Despite your best efforts to keep mosquitoes out of your environment and off your skin, bites do happen. Find a mosquito bite remedy to soothe the itchy bumps.
Warm weather brings longer days, outdoor fun and, unfortunately, mosquito bites. Although the insects can spread diseases, including the Zika virus, the good news is mosquito-borne diseases are uncommon in the U.S.
But it makes sense to avoid mosquito bites as much as possible with insect repellent, covering exposed skin when you are outside, and making sure there’s no standing water in your yard where mosquitoes can breed, the CDC points out.
However, despite all these proven anti-mosquito strategies, the odds are you may end up with a mosquito bite or two — or more — in spring and summer. And you may need a mosquito bite remedy.
Who needs a mosquito bite remedy – and who needs more help?
When a mosquito bites you, chemicals in the insect’s saliva cause localized itching, redness, and swelling. It’s true not everyone is particularly bothered by the bites. Some appear immune and barely feel any symptoms. On the other hand, mosquito bites can, rarely, cause full-blown, serious allergic reaction (including hives, blisters, and sometimes difficulty breathing) needing emergency medical care, according to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (AAAAI).
And if you experience a fever and body aches after mosquito bites, you should contact your doctor, in case you’ve contracted a mosquito-spread illness.
But most people simply develop small red bumps hours to days after a mosquito bites. Although the sores are usually gone in less than a week, they can be miserably itchy for days. Thankfully, a host of over-the-counter and home remedies can reduce irritation and itchiness, helping you to be comfortable until the mosquito bites completely heal.
Find a mosquito bite remedy that works for you
- Place an ice pack on bites to stop itching. (Never place ice or a cold pack directly on skin; wrap the ice in a soft cloth.)
- If the itching is intense, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests over-the-counter (OTC) anti-itch creams, such as hydrocortisone.
- Another option for itching is an OTC oral antihistamine. (If you take any other medications or have any chronic health conditions, check with your doctor of pharmacist first.)
- If the bite is more painful than itchy, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can usually help, the AAD points out.
- Gently washing the bites with cool water and soap may offer relief — but don’t break the blisters, the AAAAI advises.
Alternative and complementary mosquito bite remedies
It’s not unusual for a grandmother or someone interested in alternative healing to suggest another type of mosquito bite remedy – one based on folklore or personal experience. Some have little scientific evidence behind them, but several might be helpful including:
Honey. Applying a small amount of honey over mosquito bites may reduce inflammation and soothe the area, according to a review of research on the anti-inflammatory effects of honey on skin, published in the medical journal Wounds. (Of course, honey can be messy and, if you are outside, attract other biting insects, especially ants, even if the honey-treated bites are covered by a band-aid.)
Tea tree oil. Tea tree was used as a traditional medicine for cuts and wounds by the aboriginal people of Australia for centuries and today it’s frequently used in alternative medicine as a topical treatment for lice, fungus, acne, and insect bites — including those of mosquitoes. While trying it as a mosquito bite remedy is probably safe for most people (it can sometimes irritate skin), the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) notes only a small amount of research on tea tree oil has been conducted. So far, it shows some promise in a few skin diseases (acne and athlete’s foot).
Aloe vera, oatmeal and baking soda. Applying aloe vera gel or liquid to mosquito bites feels cool and soothing, and a paste made of oatmeal has long been a remedy for rashes and itching. It turns out, each may be a helpful remedy for mosquito bite symptoms. To make a paste, mix 1 tablespoon of either oatmeal or baking soda with just enough water to create a paste.
A review of research into these and other natural substances by University of California at San Diego dermatology professor Magdalene A. Dohil, MD, concluded aloe vera and oatmeal do have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin and can be useful treatments for a variety of skin diseases.
June 24, 2019
Janet O’Dell, RN