How to Soothe a Mosquito Bite

Four Parts:Using Home RemediesUsing Over The Counter MedicationsKnowing When to See a DoctorAvoiding Being Bitten Again

Mosquito bites get red, swollen, and obnoxiously itchy. They itch because the mosquito transfers small amounts of saliva into the bite as it ingests your blood. Proteins in the saliva cause you to have an allergic reaction, producing the typical itchy, red bump.[1] Luckily there are many ways to soothe the bite using either household products or over-the-counter medications. With proper care, the bite will be nothing more than an annoyance in the past.

Part 1
Using Home Remedies

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    Apply heat. Applying heat denatures proteins at the bite site, which stops them from spreading inflammation to other areas. This should reduce the itching and give you permanent relief.
    • Heat a spoon in hot water. It should be very hot, but not so hot that you burn yourself.
    • Touch the back of the spoon to the bite and slowly press down. Maintain it there for 15 seconds, to give time for the heat to break down the proteins. Doing this once should be enough to provide relief.
    • Be careful not to burn yourself. If the spoon feels uncomfortably hot, let it cool for a bit.
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    Numb the bite with an ice pack. The cold will reduce the swelling and numb the nerves. [2]
    • Packages of frozen corn or peas make handy ready-to-use ice packs. But be sure to wrap the ice pack in a thin towel so the cold doesn’t directly touch your skin.
    • Hold the ice pack on your skin for 15-20 minutes and then remove it to allow your skin to warm up.
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    Apply aloe to the bite. If the bite is hot and itchy from being scratched, the aloe will be cool and soothing. It is also very good for promoting healing. It helps keep the skin moisturized, too.
    • If you have a commercially manufactured aloe vera gel, smear it liberally over the bite and rub it in. For best results, use a 100% pure aloe vera gel.
    • You can also use raw aloe from a plant in your house. Split open a leaf and rub the gooey gel directly onto your skin.
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    Try essential oils. These methods have not been scientifically tested, but anecdotal evidence suggests that they can help relieve itching.[3]
    • Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties which will help prevent infection, as well as relieve itching, swelling and pain. Try a dilution of 1 part tea tree oil to 5 parts water.[4] Put a small drop on your finger or a clean cotton ball and then rub the dilution directly onto the bite.
    • Try other oils like lavender or coconut. They smell good and will help soothe your frustration with the itching.
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    Apply acidic juices or vinegar to kill bacteria and prevent infection. This will help it to heal quickly.
    • Lemon juice, lime juice and apple cider vinegar are good choices because of their high acidity.
    • Use a sterile cotton ball to apply the juice/vinegar directly onto the bite.
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    Use meat tenderizer to reduce the itching. This will help reduce the itching by breaking down the proteins that were injected into your skin with the mosquito’s saliva.[5]
    • Mix a small amount of water with the meat tenderizer, using just enough that the tenderizer dissolves.
    • Using a sterile cotton ball, swab the bite with the mixture. Be sure to get it onto the point where the bite occurred.
    • You should feel relief within a few seconds.
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    Try raw honey. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties and the stickiness will make it less enjoyable to scratch.
    • Smear a dab of honey onto the bite and then let leave it on.
    • Cover the bite with a band aid to prevent dirt from sticking to the honey and getting into the bite.
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    Use a baking soda paste or toothpaste to draw out the fluids and toxins that have gathered under your skin, causing the swelling. This will reduce the irritation and promote healing.
    • Mix a stiff paste from baking soda and water. Start with a 2:1 ratio of baking soda and water and add baking soda as needed until the paste is moist, but not runny. Put a generous dollop onto the bite and let it dry. As it dries it will help draw out toxins.
    • Cover the bite with toothpaste, and like with the baking soda paste, let it dry completely. When it is done, it should flake off when you touch it. The astringency of the toothpaste will help draw out the fluids from under your skin.
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    Raise the bite above your heart to reduce extreme swelling. If the bite occurred on your arm or leg, raise the limb above your heart to help it drain.
    • Maintain this posture for 30 minutes to give the swelling time to go down.

