How to Get Rid of Mosquito Bites
The mosquito is among the most prevalent of all insects and is among those that have the most impact on humans. A mosquito bite can be an extremely sore thing and in some people the reaction of the body to being bitten can be serious.
Mosquitos are also carriers of diseases, and in some countries can transmit very significant illnesses, such as malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever, and these can cause enormous distress to the body and in some cases put lives at risk.
The bite itself is a puncturing of the skin into the bloodstream so that the mosquito, which is always a female mosquito, can feed on the human blood.
Symptoms of mosquito bites
There are many symptoms of mosquito bites, and few people who get bitten by mosquitos manage to escape without at least one of these symptoms. Many people are unfortunate enough to experience multiple symptoms, some of which can be very painful.
- The main symptom is redness around the bite area that can become extremely itchy.
- You may also find your skin raised into a lump that can feel like a small knuckle, with inflamed skin that can be quite firm to touch, and often painful to touch too.
- You may see a small amount of blood on the skin, where the mosquito has punctured the skin, though the absence of this little dot does not mean it isn’t a bite.
- Depending on how many times you have been bitten, you may find a sizeable area of your skin has multiple red lumps that are likely all bites.
- Depending on the nature of your bite or the type of skin you have, you may also find blistering.
The most immediate identifier is that your skin will itch. Many of these bites will itch for days, even with some creams being applied, and the marks may stay on your skin for many weeks, and in some cases will still be visible two months later, as they can take a very long time to fade. You really do therefore want to avoid them.
Ways to prevent mosquito bites
There are many ways to help prevent being bitten hard by mosquitos.
- The most important way is to wear a recognised mosquito repellent. These are sprays that are readily available from pharmacies. Make sure to choose one that contains the ingredient called DEET or Picaridin, as these are the most effective ingredients at repelling mosquitos. Do not skimp on the application; make sure to spray or apply the cream liberally, even leaving a layer on your skin above the product you have rubbed in.
- If indoors, and it is not too hot, try to keep your windows closed so that mosquitos can’t fly into your home. If that is not an option, then make sure to cover up as much of your body as possible and light a citronella, as the mosquitos dislike the scent.
- Wear long sleeves and pants to protect the skin if you are outdoors. Mosquitos will often bite at the joints, especially around the ankles and the wrists, so you need to be careful to pay particular attention to covering those areas or spraying them with repellent.
- Also make sure to have no standing water in your garden or home, as mosquitos breed in water and like the relatively stagnant water that can lie in a plant pot or basin or around a drain.
- Make sure to keep any toilets very clean and bleached. Mosquitoes will breed in toilets and they are highly proficient carriers of diseases, so you absolutely do not want their bacteria getting into your bloodstream.
Quick-Relief Home Remedies
Clean the bite to reduce itching and bacteria
If you have been bitten by a mosquito, do all you can to clean the area of the bite immediately. This will reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin and reduce the redness also. Using soap and warm water is as useful a way to address the wound as any in the first instance.
Before applying any creams, let the skin dry completely. Do all you can to avoid scratching the bite, as this will exacerbate any irritation and potentially spread bacteria by opening up the bite so that it becomes a larger wound. If you need additional relief from the itching, you can use anti-itch creams or a cold compress. You will almost certainly need to do so, as the bites can be extremely itchy.
Applying an ice cube to the bite
When you apply an ice cube to a mosquito bite the cold helps to reduce the inflammation and makes the skin less sensitive to itching.
Either wrap the cube in a cloth so that it can be applied readily, or submerge the bite in cold water. This is obviously trickier if the bite is in an awkward place on the body, but a large percentage of mosquito bites tend to be on hands, wrists or feet, so hopefully this will be an option.
Applying homemade pastes from baking soda or vinegar
This is not a solution that works for everyone, but for some people a paste made from water and baking soda works to reduce swelling and the overall itchy heat of the bite.
With vinegar, the acidic properties of the vinegar will work to reduce swelling and itching, while the salt deactivates the enzymes that cause inflammation. Simply mix vinegar, water and salt together and apply to the bite with a tissue or cotton wool.
Due to vinegar’s astringency, you may feel a slight stinging sensation at first, but it’s short-lived and often less painful than the bite itself, so this is worth exploring as an option.
Rubbing alcohol on the bite
Alcohol is similar to vinegar in that it has inbuilt antiseptic properties, though it will also sting when first applied. It is wise to try this approach with a very small amount of alcohol at first, to check your own personal reaction, as you may find the sting is too significant to use it more extensively.
Nonetheless, this is an easy way to assist in cleaning the wound area if you are somewhere where more chemical treatments are harder to come by.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Allied to the use of normal vinegar is apple cider vinegar, though it will tend to be even better than vinegar if you can get hold of some. It has natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that are extremely useful in treating skin ailments and wounds and there is a strong probability that applying the apple cider vinegar will reduce inflammation and itchiness.
