How to Prevent and Treat Chigger Bites

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In this post, we are going to go over almost 50 ways to prevent and treat chigger bites. If you’ve ever experienced chigger bites I’m sure you know how horrible they are. I want to give you all the options there are to prevent and treat chigger bites so you can look and find something that will help you.

You know the scene, right? A couple in love, a warm spring day. The sun is shining, a gentle breeze is blowing, the picnic basket is full of goodies. Their pants are short, their feet are bare.

There is no need for a picnic blanket, the grass by the pond is tall and soft…

They eat, drink some wine, roll in the grass… And go home covered in love bites.

Well, I don’t know who came up with this scene, but it ain’t happening where I live. Here is the South, the only bites this couple is going to go home with are chigger bites!

How to Prevent and Treat Chigger Bites…

Chigger bites are horrible! They are so so itchy and are hard to get rd of. I've compiled a list of almost 50 ways to prevent and treat chigger bites. Here it is...
#chiggerbites #chiggers #chiggerbitetreatment #chigger

Oh… How horrible they are! Have you ever had chigger bites? if you think that tick bites are torturous think again. Chigger bites are so itchy and the itch just doesn’t go away.

I mean… for weeks!

My first experience with chigger bites was right after I bought my country home. I came from the city to a property that stood empty for 7 years…

The grass was tall, there was garbage everywhere… Old, rotten buildings, and forgotten paths. I stepped right into chigger heaven.

I didn’t know there was such a thing as chiggers… I grew up in Israel, in a small kibbutz. I was outdoors 90% of my childhood but we don’t have chiggers in Israel.

They need humidity and moist conditions and Israel is too dry. So I stepped into the tall grass without a care in the world. I was ready to bring this property to life.

Finally, I escaped the city and stepped foot on my personal piece of American country heaven!

Only a day later I was in hell!

I didn’t feel anything biting me… But the next day I noticed tiny red bumps on my legs just before the itching started.

And I thought I was going to lose my mind!

I turned to the locals and they said the word… CHIGGERS!

Say what!?

A quick Google search introduced me to the little unseen devils, and some research led to the list that you’ll find below.

I had to claim the property back from the chiggers.

I did, even though it was a hard battle… And the fact that I didn’t lose my mind in the process is a miracle!

What Are Chiggers?

Mite on the skin.

Chiggers are mites from the family of spiders and ticks (arachnids). They are red and so tiny we can’t see them with the naked eye.

Chiggers live in moist areas around lakes, rivers, and ponds, or close to ground level in grassy fields, gardens, and forests because they need humidity in order to survive.

Here is some information from Wikipedia

Trombiculid mites (chiggers) go through a life cycle of egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The larval mites feed on the skin cells of animals.

The six-legged parasitic larvae feed on a large variety of creatures, including humans, rabbits, toads, box turtles, quail, and even some insects.

After crawling onto their hosts, they inject digestive enzymes into the skin that break down skin cells. They do not actually “bite”, but instead form a hole in the skin called a stylostome and chew up tiny parts of the inner skin, thus causing severe irritation and swelling.

The severe itching is accompanied by red, pimple-like bumps (papules) or hives and skin rash or lesions on a sun-exposed area.

For humans, itching usually occurs after the larvae detach from the skin.

After feeding on their hosts, the larvae drop to the ground and become nymphs, then mature into adults, which have eight legs and are harmless to humans. In the post larval stage, they are not parasitic and feed on plant material.

The females lay three to eight eggs in a clutch, usually on a leaf or under the roots of a plant, and die by autumn.

What Do Chigger Bites Look Like?

Chigger bites on the back of the leg.
Chigger bites a couple of days old on the back of the leg.

Chiggers will climb on you even if you wear shoes and long pants or they will climb on your arms as you work in the garden. Then, they will migrate all over the body in search of the perfect spot to feed.

Once they find a juicy spot, they will insert their feeding tube into your skin and inject enzymes that cause destruction to the skin. They then feed on the damaged tissue.

They don’t burrow into the skin as many people think. The itching is horrendous and once you scratch the spot you squish the chigger to death. But the itching stays f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

Most of the time, you’ll see the “bites” behind the knees, in the crotch area, under the arms, or around the ankles. Those are areas of the body where the skin is thin and it’s easier for the chiggers to insert their feeding structures.

But as I write this, I have a few glorious bites (even though they are not really bites I’ll call them that to make it easier…) on my tummy and other areas that are not mentioned above so although areas with thin skin are more common, you can still experience bites in other places.

