7 Proven Tips to Avoid Chiggers While Camping

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Chiggers are tiny mites that can bite and leave your skin irritated and itchy for days.

They prefer to live in large groups in grass and leaves, making them a common pest when camping.

So, let’s learn how to avoid chiggers while camping and what to do if you notice chigger bites on your body.

How to Avoid Chiggers While Camping

To avoid chiggers while camping and prevent bites, don’t make yourself an easy target and use an effective insect repellent.

Let’s break these down!

1. Limit Exposed Skin

Step one to not make yourself an easy target for chiggers is to limit the amount of exposed skin on your body while camping and hiking. The most common way chigger bites end up on your body is through exposed skin.

Chiggers tend to form in groups on tall grass and attach to your clothing and body as you pass by. Once they’ve latched on, they find exposed skin and use their tiny jaw-like claws to make holes – hence a chigger bite.

By limiting exposed skin when camping and hiking, you can lessen the chance that a chigger will find your skin, even if they latch onto your clothes.

To do this, wear long sleeves, pants, socks, and shoes (do not wear sandals) when camping and hiking.

Related: How Long Can Chiggers Live on Clothes?

2. Tuck Your Pant Legs into Your Socks

To further limit skin exposure, tuck your pant legs into your socks.

You won’t win any fashion awards with your new look, but this can help prevent the chigger larvae from crawling down your pant leg or up your sock to exposed skin.

3. Wear Permethrin Treated Clothing

Permethrin is an insect repellent that you can apply to clothes for an added layer of protection.

This repellent is effective against 55 types of insects, including chiggers, mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, and more. In fact, a Rhode Island study showed that treating shoes and socks with Permethrin reduced the likelihood of tick bites 73.6 times. The stuff works.

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Related: How to Keep Ticks Away While Camping

4. Avoid Grassy Areas

Avoid pitching your tent, hiking, and sitting down in grassy areas, especially moist grassy areas like fields and forests.

Even when hiking on a trail, avoid brushing up against vegetation as it can increase your chances of chiggers finding their way on your clothes or skin.

5. Use Effective Insect Repellents

Effective insect repellent products containing DEET and Permethrin will go a long way in protecting you against chiggers and other pests like mosquitoes.

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Related: How to Get Rid Of Mosquitoes in a Tent (Best Tips)

When applying the bug spray, be sure to target areas where chiggers might be able to find exposed skin, for example, around the pant cuffs, collars, tops of socks, and so on.

6. Shower Once You Get Indoors

If possible, shower immediately after your camping trip or hiking. Using soap and water, scrub your skin clean as this can help wash away any chiggers crawling on your skin or that have attached themselves.

7. Wash Your Clothes

Clothing, blankets, or towels that were used on the ground should be washed in hot water to remove any chiggers or other insects that may have crawled on them.

Did you know…
Chiggers (Trombiculidae) are a family of mites also known as red bugs, berry bugs, harvest mites, bush mites, or scrub-itch mites.

What to Do if You Get Chigger Bites

If you notice bug bites on your body – typically in a group around your feet, ankles, waistline, or neck – simply apply the ICR method:

  • Inspect: To begin, look for chiggers on your body to see whether any remain. Be sure to look around the sock line, waistline, and collar line. Look for little red dots. They may be moving rapidly or attached to your skin.
  • Clean: Bathe and scrub your skin with soap and water to rid yourself of any chiggers that may be on you.
  • Relieve: Apply an over-the-counter anti-itch medication like hydrocortisone or calamine lotion. Antihistamine pills and a cold compress can also help relieve any discomfort.

Chigger bites typically take up to two weeks to fully go away. The itching goes away after a few days, with the red bumps fully healing in 1 to 2 weeks.

Important: Chigger bites usually heal on their own. However, if yours are still itching and causing you problems after a few days, see your physician.

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