To use it, simply soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and apply it directly to the bite. Leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse with warm water.
Another way to use apple cider vinegar productively is to mix it with equal parts water and spray it onto the affected area. This is an excellent way to keep mosquitos away, as the smell is unpleasant for them.
Rubbing a banana peel on the bite
This is another remedy and can be very useful if you are not near a pharmacy. Rubbing the inside of the flesh of a banana onto the wound will help release natural healing enzymes and acids in the banana peel, and these are known to provide relief by neutralizing the sting and calming the itch.
Though you are unlikely to be in the jungle when you are bitten, it’s possible you will be in a tropical country, and this remedy is thought to be one ‘designed by nature’ to ensure that a healing fruit is plentifully available in the same areas as live the mosquitos that can cause the skin such damage.
Tea tree oil
We have written many times on Healthnile about tea tree oil, and this is because it is a natural remedy that has been used for centuries to help soothe the itching and discomfort induced by mosquito bites.
It has excellent antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties and this makes it an important way of tackling any insect bite or irruption of the skin. Just a small amount of the oil will make a difference.
It has a further benefit in being a natural insect repellent, so if you dab it on your skin on areas susceptible to biting, you will help repel the mosquitos.
Lemon and lime juice and oil
In ways similar to tea tree oil, lemon juice and lime juice and their oils have mosquito repellent qualities, as well as being capable of neutralizing the sting of a bite.
The citric acid in lemons and limes helps to reduce itching and irritation. It also has the benefit of being widely available anywhere and it can be applied directly to the skin.
Another natural sting neutralizer is basil leaves. As well as being healthy and delicious in cooking, they are also anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. If you crush them into a paste and apply them directly to the skin by rubbing them on and around the bite, they will reduce inflammation and assist in the healing process.
These are creams that are widely used to address skin issues, as hydrocortisone creams contain a mild steroid that helps reduce swelling and itching, including from mosquito bites.
They are widely available from pharmacies and are easy to apply. They can also now be found in roll-on forms, which can be recommended for reaching parts of the body where a bite might be awkward to reach, and the roll-on also stops your hands having to apply the cream, which can be useful with any skin wound, as hands will almost certainly be carrying bacteria.
A word of caution: be careful about using them long term on any repeated area of the skin, as excessive usage can cause allergic reactions, discoloration, and thinning of the skin. It is usually a good idea to limit your use of any steroid treatments if possible, so bear these cautionary aspects in mind. Discuss with your pharmacist at the time of purchase.
We are used to thinking of taking antihistamines in the summer for hay fever and pollen allergies, but they are much more widely applicable than that. They are, essentially, antiinflammatory drugs that help in a wide variety of conditions where skin or sensory organs are inflamed, because they block the body’s release of histamine.
You can find them in multiple brands and types, so be sure to check with your pharmacist which suits you best. Not all antihistamines are quite the same, so it is worth this chat with the pharmacist. Some are more likely to make you sleepy, for example.
They come in all sorts of forms: tablets, creams, gels, and even syrups. With a mosquito bite, you are best to apply a cream directly to the site of the wound as soon as possible, as this will help stop any further bites taking place in that same area, and perhaps then top up your antihistamine levels with a tablet later in the day, if applying the cream directly is not possible during your working day, for example.
It’s always good to travel with some antihistamine cream.
Calamine lotion has a reputation as a ‘mum’s remedy’. It’s an age-old remedy that can help soothe itchy skin and reduce inflammation.
Chemically speaking, calamine lotion is a mix of zinc oxide and ferric oxide, which helps cool the skin and reduce redness. It also acts as a mild astringent to shrink any swollen pores, helping to reduce the pain and itching caused by mosquito bites. Plus, it protects the skin from any secondary infections.
In truth, it is an all-rounder, and it can be exceptionally helpful if you use it on your mosquito bites.
Mosquito bites are definitely worth avoiding, as they are painful and can leave marks on the skin for weeks, and even months, if you are bitten badly. They can itch for many days before they begin to settle, but even after the itching the skin will still be very red, inflamed and often blotchy. It is therefore wise to do all you can to avoid them and to be proactive and, if bitten, reactive.
With a combination of proactive measures, such as wearing mosquito repellent, avoiding standing water, and dressing to cover vulnerable skin, and reactive ones, such as applying some of the healing agents we have outlined above, you can help avoid and alleviate pain.
If you are traveling, or if you live in a country where the summers are hot and mosquitos live plentifully, keep the oils, tablets and creams we have mentioned to hand at home or in your travel bags. Mosquitos are very good at what they do – and we need to be prepared to fight them off.