Who needs fiction reads, I’ve got travel stories that will blow your mind. Anyone that travels has their own series of stories that is perhaps why we make great drinking buddies!
All I wanted was this photo capture, instead, I got chigger bug bites. Here’s my vacation horror story and how to avoid the same mistakes I made.
Chigger Bug Bites! 1 Vacation Horror Story!
After the chigger bug snags transportation on you, they will bite you and that’s where the magical, unforgiving, irritating, raunch pain begins. Welcome to hell, buckle up it’s gonna get red, inflamed, and red spotty & dotty!
Well hello to vacation and if you follow me, you know that NO travel goes unpunished in my home. This time Chigger bug bites would be the devil.
Before this, on a recent journey, including ATV’ing, Zip Lining, Paintballing, etc, we (3 of us) ended up with Poison Ivy.
We don’t know where we got it, but we did.
In fact, on that same trip, my son had an anaphylactic reaction to a bug bite that got him overnight and I got a burn from the ATV motor against my lower calf.
But that’s the tradeoff and the ‘war’ stories we carry around from a fun vacation.
What Would Vacation Be without Survival Stories? Except (Chigger Bug Bites)
It seems that no good trip would be great without one of my famous ‘we survived’ stories.
Trust me, this travel writer has plenty of behind-the-scenes stories that have yet to be published!
Today, however, due to the complexity and pain of Chigger Bug bites, I am about to share with you my personal tale of before, during, and after!
Additionally, where these bugs lurk, how to avoid them, and describe the itching fury behind them!
Also, I’ll share the ‘pet name’ I have given them since they are so dastardly.
So basically, see where my son is? See how he is dressed? We basically were asking to be maimed by chigger bug bites! Low to the ground, dusk and near water!
Our Time Outside – Just Before It Happened!
We were visiting a resort. Time always works against us, so after hours at an amusement park, we arrived at the resort after DUSK.
Well, we got the bright idea, to go find the beach which was secluded on this property.
Dressed in tank tops, shorts, and flip-flops we went for it, otherwise, we would be gone the next day and never see this particular sunset.
You can see this above. We are on vacation, and we don’t live on a lake, so what did I know?
The Horror Begins – Chigger Bug Hell!
You have to walk through a patch of woods (why don’t I just wear a magnet and invites these beasts onto my body?), and then onto the sand and along the lakes’ edge.
Oh, what a great idea. I just had to get photos of the sunset on this secluded beach.
We traveled through a few paths, tall grassy banked areas, and onto the lake and its sand.
I practically invited these chigger bug bites to be all over my body!
The Disaster of those Chigger Bug Bites Begins
The feeling of itchiness did not happen right away.
No these tricky little bugs, hold on to you, for a few hours and then, you start to itch.
You feel like your skin is on fire. Suddenly, before you realize it, you have a rash on your leg or your arms.
A rash that starts to get itchier and itchier.
For my crew, Benadryl did nothing.
When We Came Back To Our Room It All Began
It took us about 3 hours total to go to the lake, and photos,s and walk back, and the treachery had just begun!
We showered using soap and water.
All clothing (standard protocol) went into sealed plastic bags from the day itself, and we changed our clothes.
I actually thought we had been bitten by bed bugs because of the areas we were all affected.
So, after a few hours ride home, miserable kids, and an itch that just would not go away, I’d say those little mutha Chigger Bugs had the last bite wouldn’t you?
A wicked gift that won’t stop giving: Chigger Bug Bites.
My pet name for chigger but bites: ‘those little bastard bites’ because OUCHS and ITCH are all I can say!
The itching begins about 3 hours AFTER they bite, warm water makes it worse (showering), but is necessary (soap and water).
Itching is the worst part of this because it’s almost uncontrollable and so painful at points.
Unlike a mite, a chigger bug does not burrow or move into your skin. It attaches, feeds, and then moves on.
These Chigger Bugs are so small and are not more than a foot off the ground. Often they start right at your ankles (again where the sock meets the skin if you have on socks).
They are the babies, not the adults. Chigger bugs are hard to see you actually need a magnifying glass.
Don’t let their size fool you because these guys mean business.
