Though some mosquitoes can carry the West Nile virus or the now-infamous Zika virus, most mosquito bites will do nothing more than cause an itch, which in itself can be absolutely maddening. Luckily, natural (and not so natural) mosquito bite remedies can provide itch relief so you can get back to enjoying the great outdoors this summer.
- Antihistamine cream. This is one of your best bets if you’ve suddenly found yourself the main course of a mosquito feast. When mosquitoes bite you (and siphon out your blood), your body sends histamines to the site of the bite because it doesn’t recognize the mosquito saliva. An over-the-counter antihistamine cream will help to soothe the itch. Make sure the active ingredient in your cream is dyphenhradamine to maximize effectiveness. Keep a stick or a tube handy when you’re spending a lot of time outdoors.
If you’d prefer a more natural remedy, or just don’t have any cream, there are some household ingredients you can try.
- Ice or a cold compress. A sure-fire way to soothe a mosquito bite fast is to give it a chill pill. The cold sensation will help numb the itch and help relieve any swelling associated with the bite. Studies have proved the cold can help reduce any histamine-related itch, so this might be helpful if you find yourself breaking out in hives from something else as well.
- Toothpaste. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, applying regular toothpaste to the bite site can help relieve the itch. This also can help reduce the pain of a fire ant bite (I’ve tried it – it works!). It might have something to do with the menthol in the toothpaste, which also creates a cooling sensation.
- Baking soda and water. Make a paste with baking soda and water, apply it to the bite and leave for a few minutes before washing off. Baking soda and water make an alkaline solution, which neutralizes the pH of the skin to provide itch relief.
- Lemon and lime juice. These can help relieve the itch, but only try this remedy if you haven’t already scratched the bites. Applying citrus juice to open cuts will sting. Also, only use lemon and lime juice if you’re going to be indoors for a while. Applying these outside can lead to severe sunburns.
- Vinegar. Another common household ingredient recommended by the almanac is vinegar. Vinegar’s antibacterial properties make it ideal for bug bites. Put a few drops on a cotton ball and wipe it on bites. If you have bites all over, pour a few cups in the bathtub with warm water and take a soak.
- Essential oils. If you happen to have tea tree oil in the house, its natural antiseptic properties can help relieve the itch. Lavender oil also has healing benefits. Lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, which means to wash. A dab of lavender oil can help reduce swelling and relieve discomfort.
- Honey. This golden goo has many health benefits. It can be used as a topical anti-bacterial ointment to keep bite wounds clean, and its anti-inflammatory properties will help lessen swelling.
- Aloe vera. If you have an aloe vera plant, cut a meaty portion of a leaf to extract the gel. You can apply the gel directly to the bite, or put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool before applying. Its natural antiseptic qualities will reduce swelling and itching.
- Tea bags. You may know that you can put tea bags on your eyes to reduce puffiness. They work the same magic on mosquito bites. Take a cool, used tea bag and place it on the bite.