, and parks. You might also run into them while hiking, camping, or picnicking.
Fortunately, chiggers are not poisonous. Instead, they latch onto human skin and eat surrounding tissue. Once they’ve had their fill, chiggers drop off and leave red welts with white and hard centers.1 While the actual bite is painless, the welts are extremely itchy.
The treatment focuses on stopping the itch, which can be done with these eight home remedies.
1. Hot Bath
Once you notice the chigger bites, take a hot and soapy bath. Work up a thick
Don’t get back in the same clothes. Toss it in the laundry with hot water that is heated to about 125 Fahrenheit.2
2. Cold Compress
Cold compresses aren’t just for bruises and sunburns. They can help itching3 from chigger bites, too. To make one, fill a plastic bag with ice cubes and apply.
Another option is to soak a clean hand towel with water and place it in the freezer. After fifteen to twenty minutes, apply it onto the bites.
3. Peppermint Oil
For a cooling effect, apply peppermint essential oil. It will soothe the chigger bites! This remedy is
Before applying essential oil to the skin, always dilute it first. Combine five drops with one tablespoon of a carrier, such as olive or grapeseed oil.
4. Lavender Oil
Not only is lavender relaxing, but it can also ease skin irritation.5 Use it to relieve stinging and burning chigger bites. To apply lavender oil, mix five drops with one tablespoon carrier oil.
5. Aloe Vera Gel
From sunburns to psoriasis, aloe vera gel is an excellent choice for inflammatory skin conditions.6 The cooling sensation will reduce
itching caused by chigger bites. You can even use aloe
Oats are often used as face and body scrubs. On chigger bites, it can provide relief while sloughing away larvae. But don’t rub too hard! Further damage to the skin will increase the risk for infection.
Mix oats with a base like olive oil, aloe, or coconut oil. It will be easier to scrub while adding moisture.
7. Green Tea Bath Soak
Green tea is full of plant chemicals called polyphenols. They’re anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory, making green tea useful against skin disorders. To reap the benefits, create a soothing bath soak.
Fill a tub with warm water, and add five or six green tea bags. Once the water is totally infused, take a dip. Add a few drops of peppermint oil for more relief.
8. Virgin Coconut
Coconut oil is a popular remedy for dermatitis. It will calm dry and itchy skin, even if it’s caused by chigger bites. Plus, the antimicrobial activity of coconut oil will keep infections at bay.7
To prevent chigger bites, apply an insect repellant before heading outside. Make your own by diluting five drops of citronella, peppermint, or rosemary oil for every tablespoon of witch hazel or water. Spray it on exposed skin before heading outside.
Consider wearing long pants and tucking them into boots. Long sleeve shirts will also keep chiggers away.8
|↑1, ↑2||Chiggers. Michigan State University Extension-Oakland County.|
|↑3||Itching. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Peppermint. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑5||Lavender. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.|
|↑6||Aloe. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑7||Verallo-Rowell, Vermén M., Kristine M. Dillague, and Bertha S. Syah-Tjundawan. “Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis.” Dermatitis 19, no. 6. 2008|
|↑8||Chiggers. Clemson Cooperative Extension.|