Our Doctor Explaining Chigger Bug Bites
Our family doctor told us, they have incredibly sharp claws that pierce the skin and then leave their juice and continue to feast (that’s the best understanding and amount of knowledge I was given).
Where do Chigger Bugs Live (so you can avoid chigger bug bites!)
Moist areas, that range between the temperate conditions of 70-80°F daily. They prefer partially shaded areas.
The lake looks gorgeous right? Lakeside, streamside, valleys, ponds, beds of damp grass, it’s their favorite place to live.
Naturally, summer is when we get out and about and those chigger bugs are waiting for your sweet, precious, warm skin. It’s where we got bit!
Be so happy when it freezes outside because that kills them off. So, what I am saying is those later Spring outings when the temperature is flirting with the 80° marker, and the nights are no longer frosting, Chigger bugs have come out to play!
Fall and winter are not their time to cling, because it’s not the right temperature!
So lakeside to creekside to wet grass areas that don’t get that much sun all should be avoided in later Spring to early Fall or keep reading and I’ll share a few more tips.
Chigger Bug Bites – Where on The Body
Those areas where there are the ‘creases’ or folds in your skin (those are the most succulent.). Behind your knees, your elbows, you get get the idea.
Fear not, (eyeroll), these bugs will attach anywhere they can including where your sock meets your ankles. They even attach to clothing. UGH!
Chigger bugs are not proud little beasties, they just want to feed.
A chigger bug needs a warm ‘host’ >>>>your body!
Once a chigger bug attaches, you will be bit, with an unwanted ROI: itchy, burning, scratching, and swelling of your legs, belly area, and arms!
They generally are below abdomen bites, but, if you sit on the ground, everything on you is lower, so it’s MUNCH TIME!
What To Do For Chigger Bug Bites: Surviving Those Little Bastards Nip!
I may never know what the bug looked like, but I know it was a Chigger Bug as they are the natives around lakes, damp grassy areas, and also in the Lake area I was in.
Chigger Bugs are nasty and their bites are awful. I am allergic to mosquito bites and have been since I traveled long ago to Sardinia, Italy.
I bust out into large hives and I get so itchy that I just try to keep the spray on myself ANYTIME I head outdoors.
My kids have followed suit, my daughter is so sensitive to bites and my youngest has a lot of the same issues.
So, I had to cave in and call the doctor for help.
How Do You Feel After You Are Bit by A Chigger Bug?
Miserable. Not nauseated, and not with a fever, just so itchy, you want to jump out of your skin and want to be soothed.
Drinking wine does not help, just throwing it out there because the pain is intense from multiple bites so I tried this for you!
What The Chigger Bug Bites Look Like After a Few Hours
Chigger Bugs Attached Themselves to Us And Came Along For the Walk and now they look like raised red pimples, pustules.
This may look like nothing, but they look changes hour to hour and the bites multiply, never think you just got bit by one, you’d be very wrong!
The bites burn like crazy. Then as if the burning is not bad enough, they itch. OW!
If you could understand how bad this is and how much worse it is about to get.
It really has to run its itchy, course and you too will learn to truly hate chigger bugs for what they are, leaches!
Chigger bugs just take a ride on you and you may never know it because they are so small.
I will tell you that you will know that the blasted things got you in a few hours and when the itching starts head for the hills!
What Should Have Been Done To Avoid These Chigger Bugs?
First of all, I should have sprayed us all with Chigger Bug Repellant. Or we could have used other insect repellants, however, these are more arachnids than insects. Who cares they all SUCK!
Additionally, apple cider vinegar straight up in a spray bottle sprayed on the body and clothing is a very effective repellant and very natural.
Second of all, we should never have gone out at dusk because these little suckers just munch and crunch during these hours.
Our legs should have been covered and if we were wearing pants the pants should be tucked into the boots so it leaves the chigger bugs no options, even if they attach to the clothing, we have a solution for that too!
No way should we have roamed lakeside at dusk (see no one else was there we should have taken the hint!)
Chigger bugs lurk around damp and grassy areas. The bugs love lakes and wooded areas, it is their territory, stay away or go prepared.
