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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  1. crazycat89

    This is the only method that has allowed me to get some much needed relief. It isn’t a cure for chronic itching, unfortunately, but it does help. I wish I would’ve heard about this a lot sooner, because it has been a lifesaver.

  2. Mary Beth

    I have had poison ivy 40 times in 7 years and never had found a solution. Believe me I tried everything, finally this last year I found out about the blow dryer. It has worked amazingly. It doesn’t work for a poison ivy rash though but besides that the blow dryer has been my life saver.

  3. Alessandro
    London, United Kingdom

    I have eczema and unfortunately for a case like mine there is no real solution. Sometimes the itch is so strong I scratch until I bleed in some spots.

    But when I started using the blow dryer it was like a magic. First of all the relief is better than from scratching. And it lasts longer.

    Absolutely fantastic.

  4. JET
    New York

    I cannot believe that after 51 years on this planet I only discovered this hair dryer miracle 2 weeks ago. Using a hair dryer on high heat on my mosquito/chigger bites for about 15-30 seconds not only relieved the insane itching for 6-8 hours but also helped to dry the bites and heal them quicker. At first it will feel as if someone is scratching your itch as your body’s histamines are released. Once your body’s histamines are depleted you will have no itch. Take care not to burn yourself of course but do heat the area up for best effect,

    I was in a place that I believe has toxic or radioactive mosquitoes and had at least 20 bites that turned into red juicy welts on my legs. My children said it looked like I had a disease. For 2 days I was applying cortisone creams and taking benadryl and no relief at all. I was going mad.

    Please try this before anything else! You have nothing to lose but the itch and the bites.

  5. Dexter
    Long Beach, CA

    Miracle remedy! Why didn’t the world know about this sooner?!

  6. Hannah

    I live in Hawaii and was stung by a Portuguese Man O War. The itching that comes days after the bite is incessant and as intense as a hundred fire ant bites. I have used a hair dryer in the past for ant bites and decided to try it on my Man O War sting. It worked so well. I felt like sweet intense relief immediately, like I was itching it very hard. It burned, then my itch was relieved for a few hours. Amazing.

  7. Beth

    I can’t believe how well this works. I had taken antihistamines, used prescription and over the counter lotions and creams, but nothing seemed to make any difference to my no-see-um bites. Now, I just use the hair dryer and it really takes the itch away. I use it on low heat and take it away when it starts to feel quite hot. If the bite has been extremely itchy, I go back to it after I have treated other bites. When I first put the heat on the bite, it starts to itch like mad, but once it cools down, it just stops. I still react to the bites and sometimes I take antihistamine before I go to be, but I can’t believe how well the hot air works. And no I don’t look like I have some terrible skin disease, because I don’t scratch.
    Thank you for posting this great idea.

  8. Patsy

    Hot water or hot air from the hair dryer works great on poison ivy. Takes the itch out for a few hours. Redo the process when the itching begins again. This way I take no pills or put any ointments, etc on my skin.

  9. Marisa Garcia

    What a genuine idea! Thanks for sharing

  10. MEG

    Several years ago we lived in the country in Franklin County, NC on a small pond and were constantly under attack by mosquitoes and several types of biting flies (deer flies, yellow flies, horse flies). I read somewhere that taking powdered brewers yeast daily would stop the biting. I think it has something to do with the vitamin B. We began taking about a tablespoon of brewer’s yeast in 4 oz of fruit juice every morning and became completely unappealing to biting bugs. We found that cranberry juice was a nice mixer.

  11. KAndy

    Recently bitten by chiggers or no see ums…. Absolute terrible unrelenting itching.
    The blow dryer works!!!!!! Easy and cheap I react very badly and I got immediate relief! Just a miracle! Living in northern Louisiana in a very rural location…. Part of country life!

  12. Priscilla

    This summer on Cape Cod, we were plagued by no see ums, which I learned I react strongly to. I was waking up in the night scratching bites from days before… Until I tried the hair dryer trick. I carefully heated all bites just until it became uncomfortable and–voila–no more itching. Amazing tip!

  13. Kar

    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. :-(

  14. Kay

    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.

  15. SM

    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.

  16. PB

    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.

  17. mm

    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.

  18. SD

    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!

  19. J.M.

    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.

  20. OB

    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.

  21. NKM

    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.

  22. RFM

    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.

  23. BW

    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.

  24. JimR

    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

  25. MKM

    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.

  26. SMM

    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.

  27. nb

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


    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.

  29. P.W.

    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!

  30. Nancy

    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.

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