Best ways to treat mosquito bites
Anyone who has spent any time outdoors on a hot day most likely knows what it’s like to be bitten by a mosquito. Nothing ruins a relaxing, summer evening more than these troublesome little pests. Because mosquitoes are so prevalent in warm climates, it’s important to know what mosquito bites are, whether or not they’re dangerous and what you should do if you’ve been bitten by one.
What do mosquito bites look like?
When you’re bitten by a mosquito, a swollen, round mound or bump will appear anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours later. This bump is sometimes red or reddish-brown in color and can last for about a day or so. The most notable (and perhaps, most irritating) hallmark of a mosquito bite is the relentless itchy sensation it causes to the affected area.
Why do mosquito bites itch?
Mosquitos bite humans because they are attracted to our blood. As a mosquito bites, it impales the skin and injects its own saliva while drawing out blood. To protect itself from the saliva, the human body’s immune system begins to release histamine so white blood cells can travel to the impacted area. The histamines cause the area to swell and to feel itchy or irritated.
Not everyone experiences itchiness following a mosquito bite, especially if the person has never been bitten before or has been bitten so frequently that they’ve built up a tolerance to it. The degree to which itchiness, redness and irritation can occur will also vary on a case-by-case basis.
Should you see a doctor if you’ve been bitten by a mosquito?
While most mosquito bites cause nothing more than irritation, itching and the formation of a mound or bump on the skin, it’s important to note that mosquitoes are capable of carrying disease. You should contact a doctor if you experience any additional symptoms like an allergic reaction, hives, trouble breathing or a swollen throat. If not, you should easily be able to treat a mosquito bite at home.
The best way to treat mosquito bites
Wash the area with soap and water
Once you’ve been bitten by a mosquito, wash the affected area with soap and water to prevent infection and itchiness from occurring.
With any inflamed area of skin, ice will usually help calm and reduce swelling. Mosquito bites are no exception. Apply a cold pack, a handful of ice cubes wrapped in a washcloth or a bag of crushed ice for no more than five minutes to provide temporary relief.
Honey is more than just a delicious sweetener for tea — its microbial, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it an effective home remedy for treating mosquito bites. It may also reduce itchiness, or at the very least, keep you from scratching at the area.
Like honey, oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as saponins, which have cleansing properties. These features make oatmeal another effective option for treating mosquito bites. Grind up a cup or two of rolled oats in a blender until they’re powdery, and add them into a bath filled with warm water, rubbing any clumps of oatmeal onto the affected area.
Apply an anti-itch lotion or cream
Because your body releases histamines when you’re bitten, an antihistamine, which lowers the histamine count in your system, provides relief from mosquito bites. The most common over-the-counter antihistamine brands include Claritin, Zyrtec and Benadryl. Be careful to check and make sure you’re selecting a non-drowsy product if you’re not planning on resting after consuming. Calamine lotion also contains antihistamines that are applied topically.
Create an “X” over the bump
An efficient way to relieve itchiness from a mosquito bite is to use your fingernail to press across the bite for about 10 seconds, then repeat the process at a perpendicular angle across the bump. This will leave an X-shaped mark on top of the bite. This should only be used as a method for temporary relief from itchiness, as the itchiness will most likely return once the X fades.
While it’s generally easier said than done, you should avoid scratching at mosquito bites. Scratching a bite can open up the wound and allow bacteria to enter, which may cause the wound to become more irritated or infected.
Tips to prevent mosquito bites
Of course, the only thing better than adequately treating a mosquito bite is preventing one in the first place. There is a wide range of products available on the market intended to reduce your interaction with insects like mosquitoes. Consider investing in a reliable insect repellent, insect fogger and/or insect trap.
If you’re in a warm climate, you should try to avoid spending prolonged time outdoors, especially early in the morning and late at night. If you’re sweaty or unclean, this can be quite attractive to mosquitoes. You should also try to wear long sleeves and pants to protect areas where mosquitoes can bite.
Sydney Poe is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money
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