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Will Clear Nail Polish Help Chigger Bites?

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Q. I have always been told that you could cover your chigger bites with clear nail polish over the bite to get rid of them. The idea is that the chigger is alive and burrows and continues to spread and the nail polish kills them.

I remember this cure from when I was a child.

A. You aren't the only person who believes this folk tale. We have heard from many readers that clear nail polish is the answer to chigger bites. Here are just a few reader stories:

"Chiggers are little bugs that crawl into the skin. The trick to dealing with the bites is to kill the little critters. Suffocate them by painting with clear nail polish!"
P.P.

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"I have recently had chigger bites. Chiggers nest in pine trees. A remedy for getting rid of chigger bites is clear nail polish. It does suffocate the bite. I thought it was poison ivy at first then I asked my mom if we could go to the store and pick up clear nail polish. Turns out it was chiggers. The bites went away by the end of 3 days! :)"
Somer

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Dermatologists tell us (actually insist) that chiggers do NOT burrow into the skin. Rather, they bite us and inject proteins (enzymes) that can cause a highly allergic skin reaction in some people. Chiggers (Trombiculidae) are also known as red bugs or berry bugs. (People often get badly bitten while picking berries.) The bites are incredibly itchy. Those individuals that are especially sensitive can end up with nasty blisters.

Trying to deal with chigger bites after the fact is like trying to put out a fire after it has burned the house down. Strong (prescription-strength) steroid creams are often necessary.

Prevention is the key to success. Here is one person's approach:

"I am extremely sensitive to chigger bites. Since I live in the south, I get bitten every time I work in my yard or garden.

"Over the years, I have tried nail polish, alcohol, Clorox, hot water, ice water, calamine, plus other things. Every bite would last for two weeks, keeping me awake at night.

"I don't like to spray on DEET so I take an old sock, put several spoons of sulfur powder in it & secure it with a rubber band. Every time I go out to work in the yard, I pat the sock all around my shoes & socks, ankles, & waist. If I apply it carefully enough, I get no bites. If I get a couple of bites, the only thing that works for me is to take Benadryl tablets and apply hydrocortisone cream 3 times a day for two days & the itch is gone!!
O.B.

Chiggers hate sulfur. If you can't find sulfur powder (it is not always easy to find in pharmacies or garden stores), here is another option. Chigg Away is a liquid that contains sulfur which can be applied around shoes, socks, feet and ankles. It is far better to avoid chiggers than to try to ease the itch once they have bitten you.

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I have found that Seabreeze is the best treatment for chiggers and for ant bites. I was skeptical when first told this but it really does work.

Every summer we camp in Arkansas and no matter how much DEET I apply the I come home with dozens of chigger bite welts. I will try the sulphur sock and hope this works. A warning about DEET, it acts as a solvent and melts or fogs plastics, including your watch face and the clearcoat on you car!

Years ago, after a day in a South Texas forest, I found I was literally covered in chigger bites from the waist down. I declined a doctor's urging to be hospitalized, but filled the prescriptions he gave me. They had no effect, and I was miserable.

Fortunately, a neighbor told my wife that where she came from, the best remedy for the bites of what they called "grass tigers" was to sit in a tub in which lukewarm water covered the affected areas and then pour baking soda over all the bites. It sounded silly, but I was absolutely desperate for relief.

The baking soda produced an immediate sensation of coolness on the affected areas, and the itching began to diminish. Within a day, the itching (and swelling around each of the hundreds of bites) was gone. Plain ol' baking soda: another wonderful folk remedy.

Years ago, after a day in a South Texas forest, I found I was literally covered in chigger bites from the waist down. I declined a doctor's urging to be hospitalized, but filled the prescriptions he gave me. They had no effect, and I was miserable.

Fortunately, a neighbor told my wife that where she came from, the best remedy for the bites of what they called "grass tigers" was to sit in a tub in which lukewarm water covered the affected areas and then pour baking soda over all the bites. It sounded silly, but I was absolutely desperate for relief. The baking soda produced an immediate sensation of coolness on the affected areas, and the itching began to diminish.

Within a day, the itching (and swelling around each of the hundreds of bites) was gone. Plain ol' baking soda: another wonderful folk remedy.

When I went to Girl Scout day camp as a child, the counselors patted sulphur powder around our waists and into our socks when we got off the bus in the morning. It does work. I have horrible reactions to chigger bites, but I haven't seen sulphur powder in years. I'd love to find some!

Neither chiggers nor their relatives ticks have chewing mouthparts and they both slurp up liquids Both have a saliva which dissolves and liquifies protein, i.e., thru their strawlike mouthparts, they bring in dissolved you. Ticks, of course go deeper and eventually find a blood vessel, glue themselves in place and let your blood pressure fill them full.

Chiggers fill themselves with dissolved you and drop off, leaving behind a tiny droplet of itch-causing, protein-dissolving saliva. And that's what causes the whole itchy-bod reaction Then and only then do those little itchy volcano-shaped bumps start to appear.

If you do the normal thing and scratch, bacteria get into this scratch-opened bacteria food source and set up their own itch -- which can last a couple weeks or more.

What works better than anything else i've found is one of these adjustable shower-heads on a hose. Turn the hot water up to as hot as you can stand it, put the shower head on "massage" setting and spray the chigger bites for 15 to 20 seconds or so. There will be an initial intense itch which will diminish quickly and go away. Move the spray to other bites until you've sprayed them all.

The bite site is inflamed and that little red volcano shape is swollen you. Where you're swollen, there is little circulation and chigger toxins are trapped within.The hot water starts releasing them.

Day 1, i hot spray them 3 to 4 times, day 2--2 or 3 times and then down to 1 time per day till they are almost gone

This is very good advice and it all works. Been there, tried that! One other point that should always be mentioned: don't put on any clothing that you had on while outside until it has been washed. It makes a big difference if you shower immediately after coming inside to help wash away any leftovers. (My brother put his socks back on and couldn't figure out why he still had the itching skin!!!!)

I find the sulfur powder at an old fashioned compounding pharmacy or at a garden supply store.
Since we live in a rural area, we have a fertilizer/garden supply store in town.

I've only had chigger bites once in my life. They had been itching for about a week when I went to the beach. After swimming in the ocean, I noticed that the itching stopped. After the second day of swimming, there was no itching at all and the bites dried up. It must have been the salt water.

My information is to QUICKLY take a shower to wash them off before they have a chance to bite.

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