Ways to Stop Mosquito Bites From Itching

Deborah Honeycutt 5
Scott asks: What are the best ways to get rid of the itch from mosquito bites?

mosquitoMosquito bites.  They itch and itch and itch until you just can’t take it anymore.  Itching solves one problem, yet scratching releases more histamines in the body, which makes the bite itch more.  Those histamines are released by the body to fight off the foreign substance, the cocktail that is mosquito saliva. This ultimately results in the bite area swelling into a raised, red bump.  (Also called a wheal.)  One bite is annoying, several can be miserable, hundreds over the course of a few months can actually help you build an immunity to their saliva, but probably not the best way to get rid of the itch, due to the mosquito’s wonderful ability to spread many diseases.

So how can you get the itching to stop without contracting malaria? Trying to choose from the many commercial products, such as ibuprofen, hydrocortisone cream and anti-histamines can be overwhelming and who has time to run to the store to pick such things up anyways?  If you can wait it out, most bites stop itching within 24-48 hours.  But, why wait when you don’t have to?  Next time you become a mosquito’s target, look no further than your home for a natural remedy.  Here are some surefire ways to stop the itching from mosquito bites:

The kitchen has a few weapons to end the itchfest caused by mosquitoes, so best to start there.

  • Dr. Oz says a dab of honey applied to the site can sooth skin because it is a natural antibiotic. (More info in the related links below.)  It can also prevent infections if you have scratched your bite open with fingernails that aren’t clean.
  • Apple cider vinegar also has anti-itch benefits due to the acidity in the vinegar.  Once pressed against the wound, the acidic liquid will reduce swelling and take away that huge urge to scratch.
  • Garlic is a proven remedy due to its chemical properties, though you can also make matters worse.  Rubbing a clove of garlic directly on an open site can result in severe stinging and burning.
  • Sounds strange, but doctors also say using the inside of a pulpy banana peel can be an appealing way to get rid of the itch, when applied directly on a bite thanks to the peel’s oils.
  • That baking soda in your fridge?  A small amount mixed with water can be used as a paste.  Apply the paste to the wound and the itching will soon disappear.
  • No baking soda?  Use crushed Tums mixed with water.
  • Open that freezer and apply some ice.  It should be noted though that many Doctors say that there is not a lot of proof that this common method truly stops itching. Rather, it simply is soothing and reduces swelling temporarily.
  • Another paste to make is a paste from any meat tenderizer that contains papain.  Mix it with water and spread it on the bite.  The papain breaks down the proteins found in the mosquito saliva, which will help reduce your body’s reaction to the saliva.
  • Use some of the flexible membrane inside a chicken egg shell to cover the bite.  As it dries and contracts on the bite, it will draw out some of the mosquito’s saliva.

If you’re striking out with these items in the kitchen, head to the bathroom:

  • What you’ll be looking for first here is alcohol.  (You won’t be pouring yourself a glass of wine.)  We’re talking rubbing alcohol, here.  Or anything with a high concentration of alcohol, such as the mouthwash under your sink or even hand sanitizer.  The alcohol evaporates, and evaporation creates cooling.  The cooling sensation helps overpower the itching.  As a great bonus, it also disinfects the bite.
  • Toothpaste is another trick to take the itch out of mosquito bites.  A small amount on the bite can provide hours of relief due to toothpaste’s anti-inflammatory properties and ingredients like menthol and baking soda.
  • A bar of wet soap may be your new best friend if you’re itching.  The chemicals and fat in soap can be soothing, dry out the bite and reduce the need to itch.  Rub it over the affected area and wait a few hours before removing.
  • Or grab that roll-on antiperspirant for a quick fix.  The aluminum chloride salts usually found there will help absorb the fluid in the mosquito bite, and itching goes away.
  • Clear nail polish works in the same way, as a shield.
  • Vick’s Vapor Rub is also a proven go-to home remedy for individuals because it has menthol and camphor oils as ingredients.  Both help to stop itching.
  • Many people remain on the fence when it comes to calamine lotion.  Most of our parents used the pink stuff when we complained of mosquito bites, but the Food and Drug Administration announced in the early 90’s that calamine lotion is not an effective cure for itching.  Doctors continue to recommend it, though some say it serves as more of a drying agent.

