I hate chiggers. No surprise… Does anyone like them? It seemed too good to be true. I was fishing alone, nailed some beautiful pond-raised catfish, and had the fishing hole all to myself. The next day, I realized some friends had come home with me. Ugggg….
After scratching and digging at the mysterious “chiggers” I decided to learn a little more about them. It seemed a good thing to discuss because just about anyone that camps will get into chiggers at some point. They are easy to get rid of but it’s no fun when you have them…
A chigger is a mite, a relative of the spider and tick. They love dense vegetation and often live in clusters. You can walk right by large groups of them or right through their camps. I got into the little bastards while fishing in weeds wearing long pants and clog shoes. Chiggers attach themselves to clothing and then find some tasty soft skin such as on your calves, backs of knees, tops of the feet, crotch areas, etc. Chiggers cannot chew through dense, tough skin such as the bottoms of your feet. Where they do attach, they can really be annoying – particularly to those of us with circulation problems (diabetics) and are wary of any leg injuries. I have nasty sores where they have been feasting and I had scratched like a dog with fleas. That was at the two day mark.
Chiggers continue to stay attached to you for a few days. They don’t suck blood as many believe. Chiggers bite into you and emit a spittle that liquefies skin. It is on the dissolved skin that they feed. After a few days chiggers fill up on their meal and eventually fall off. The itchy wounds heal and all you have is a memory. As annoying as they can be, you can hasten the chiggers’ departure.
Here are some recommendations I’ve compiled from reading and experience:
1) Strip naked and shower or wipe down immediately after a lot of contact with vegetation.
2) If already being bitten, multiple wiping with baby wipes helps keep the area clean and helps fight the itching.
4) A good antiseptic spray helps heal bites and sooth itching.
5) Try using a good insect repellent on your legs, particularly from the calves downward.
6) Wear socks and shoes or boots when trudging through the weeds. It wouldn’t hurt to spray them with bug killer after possible contact.
7) DON’T SCRATCH TOO MUCH, particularly if you are DIABETIC. If you keep digging, you can injure legs that don’t heal up too easily. Wipe down your legs often with soapy water or baby wipes and ride out the itching.
I hope this information is helpful to those who like to be in the great outdoors. A little prevention and extra hygiene will help. One note… During the hour while researching and writing this note, I have wiped down three times with baby wipes. Nearly all the pain and itching has vanished.