1702: Home Itch Remedies

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Home Itch Remedies
In my experience, mosquitos and poison ivy are bad, but the very worst itch comes from bites from chiggers (Trombicula alfreddugesi). They're found across the American south and great plains, so the best home remedy is to move to Iceland.
Title text: In my experience, mosquitos and poison ivy are bad, but the very worst itch comes from bites from chiggers (Trombicula alfreddugesi). They're found across the American south and great plains, so the best home remedy is to move to Iceland.


Bug bites, such as mosquito bites, are itchy. Home remedies are often ineffective, and in some cases very complicated - think of the number of suggestions on how to cure hiccups. In this case Cueball's suggestion starts out plausible but rapidly gets increasingly and insanely complicated, involving finding rare French orchids. Megan is not actually interested in trying out a complex home remedy, she really just wants sympathy.

The suggested remedy is a mix of many popular home remedies such as:

  • Taking a hot shower: supposed to stimulate nerve endings, it can also destroy some toxins.
  • Applying vinegar: supposedly effective on mosquito bites.
  • Applying ice: numbs the pain, more commonly used on bruises.
  • Using aspirin: as an anti-inflammatory drug aspirin may have an effect on itches, although it may cause more itches than provide relief.
  • Tea and a "rare French orchid": orchids, like many other plants, are commonly used in traditional medicine to cure various ailments, and tea is a common route of administration.

Megan's answer is a sarcastic comment stating that her own family home remedy is to keep scratching until the skin falls off -- which is a natural tendency, although not until the skin literally falls off; hence it is not really a home remedy, just a natural reaction.

The title text refers to chiggers or Trombicula alfreddugesi as the worst source for itches; in fact only in the larval stages are these mites parasitic. Chigger can also refer to the chigoe flea or "jigger", Tunga penetrans, a parasitic flea which also causes bad itching, but Randall explicitly mentions the mite Trombicula alfreddugesi. A move to a more northerly region of the world like Iceland might seem to be a perfect cure, because those parasites are only found in warmer southern regions (similarly, since mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, moving to a dry place with no water usable by mosquitoes would be a "cure" for mosquito bites). Unusually, Iceland does not support native mosquitoes, despite similarities to other northern regions which do. One might fallaciously assume it does not support parasites in general — but it does support parasitic insects in other genera, and it has other species of mites. Thus, "move to Iceland" is a weird home remedy that will work if the person wants to prevent chiggers, however it won't work if the person wants to stay away from all parasites.

This comic could be seen as a continuation of the title text from 1693: Oxidation, where that is interpreted as Ponytail ineffectively reassuring Megan that her bug bites should not be a concern.


[Megan and Cueball stand together while Megan loudly scratches her itches and Cueball holds a hand up.]
Megan: Argh, bug bites are the worst. I shouldn't scratch, but... so itchy.
Cueball: Oh, you know what's great for that?
Scratch scratch
[Zoom-in to Megan's head.]
Megan: No, don't tell me. Everyone always has weird home remedies that never work. I just want sympathy.
Cueball (off-panel): No, this one isn't weird, I promise. It really helps!
[A frame less panel with a zoom-out back to Megan and Cueball. Megan is still scratching loudly and Cueball still holds his hand up.]
Cueball: First, take a hot shower. Then dip some ice cubes in vinegar and use them to crush one baby aspirin. Then make some tea, and...
Scratch scratch
[Megan walks past Cueball and away from him while Cueball turns and looks after her.]
Cueball: ...then, you need a rare French orchid-
Megan: I'm going to try a different home remedy where I complain a lot and scratch until my skin comes off.
Cueball: Sounds effective.
Megan: It's an old family trick.

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Taking a hot (enough) shower is actually a remedy as it denatures the proteins causing the itching. 14:14, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

Ammonia has a similar effect for mosquito bites. Proof: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9689301
Why don't you add that in the explanation? It would help. 14:17, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
"...hot (enough) shower...." [citation needed] 15:42, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
I think it's important to mention that Cueball's remedy starts off plausible but gets steadily more complicated. (So I've done so.) 18:25, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Chiggers are not spiders. Stealth101 (talk) 15:50, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

Changed spider to chigger. Chiggers may itch like the devil, but are nowhere as severe as spiders. Monolith (talk) 15:59, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

Somehow, I was expecting the explanation of the remedy to take so long that Megan got distracted away from the itch, or something. After all, the folk remedy I heard most is “Don't think about it.” (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

This explanation in its current form misses one of the best jokes of the piece: Cueball's comment that it "sounds effective". Seems to me that he's under the genuine belief that Megan's 'home remedy' is effective, simply because it's a home remedy. Solid meta-humour. 17:35, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

What? No Juno? 20:55, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

It'll probably be there tomorrow. he's had jokes for New Horizons, Voyager 1, etc.. I don't see why he would exclude Juno. 15:27, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
Message from the future: The comic Juno did come out next but first after it was reported to have entered the planned orbit the day after this comic was released and on the day when the one second precision was reported (rather late that day so seems like Randall was waiting for some news like that to base the comic on) --Kynde (talk) 19:59, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Anyone else think there is a pun in the title text in home remedy, since the remedy involves changing where your home is. Tharkon (talk) 21:53, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

Yes Tharkon. Totally agree Plm-qaz snr (talk) 23:31, 4 July 2016 (UTC)