Q. Years ago, after a day in a south Texas forest, I found I was 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.

A. Chigger bites can be incredibly itchy. Dermatologists frequently prescribe potent steroid creams to diminish the allergic reaction.

Not everyone may benefit from your baking soda remedy, but it is certainly worth a try.

Preventing chigger bites makes even more sense. Sulfur powder (flowers of sulfur) sprinkled on socks, shoes and pant legs is an old-fashioned approach. If you can’t find the powder, consider a liquid sulfur solution such as that found in Chigg-Away.

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  1. S Knight
    Reply

    Day 2 of Treating a fresh onslaught of chigger bites! Did the backing soda hot bath and added epson salts too! After rinsing with cool water I got out and put witch hazel on the affected areas. Took benedryl and went to bed. Good relief until the morning. Next, I mixed up a baking soda paste:
    1/4 cup baking soda
    1/2 tube of bacitracin ointment (for bacterial infection preventative from scratching)
    1/2 teaspoon of eucalyptus essential oil
    mix with chopstick (first thing I grabbed from the silverware drawer, but a spoon will work too!) until smooth paste consistency. If too dry yet, add more bacitracin until it’s smooth and easy to smear on affected area.

  2. PBigg
    Reply

    I’m a retired nurse, but love the home remedies. Last camping with my family, our short cut left me with numerous chigger bites. I thankfully had baking soda in the RV. Immediately I rubbed water and soda onto each bite. One day later, very little irritation. Home remedies are my first choice.

  3. tm
    Reply

    Yes, Clifford, Texas is known for chiggers. I grew up there, and anytime we played outside in the grass, we usually got chiggers. We kids used to put fingernail polish on them–also for mosquito bites. The nail polish isn’t a quick fix, though. I still recommend bathing in baking soda for immediate relief, AND it’s cheap!

  4. Clifford Davenport
    Reply

    Chiggers in Texas…forgot to spray feet and legs. 23 on Rt. foot, 12 on left. Desperation led to Capzasin with the thought being ‘a little fire being better than all that itch’. Immediate relief and end of chiggers. No more itch. Nothing.

  5. jrB
    Reply

    Peroxide rubbed on the bite will work, but will drive you to drink for a few moments. :-)

  6. PP
    Reply

    A bath with baking soda in the water was the treatment of choice for a baby’s prickly heat when I was a child.

  7. tm
    Reply

    Dump the baking soda in the water. The water is then soothing to the skin. I’ve heard of people making a paste with baking soda and water then applying it to the itchy spots. That’s kind of messy, though, so that would have to happen when you don’t need to go anywhere.

  8. Cynthia
    Reply

    I don’t understand fully–if you are sitting in a tub with water covering the bites, do you then get out of the water to put soda on the bites? Or do you just pour the soda into the water?

  9. D Hutch
    Reply

    Many years ago when I lived in South Texas, our ‘cure” for chiggers was plain old adhesive tape – the really sticky type. Stretch the skin where the little red dot is and apply the tape, pressing it into the skin and holding it for a minute or so. Then pull the tape off quickly. It is pretty satisfying to see the little critter on the tape and fold the tape over. Of course this doesn’t work for hundreds of bites, but for a few it is cheap and effective.

  10. JDS
    Reply

    Here in Florida, if you live near the water, the “No-See-Um” bugs will come out at dusk. I am deathly allergic to them. If I have more than just a few bites, I almost go into shock. I have never found anything, including a hot shower and scrubbing until almost raw that would make the horrible itching go away.
    We don’t live on the water anymore thank goodness, but I will remember the baking soda routine. Hopefully it will work if I ever encounter the little boogers again!

  11. Wilma R.
    Reply

    I think baking soda is wonderful, but it said to sit in the water and then pour baking soda over the bites??? Do you stand up after you’re wet & then put it on? I had the shingles when I was a freshman in high school and was going to the doctor several days for shots and had a salve to put on it. It was painful and didn’t seem to be getting better. My mother bathed it (across my back and under my arm) with Epsom salt water, dried it, and then put baking soda on it. We started doing it daily and it started drying up immediately and was gone in days. Of course, I had done the shots, etc, but in my mind, it will always be the baking soda that cured me.

  12. tm
    Reply

    About three years ago, I soaked in a baking soda for terrible itching I had on upper thighs and bottom of legs. I didn’t know if it was eczema, poison ivy, chiggers, or hives. I was able to get some relief so I could sleep, but I eventually had to go to urgent care because the itching got so uncontrollable at work, even with hydrocortisone cream. I found out I did have hives and that I needed to be treated from the inside out. I was prescribed corticosteroids, which did eventually eliminate the hives and calmed my itching.

  13. sarah
    Reply

    I am a chigger magnet and don’t like to use bug sprays BUT chiggers are my one exception. I will tuck my pants into my socks, then spray my feet, ankles and lower legs with the bug spray available. That prevents them from even walking up my body. If I have on shorts, I will douse my shoes and ankles.

  14. Pat Conklin
    Reply

    When we lived in East Tennessee we got ate up in the evenings in the yard by what we called “midges”. I discovered that applying witch hazel liberally on my legs and the bites they totally disappeared. Never saw anything work better.

  15. Sunny M.
    Reply

    Chiggers are horrible! When I was a child and went to Girl Scout camp, they put sulfur powder on us when we got off the bus. It works! Baking soda baths do help, too. I react strongly to chiggers, so I am always open to any natural remedies. No steroids!

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