Monday, August 18, 2014

Chiggers versus Sunburn

How is a sunburn like a chigger? Let me explain.

Recently I received a large-scale sunburn over, well, an unfortunate amount of skin. Really any amount of sunburn is unfortunate,  however this one was particularly unfortunate as it involved all of my limbs with special concentration on my shoulderblades and upper legs. Really it just made it so I couldn't lay down with any sort of comfort. I either had to lie on my stomach and endure burning from my legs, or on my back and endure pain radiating from my shoulders. Fast forward one week, and all that crispy skin is peeling off nicely...and itching like Fred and George spread itching powder over every item of clothing I own. I seriously don't remember ever itching this badly in my life except for the one summer I was 9...

Do you know what a chigger is? I sure do. It's this microscopic little red devil of itchiness. It bites you and burrows into the skin, creating a Mt. Kilimanjaro of discomfort. The only way to get rid of the itching is to kill the suckers while they sleep (as they are related to the tick family, they stay in the skin, itching and itching and itching and itching...for at least two weeks). The only way to do that is to paint your skin with nail polish. Clear is the best, mostly because you look the least weird wearing it. You can use any color, simply paint all your welts with the polish of your choice and that will cease the itching...eventually...takes a day or two.

So, one summer I was 9 years old. Most of us had a summer like that. I mean, you can read now, and are reading this, so you obviously were 9 at one point in your life.

Anyway, I was 9, and for some reason I decided to sit in the tall grass outside my Nebraska home while wearing calf-high socks, elastic waist-banded pants, and several hair-ties around one wrist. Did I mention that chiggers love to bite underneath tight-fitting clothing? Especially sock and underwear lines?

That evening I couldn't rest for the amount of itching. The only nail polish my mother could find was blue, all the clear had been depleted on my several younger siblings and the unfortunate neighbors. She painted me up so I looked like an unfortunate half-smurf, then I laid in bed trying desperately not to gouge chunks of skin from my calves.

That's what this summer reminds me of. A tingling under the skin that begins as a slight tickle. You think that if you ignore it, it'll go away. It's only the vaguest of feelings after all. However, it starts to increase. It gets worse until the tickle has become practically a fester. Your skin is jumping with effort to keep still. You can't think about anything else but how much you itch. All you want to do is drag your fingernails deeply through the pestilence that has now set your skin aflame. Nothing else will satisfy this strange itching and jumping coursing through your skin. The itching is there, it has always been there, and you will always itch.

So, chiggers versus sunburn. I think chiggers win, but sunburn comes in at a close second. You can avoid sunburn after all, and chiggers...well. Let's just say chiggers are the spawn of Satan sent to destroy your sanity through itching.

And now, how many of you itch after reading this? You're welcome.

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