So how do you know if the itchy red bumps you see on your body are chigger bites or mosquito bites?

Many times, you’ll see a cluster of little red bites in a certain area. They might be small red dots or bigger, like a mosquito bite. But other times you’ll have a bite here and a bite there.

As opposed to a mosquito bite, you won’t feel the chigger bite as it happens. About 1-3 hours after the chigger injected its digestive enzyme the symptoms will occur.

Many times you’ll find the red bumps in areas that were covered with clothes, not exposed areas that mosquitoes can reach.

And the itch of a chigger bite is much worse than that of a mosquito bite. It lasts for a few weeks instead of a few days.

Complications From Chigger Bites…

A new chigger bite.
A new chigger bite.

Chiggers, at least in North America, are not known to carry any diseases, and the bites themselves do not produce any long-term complications.

However, since the itching is so intense, you must be careful not to cause yourself wounds by scratching, those open wounds can sometimes get infected by bacteria.

How to Prevent Chigger Bites…

Spraying arms against chiggers.

Before we go down the list of things you can do to prevent chigger bites, let me make sure you understand a couple of things:

The first is that I personally did not try all of these suggestions below. I collected them from country friends that have some experience with chiggers.

I tried a few, and I will note the ones that I did try and worked for me and, in the end, I will tell you our before-you-go-outside routine as it is right now.

The second thing you have to know is that not all the solutions you’ll find here are healthy for you.

For example, to spray yourself with kerosene is obviously not healthy for your skin and is not good for you to inhale.

However, if I must go clear an untouched area of three feet tall vegetation on my property on a summer day, I’ll probably do it.

Maybe if you ever had to deal with a hundred chigger bites on your body at the same time, you’ll do it too. Maybe not. It’s your decision to make.

The third thing you should know is that not all the solutions below might be safe for your other animals, plants, or young children.

Lastly, some of the solutions below are flammable like kerosene or turpentine so make sure that you are aware and take that into consideration.

My goal is to simply give you all the options I know of, it’s your responsibility to make sure they are safe for your situation.

OK, let’s go…

Preventing Chigger Bites…

Wear Pantyhose Under Your Pants – some say that the chiggers can’t bite through the pantyhose. make sure to wash the pantyhose very well in hot water once you take it off.

Keep Grass Cut Short and Your Yard Clean – make sure to cut the grass on your property short from early spring until fall when temperatures rise over 60F.

Dust Diatomaceous Earth on Your Clothes – chiggers don’t like this stuff just like other crawlers. Before you go outside, dust the lower part of your pants and shirt sleeves with some DE.

Spread Diatomaceous Earth on Your Lawn – another way you can use it is by spreading it on your lawn. Use 5 pounds per 1000 sq. ft.

Vinegar – I didn’t try it, but since vinegar can pretty much save the world I am sure this will work. Spray your clothes with vinegar before going to work outside. Here is how to make your own apple cider vinegar.

Insect repellent – some say that just regular insect repellent works for them…

DEET – others say you’ll have to go 98% DEET for it to work.

Turpentine – spray your clothes with turpentine before going outside.

Vick’s VaporRub – apply the ointment on the lower part of your legs and on the arms.

Plant Marigolds – apparently, chiggers don’t like marigolds. You kill two birds at once here, your garden will be both chigger free and pretty.

Plant Horsemint/Bee balm –  another beautiful plant that will keep the chiggers away.

Mentholatum Ointment –  apply on ankles and lower legs and also on arms.

Spray Kerosene – spray kerosene on clothes before going outside.

Skin so Soft From Avon – this is one of the things I tried that really works. It smells good but bugs in general don’t like it at all. I also put this on my kids.

Bag Balm –  apply on lower legs and arms before going outside.

Garlic – just like vinegar, garlic can save the world. Eat one clove of garlic a day and chiggers and mosquitoes will stay away. Your immune system will be very strong too.

Dust Clothes With Sulfur Powder – this seems to be what most people will stand behind when it comes to dealing with chiggers. Dust this powder on your clothes and shoes before going to work outdoors.

Spread Sulfur Pellets – spread pellets on your lawn. use 5pounds per 1000 sq. ft. The suggestion is to do this around the end of May before temperatures get too hot.

Sulfur Supplement – add sulfur to your diet and the bugs won’t like you.

doTERRA Lemongrass Essential Oil – apply topically on the lower part of legs and arms.

doTERRA Lavender Essential Oil – apply topically on the lower part of legs and arms.

doTERRA Geranium Essential Oil – apply topically on the lower part of legs and arms.

doTERRA TerraShield Essential Oils Blend – I love this blend, it works great for mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, and whatever else is out there looking for a taste of your blood.