Another interesting home remedy that many swear by?  Apply a small piece of Scotch Tape to the bite.  From here some find it works best to leave it on for a few hours-  something about closing off the air to the site reduces itching- while others simply very gently remove it directly after applying, which helps remove some of the mosquito saliva that is the heart of the itchy problem.  Best to do this as soon as possible after receiving the bite.

So those are good ways to get rid of the itch, but what about just not getting bitten in the first place?  The obvious answer there is just put on some mosquito repellent and install some screens on your windows, but I’m guessing you want more.  First, what are the chances you will be bitten?  Hard to believe, but only 1 in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitoes for biting, though of course mosquitoes aren’t averse to sucking blood from those of us who’re less attractive… from their perspective.

Mosquitoes particularly target those who produce a large amount of certain acids, such as uric acid and octenol.  If you are a large person, your luck decreases.  A larger person gives off more carbon monoxide, which is attractive to mosquitoes.  Those mosquitoes are smart, too.  In close range, they have the ability to sense movement and heat and when you’re moving on those hot summer nights, you get hot and your sweat glands are bound to be working, making you potentially a prime target.

Beyond mosquito repellent, light those citronella candles to repel the blood suckers.  A more natural way to keep the mosquitoes away from your home is to invest in some choice landscaping.  Plants such as lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, marigolds, mint, and others are all repellants because mosquitoes hate their smell and in some cases, such as with mint, it can actually kill the mosquito if they come in contact with the oils in the plant.  Naturists also say you can crush the plants’ leaves and rub them over your clothing, just not directly on your skin.  Certainly smelling minty is much better than smelling of DEET.

Another way to keep the mosquitoes away is to get rid of any and all standing water around your house, if you can, that includes that bird fountain you love.  Mosquitoes have four stages to their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  During the first three stages, they live entirely in water.  During the larva stage, they feed on algae and other microorganisms and must frequently bob to the surface of the water to get air.   During the pupa stage, they do not eat, but do sit at the surface and breath air through two small tubes.  At the end of the pupal stage, the mosquitoes transform into adult mosquitoes and, after crawling to a dry place to rest and dry off, leave the water.  Thus, if you get rid of any standing water around your house, you’ll drastically reduce your local mosquito population.

Aside from the methods above that are proven to be successful, there are others that just sound plain ridiculous. My fave is using one’s fingernail to create a ‘X’ mark over the bite, and wahlah, the itching stops… but not really.

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Bonus Fact:

  • Only female mosquitoes bite.  (I’m sure most men enjoy that little tidbit.)  They don’t actually do it for food; rather, they need it to be able to produce eggs.  Once the female has safely acquired a “blood meal”, she will rest for a few days while her body develops the eggs from digesting the proteins and iron in the blood, producing amino acids which are used as the building blocks for the synthesis of the egg yolk proteins.
  • Mosquitoes annually transmit diseases to over two-thirds of a billion people or around 1/10th of the human population.  About two million of these people die from whatever disease they received through the mosquito bite.
  • Mosquitoes can detect the various compounds on your body that attract them from as far as 150 ft. away.

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5 Comments »

  1. David Hagin July 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    I have been enjoying your site today – I like this kind of info. I was surprised that you did not list my method of stopping the itch of a mosquito bite… it works like a charm and instantly – every time! Simply run the hot water until it’s nice and hot and then put the bite into the stream of hot water for a second (yes it hurts a bit) or if it’s not hot enough you can heat it up in the microwave. This blows those histamines away and stops the itch for 6 to 8 hours usually – then just do it again! This works better than all of the solutions you listed. Try it!

  2. Valdaglerion July 17, 2013 at 7:26 am - Reply

    “Wahlah”?

  3. G-man October 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Didn’t work if anything I itch even more now. Soo thank you sooo much

    • Daven Hiskey
      Daven Hiskey October 3, 2013 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      @G-man: Which method?

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