Last updated on July 15, 2021.
When even mosquito repellent fails
Nothing screams summer more than warm sunshine and longer days to linger outside. But before you go ahead with exciting outdoor plans, don’t forget along with the city’s insufferable heat and humidity are mosquitoes coming your way. Prevention is key, but repellent is no magic bullet against these bloodthirsty insects.
It is only a matter of time before itchy red spots flare up, drive you indoors and give you the biggest headache.
Lucky for you (especially if you’re a mosquito magnet), there are an array of easy, cheap anti-itch treatments to try at home. Read on for science-backed tips that will come in handy this summer for sure!
1. Ice the itch away
Research suggests that applying a cool compress can help numb and calm down any inflammation to lessen irritation from bites. You can do so with ice packs, washcloth soaked in ice water or even a cool bath. Never leave the ice directly on your bite for more than 5 minutes, lest it damages the skin.
2. Cold tea bag
By the same token, using a cold tea bag works wonders. Green tea, in particular, has anti-inflammatory effects that ease swelling and redness. All you need to do is soak the teabag in boiling water, pop it in the fridge and press it against the irritated area, the cold will do its job.
3. Baking soda
Baking soda has antifungal properties to treat fungal skin conditions that cause itching. You can either mix the baking soda with water to form a paste before applying directly onto the area, or add one-quarter of a cup of it to a warm bath to achieve the “soak and seal” effect.
4. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is not just your common household plant, it is a medical plant best known for its ability to heal the skin. Slice open a small section of the plant and try the gel for minor itches. It will produce a cooling sensation on the skin that soothes the itch.
Honey has natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties for wound healing as well as infection prevention. Only put on when you are indoors, though, you don’t want to attract and invite even more mosquitoes because of the honeysweet taste!
Not just your humble breakfast, oatmeal can soften itchy and swollen skin with its active anti-irritant qualities and nutrition packed with fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals. There are 2 ways to treat the bites, including:
a) Make an oatmeal mask
Mix equal amounts of oatmeal and water to produce spackle-like paste. Spoon some of the paste onto a washcloth, hold the paste-side on the irritated skin for around 10 minutes, and remember to wipe the area clean afterwards.
b) Bath in oatmeal
Go for an oatmeal bath to save time if you have a handful of bites. Soak yourself in lukewarm water after pouring 1 cup of grinded oatmeal or ground oats for about 15 minutes, it helps bind the moisture to your skin and ease inflammation.
While doing so, you can occasionally rub some of the clumped oatmeal onto irritated areas of your skin. Pat yourself dry gently after the bath to keep the dampness of skin, before applying gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer. The water should feel soft and silky on your skin.
Note that soaking too long will result in dry skin, further worsening the itch. Although oatmeal is safe for most people, there is a possibility that you might get a skin rash from it due to contact dermatitis. If you get red and itchy skin after an oatmeal bath, don’t try again and instead turn to topical steroid creams or antihistamine pills. Consult a doctor if the rash does not clear up.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) suggests that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar makes it a potentially helpful wound disinfectant in relieving itchy scalp. Dilute the vinegar in water using a 1-to-1 ratio and apply the solution to the scalp, let it dry before rinsing it gently with lukewarm water.
Note that a burning sensation can be stirred up by vinegar on open wounds. Those with cracked and bleeding skin best avoid this treatment.
This list cannot be complete without toothpaste, being your quickest relief at home. The menthol in toothpaste’s minty flavor cools and eases itching and swelling when applied.
You can also make your own chemical-free, all natural toothpaste from scratch by mixing baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of peppermint essential oil.
When mosquito bites become a problem
Mosquito Bite is not just a backyard nuisance, as they might carry devastating diseases like dengue and Zika. If you get large hives, blisters, large uncomfortable bites, and the above remedies don’t work, you should consult a doctor immediately for proper prescription treatments.
Note: Avoid Scratching
The most important thing is to avoid scratching. While the urge to scratch the mosquito bite can be irresistibly tempting, scratching can further set off your skin, which in turn makes the bite itch even more.
Whatever ways you choose to tend to bites, simplicity is key. So, if the bite is small, treat it small.
Why do mosquito bites itch?
A biting mosquito shoots saliva into your skin, urging your body to release histamine (chemicals in the skin that cause the swelling and itching) as part of an inflammatory reaction that causes itching and swelling.
Why do mosquito bites itch the more you scratch it?
When you scratch, more local histamines are released, inflaming and opening up the irritated area even more.
Any side effects for treating mosquito bites with home remedies?
Yes, some products may increase skin irritation or lead to unwanted side effects such as acne, burning, dry skin, and more. They should be used with caution. Examples include:
- Baking soda
- Lemon or lime juice