It’s natural, and I use this for my kids too. We spray it or spread it topically on our bodies before going outside.

If you would like my help in opening a doTERRA account please comment below and I will get back to you via email. Or you can email me at I’d love to help.

Rubber Bands – place rubber bands on the ends of your pants by your ankles and the end of your sleeves by your wrists. This will prevent the chiggers from climbing and taking a walk all over your body.

Bug B Gon– Bug B Gon might help control the chigger party on your lawn.

Guinea Hens – this is a controversial topic.

Some people say that chiggers are too small for the guinea to find and eat, others that raise guineas say they don’t have any kind of bug problems on their lawns so maybe the guineas do eat the chiggers or simply scare them away with their non -stop screaming.

Anyway, guineas will take care of ticks, fleas, caterpillars, and so on so. They are a great addition to your homestead… Or… Maybe not. Find out why I don’t keep guineas in this post.

Rub Hands All Over Your Body – before you come inside, rub your hands up and down your body to kill any chiggers that are on you and didn’t bite yet.

How to Treat Chigger Bites…

How to treat chigger bites.
Chigger bites four days old after three Epsom salt baths and other remedies.

Let’s say you accidentally fell into a field infested with chiggers.

You rolled around a bit and now you are covered with chigger bites…

You are going out of your mind, swearing you are never going to step outside ever again, and by the end of the first day you are ready to move to heaven, where, most likely, there are no chiggers.

Let’s see how we can keep you with us a bit longer…

Vicks Vaporub – apply on bites.

After Bite – apply on bites as directed.

Ssssting Stop – apply on bites as directed.

Vinegar – use a cotton ball to dab vinegar on bites.

Baking Soda – mix baking soda with a bit of water or coconut oil to make a paste and apply on bites.

Aloe vera – good old aloe vera can help heal the skin. It might help with the itching only a little bit but it will definitely help the skin heal faster.

It’s best to use your homegrown aloe vera, but if you don’t have a plant you can get aloe vera gel.

Comfrey Ointment – comfrey leaf has many skin healing properties. Apply to skin as directed.

Baby Oil – some say applying baby oil on bites helps with the itch.

Nail polish – many people suggest applying nail polish onto the bites.

It is based on the misconception that chiggers burrow into the skin, and so by applying nail polish you suffocate them, but chiggers don’t burrow into the skin..

Still, I’ve tried it and there is something in the nail polish that does help with the itch and also seems to dry the bite rather fast.

All Good Goop Organic Balm – this product was recommended to me and it looks promising even though I haven’t tried it yet.

Calamine Lotion –  apply as directed.

Chigg Away – might be a bit more geared towards chigger bites… Apply as directed.

Benadryl –  Benadryl tablets for adults and Benadryl liquid for kids. Take as directed.

Benadryl Gel – apply on the skin as directed.

Orajel – apply on bites. This will help with the itch by numbing the area.

Epsom Salt – add Epsom salt to a warm bath as directed and soak for 20 minutes.

Epsom Salt Cream – apply on bites.

Lye Soap – scrub your skin good with old fashion lye soap.

Bleach – add one cup of bleach to the bathtub and soak for 20 minutes. I know, it sounds awful but some people say it really helps. I haven’t tried it yet.

doTERRA Essential Oils – last but not least, my beloved essential oils that I turn to for just about anything.

To support healthy skin you can use frankincense, lavender, melaleuca, immortelle, copaiba, magnolia, rose, and many others.

Treating Chigger Bites…

Boy itching his leg.

To handle the first couple of days I use Benadryl.

I could handle the itch but if the kids have “accidentally” rolled around in chiggerville and are covered in bites, I give them kids Benadryl every 5 hours for the first couple of days.

We soak in an Epsom salt bath once or, preferably, twice a day for 20 minutes. This really helps to dry the bites, but it takes around three baths until you feel the difference.

We use the essential oils that I mentioned above, Benadryl cream and Chigg Away for the itch and aloe vera and essential oils to help heal the skin.

The reality is that country living is not always as romantic as it sounds. You get to deal with creatures that you don’t find in the city.

I remember watching an episode of Alaska The Last Frontier a while ago. I was looking at the amazing views and the way of life those people have and I was thinking how amazing it all looks and how I would like to live there, like that, too.

Then, all of a sudden they filmed one of the guys there standing in a swarm of mosquitoes, trying to breathe without them going in his mouth.

