Don’t mosquito bites just bug the you-know-what out of you? Unfortunately, those annoying little suckers are pretty common during the warm summer months, no matter what you’re doing. Whether you’re walking outdoors, enjoying a glass of wine on a patio, or minding your own business in your backyard, you’re bound to hear that high-pitched whine before you feel the tell-tale sting of a mosquito bite (and then the itching — oh, the itching!).
Learning how to treat mosquito bites is helpful information to know since they almost always itch and result in a red, swollen bump. For most people, the bite is moderate and will disappear within a few hours or days. But for others, a mosquito bite can cause an allergic reaction, resulting in a painful sore, if not more dangerous symptoms.
Why do mosquito bites itch?
Mosquito bites don’t itch as a result of the mosquito itself but as the result of your body’s immune system reacting to the bite. When a mosquito breaks the skin, your body immediately recognizes the insect’s saliva as an intruder. To flush out this foreign substance, your immune system produces histamine, which increases blood flow and white blood cell count around the affected area. This response also causes the red bump and swelling. The mosquito bite starts to itch because histamine tells your nerves around the extent that there’s something wrong, and it’s trying to do its best to rectify the situation. (Isn’t the human body awe-inspiring?) Some people might never react to a bite or could have a very mild reaction, while others might have welts for days.
In some rare cases, people can have allergies to some of the components of mosquito saliva — such as proteins and antimicrobial agents — which will show up in instances of extreme mosquito bite swelling. Seek emergency medical attention if you have a fever, headache, fatigue, confusion, or muscle weakness, as they may be signs of a more severe condition.
What helps mosquito bites go away faster?
So, let’s get to the real reason you came here — to find out how to treat a mosquito bite. First, don’t scratch it! As impossible as that may sound, scratching your mosquito bite will only make it worse and can cause an infection. The first thing you want to do with a mosquito bite is to wash it with soap and water to get that gunky mosquito saliva away from your body. Next, apply calamine lotion or anti-itch cream to deter your itchy trigger fingers.
To reduce swelling, place an ice pack on the bite for a few minutes. If you’re someone who doesn’t take mosquito bites well (meaning your welts stay with you for at least several days), consider taking an over-the-counter antihistamine. Repeat this process for the next day or so, if necessary, until your bite dissipates.
What are some home remedies for treatment?
Whether you’re out of OTC ointments or you find that they don’t quite work for you, there are several home remedies that you can use to help treat your mosquito bites.
- Crushed ice. No ice pack? No problem. Crushed ice, or ice cubes, put in a bag can reduce inflammation and swelling. Don’t put the ice directly onto your skin — remember to put a washcloth between the ice and your skin.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal can relieve itching and swelling and is known for its soothing properties. Take an oatmeal bath by sprinkling one cup of oatmeal or ground oats into a bathtub full of warm water and soaking in the tub for 20 minutes. Enjoy! Alternatively, you can make an oatmeal paste by mixing equal amounts of oatmeal and water in a bowl. Then spoon this mixture onto a washcloth and hold it with the paste side onto your bite for a few minutes.
- Honey. Honey has excellent antibacterial properties that may reduce infection and inflammation. Simply place a dab of honey onto the affected spot (or spots) and let the substance work its magic.
- Salt. Because of its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, salt is another desirable option to apply to your bite. To do so, mix it with water and apply the paste onto your skin.