I can has relief from chigger bites?
July 27, 2009 7:36 PM   Subscribe

ChiggerFilter: On July 4th I walked through tall grass to my neighbor's house, and came home with dozens of chigger bites at my waist, all over my thighs (front and back), hips, and posterior. I think I'm allergic, because despite all treatments, they're still itching over three weeks later. How much longer can this misery last, and how do I prevent scarring besides the obvious "not scratching"?

Antihistamines (fexofenadine) help temporarily, as do hydrocortisone cream, Gold Bond cream, and Gold Bond powder. But when will the welts go away finally? Is it time to see a doctor? Also, I am very pale, and occasionally get scars from insect bites, so the sheer number of these bites freaks me out--as they are, they look TERRIBLE, almost rashlike, and if they leave scars that will not be pretty either.

I did see a couple of other chigger-related questions, but not much was said about suffering past 3 weeks, or preventing scars. Thanks in advance, y'all.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Go to the doctor and get a cortisone shot. You probably won't heal without it, and you'll continue to itch until then. Are you blistering at all? If so, you should definitely go first thing in the morning. Chigger bites shouldn't last much past a week, tops, and shouldn't blister at all.
posted by SpecialK at 7:44 PM on July 27, 2009

I've found Polysporin Anti-Itch gel to be extremely helpful. A standard mozzie bite turns into an egg-sized lump that weeps clear yellow goo for me for 2-3 weeks, and the Polysporin stuff is all I can use to prevent me hacking off the affected limb with a bandsaw.
posted by scruss at 7:45 PM on July 27, 2009

Response by poster: Yes, a couple of the bites have blistered. :/ scruss, mosquito bites turn disgusting on me, too, and last for weeks.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 7:49 PM on July 27, 2009

Stop wasting time on MetaFilter and get yourself to a dermatologist.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:54 PM on July 27, 2009

Ok. I have similar issues sometimes, and my doc specifically warned me away from Benadryl (diphenhydramine) cream, because he said that it'll irritate it more even though there's some temporary relief. Gold Bond is similar, not in composition, but in effect.

For tonight, if you have some, I'd take some oral diphenhydramine and use neosporin with lidocaine and bandage all of the open sores, then go see the doc (or if all else fails a doc-in-a-box) tomorrow morning for a cortisone shot, probably some oral steroids, and some higher-powered cortisone cream... they usually give me Betamethasone.

The over-the-counter stuff is weak as all hell so that you can't really do any damage to yourself with it. It's mostly ineffective when you actually have a *problem*...
posted by SpecialK at 7:58 PM on July 27, 2009

Um, but yes, to answer your question, if you're still itching "over three weeks later" you should've seen the doctor "over two weeks ago."
posted by SpecialK at 7:59 PM on July 27, 2009

Response by poster: I've been traveling 2 of those weeks, fwiw. And if i could get to a doctor tonight, I would. :P First thing in the morning!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 8:02 PM on July 27, 2009

Chiggers take forever to heal. We have them all over our family property. It took me weeks to heal the last time I was eaten up.

Use ChiggerEx. It doesn't solve the problem but it does help the itching/pain.

Sidenote: I usually scratch my chigger bites until they bleed. It kills the itching and pain pretty early. I can't speak for your scarring potential but it does seem to be the quickest and only solution for chiggers.
posted by aburd at 8:05 PM on July 27, 2009

Response by poster: aburd: thank you for reminding me about Chiggerex. It rules for all kinds of bites, and now that I'm home I found I still had part of a jar. That'll get me through the night!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 8:20 PM on July 27, 2009

Scratch the bites till they bleed? Ouch! I haven't found the solution myself, and I'm having exactly the same problem that sister nunchaku is having, especially as a new transplant to a place where chiggers thrive (and never having encountered them before). I think I must be allergic as well. But I can't imagine scratching the bites till they bleed. Although I admit that there are times when I want to do that just to stop the damn infernal itching.
posted by blucevalo at 9:44 PM on July 27, 2009

OTC 1% hydrocortisone cream should help with the itchiness.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:04 PM on July 27, 2009

Hi there chigger-twin! I too am suffering from 3 weeks worth of chigger bites on my legs. Sadness.

I just got off the phone with the nurse from Kaiser Permanente and they said this about my case:

If there is any difficulty in breathing or excessive drooling, get to an ER. Since it has been 3 weeks, that is doubtful.
If there were any flu-like symptoms recently, get to an urgent care facility.
If the wounds are red, swollen, and itchy, then it is most likely infected and it would be a good idea to get an appointment in the next few days for a possible round of antibiotics. (I go in tomorrow morning)
In the meantime, take a benadryl, apply a cold compress to the wound, finish with calamine lotion.

Personal experience says that putting clear nailpolish on the bite as soon as you get it helps kill the little bug before too much damage happens. A 1:3 mix of tea tree oil and jojoba oil (or other veggie) is an excellent itch killer.
I have to say, scratching these bites has been one of the most divine experiences of the year.
posted by idiotfactory at 11:08 PM on July 27, 2009

Ah, chiggers burrow under the skin and the best way to get rid of the itch is to (gross) smother them by either putting clear nail polish on the bites or by using ChigaRid, which I suspect is the same thing. You don't have to use clear, you can use colored nail polish, but you look kind of funny with pink dots all over you. If you don't believe me, google "how to get rid of chigger bites".
posted by tamitang at 11:13 PM on July 27, 2009

Forget hydrocortisone, get some Calamine lotion, NOW!

Pour a hot bath (or if unavailable a hot shower), soak the affected area for a good long while and relax, then gently pat the area dry with a fluffy, clean towel and reapply calamine liberally. Wear loose clothing and keep your damn hands off!
posted by Pollomacho at 5:19 AM on July 28, 2009

I think ChigaRid contains something more than just nail polish. It hurts, and nail polish doesn't. (Disclaimer: I last had to deal with these at least a decade ago, so if they've changed the formula, my experience may not be relevant.)
posted by oaf at 10:50 AM on July 28, 2009

My family used a mixture of green soap and chloroform, made up by a pharmacist. The soap is antibacterial and kept it clean; the chloroform killed any critters and killed the itch. You can avoid chiggers by getting sulfur powder and putting it in shoes and socks. Wear long pants, tuck pant legs into socks.

I use antibiotic lotion on bug bites to keep them from getting infected, because I react pretty strongly to bug bites. At the beginning of summer, mosquito bites cause big, painful welts. After I get bit a lot, the reaction is less sever, until the next summer.
posted by theora55 at 11:19 AM on July 28, 2009

posted by theora55 at 11:28 AM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks to all for your input. I went to urgent care today and got a steroid shot and a prescription strength steroid cream. The whole mess feels and looks better already. I wouldn't have waited so long, I don't think, if I'd not been traveling, and if I hadn't kept expecting it to be better any time now. Great advice here--hope it will be helpful to someone else! And for a lesser itch, should anyone have one, Gold Bond powder will make you smell like your grandpa, but it feels great . . .

Thanks again.
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 8:01 PM on July 28, 2009

Response by poster: Also: the 5% benzocaine content of Chiggerex Plus (hat tip to aburd) is the strongest OTC itch-numbing agent I've ever found, and it smells pleasantly of cloves. Recommended! (Though pls follow the directions and do not use on a large area of skin, etc.)
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 9:56 PM on July 28, 2009

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