In some parts of the world, mosquitoes can carry diseases. In the United States, it is unlikely that a mosquito bite will cause a disease. However, more disease-carrying mosquitoes are spreading to the U.S. due to factors, such as climate change. This means that the climate in some areas of the U.S. has become a suitable environment for some mosquitoes to live.
Female mosquitoes bite animals and humans to drink tiny amounts of their blood, which they need to produce their eggs. The itch that develops occurs because mosquitoes leave a small amount of saliva behind, and a person's immune system responds by triggering inflammation in the area. This often causes an itchy, uncomfortable bump to develop.
Home remedies can help reduce the itchiness and discomfort of a mosquito bite. In this article, we examine six treatments that could bring quick relief.
Cold temperatures slow the rate of inflammation.
Applying an ice pack to the area as soon after a bite as possible will reduce inflammation, itching, and discomfort. Avoid putting ice directly on the skin, wrap it in a cloth or towel first.
Applying a topical antihistamine to a bite may help treat itching.
One study suggested that some antihistamines might be an effective treatment for mosquito bites.
Histamine is a chemical that the body releases as part of the inflammatory response to a mosquito bite.
It is histamine that causes itching, and antihistamines help to prevent histamine from taking effect.
People can take antihistamines in pill form, but other options include topical creams that a person can apply directly to the bite.
Hydrocortisone cream is a topical medication that can reduce inflammation and itching. Hydrocortisone is available over the counter and on prescription but may not be suitable for everyone. Children, pregnant women, or those with skin infections should not use hydrocortisone cream.
People should use these creams in moderation and only over short periods, or for as long as a doctor recommends in the case of prescription hydrocortisone.
4. Concentrated heat
Concentrated forms of heat might be useful for treating mosquito bites. One study from 2011 in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology looked at the effectiveness of a device that emits concentrated heat. In most cases, the device was able to reduce the discomfort resulting from insect bites within 10 minutes of its application.
The study took place at beaches and bathing lakes in Germany. It is important to note, however, that of the 146 people in the study, only 33 had mosquito bites, with the majority having wasp stings.
5. Aloe vera
There is some evidence that aloe vera can treat skin conditions, including psoriasis. It has a wide range of potential uses and people usually apply the gel to the skin to relieve burns, frostbite, and cold sores.
Some research on rats showed that Aloe littoralis, which is a close relative to aloe vera, might have anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. The scientists concluded that A. littoralis might help reduce the inflammation from mosquito bites and applying a gel may soothe the area, too.
Honey may have properties that make it useful for healing wounds. Applying honey to a bite may help reduce inflammation and prevent infection, and in a similar way to aloe, applying it to the skin may also help soothe the area.
When to see a doctor
A person should see a doctor if a bite lasts longer than a week or shows signs of infection.
Sometimes, mosquito bites and other insect stings can cause allergic reactions. This can lead to an anaphylactic shock in extreme cases.
Anyone who experiences any of the following symptoms will require immediate medical attention:
- breathing problems
- hives or swelling
It is also possible for mosquito bites to cause an infection. If the bite lasts longer than a week or causes significant discomfort, consult a doctor.
Prevention and takeaway
Although it is difficult to avoid mosquito bites completely, people can reduce their chances of being bitten by:
- using insect repellent
- covering exposed skin as much as possible
- using mosquito nets at night
- installing mosquito screens on windows and doors
- being aware of visiting places with a high density of mosquitoes or other insects
Avoiding all mosquito bites can be difficult. However, home remedies can help reduce itchiness or irritation and provide comfort until a bite fully heals.