Residents see red about chiggers
That’s what some people are saying about this year’s crop of chiggers.
“They’re terrible!” Karen Ehrlich of Marion said.
Chiggers are found most abundantly in moist, low-lying vegetation like grass. The problem is that people don’t always think about that when they head outdoors.
They realize it later when red welts begin appearing on their skin, usually in tight places or where there is thin skin, such as on ankles.
A person doesn’t notice when chiggers bite, but they inject an enzyme into the skin that causes intense itching. The tiny mites don’t burrow into skin, but they leave their mark.
There are several ways to prevent chiggers.
Julie Lowrance, who moved to Marion two years ago, once sat under an oak tree and was covered with bites from oak mites afterward. That’s when she learned that taking garlic capsules every day kept the mites away and helped heal the bites she already had.
She starts taking the capsules in April and discontinues them in October or November, when cold weather sets in.
“The little round capsules are cheap, and they work,” she said. “Mosquitoes don’t bother me, either.”
Spraying legs, feet, shoes, and socks with an insect repellent also works. One woman puts sulfur powder in her tennis shoes before going out. A treatment lasts for several days.
There are many ideas about how to stop the itching after being bitten by chiggers. Dabbing them with rubbing alcohol takes away the intensity of the itch for a brief time. Some people say bathing completely in salt water, two cups to a bath, cures the itch.
Lanning Pharmacy has a product called Chigarid, a medicated topical relief from insect bites. Jerry Ewing of Marion uses another product, Chiggerex.
“A cold shower helps, too,” he said.
Victims are advised not to scratch bites because that can lead to infection. Even if you don’t treat them, chigger bites will eventually heal on their own, but they’ll drive you crazy in the meantime.