Chigger Myth of the Day
If you're a displaced Yankee who moved to the South after adulthood, you may be confused by a few things 'round here such as 1. Confederate flags (even though they LOST the Civil War), 2. people who sit in lawn furniture in their garage (who DOES that?) and 3. CHIGGERS. What the eff are chiggers?
When I first heard as a freshman in college that those tiny itchy bumps around my sock line were flesh-penetrating, egg-laying parasites, I did EXACTLY what the "more experienced Southerners" told me to: put bright red nail polish on each bump to suffocate those heinous vermin.
But what I found out was that Southerners are ignorant not only of what side won the war, they're also ignorant of what chiggers really are, and how they work. My skepticism of chiggers piqued when an anonymous friend "nail-polished" their entire, er... sanitary area, after getting chiggered, because who wants parasites that close to the moneymaker?
Well, according to a very informative article in Wikipedia, chiggers are known as "Harvest Mites" and do not, in fact, burrow deep within the skin. While this may come as a relief, they still have a rather disgusting practice which involves crawling onto your skin, injecting it with enzymes and chewing up tiny bits of skin. Ew! This leaves the characteristic red, itchy bump. But, contrary to popular belief, they do NOT burrow, and after chewing up your skin, they're gone. PTL!
So, thought I, the whole "nail polish" gimmick was just to make an idiot out of innocent believers. But, the nail polish DOES serve a purpose. Because it prevents air contact with the skin, the nail polish enables the chigger mini-infection to be less irritated and probably heal up quicker. Who knew!?