While they are not dangerous they are really a royal pain in the ass (maybe I should say, legs, arms, and trunk of the body) because of how they attach!
Nothing will make them go away, but you can put some anti-itch medications on them, or ‘after’ you’ve been bitten creams, serums. etc.
I highly advise a swelling reducer and a trip to the doctor, which is how we combatted this issue.
What We Tried With Limited Success
We tried ice, an antihistamine, my face swelled up, my lips swelled up, my collarbone swelled up (and NO I refused to photo that).
My daughter’s legs look like she broke into chickenpox and the itching just comes and goes for up to 2 weeks with the worst of it in week one.
The bites get warm to touch and then they cool off and suddenly you are itching in another place. If you itch them they can get infected, in other words, “suck it up, sweetheart!”
Calamine lotion might as well be bottled sugar pills, it does NOTHING. Call it useless.
Just to hint at something else, the sunshine, also created warmth which added to the itching, so you might want to stay out of the sun for the first few days unless you want to itch your skin off.
The prescribed steroidal cream helped but not as much as we needed.
I ended up on steroids, (however, I react weirdly to bites as I explained).
We also tried rubbing alcohol but that didn’t do anything.
Our Mistake- Again, Just In Case You Missed This
We headed to the lake at dusk. The lake is on a path with tall grass, gravel and it is so moist.
Of course, the sand and the water did not help either. So what happened? The Chigger bugs attached to us hitched a ride on our skin.
After that, they just nailed us with their jaggy claws and kept the punishment coming.
You can easily mistake these bites for bed bugs.
These little buggers hurt. We never saw them, but we sure do see the results of their injections.
Avoid These Areas If You Can To Avoid Chigger But Bites
While they don’t have poison in them and are not going to kill us, my warning is to anyone headed areas that are moist, and damp like:
- tall grass areas
- lawns areas
- walking in wet night grass areas,
- along the lake on trails
Cover-up or bug spray it up or you too will be a victim of the Chigger Bug bites! Ouch.
Possible Remedies for Chigger Bug Bites & How They Make You Feel
What do you do for a Chigger But Bite?
Antiseptic on each bite.
Try ice if you didn’t get bit in too many places, but this is doubtful. Instead, use it on the ones that are the worse in a patch on your skin.
We used Benadryl to stop the itching and the swelling, but that was only temporary.
I sought medical attention for my son, my daughter, and myself as we were swelling and having light complications.
My back has hives beyond hives and my lips and face were huge while my daughter’s legs look hen-pecked. Our doctor prescribed steroidal cream.
The bites activate harder at night and are a nuisance during the day, but there is nothing you can do beyond this.
IN fact, the chigger bug bites on your body, have to run its course and it can last from 2 days to 2 weeks.
The bites appear in clusters and OMG those serious little beasts create the worst feeling in your skin to the point that you want to rip your skin off, but don’t!
Fend Off Chigger Bug Bites
Cover up with long pants tucked into boots when walking.
Spray yourself and your clothing with apple cider vinegar.
Alternatively purchase Chigger Bug Bite repellent.
Avoid lakeside night jaunts, or streamside, or moist grass.
When you come into your house, don’t take your clothes anywhere inside, drop them right in the washer. Wash any outdoor clothing in warm water with detergent. This is in case chigger bugs are on your clothing articles!
A natural spray against chigger bugs is a mixture of Dawn and water, sprayed to your lawn area will tamper these little beasts down!
Try a spray mixture of essential oils of citronella and eucalyptus and lemon. Spray in on your clothing with light mists, or in the area you are sitting in.
Always SHOWER in warm water using soap after coming inside without exception.
Wear proper hiking clothing: long sleeves, and pants, etc.
Chigger Bug Bites Reek Havoc
My only suggestion is to not go towards the lake, at night, or damp, grassy areas, even during the day unless you are properly prepared or you will get bit.
Chigger bugs live around the globe, it’s not just a USA thing!
Beware around any water areas, they are just waiting to feast on you and ruin your vacation.
You can’t get rid of the pain and you might have a reaction like we did!
Good luck! ~ Dana XO
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