Arguably the most unwelcome symptom of a mosquito bite (besides the large and round red bump of course), is the itch, which is a result of your skin’s allergic reaction to the anticoagulant protein contained in mosquito saliva. When it comes to scratching that itch, though your body may be telling you yes, your mind should be telling you no. That’s because scratching the area stimulates the release of more histamines, the compound associated with your body’s inflammatory immune response, which will only induce more itching. It’s truly a vicious itchy cycle. As though you need further incentive not to scratch, scratching can cause additional irritation to the skin, even causing damage that can lead to infection, and nobody wants that.
So you’ve got a big round bump, it incessantly itches, and you’re not allowed to scratch. What to do? Rather than simply sulk in your suffering, try some of these home remedies for mosquito bites.
7 Home Remedies for Mosquito Bites
For mosquito and other bug bites, ice can offer some initial relief.1 Simply rub the ice cube on the bite for 3-5 minutes which will not only reduce some of the swelling, but will also leave the area slightly numb and temporarily stop the itch. The intense cold constricts the blood vessels and inhibits the body’s histamine release.
At first the skin will feel cold and some report a minor ache around the bite just before the numbness kicks in. That is perfectly normal, but just be sure to keep the ice cube moving so as not to freeze or otherwise damage your already irritated skin.
2. Plantain Leaf
Most consider this herb a backyard weed, but its leaves are actually a home remedy with a long history of healing. Plantain is abundant in much of North America where it grows wild, perhaps even in your own backyard. Plantain is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can provide natural relief of itching and promote healing. But plantain is only helpful if you can find it! To learn how to identify plantain, check out this helpful video.
The easiest way to use plantain for mosquito bites is by simply pureeing the leaves in your blender or food processor until pulpy and cover the bite with the natural paste. The paste will draw out the poison that causes most of the itchiness and irritation.
Don’t have a blender on hand? No problem. This home remedy for mosquito bites (and a host of other first aid concerns) was traditionally prepared by chewing the leaves until reaching that pulpy consistency. Just be sure that the leaves are free from any pesticides or other potentially harmful chemicals before popping in your mouth!
3. Vinegar and Cornstarch
You can get similar itch relief from a spoonful of cornstarch and apple cider vinegar (ACV). Simply mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with enough ACV to make a paste to cover the bite. Like the plantain leaf pulp, this combination draws out fluid from the bite, which decreases inflammation. No cornstarch on hand? Try using plain old baking soda as a substitute. You can also try applying just a thin layer of ACV on the bite.
Allow the mixture to dry and wash away with warm water. If the itch has not dissipated, you can leave the paste on longer by applying first aid tape or a bandage over it.
4. Witch Hazel
Just a few drops of witch hazel extract on a mosquito bite can bring fast itch relief. We like this brand; it’s organic and contains only a small amount of alcohol as a preservative. We recommend storing a small amount of witch hazel in the refrigerator for an added cooling sensation (you’ll learn why that can be helpful when you read remedy #5!). You can keep the extract in a roll-on glass bottle like these for easy topical application or a small glass container with dropper lid like this these.
5. Essential Oils
Like witch hazel extract, certain essential oils have been known to relieve the itch. Lavender, tea tree, and peppermint essential oils have all been praised for their itch relieving properties. We like peppermint in particular, as the menthol in the oil stimulates blood flow and soothes the skin with a cooling sensation that overrides the itch. Your brain can only process one sensation at a time and the cool of the menthol essentially works as a safe counterirritant.
You can get pure peppermint essential oil online or in health food stores. We like this brand, which offers high quality at an affordable choice. It’s available online and is also carried at Whole Foods. When using essential oils on the skin, be sure to dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil like sesame or sweet almond oil before applying to the bite.
Don’t have peppermint oil on hand? You can make a paste with fresh leaves of any of the plants in the mint family for similar results. Simply crush the leaves to release their essence and mix with a teaspoon of cornstarch adding witch hazel or water as needed to create a paste to cover the bite.
Basil is also known to help fight the itch of pesky mosquito bites. Basil leaves contain a chemical compound called camphor, which stimulates a cool feeling similar of that of menthol. To make a basil-infused compress simply boil one and three-fourths cups of water adding 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh or dried basil leaves. Once boiling, turn off the heat and leave the leaves to steep until the water is cool. Then dip a soft, clean cloth in the infusion and gently apply to the bite.
Don’t have the patience or mental fortitude to wait for the infusion? You can use it before it is completely cool, just be sure that it is not hot enough to burn your skin. Press the warm cloth onto the bite until you feel a slight tingle. Repeat. The extra heat may help alleviate the itching for a longer period of time, like in our last and favorite home remedy for mosquito bites.
7. Hot Spoon
Yes, you read that right. A simple hot spoon is our favorite natural home remedy for mosquito bites. The heat causes the itch-inducing histamines in the skin surrounding the bite to be released at the same time. It is also believed that the protein from the anticoagulant the mosquito left behind cannot survive the moderately high temperature, which denatures it remedying the source of the itch.
To use the spoon remedy, simply heat a metal spoon under hot tap water for a minute or so, then immediately apply the back of the hot spoon to the bite holding it to the skin for a few minutes. When you remove the spoon, the bump may linger, but the itch should be gone for good. When using this method or any method with heat, be sure that the remedy is not so hot that is can burn the skin.
More Tips for Dealing with Mosquito Bites
If you just can’t seem to ditch the itch, you can cover the bite with a piece of first aid tape or and adhesive bandage after using any of the home remedies for mosquito bites, which can help you to remember not to scratch – especially at night. It will also help prevent you from breaking the skin of the bite which can lead to infection.
While it’s always great to have a few home remedies for mosquito bites on hand, we always believe that prevention is preferable. Learn how to avoid mosquito bites in the first place with some simple and effective natural mosquito repellent recipes you can make at home.
What home remedies for mosquito bites do you use? Share your recipes in the comments below!
- Ice Is Nice for Insect Bites – http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/ice-is-nice-for-insect-bites-12-04-16/ ↩