Sep 24, 2007 at 1:20 pm #1225180
OK, got back from 2 days in the woods. I wore long pants, wool socks, and 3/4 high boots. The socks were pulled up.
I have 40-50 little bites on each of my ankles. They itch, but I can usually avoid scratching them. But they do itch. I don't think flying insects bit me only on my ankles–is it chiggers?
I sat in grass mostly Indian style with the boots/socks/pants on for about 1.5 hours before turning in. I saw 5-6 ants–maybe it was ants?
I used Ultrathon on my neck and hands, but not on my ankles (they were covered). I did not use Permethrin on anything.Sep 24, 2007 at 1:29 pm #1403384
What you've described sounds like classic chiggers… they like getting into areas like under socks.
The little buggers actually burrow into your skin and, eventually, die (at which point it stops itching). However, you can accelerate their deaths by one of the two techniques:
1) Go swimming in a heavily treated public swimming pool. The chlorine will kill the buggers right quick… however, considering it's nearly october that might be hard.
2) Make your own swimming pool in your bathtub (it's a boy scout trick). Pour a little bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite), into a bathtub filled with warm water just high enough to cover the affected area when you're sitting on the side of the tub and soak your feet / ankles for a while.
Note, by 'little' I mean LITTLE. Maybe about as much as you'd use to treat a load of laundry without bleaching it out. If it smells significantly stronger than a public pool, you've used too much and should dilute the mixture with more warm tap water.Sep 24, 2007 at 1:34 pm #1403386
Adam RothermichBPL Member
@aroth87Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Probably chiggers. We have lots of 'em here in Missouri. Mom always used to put some clear fingernail polish over the bites (though any color will do :)). That usually made the itching go away a little faster.
Chiggers love to get into tight areas like your waist line and around the top of your socks. I would guess that they are your culprit.
AdamSep 24, 2007 at 1:42 pm #1403388
@arichardson6Locale: North East
I've always used nail polish, but just in case you're more curious..
A site about Chiggers from the Missouri Dept. of Conservation: http://mdc.mo.gov/nathis/arthopo/chiggers/
Wikipedia.org: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvest_mite#References (Note that "chiggers" are usually harvest mites although a few bugs can leave "chigger" like symptoms..)
One another one to confirm treatment with the others: http://www.healthy-skincare.com/chigger-bite.html
Hope this helps! Happy itching! ;)Sep 24, 2007 at 1:44 pm #1403390
I'll bleach my ankles tonight. I was wondering why I still itch 9 days after. How about I just use a big bucket. Say 4-5 gallons of water to 1/8 or 1/4 cup of bleach?
So in the future, should I rub Ultrathon on my ankles/waist/feet even if they'll be covered? Should I also treat my socks and pants with Permethrin?
This was technically my first backpacking trip ever, and I went with my dog. He was chewing on the front parts of his front legs for a day or two. I gave him a tick bath when we got home, and he stopped chewing. I wonder if he had chiggers, too.
Anyway, for a first trip, if they only bad thing was chiggers (and not a lot of sleep the first night), I'm happy. My pack was WAY overweight though…I'll be working on that.Sep 24, 2007 at 1:48 pm #1403391
@tomcat1066Locale: Southwest GA
Chiggers are more of an annoyance than anything, at least in my experience. Just a bit of bleach in the bath tub will do the job fine.
And yep, you've still got them, but I've always considered chiggers a rite of passage into the world of the great outdoors ;)
TomSep 24, 2007 at 1:53 pm #1403392
Mike FeldmanBPL Member
@harpinLocale: SE USA
Sounds like Chiggers, be glad they are just on your ankles. I had 150 bites after a late May BP trip 3-4 years ago in several other locations, leave it at that! Fingernail polish works great.Sep 24, 2007 at 2:34 pm #1403402
"I'll bleach my ankles tonight. I was wondering why I still itch 9 days after. How about I just use a big bucket. Say 4-5 gallons of water to 1/8 or 1/4 cup of bleach?
So in the future, should I rub Ultrathon on my ankles/waist/feet even if they'll be covered? Should I also treat my socks and pants with Permethrin?"
Yeah, a bucket'll work just fine. Just remember the sniff test, if it makes your eyes water its probably a bit too strong (probably won't actually hurt you, but it may lighten the color of your leg hair).
Yeah, if you're in a chigger-prone area (pretty much anywhere with grass in the midwest), you want put repellent especially on the 'covered' areas (in practice they don't get too far up under stuff… I've never had crotch bites when wearing boxer-briefs but my thighs and waist got bit up).
If you treat tonight, you'll probably stop ithcing later tonight or tomorrow and the redness should begin fading in a couple of days.Sep 24, 2007 at 2:35 pm #1403403
Yeah… unfortunately… sometimes it's a rite that re-occurs every year… *winces*Sep 25, 2007 at 2:12 am #1403479
@tomcat1066Locale: Southwest GA
True, but I didn't see any need to get into all that ;)
TomSep 25, 2007 at 7:48 am #1403505
Soaked last night. No itching today.
