Simple and Effective Home Remedies for Mosquito Bites
When the summer sun comes out, the outdoors call to us. Whether it’s lounging by the pool, a long hike or picnic at the park, there’s one insect that’s sure to be there — mosquitoes. And with mosquitoes come the itchy, red bumps called mosquito bites. Thankfully, there are many home remedies for mosquito bites you can try.
What Are Mosquito Bites?
The red and white, itchy swollen skin we know as “mosquito bites” are caused by an immune reaction to proteins in mosquito saliva. About a day or two after a mosquito bite first appears, the swelling decreases and turns into a dark red bump or small blister and then fades away.
Who is Affected the Most?
Mosquitoes aren’t impartial when it comes to choosing people to bite.
Mosquitoes are attracted to particular people because of a variety of factors. Scent, heat and carbon dioxide output all play a part in why mosquitoes choose some people over others.
Common Risks and Side Effects
Most mosquito bites heal on their own without any major complications. Children often experience stronger immune reactions to mosquitoes. As children become older, they become desensitized to mosquito bites. This lower sensitivity is why adults tend to have less of an allergic reaction to mosquito bites, when compared to children.
Children may also experience hives, lymph node swelling and a low-grade fever when they have many bites.
Some bites can turn into an allergic reaction called skeeter syndrome. Skeeter syndrome, which typically occurs in children, can result in a larger than normal area of swelling that may be painful.
Mosquitoes are known to carry parasites that may cause diseases. For example, malaria and the West Nile Virus are both spread through mosquitoes when they go from person to person.
What is Malaria?
As mentioned above, malaria is a condition transmitted by mosquitos. Symptoms may not arise until 7 to 30 days after exposure. This disease can be quite serious if not caught or treated early. Symptoms include a high fever, chills and flu-like symptoms.
If you live in or travel to Africa, Central and South America, certain areas of the Caribbean and the South Pacific, you may be more at risk. According to the CDC, about 2,000 cases go undiagnosed in the U.S.
If you anticipate traveling to these areas, speak with your doctor about a prevention plan. This will most likely include taking malaria-preventing medicine. It's also important to know how to prevent mosquitoes bites, which we are about to cover.
How to Prevent Mosquito Bites
1. Limit Your Exposure
The first way you can prevent mosquito bites is by limiting your exposure to them. Mosquitoes are most active in the early morning and evenings, so plan your outings to avoid those times. When outdoors, pay special attention to babies and young children and protect them from mosquitoes. Place netting or coverings over cribs and strollers.
2. Protect Your Home
To keep mosquitoes from getting indoors, ensure that your screens, doors and windows seal well and have no tears or openings. Wear protective clothing such as pants and long sleeves, if possible.
Mosquitoes breed in water. In order to deter them, keep the area around your home free from unclean stagnant water. Wash out bird baths and kiddie pools at least once a week. Remove items that can collect water, like old tires. Keep roof gutters clean and free of debris.
3. Use Insect Repellent, if Necessary
If you choose to use insect repellent, use it responsibly. Use as directed and try not to re-apply often. Use only the amount instructed on the manufacturer’s directions for use.
How to Treat Itching With Home Remedies
Although most mosquito bites disappear in a few days, you may need something to help keep you, or your child, comfortable as they heal. There are some home remedies you can use to help reduce the swelling and itching.
1. Ice or Cool Cloth
A cool, wet cloth or ice cubes wrapped in a thin towel can reduce inflammation. If applied as soon as possible over a bite, it can decrease the chances of itching or pain. Remember not to apply ice directly onto the skin, because it can damage the skin’s delicate tissue.
2. Aloe Vera
Applying a thin layer of aloe vera gel to the site of a mosquito bite can decrease inflammation and itching. Aloe vera contains wound healing properties that can help the site heal much more quickly.
Honey may keep mosquito bites from becoming infected due to its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Spreading a thin layer of honey to a mosquito bite may also help soothe the area and reduce itching.
An oatmeal paste made of water and oatmeal may help to ease itching and skin irritation at the site of a mosquito bite. For someone suffering from numerous mosquito bites throughout the body, an oatmeal bath can help to calm the skin and reduce itching. Oatmeal contains phytochemicals that can reduce skin irritations.
5. Chamomile Tea
A chamomile tea bag steeped in cold water can alleviate itching and swelling at the site of a mosquito bite. To use a chamomile tea bag, simply squeeze out the liquid and apply the tea bag directly to the bite. Using a cold tea bag combines the benefits of a cool compress with the calming effects of chamomile.
Basil contains eugenol, which may assist in reducing swelling and itching, as well as prevent infections. Making a basil rub consists of boiling dried basil in water for a few minutes and then letting the concoction cool. The liquid can be applied to the site of the mosquito bite. A quicker option is to chop fresh basil leaves in small pieces and rub the leaves onto the skin.
7. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel’s anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the swelling in a mosquito bite. Witch hazel is easily found in drugstores and works like an astringent. It can be applied to the skin using a cotton swab, cotton ball or any other sterile applicator.
How to Prevent Scarring
One annoying side effect of mosquito bites is that they may leave a scar. Scratching can damage the skin, possibly causing skin tears and infection. One way to avoid scarring is to keep yourself from scratching the site. Some people naturally scar easier than others, but you can prevent scarring by leaving the site of a mosquito bite alone.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Antihistamines and topicals are available at drugstores if these home remedies for mosquito bites don’t work for you. If you develop a fever or if the site appears unusually swollen, infected or pus-filled, see a doctor for consultation.
In most cases, however, mosquito bites do not cause severe illness.
- Mayo Clinic (Mosquito bites)
- IJMS (The Effect of Aloe Vera Clinical Trials on Prevention and Healing of Skin Wound: A Systematic Review)
- Journal of Natural Pharmacies (Evidence for Clinical Use of Honey in Wound Healing as an Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory Anti-oxidant and Anti-viral Agent: A Review)
- Archives of Dermatological Research (Avenanthramides, polyphenols from oats, exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-itch activity)
- Molecular Medicine Reports (Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future)
- Medical News Today (Health benefits of basil)
- American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (Why do my mosquito bites blister and scar?)
- CDC (Malaria)