The BEST Chigger Repellent
If you’ve ever experienced a cluster of red bumps that resemble mosquito bites,
but itch intensely for as long as 24 to 48 hours, then chances are, you were bitten by chiggers.
What Are Chiggers?
Chiggers are in the same family as spiders and ticks. They are also known as trombiculidae mites, bête rouge, harvest mites, red bugs, or scrub mites. Chiggers are extremely small – think the size of a grain of salt - and are difficult to spot. When you do see them, they’ll be yellow, orange, or light red and have six legs. Adults are larger, and they’re bright red with eight legs.
Where Do Chiggers Live?
Chiggers tending to favor moist areas with dense grass and vegetation like fields, forests, and sometimes near lakes and streams. Within the United States, chiggers are most common in the South, although you can find them in every state. They are most often found in late spring, summer, and early fall months, and are active when ground temperatures are between 77- and 86-degrees Fahrenheit.
Why do Chiggers Bite?
Unlike ticks or mosquitos, chiggers don’t burrow into skin or feed on blood. Instead, their saliva liquefies the skin cells of their host, which they eat for food. Chiggers can stay attached and feed for three to four days, if left undisturbed. While their bites are unpleasant, fortunately chiggers are not known to carry any diseases that can be passed to humans. Chigger bites cause a red welt and generally bites are found in clusters. Symptoms can include itching, swelling, and fever, which will generally appear within three to six hours. Accompanied itching is most intense within the first 24-48 hours and then gradually subsides.
How to Stop Chigger Bites
Chiggers tend to attach where the skin is thin, tender, or where clothing is tight. This includes the lower legs, ankles, behind your knees, around the waist, or in the groin area. Avoid walking through and working in tall grass, where chiggers can congregate. When hiking or camping wear long sleeves and tuck pants into boots or socks.
“The best way to avoid chigger bites is to wear insect repellent,” said Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, pharmacist and founder of Pharmacist Moms Group. “As a pharmacist I like to recommend products that I trust, which is why I recommend Ranger Ready to prevent chigger bites, because it’s safe for the whole family and has no DEET.”
The first line of defense to prevent chiggers from even reaching your skin is to pre-treat your clothing and gear with Ranger Ready’s Permethrin 0.5% Repellent. Permethrin 0.5% will repel and kill chiggers on contact for up to 40 days or five washes. For a helpful video on how to properly apply Permethrin to clothing and gear, click here.
However, the most important line of defense is to apply body-worn insect repellent directly to your skin. Ranger Ready Picaridin 20% is the safe and effective alternative to DEET, offering eight hours of protection from chiggers. Pay close attention to clothing seams, as well as the backs of your legs and your waistband to repel any chiggers that crawl up your legs. Ranger Ready with Picaridin 20% is a non-greasy formula that will repel chiggers and biting insects without staining or harming your clothing or gear.
Treating Chigger Bites
Chigger bites are sometimes misdiagnosed as mosquito bites or poison oak. They resemble a red rash, made up of clusters of bites, which may be raised or flat. Chigger bites can cause intense itching, and if left untreated, can take up to two weeks to heal.
“The results of chigger bites - the rash, blisters, and urge to itch - can be unbearable, but there are some over the counter products that be helpful," said Dr. Soliman. "Depending upon the cause, there are different over-the-counter products that can help to treat the ailment; however, it's always best to prevent the chigger bites in the first place by wearing a safe and effective insect repellent, like Ranger Ready."
Helpful tips to treat chigger bites:
• Take a shower and scrub thoroughly with soap and water to remove any chiggers still on your skin.
• Wash the clothing you were wearing, and any blankets or towels, to remove any hiding chiggers.
• Use menthol, calamine, or corticosteroid creams to help with the itching.
• Benadryl and other oral antihistamines can also help with itching and inflammation.
• If the chigger bites are still bothering you after a few days, visit your doctor for a steroid shot to reduce the itching and swelling. If bites are infected, you may also need an antibiotic.