Natural or household substances such as calamine lotion, cold cream and petroleum jelly can be used to relieve itching from chigger bites, Iowa State University Department of Entomology notes. However, physicians recommend using ointments containing antihistamines such as hydrocortisone or products containing local anesthetics.
Chiggers are parasitic mites that attach to warm-blooded animals once they reach the larval growth stage, according to ISU Entomology. Chiggers usually nest on plants and catch onto the pores or hair follicles of passing mammals. Rather than feeding on blood, these tiny mites release digestive enzymes into the host to damage the surrounding skin cells and consume fluid from them. Redness and welts typically form at chigger bite sites, and the skin must be sealed off from air exposure to reduce irritation. Since fingernail polish and other household products provide protective coverage for the bite, they offer temporary relief and appear to be effective remedies.
Regardless of the remedy, the bite area should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water to clear away any remaining chiggers before ointment is applied, KidsHealth states. A cool washcloth may help to relieve mild, short-term irritation, but the individual must avoid scratching the bites to prevent infection. If over-the-counter anti-itch creams have no effect or the bites develop swelling, pus or redness, a doctor may recommend using antibiotics.