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. Mike

    Using a hair dryer to relieve itching from chigger bites absolutely works. I had about 10 bites with large red bumps and they itched so much I couldn’t sleep. “Maximum strength” Hydrocortisone from Kroger did basically nothing to relieve the itching. After using the hair dryer on the high setting, the bumps went down and the itching was almost completely gone. Relief was immediate and long lasting. After a few hours, the itching was back to about 20% of the initial level. Another round of the hair dryer eliminated the itching, and it’s still completely gone after 20 hours.

    In using the hair dryer, I let it blow on each bite until it was hot enough to hurt a little bit. I then backed the hair dryer away to let the bite cool down and repeated the process several times. I did not receive any burns, but you want to be careful not to overdo it.

  2. Linda
    Hot Springs, Ar.

    I first discovered this hair dryer remedy several years ago when I had poison ivy. Now I use it on chigger bites and it most definitely stops the itch for 6-8 hours. I also use generic anti-itch cream that I get from Kroger. Together they stop the itch for 8 hours and more, enough for me to get a decent night’s sleep. Apparently the heat releases the histamines from the chigger bite. When you first apply the heat, use the low setting. As it gets hotter the itch will intensify so much I can barely stand it. I leave it for just a few seconds more and then move on to the next bite. The relief is immediate.

    The Arkansas area is bad for chiggers and we live close to some woods. I tried to tell my doctor about this and she just looked at me funny. Unfortunately, we live close to some woods, so can’t get away from them. I have tried everything on my yard and nothing works. No insect repellant works. Wearing support panty hose helps a little as they have a hard time getting through the tight weave, but I still get a few bites with that. I am interested to hear if anyone has used anything on the yard or themselves that prevents these hateful things from biting.

    • Huggy Bear
      New Jersey

      Frankly when I learned about this simple simple way of ridding the itch of terrible chiga and mosquito bites as well as poisin ivy I felt like I discovered the cure for polio. Throw away the expensive and useless cortizone creams and calamine lotions. This method works for bites and poison ivy too. It’s effective, harmless if done correctly and inexpensive.

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