Today we will go in a different direction. We are going to discuss a nice little friend that plagues people in many parts of the world. That little friend is known by the common name of chigger, or chiggers. You have to say it in the plural form because with them you don't just get one, you get a bunch.
So what are chiggers? They are essentially a little immature mites. In mites you have them in 4 stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult. There are many species but in general we are discussing chiggers, which are mites in the larva stage. How these buggers get here is the adult mite lays the egg(s).
Humans usually become exposed to chiggers in nature – tall grasses, forest areas and such. Because of the way the adult lays their eggs, in clusters, then moving on, you can become exposed to the chiggers in a specific spot and yet, 20 feet away, another person can be totally free of them, because they didn't come in close enough contact for the chiggers to "hop aboard" their host. They detect the carbon dioxide expression of the potential host (as that is what they are attracted to) and, once the chigger hops aboard, it will feed off of their skin (not necessarily the blood as most parasites do). They gorge themselves, fall off the host, and move on to their next stages. Then it becomes a whole different game and we are no longer attractive to them.
In this discussion we are focusing on the chiggers and how to work with them, so we won't go into the adult mites, etc. – although that area is fascinating to the nth degree, at least for me. Since we are dealing with these little buggers, one question is, why do they bother us as humans? Humans are really just an accidental host, sort of an afterthought for lack of a better host. They prefer birds, reptiles, etc. I guess some part of their evolution has taught them that humans are not the best hosts for a number of reasons. But when the clock is ticking and they need to eat or die, those little chiggers make due with what is there.
Chiggers attach to the skin, burrow to anchor in just below the surface and feed off the skin. I guess the surface skin doesn't taste as good as the subsurface skin does. Once they have their fill, they fall off and move on. Itchy skin, red welts, etc., are indicators they have likely moved on – the ones that have caused the problem anyway. You will likely notice others – they are the newcomers.
What makes the whole chigger thing more palatable is that they do serve a very useful purpose in nature, they really do, at least as adults. They eat mosquito larva and keep arthropods in check. One can only hypothesize what life would be with arthropods – insects and spiders – running around unchecked. Chiggers that we deal with in North American are generally not disease-carrying vectors.
As a general rule the more healthy you are, the less likely you are to be inflicted with a chigger infestation. Leiann has a recipe formulation in her book Foundational Aromatherapy that she has received a high number of testimonials about its effectiveness.
Here it is:
- 2 oz. of Jojoba Oil
- 5 drops of Eucalyptus Citriodora essential oil
- 5 drops of Lavender Mailette essential oil
- 5 drops of Basil (Sweet) essential oil
Mix and apply by rubbing over the areas of exposed skin, legs, feet, etc. Also, as a general rule most of these oils from plants that are generally eaten as spices will go a long way in helping repel chiggers. Almost anything that can mask the carbon dioxide signature will help; i.e. here you are making the larva decide if the stink is worth the meal.
However, after the fact of your having fed the chiggers, a number of other itch preventatives and skin comforting items are a welcome relief. When it comes to working with chiggers, people often treat themselves as they would most parasites; i.e. they treat the blood, which they should do first. But one must keep in mind that the chigger issue is a dermatitis issue and the sensation to itch is simply your immune system reacting as it should.
When you treat the skin for the itch derived from chigger bites it is preferable to not use, at least in my opinion and experience, oils that can cause hypersensitivity. These are generally the stronger smelling oils, the citrus oils, etc. Use oils to soothe the skin and take away the desire to itch.
My preference is oils that contain a moderate level of beta-caryophyllene. Many Lavenders contain a proper amount of this component. Many other oils will too, as well as blends like Comfort Touch. It should take care of the itch rather readily when mixed with a small amount of carrier oil. Other oils for external applications are Palmarosa and even Birch. But Birch must be mixed with a carrier oil. Birch should work because of its pain suppression, but using it neat can be very irritating when first applied. I say should, as with most people, doing self help, anyway ... it works for me. Tea Tree and Lemongrass can help, but again, using neat is sometimes a little harsh on sensitive skin.
When approaching from inward toward outward, I’m referring to external application, such as on the feet, to help the immune system wake up on the side of taking care of business. The oil blend here would be Organ Master. There are some new blends coming out soon that will help as well. They really are good and you will like them. I will discuss them when I am able to.
So there you have it, some simple ideas on working with the chiggers after they have "whooped up" on you. I may do another discussion dealing with the vectors, mechanisms and parasites in general. Well, it isn't a "may" it is an "I will" as I love the study of them and it really is important to understand the whole deal there. It gives you more perspective in dealing with the oils and all the other nutritional products. This is not limited to just the physical but the emotional aspect as well. So have a good day. Thank you for the visit.