Part 2
Using Over The Counter Medications

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    Use an antihistamine to reduce your body’s allergic reaction to the bite. When the mosquito bit you, a small amount of its saliva was injected into your skin. The saliva contained anticoagulants to prevent your blood from clotting as the mosquito drank. The itch comes from your body’s autoimmune reaction against the anticoagulants.[6]
    • Rub an antihistamine cream into the bite, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
    • The oral antihistamine Zyrtec has also been shown to prevent itchiness from mosquito bites.
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    Try a hydrocortisone cream. Rub it into the itchy, red, puffy skin. It may take a few minutes, but you should get relief.[7]
    • 1% hydrocortisone creams can be purchased without a prescription.
    • Because this is a steroid cream, consult your doctor before applying it to children.
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    Apply calamine lotion. This will help draw out the fluids that have collected around the bite and will reduce the swelling.[8]
    • Reapply the lotion as needed, but not more often than described in the manufacturer's instructions. The lotion will dry out the bite, including the chemicals in the mosquito’s saliva that are causing the itching.
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    Use pain relieving medications as necessary. Pain relievers are generally unnecessary for mosquito bites, but if you have scratched it open it may sting and be painful.
    • If this is the case, a topical anesthetic on will usually be sufficient to soothe the pain. A 2% Xylocaine Gel works well.[9]
    • But, if it does not soothe the discomfort, you can try an over the counter oral painkiller such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. However, because pain is unusual for mosquito bites, if you are experiencing pain, you should get the bite checked by a doctor.[10]

Part 3
Knowing When to See a Doctor

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    Seek medical attention if you become ill after being bitten. Some mosquitoes carry serious diseases and when they bite, they transfer the virus or parasite into your body through their saliva.[11] See a doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms:[12]
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Joint and muscle aches
    • Vomiting
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    Tell your doctor if you were bitten by mosquitoes while traveling. This may help the doctor diagnose you if you have a mosquito-borne illness. [13]
    • Malaria and yellow fever occur mostly in the tropics.[14]
    • West Nile and encephalitis viruses are transmitted by mosquitoes in the US. Dengue Fever is uncommon, but does occur in the southern US.[15]
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    Call a doctor immediately if you develop a systemic allergic reaction. This is an unusual response to a mosquito bite, but it if occurs, it must be addressed quickly.[16] Symptoms include:
    • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Dizziness
    • Vomiting
    • Racing heart
    • Hives or rashes spreading beyond the site of the bite
    • Itching or swelling in other parts of your body besides where you were bitten
    • Your doctor may prescribe oral glucocorticoids to avoid a large-scale allergic reaction.
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    Watch for painful swelling. Sometimes people develop an allergic reaction to the proteins in mosquito saliva. This reaction causes itchy, painful redness and swelling known as "skeeter syndrome."[17]
    • You're more likely to develop skeeter syndrome if you're bitten frequently, as you can become sensitized to the saliva.
    • There's no test for skeeter syndrome. If you see red, itchy, painful swelling, see your doctor for treatment.

Part 4
Avoiding Being Bitten Again

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    Wear long pants and long sleeves to reduce the amount of skin available to bite. This may make you a less attractive target. Though mosquitoes do bite through clothing, it should reduce the number of bites you get.
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    Use bug repellents on exposed skin and clothing. The most effective repellants contain DEET (N, N-diethylmeta-toluamide) and are widely available.[18]
    • Shield your eyes when applying it to your face.
    • Do not inhale mosquito sprays.
    • Do not apply it to open wounds. It will sting.
    • Consult with a doctor before using bug repellants if you are pregnant.
    • Consult with a doctor before applying repellants to infants.
    • Shower to wash the spray off your skin when you no longer need it.
    • Do not use DEET repellents if you have an insulin pump or any similar important plastic device, as it can damage or melt the plastic.
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    Sleep under a mosquito net if there are no screens on the windows. This will prevent you from getting bitten while you sleep.
    • Check the net and repair any holes. Tuck the net under the mattress so that you leave no openings for mosquitoes to fly through.
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    Use Permethrin on clothing, bed nets, and camping gear. This protection should last through multiple washings.[19]
    • Consult a doctor if you are pregnant or before applying it to the clothing of young children.
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    Don't leave pools of standing water near your house. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so emptying them will reduce the mosquito population.
    • Change the water in your pet’s drinking bowl frequently.

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Categories: Stings Bites and Burns