I recently got my first experience with chiggers, the microscopic larvae of the Trombiculidae family of mites. I was at an outdoor event in grass one evening when a million of these tiny eco-terrorists swarmed up my pantlegs and helped themselves to my flesh. From the waist down, I look like a star map. The insanely itchy "bite marks" they leave behind are a long term reminder of our evening together and they have taught me a few things:
- A hot bath or shower feels GRRREAT, but the resulting increase in blood flow to the skin will cause you to itch like crazy. Use cold to sooth, not heat.
- Tepid oatmeal baths are not as much fun as warm bubble baths. I used Aveeno colloidal oatmeal.
- Most home remedies are temporary and less effective than itch relief creams or gels.
- Itch relief creams or gels are also temporary. Buy them in bulk and keep them handy. I found Tecnu Calagel very helpful.
- You can cover your welts with nail polish. It will sooth the itch while the polish dries, then you will have shiny welts that itch.
- Peeling dried nail polish off of the welt is EXTREMELY satisfying; but not so much that I would put more nail polish on and do it again.
- Chiggers can jump up to 3 feet according to my doctor. I believe him because they appear to have jumped from my ankle to my crotch.
- When under relentless, merciless attack from microscopic flesh eating bugs, the testicles will retract ALL THE WAY into the body (or maybe that's due to the tepid baths...).
- If you are opposed to using DEET based insect repellents, you will need to wear a hazmat suit to play outdoors in the country.
- I am certain that the welts spell out a secret message in braille, but I have not found anyone willing to read it to me.
- If these creatures ate fat instead of flesh, at least I would get something out of all this suffering.
- Don't follow your impulses. Scratching the itch feels good at the time, but you risk infection. Plus, scratching the itch makes you itch more. Leave the welts alone. Eventually you will be able to ignore the itch.
- After many severe reactions to poison ivy, I have learned enough self control that I rarely scratch. If this is my super power, I got short changed.
Have you had an encounter with chiggers? What worked for you? What lessons did you learn?
***I am not being paid to endorse Aveeno or Tecnu.***