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Hot Peppers Ease Itch of Chigger Bites

Hot Peppers Ease Itch of Chigger Bites
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Q. I had 38 chigger bites on both my feet. I thought a little burning would be much better than the monumental itching. Capsaicin ointment worked, and there was absolutely no more itching, which sometimes lasts for months.

A. Some people are extremely sensitive to the enzymes chiggers inject when they bite. The immune response creates intense itching and sometimes leads to severe inflammation in the area of the bite.

Capsaicin is essence of hot chili peppers. It is used to ease arthritis pain or the persistent pain and burning associated with shingles and neuropathy.

Another option that might be even more effective is a topical corticosteroid. An over-the-counter cortisone cream is probably not strong enough, though. Ask your doctor or dermatologist about a prescription for a more powerful topical steroid. Applying a dab of betamethasone, fluocinonide or triamcinolone at the very first sign of a bite may prevent that terrible inflammatory reaction.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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