Back when I was small I remember visiting an aunt in Tennessee and being told never to roll down the grassy hill because I’d get chiggers. Now a grassy hill back home in Colorado had been a place to slide and roll and really enjoy. I don’t remember if I minded or not, but since I don’t remember itching like crazy, I guess for once I behaved.
The first time one of the crew turned up covered with bites and scratching all over I thought we had bed bugs. I had heard of chiggers (or more properly Bermuda mites), but never realized exactly what they were. My husband, a native Texan, assured me that they were covered with chigger bites, not bed bug bites. We coated them with calamine and kept the finger nails clipped and learned to live with them.
There are as many ways to deal with chigger bites as there are country grandmas to treat them. They are usually divided into two groups, the in the skin and on the skin theories. The in the skin theory is that the chigger digs into the skin and is still there when the itching starts. This group coats the itchy place with nail polish to kill the chigger. There is a brand of clear nail polish on the market that has a medicinal smell and is sold as a chigger reliever. The on the skin group thinks that the bug is a lot like a mosquito, bites and takes off. This group treats the bite much like the mosquito bite with anti itch medicines such a calamine, cortisone, and meat tenderizer. Yes, meat tenderizer is often used on bites. Some say it really works.
Some will put a paste of baking soda or recommend a bath with oatmeal or bleach or soda. All of these are soothing to the skin. The biggest problem I have had with the chigger bites on the crew is the infections from scratching the bites. Keeping the finger nails trimmed short has been a help, but the best treatment I every heard was from the crew’s doctor. He had five very active boys. The doctor told me that he treated his boys with pure rubbing alcohol. He said that when they stopped hollering because of the stinging, the itch was no longer a problem. The treatment is a little rough, but it is effective.
Some of us are a little gentler on our offspring than that doctor was on his. Some of our offspring are not too gentle on other young critters but that’s another story.
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