How To Treat Mosquito Bites
They’re the scourge of the summer and that familiar droning whine is enough to put the fear in the hardiest of outdoor enthusiast or BBQ fan. Yup, the tiny mosquito, hard to spot but you know when they have hit their target as they have a deeply unpleasant bite.
We take a look at these mini bloodsuckers and suggest 10 quick, simple or natural ways to relieve the sting when a mosquito comes to munch.
Why Do Mosquito Bites Sting So Much?
Despite the pain and itchiness, most mosquito bites are harmless and although they can carry diseases, it’s dependent on where you live. The bitey critters are attracted to human blood and the reaction you feel is your body’s response to proteins in the mosquito’s saliva as it chows down. The result is a raised bump on the skin that’s typically swollen, sore and itchy. Regardless of how itchy the bite is, you need to resist scratching it, as it can make things worse by spreading the saliva and you run the risk of an infection by getting dirt into the broken skin.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
The first piece of advice is to prevent mosquito bite in the first place. With a little prep and a lot of precaution, it’s possible to get through the summer mozzie bite free. Remember that these tiny critters are more active in the evening so cover up from dusk to dawn and apply a bug repellent that contains DEET or picaridin to any exposed skin. Keep away from any standing water (their favorite breeding ground) and use mosquito nets, window and door screens to ensure you get a good night’s rest.
Despite your best efforts, it’s still possible to get a mosquito bite and if so, it’s essential to act quickly and nip that sting in the bud.
Here are 10 of the best quick-acting ways to treat a mosquito bite.
1. Raid Your Medicine Cabinet
You’ll most likely have a remedy in your medicine box to help to deal with the mosquito sting. Popping an over the counter antihistamine can help to switch off the reaction and reduce inflammation while calamine lotion, made from zinc oxide, will cool down the itch. Doctors also recommend corticosteroid creams for mild to severe irritations, but you will need this on prescription. Or for temporary relief from that maddening itch, ask at the drug store for an over-the-counter cream that contains a numbing agent such as lidocaine.
2. Go For The Freeze
Cold can switch off inflammation as it helps to reduces blood flow to the bite area, helping to stop swelling and itching in their tracks. A simple ice cube held against the bite area for no more than five minutes should do the trick. If you need longer then make sure you place a barrier such as a thin cloth between your skin and the ice or use a sports ice pack.
Alternatively, cold tea bags can also bring the swelling down, thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties. Black or green tea bags, soaked in water and then popped in the refrigerator to really cool down can work wonders, or opt for a soothing herbal teabag such as chamomile.
3. Reach For The Menthol
For another way to cool down the bite, look inside your gym bag for your sore muscle relief cream or spray. Containing menthol, which makes your skin tingle when you apply it, this is another way to create a cooling sensation on the irritated area, helping to take the sting out of your mosquito bite itch.
4. Take An Oatmeal Bath
Oatmeal is a wonder remedy when it comes to soothing irritated skin so raid the food cupboard if you feel the mosquito sting. Oatmeal contains compounds that have anti-irritant properties to calm the bite area and give you relief. For a quick remedy, make an oatmeal paste from equal amounts of oatmeal and water, before spooning onto a clean washcloth and holding the paste against the bite for around 10 minutes. For a mass mosquito bite situation, run a warm (not hot) bath and sprinkle in a cup of oatmeal before getting in to soak, gently rubbing the oatmeal water against your irritated skin.
5. Whip Up A Basil Rub
With a chemical compound called eugenol to soothe itchy skin, basil is another wonder herb you can find in the garden or refrigerator. Simply make a rub from 2 cups of boiled water and a teaspoon or two of dried basil leaves and leave to stew, before gently rubbing on your irritated skin. You can also use basil fresh, by rubbing finely chopped leaves onto the bite.
6. Smear On The Honey
A proven antiseptic and antibacterial, honey also has wound-healing properties and can reduce inflammation. Simply add a small drop of the sweet stuff to the bite and leave to perform its itch-soothing magic. One word of caution – only do this inside and away from the source of the mozzies as the sugar will put them back on dining high alert.
7. Soothe With Aloe Vera
The cranky looking Aloe Vera plant is actually a supernatural healer, thanks to the sappy gel of its leaves containing powerful anti-inflammatory properties which are perfect for calming skin and helping it to heal. Typically used for sunburn, Aloe Vera can also help with mosquito bites by tackling the irritation and inflammation. For extra soothing, pop the gel into the cool box first to really bring down your skin’s heat.
8. Rub On The Garlic
A known protector against the human-sized bitey creatures (AKA vampires), garlic can also tackle the little bloodsuckers too, thanks to its wound healing and anti-viral properties.
To protect your skin, you will need to dilute the garlic by adding a couple of minced bulbs to a little coconut oil, before applying to the affected area and leaving for a few minutes. Onions can also have a similar soothing effect – just fresh slice and apply directly to the skin for several minutes or until the itch starts to subside. The anti-fungal properties of onions can also help to prevent any skin infection in the site of the bite.
9. Try Out Some Baking Soda
For a quick fix to the sting of a mosquito bite, check out the kitchen cupboard. A paste made from good old baking soda and a dash of water then generously applied to the bite can give relief from the heat and the sting. However, if skin irritation occurs, wash off and leave the skin to dry.
10. Cool It With Witch Hazel
And finally, as a super-cooler you most likely have in the medicine chest, dig out the witch hazel to quickly sooth that mosquito bite burn. Witch hazel is a natural astringent and contains tannins which help to immediately calm the bite’s irritation, reduces the redness and inflammation and can actually help to speed up the skin’s healing process. Simply soak a cotton pad and pat onto the affected area, then allow to dry. Repeat as needed until the fire subsides and your skirmish with the pesky mosquito is nothing but a distant memory.