He explained how, because everything is so moist in the Summer when the ice is melting, they need to deal with gazillions of mosquitoes.

If there is one kind of bug that I hate just as much as chiggers it’s mosquitoes. Suddenly the view wasn’t that amazing anymore.

But if you are anything like me, you’ll take chiggerville (or mosquitoville) over too-many-peopleville any day. So at least now you have a few things you can do if you happen to live in or visit the village.

Did I forget anything? Tell me in the comment below how you deal with chiggers.

Please share this content if you like it. Thank You!

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149 thoughts on “How to Prevent and Treat Chigger Bites”

  1. Hello Lee, I too am a Doterra dealer. Chiggers are just a part of life here in Virginia. LOL I just came in from work and my husband has a batch of chigger bites. We use a concoction of Lavender Oil with Melaleuca Oil and coconut oil. Works well. I enjoyed your page. Have a great day.

  2. We live in Northern Ohio and I had never dealt with chigger bites before. After reading this post and comments I’m sure that is what has bit my whole family as we are all dealing with itchy pimple like spots after cleaning the pool (algae filled) and surrounding area at my in-laws. After reading the comments and looking at the ingredients in some of the over the counter remedies I found that I had something similar in my skincare drawer Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. It contains Alcohol, calamine, camphor, sulfur, zinc…. I applied to the spots all over my body and I’ll see what happens. It doesn’t take away all the itch but I’m hoping it will help dry them up. Hope this helps!

      1. Everyone, I just realized I’ve got chigger bites all over my arms after mowing this week. First, painless spots running with blood, then 1-2 days later horrifying golf-ball-sized hard, hot, maddenly itching welts where I couldn’t even identify a bite…I actually worried about blood clots.

        Tell you what I’m going to try to repel them when I mow again: Murphy’s oil soap. You would not believe what this stuff does to insects. Here’s how we found out: We washed a section of paneled living room wall with it and then found a huge pile of dead ants in the basement underneath with more and more dropping through the floor…researched and discovered MOS and bugs is really a thing, apparently the lemon grass scent or whatever. But we’ve discovered if you wipe your counters with it, no more ants (I’m sure it wipes out their scent trails, at the very least, but I’ve also seen it kill ants and bees on contact, much as I hate to do that). Clean your carpets with it (use sparingly! essential oils are extremely toxic to cats!)…anyway, used on carpets in very small amounts it kills fleas and flea eggs. I spray it on the house and deck to discourage extremely persistent carpenter bees and wasps — they just leave. If they hover around looking for a place to nest, I spray them with very dilute MOS in a spray bottle and they never come back. There is a hole in my house’s wood siding bees keep investigating…I put a sock in it soaked with a little straight MOS and no more bees.

        SO: I am planning to mow this weekend and lightly spray my clothes and self with dilute MOS (must be careful of the cats — don’t forget that at the very least cat and dog smellers are a gazillion times better than ours) and I bet anything it works. I will report back here.

  3. Margaret Chessher

    The only thing I have found that will stop the itch 100% of the time is
    hot water. You have to be very careful with this. The water must be
    very hot: not hot enough to burn your skin, but hot enough to make you
    think you are burning your skin. Hot tap water applied to the bite for
    a second or two. Your skin will feel the burn, but will not be damaged.
    This will stop the itch for hours.

  4. Hi Lee! I’m from the south and boy do the chiggars drive us crazy! Just an extra tip if you have the availability……I use my pool from the first warm day to the last. I don’t jump in except in summer, but I do stand on the steps and wash my legs and arms before going inside. I have also used a bucket with water and a little Clorox in it. Both work well and keep the bites down to just a few! Hope this helps with those nasty critters!

    1. Thanks for the tip! At least it’s possible to wash them off. There are Southern creatures like ticks for example that won’t wash off. I don’t have a pool, but it’s a good idea to put a fresh bucket of water by the door each mornig.

  5. My husband and I are so on board with your experiences of trial and error. During an extended stay in Missouri, after an especially wet winter and spring followed by a quick moist warm up, we were like you thrust into the search for relief, from hundreds of wounds over our bodies. We Sought the advice of locals and even medical advice nurse in the Ozark area, only to be left writhing in unsoothable itching for days, before we were steered to a product called Chigarid, which is sold at Walmart and Walgreen. It works like many of the products you mentioned combined, especially noting, nail polish or maybe more like liquid bandaid products it causes a crustation on top of the wound area that keeps air out and incapulels the critter. Relief is the result. Yes we still woke during the nights to doctor each others wounds as they began to itch again after 4-6 hours after applications, enabling us to resume the romantic interlude. Ssshhh don’t share this last part with our eight grandsons.

