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Hot Air From Blow-Dryer Can Ease Itching From Chigger Bites

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Q. Our backyard backs up to the woods and we have a huge chigger problem every year. Here's my remedy for the terrible itching.

If you try this, be very careful and don't burn yourself. I turn a hair dryer on low heat and aim it at the bite, fairly close. It itches as if I'm scratching it. I pull the hair dryer away before the skin hurts. The itching stops for about six hours.

The heat must numb the nerves. I have never burned myself with this, but I can't use it on my kids because I might burn them.

A. Heat seems to be an effective way to temporarily stop itching. We first learned about using hot water to soothe itchy bug bites from a 1961 textbook called Dermatology: Diagnosis and Treatment. The physician who recommended this approach noted that the water should be hot enough to be uncomfortable but not so hot that it burns.

Your hot air technique is similar but hot water may be safer. With either approach, caution is essential to prevent burns! 

We invite readers to share their experience with heat for itching in the comments below.

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I read on this website about using a hot cloth on bites. I have used this successfully for several years now and recommended it to friends. I live in Mexico part of the year and we get insect bites as well as some jellyfish stings. A hot compress stops the itch for hours and in the middle of the night I put a wet washcloth in the microwave to repeat the process when needed. Works better than anything else to stop the itch.

A few years ago, I read in your column about using a compress of very hot water on bug bites. I've been doing that ever since, because it works so quickly, cheaply and effectively. The itching stops immediately and lasts up to eight hours. When I apply the compress, I refresh the hot water 2-3 times in a row to make sure it "takes." Brilliant, simple solution!

A nice shower has the same affect. I have found that just the normal temperature that I usually take a shower works fine for me with no worries about burning or washing away the natural oils from he skin.

Clear fingernail polish on the bites last longer and is much safer.

I too have problems with chiggers in my garden and the itch from the bites drive me crazy. I made a mixture of amber Listerine, oil of orange and vanilla extract and sprayed in on my body taking particular notice of ankles, bands around underpants, bras and also sprayed my hair and neck. I am happy to report it was very effective and smelled like bubble gum. I detected just one bite under my arm and will be more careful with that spot in the future. I hope this helps others who are bothered by those pesky critters.

Heat has never helped me, but cold does. Laying a facecloth wet with very cold water on the bite take it away permanently for all but spiders. spiders takes repeated action.
(allergy).

I have used hot water as a relief for itching from poison ivy for several years.
About 15-20 sec. of hot water straight from the tap. I know my hot water is Other than using a cleanser to remove the oil from the plant, I have never found
anything that relieved the itch for very long. The hot water gives me about 2 hrs. of relief.
By preventing new blisters, it takes about 5 days to go away, then I have dry skin that itches for a few days.

I don't find it very effective for chigger and flea bites, however.

Hot water also works for poison oak and fungal itching. Doesn't cure it but helps keep the itching down and that helps keeping from scratching.

This is what I finally discovered worked on no-see-um bites. Take a cup of water and microwave it to boiling. Remove from Microwave. Insert the chrome metal end of a candy or meat thermometer into the hot water for about 5 seconds. Touch thermometer hot end onto the bite. It will very briefly sort of sting. But it worked well and there was no actual burning of the skin. Worth a try on any bite since it's free and easy and quick.

Clear nail polish applied on the bite smothers the li'l guys and you won't have any itch any more. I even keep a bottle in my desk drawer should I get a delayed reaction while at work.

I have found a great cure for chigger bites.

Put on a small dab of regular mustard, cold from the fridge, on the bite, & cover it with a bandaid as mustard will stain your clothing. For me, this immediately stops the itch, permanently.

I use the hair dryer (cautiously, of course) for the itching of poison oak and it works like a charm. Completely relieved the itching for about two hours. I read that the heat pulls the histamine from the rash and thus decreases the terrible itching.

Chiggers bites can be avoided generally by using "flowers of sulphur". It's a powder available in drug stores. Pour some in an old sock, knot it, and pat it liberally on feet, ankles, legs, waist, arms, etc. We were advised of this by a neighbor who had invited my husband to play golf when we first moved to a golf community in GA.

From then on we used it always when golfing, working in the yard, etc. To stop the itch, use ammonia. It can be purchased in a "pen" for that purpose to carry with you, or if at home, just apply some ammonia out of the bottle. Works every time!

Years ago I heard the following reasoning for using very warm water: Heat brings out your body's histamines, and histamines are responsible for causing itching. When you apply heat, be aware that you might first experience a temporary increase in itching while your body's available histamines are released. After that, you may experience hours of relief from itching until your body has time to produce additional histamines. Just be careful to use moderate heat so that you don't burn yourself.

Experts on chiggers claim that even though it feels like the chigger is alive under the skin, that this is just an allergic reaction to the bite and that chiggers never remain alive in you after the bite. So the nail polish may work, but not by smothering the chigger, since it isn't really there.

I just received four of these bites behind my knees after working in my flower bed two days ago. I have been miserable the last 48 hours. I read this and just returned from trying both the warm compress and hair drier. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your advice. I finally feel a bit of relief. I've been using a steroid cream almost 2 days now and have felt no relief whatsoever. I will be using the heat from here forward.

I get mosquito bites in the summer that welt up and itch for a week. Nothing has helped the itching in the past. I tried using the blow dryer on the warm setting this week and it really works. The extreme itching did not come back. I have found out about so many good remedies from the People's Pharmacy. I no longer use a regular deodorant. I use plain milk of magnesia under my arms and have no odor whatsoever. I have tried many other home remedies to replace deodorant that have not worked. The the milk of magnesia is definitely a keeper.

I have been using hair dryer on bug bites and poison ivy for years. I had read where it released histamines. However I just got stung by 4 yellow jackets last week and my body overreacted with histamines and I had to go to hospital covered in hives..

I have never had a reaction to stings before. I am wondering if all the time I used the hair dryer to release histamines has now made me susceptible to allergic reaction to other things. I won't be using hair dryer anymore. :-(

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