Friday, February 24, 2012

How to avoid, treat chigger bites on hike

Chiggers can leave bites that are maddeningly itchy.
Chiggers leave an itchy red bump followed by red welts that are even more maddeningly itchy. There’s no real threat of disease or infection, though.

Unfortunately, chiggers are so small they can’t be seen by the unaided eye. To keep them off you, apply insect repellent to ankles, the waist and wrists. Sublimed sulfur is particularly effective (be forewarned that sulfur will make you smell quite unpleasant). Wear tightly woven clothes, long-sleeve shirts buttoned tightly at the wrist, pants rather than shorts, high shoes or boots, and tuck pants into the boots. Avoid going into low, damp areas where chiggers reside, especially on warm afternoons, as chiggers are active when the ground temperature is between 77 degrees and 86 degrees. Stay to the center of the trail as chiggers usually reside in tall grass and brush. Wash your clothes as soon as you get home as chiggers can linger on fabric and bite you later.

There is no cure for a chigger bite other than time. Lotions can reduce the itching somewhat but applying a local anesthetic such as Benzocaine is effective for several hours.

Related articles:
g How to avoid and treat mosquito bites
g How to avoid ticks and handle their bites
g Handling bees, hornets, wasps and yellow jackets

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.