Home Remedies For Chigger Bites And When To See A Doctor



Chiggers are parasites that bite your skin in clusters, often for hours or days, if you don’t wash them off your skin. They are widespread in the southeastern United States.

Chiggers are hard to spot because they’re microscopic and you may never see them on your skin. The first sign that you have a chigger bite may be the physical evidence of your bite, and symptoms appear about a day after the bite.

There are many ways to treat these bites at home to relieve symptoms and prevent infection. In general, chigger bites are more uncomfortable than harmful.

There are many ways to treat chigger bites at home. You want to focus on removing the chiggers from your skin, soothing the skin from itching and pain, and avoiding infection. Always follow the directions for the products you use to treat chigger bites.

It is not necessary to “smother” the fleas with products such as nail polish or petroleum jelly, as would be the case with fleas.

bath or shower

Bathing or showering in hot water after coming into contact with chiggers can help remove remaining bugs from your skin and soothe it. When bathing or showering, be sure to apply soap and use a washcloth to avoid rubbing against the skin to make sure they come off.

Chiggers are likely to stop sticking on your skin if the area is itchy. If the chigger bites are itchy, a cool shower or bath may help relieve your symptoms.

Colloidal oatmeal

Colloidal oatmeal is a skin protectant that also helps reduce itching and inflammation. It has been used as a home remedy for centuries.

It can be helpful in treating chigger bites, especially with bath products or moisturizers after a bath or shower. You can find products containing colloidal oatmeal at your local pharmacy or grocery store. Follow the instructions on the product packaging.

Calamine lotion

Calamine Lotion is an over the counter product that can soothe your skin by relieving itchiness. It can also dry out insect bites, which begin to secrete mucus. You can use it several times a day.

Over-the-counter drugs

There are several over-the-counter medications you can use to treat chigger bites:

  • Oral antihistamines reduce itching and inflammation. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is a type of oral antihistamine.
  • Oral medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can relieve pain and discomfort. Ibuprofen can also reduce inflammation.
  • Topical creams with ingredients that reduce itching, inflammation, and irritation can also be effective. Look for products that contain camphor, menthol, or pramoxine. Hydrocortisone is a product that contains topical steroids that can relieve symptoms.
  • Topical antiseptics clean the bite area and reduce the likelihood of infection.

Essential oils

Essential oils are a complementary or alternative therapy and are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. You should use essential oils with caution. Some essential oils for insect bites that can help relieve inflammation or itching include:

  • Tea tree
  • lavender
  • Fighter
  • rosemary
  • basil

Be sure to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil or moisturizer before using them on your skin. Do not use them orally or place them near your eyes.

Essential oils can also help fight off chigger bites. A study that focused on a species of chigger native to Asia found that cloves, tea tree, cassumunar ginger, and eucalyptus globulus repelled 100 percent of the chiggers.

Ice pack or cold compress

Apply an ice pack or cold compress to itchy chigger bites. Use a towel or light cloth between an ice pack and your skin to avoid very cold temperatures from touching your skin directly.

Fingernail hygiene

Keep your fingernails short so you don’t open the affected skin when you scratch it. Scratching chigger bites with sharp or long nails can lead to infection.

You may have to cope with stronger treatment for chigger bites. A doctor can prescribe:

  • topical steroid ointment or cream if you have more severe symptoms
  • Antibiotic (if the bites become infected)

There are several reasons you might want to call a doctor about chigger bites:

  • Your bites will become more irritated, oozing, or not healing which are signs of infection.
  • You feel sick and have a fever, which can be an indication of an infection.
  • You are having a severe allergic reaction.

Medical emergency

If you have the following symptom of a severe allergic reaction to the chigger bites called anaphylactic shock, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room:

  • severe swelling
  • Hives or a rash
  • fever
  • Throat swelling

Chiggers often bite areas where your skin wrinkles, such as the back of your knees or armpits, or near restrictive clothing ties, such as the holes in your underwear, the waist of your pants, or the elastic band of your socks.

Physical evidence of chigger bites is:

  • reddish raised pimples that appear in lumps
  • red point in the middle of the bite
  • itchy skin near the bites
  • Pain near the bites

The symptoms of a chigger bite can vary in severity depending on how sensitive your skin is to the bites and how long the parasites have stayed on your skin.

There are several things you can do at home to relieve symptoms of a chigger bite. Make sure to remove the bugs from your skin before starting any treatment for the irritation, itching, and swelling.

You can try over-the-counter medications, bathing, and possibly even essential oils to relieve symptoms. Call your doctor if symptoms persist or worsen.



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