Along with the joys of sunshine and vacation, summer also brings along the inevitable threat of chiggers. Bites from these nasty bugs can itch worse than fleas, mosquitoes and bed bugs combined. Here are a few tips to avoid chigger bites and keep your family itch-free.
If you plan to spend a hot summer day outdoors, especially in areas with tall grass or spots known to possibly be infested, it's important to dress properly. The key is to keep as much of your skin covered so that it is not exposed and accessible to chiggers. Wear long pants and hiking boots, sneakers or other closed-toe shoes, making sure to tuck the ends of your pants inside the socks. The type of fabric you are wearing can make a difference too. If you will be in a chigger-prone area, be sure to wear tightly-woven fabrics, since a chigger is so small it can actually work its way through spaces between threads.
Be sure to apply insect repellent before spending time in chigger-prone areas. It is important to apply repellent, not only to exposed skin, but areas covered by clothing and even your clothing itself. Make sure to apply repellent to your socks, pant legs and waistband. There are many different brands of repellent available, but for the best protection be sure to select one that contains DEET. If you don't like the idea of a chemical repellent, there are many natural repellents available, but they may not be as effective. You can also make your own using essential oils, such as tea tree oil or lavender. If you are unsure of what repellents work best, or have questions about applying it to young children, it's a good idea to consult with your Atlanta-area doctor.
Wash the bugs away
If you notice any chiggers on your body, it's important to wash them off immediately. Remove any clothing and take a hot, soapy shower or bath immediately. Be sure to wash any clothing that may be infested in hot, soapy water as well.
Keep your home safe
While the best way to avoid a chigger bite is to avoid the areas prone to these bugs, it's not uncommon to have them in your own backyard. Protect your home and family from these mites by landscaping your yard and mowing your lawn regularly. It's especially important to clear out any overgrown areas in moist or shady spots.