Counter-intuitive as it may seem, scratching mosquito bites doesn’t actually help. After all, have you noticed that no matter how much you scratch, the bite still itches? This is because your immune system naturally responds to bug bites with something called histamine. Histamine helps, but it also causes a temporary increase in inflammation. Scratching the site of the bite will only trigger the production of more histamine, and more histamine means more swelling and itching!
Don’t worry. If you don’t have any over-the-counter antihistamines around the house, or if you just want to avoid medications, any of the following common household items will work like a charm.
1. Wash Up
It may not be convenient, but neither is a bug bite. To avoid infection, before you apply any topical aids, make sure you’ve cleansed the bitten area with soap and water (cold water works best to reduce swelling). Then, gently pat dry (don’t rub, as that can irritate the bite), and continue on to apply topical aids.
2. Aloe Vera
Use a simple aloe vera gel where aloe, water, and/or denatured alcohol appear within the first three listed ingredients. This means there will be more of them than of filler content or preservatives. The further down the ingredients list you go, the smaller the amounts of the ingredient shown. You especially want a high concentration of aloe, because it creates a moisture barrier for hurt skin which might otherwise become dry or flaky; furthermore, it has demonstrated antibiotic properties. Plus, it gives a nice, mild cooling sensation when applied.
Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory. Don’t have time to wait? Instead of eating it, rub just a bit of the raw fruit onto the wound. You’ll experience its pain-relieving properties in no time.
4. Grapes, Apples, or Onions
These three items are yet more examples of produce that pack a healing punch: they all contain a natural antioxidant called quercetin. In scientific studies, quercetin has proven to help your skin both repair itself and protect against further damage. And it doesn’t stop at bites: quercetin even helps in cases of UV damage and other skin injuries, so you know it’s serious.
Distilled white vinegar is arguably the most effective among them, but all kinds of vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, which you’re more likely to keep in your pantry, contain varying levels of acetic acid. Acetic acid penetrates and kills bacteria cells. The scent might bother a sensitive nose if spilled, so carefully dampen a cotton ball or simply dip a cotton swab into the vinegar, and then dab it onto the mosquito bite. Your skin will thank you.
6. Cover Up
The last step is always to cover up with a bandage. Not only will this make the wound less accessible to wandering hands, but it’s also going to create a protective shield against outside germs and other irritants. If you used any of the topical solutions listed above, that layer will act as a skin-safe glue between the band-aid and your skin, making your shield impenetrable.
7. (Optional) Settle Down
Relax before you scratch yourself. This bonus step is totally optional, but you’re bound to enjoy it. Get distracted with another activity such as TV, or take a cat nap to avoid the temptation toward scratching. Afterward, you’ll be pleased with your skin’s healing progress, and before you know it, you will have forgotten all about that pesky mosquito bite. Good luck and happy healing!