  6. My MIL – a Virginia farm girl from generations back – told me to take a shower as soon as I came inside – and to scrub myself with Tide. It took me a little while to figure out what she meant by Tahhd. Eventually I realized she meant Tide brand powdered laundry detergent. She said that it takes a while for the chiggers (“chiggahs”) to dig in, and the Tide powder will scrub them off before they did. That sounded a bit intense to me, so I tried simply scrubbing down with a terry cloth wash cloth. It works! Every time! I know this because if I ever forget or get lazy (I’ll shower in the morning!) I wake up covered in the little devils.

    1. never heard the Tide suggestion before! But yes, I think that they are tiny enough that just scrubbing with a cloth will get rid of them.

  7. I had never experienced a chigger bite until last year. I live in southern Ontario, Canada. I found that an ice pack helps.

  8. “Vibrant Life Itch Wipes” with Aloe for dogs & cats-Witch Hazel*Aloe Vera Gel*Oatmeal* Vitamin E Bitter Taste so be sure to wash your hands with soap after applying! Found in Walmart Pet supplies. These wipes are truly soothing & takes about 24 hrs to 2 days to End the Itch -Combine with evening soaks in equal parts of Epsom Salt-SeaSalt and Baking Soda-about 1/2 cup to bath water. Still can’t keep them off ?

  9. Your article is the best I have read yet. For past 2 weeks I have been dealing with these welt that turn into little sores that I scratch the heck out of and they bleed for a while too, now I have welts ,scratches and the itch I can’t begin to describe. I live in British Columbia Canada and this is my first time experiencing this. Under my armpits, arms, wrist and stomach. I just spent 2 years battling bone cancer leaving me now at 78 pounds so these critters aren’t getting much from me. The itch is worse than my chemo was. Can you help me to be sure this is what they are. I took pictures. Thank you so much and I wish you good health and safety during the world’s crisis

    1. It sounds like those are chigger bites. Did you spend some time in tall grass before you got them? Definitely try some of the remedies in the post and look over the comments, readers added a lot more from their experience.

  10. OMG-chiggers! this makes me break out itching with the thought. we inherited a neglected property full of blueberrys, fruit trees and CHIGGERS! i tried everything and got them probably at least 50 times until i came up with a system–they WILL go through clothing to get to you!!

    1.Purchase a pyrmetherine spray in the hunting department–outside, spray 2 complete set of loose clothes and socks–hang the them to dry on the porch. dress completely with socks and then OVER this layer put on a dry set of sprayed clothing.

    2. when done outside strip on the porch–never walk into the house with outside clothing on where you have been workingin tall grass. do not allow others to go in the house who have been in tall grass without stripping clothes outside. also brush the dog outside before letting them in if they have been out there too.

    3. immediately shower and lather up from head to toe with bath scrub and leave it on as long as you can without rinsing it off.

    4. My husband and dog were bringing them in the house and they were on my couch!!!! They don’t bite my husband but he was bringing them in on his clothing and the dog’s fur.
    So routinely spray all soft surfaces in the house with lice spray.

    5. DO NOT go all day clearing property without showering and changing clothes–half way through, strip, shower and scrub, and then redress in clean clothes and the second outer layer that was sprayed and finish.

  11. I’m currently coved in bites all up and down on my legs. I bet I’ve got over 30 bites on my poor legs. I’ve been taking benedryl round the clock and found this stuff “Chigger Relief Ointment” by Evra Labs. It’s been a miracle! You can find another brand like it at CVS or your grocery store (that’s where I got mine). It has benzocaine in it, so it just numbs the bites and works instantly. Also has aloe Vera, chamomile, cloves, and is aimed at a variety of bugs, but definitely helps with the chiggers. I recommend this to everyone who has been bitten by these damn pests!

  12. I love your article. I’m a Chicago city girl who moved to very rural Missouri. The first week I was there the dog and I sat in them while resting and having our picture taken while on a hike. I had never heard of such things and had no idea what to do I suffered from August to April. Bleach didn’t work. Hydrocortisone cream did. The good news – they kept my new marriage from lasting too long! Thank you for taking the time to share your insights. I’ve been too afraid to sit down in the woods for over two decades now. LOL

    1. LOL! I love that you are able to see the good in the suffering! I was stuck for 15 years in a bad relationship, would have been happy to get some help from chiggers and get out of it sooner 😉

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