See a dermatologist for relief from the relentless torment of chigger bites

People's Pharmacy

Health & Fitness

August 15, 2004|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

My mother has more than 100 chigger bites, and the itching is driving her crazy. What can she do to get some relief? Is there any way to prevent this from happening again?

Chiggers are a type of mite. The saliva they inject into bites causes itching. With 100 bites, your mother might need to see a dermatologist, who might prescribe an oral corticosteroid like prednisone.

Hot water is an effective remedy to stop itching. One reader advises: "I nuke a folded, damp washcloth in the microwave until it is steamy-hot, about 25 seconds, and dab it briefly on the bite. The itch stops immediately for hours. Be very careful not to scald the skin, and handle the hot cloth with a paper towel."

Another reader insists that daubing the bites with Listerine Mouthwash eases the itch.

For prevention, flowers of sulfur (sublimed sulfur from a pharmacy) can be sprinkled on socks, shoes and pant legs to deter chiggers. One man keeps a shallow pan of sulfur powder on his back porch and steps into it on his way out to the back yard. Spraying legs and feet with DEET also works.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them through their Web site, www.peoplespharmacy.org.

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