Also, I was watching Survivorman on the Science Channel (in HD). A lot of you guys would like that show. This guy gets dropped off in the middle of nowhere (Alaska, Georgia swamp, etc). He has to survive for a week. He brings only his clothes and a few odds and ends, plus his cameras (the production crew leaves). He makes fishing line floaters out of bubble gum, drinks water out of roots, etc. Pretty cool.
Anyway, in the swamp, he needed to make the area where he built his shelter tick and chigger free. So he did a controlled burn in the area to kill/drive out the bugs. I guess they eventually come back, but at least you start bug free.
Now I'm off to Permetrin treat my stuff. Thanks for the information.Sep 25, 2007 at 1:32 pm #1403552
<<<"The little buggers actually burrow into your skin and, eventually, die (at which point it stops itching). However, you can accelerate their deaths by one of the two techniques:">>>
According to the following statement, they do not burrow into the skin:Sep 26, 2007 at 7:45 am #1403651
Joe ClementBPL Member
Permerthrin works well. You're lucky they stopped at your ankles, they usually keep migrating. Man, I hate chiggers.Sep 26, 2007 at 8:42 am #1403662
I didn't state the burrowed deep, just that they did. I"m not sure how what you've linked to is materially different than what I stated.Sep 26, 2007 at 9:22 am #1403665
Hey Josh, Im not trying to argue with you :)
Just pointing out that the chigger dosent burrow into you and live in your skin. Maybe I'm just being too picky
PhilOct 5, 2007 at 12:50 am #1404599
There's some better descriptions of the chigger biology in this link, it basically supports Philip's wiki article and sheds some light on the chigger "bite".
I find the explanation for the "nail polish remedy" to be totally interesting. I can't quite grasp how cutting air off from the bite area reduces irritation but there's more than a few articles that substantiate this and they all insist that there is no chigger, living or dead, under your skin.Oct 5, 2007 at 9:08 am #1404619
"I can't quite grasp how cutting air off from the bite area reduces irritation but there's more than a few articles that substantiate this and they all insist that there is no chigger, living or dead, under your skin."
Cutting oxygen off from the residual chemicals, perhaps? That or simply having 'wound' open to the air causes additional irritation due to drying out…Mar 3, 2008 at 1:15 pm #1422875
@andybaileyLocale: The Great Plains
I grew up in Southern Missouri, and chiggers were just a fact of life if you walked in the woods.
They have a hard time biting through the surface of the skin, which is why you normally get bites around your ankles and the waistband of your pants. They have to push off the clothing in order to bite in. Bug spray definitely helps prevent chigger bites.
Bleach water never helped me any, and I would normally lie awake at night and scratch my legs until they bled.
The worst though, is when you get chigger bites in unmentionable places and can't scratch in public :>)Mar 5, 2008 at 11:12 am #1423113
I used RID …. the lice shampoo, and washed my entire body down with it as soon as I got home, then took a shower with soap and water.
It reduced the outbreak by 3 or 4 days compared to normal for me.
I don't know why …. just know that it works.Jul 4, 2009 at 3:27 pm #1512064
Last year I was about 50 miles into a hike and I was so chigger bit that all I wanted to do was die. I want to try to avoid that this year. I'm going in early October in Southern Illinois on the River to River Trail and it is quite possible I will still have to contend with the little buggers… would anyone recommend trail gaiters as a way to contend with the problem?
Also as far as nail polish goes, all I wanted to do was peel off the nail polish and scratch some more which exacerbated the problem.
I've read that sulfur treatment is supposed to work rather well, but I don't really want to smell like rotten eggs.Jul 4, 2009 at 3:52 pm #1512066
Are chiggers the same thing as noseeums?Jul 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm #1512072
No noseeums are flying insects that are fairly annoying, Chiggers are harvest mite larvae that feed on your skin cells, yummy.Jul 4, 2009 at 4:49 pm #1512075
Man I love bugs! Where's my cortizone?
So what's the difference between blackflies and gnats? Hornets/wasps/yellowjackets?Jul 4, 2009 at 9:41 pm #1512098
Tom CaldwellBPL Member
I believe chiggers inject a chemical into your skin that basically converts the tissue into a tube of mush that they can then slurp out. They are already gone from the bite when you know it's there.
No need to worry about them, just get a tiny poncho tarp and a headnet and sleep right on the ground they infest. They won't bother you. It also helps to sleep in the same infested clothes you've trudged around in all day.Jul 7, 2009 at 12:18 am #1512411
I can only speak with authority on my experience: 98% deet (like REI Jungle Juice) handled all the little nibblies for me when I was in the buggy bush-whacking country. 2-3 drops in my palm did one medium part (arm, neck, ankle, hat, etc.) for 2-6 hours depending on how wet I was (sweat, rain).
Deet is a solvent; don't allow it to sit in high concentrations on plastics for an extended period of time. I rubbed the bottle off on my pant legs thoroughly before returning it to it's ziplock. My ziplock felt a little thinner after 3 days, but it didn't fail. Spreading it on technical fibers didn't seem to cause any harm.
I also tried to make my shell as tough as possible to get into:
– tuck inner shirt into underwear
– leave outer shirt untucked
– tuck pants into socks/shoes
acronym 7/7/2009 2:16 AM
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