Like some other bugs found outdoors, chiggers attach themselves to the surface of skin using their mouths. The attachment doesn't typically hurt, but the fluid chiggers insert into skin can cause itchiness in the affected areas.
If you want to use a natural product to deter chiggers, then essential oils may be the solution. Even though essential oils are natural, care may be necessary to prevent them from causing skin irritation. Also, use a few additions to make the oils as effective as possible.
Additives for Longevity
Applying a mixture of clove, lemongrass, thyme and citronella essential oils should help you keep chiggers off your skin. Because essential oils are very volatile and break down quickly, however, they don't last long. Try adding "fixatives" to the essential oil mixture to help keep it on your skin longer. Turmeric oil , hairy basil and 5 percent vanillin may be helpful as fixatives, a paper published in the Malaria Journal in 2011 indicates.
Your Own Bug Spray
Make your own chigger-repelling spray with a few simple ingredients.
In a mixing bowl or small container, add 4 tablespoons of distilled water and 2 teaspoons of vodka. Add 5 or 6 drops of any essential oils that help repel insects and arthropods. Combining a few essential oils can help increase the effectiveness of the spray, a review published in Bioresource Technology in 2010 suggests. Add a few drops of a fixative, such as vanilla, and stir. Place a funnel over the top of a 2-ounce spray bottle, and pour the mixture into the bottle.
You can make the spray stronger by adding a few more drops of essential oil to the bottle.