Mosquitoes thrive in warm, tropical environments. Their sting causes itchy red bumps on the skin. The moment you get stung, you are desperate to find ways to get rid of mosquito bites. It is a common misconception that mosquitoes thrive only in tropical climates. They can invade colder and temperate regions in spring and summer. Usually, you may experience mosquito bites frequently during warm monsoon seasons.
Mosquitoes can cause malaria, dengue, zika, and chikungunya (1). Thus, it is crucial to learn how to prevent mosquito bites effectively and get rid of the tiny, red bite marks. Keep reading to learn more about the tricks and hacks.
In This Article
What Happens When A Mosquito Bites You?
Mosquitoes usually feed on nectar and other sweet things for their nutrition. It is the female mosquito that needs a blood diet to get the proteins required for the development of its eggs. It has a long piercing mouthpart known as the proboscis that helps pierce and suck the blood from underneath the animal and human skin (2).
While the mosquito feeds on the blood, it leaves behind the proteins of its saliva in your bloodstream. These proteins are meant to stop the blood from clotting so that the mosquito can draw and feed on the blood efficiently. Your body recognizes these proteins as foreign substances and initiates an immune reaction in response (3).
Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?
When your body’s immune system is triggered, the cells produce a chemical substance called histamine in response (4). It is this histamine that causes the itching in reaction to a mosquito bite. This itching might sometimes be associated with swelling as well. These red, itchy, painful swellings are symptoms of the mosquito bite allergy known as Skeeter’s syndrome (5).
While some people might develop an itch every time they are bitten by a mosquito, sometimes the body gets used to the proteins of a particular population of mosquitoes, and the immune response might not be the same over a course of time (6). Hence, when you stay at the same place and are exposed to the same breed of mosquitoes, you might not itch anymore as your immune system is now familiar with those particular proteins.
Going further, let’s have a look at how to treat and get rid of mosquito bites effectively.
How To Get Rid Of Mosquito Bites?
Just like with any bug bites, when a mosquito stings us, we immediately feel the prick and itchiness thereafter. Sometimes, unaware of the bites, we find several swollen red bumps later on (7). Either way, it’s important not to scratch as it makes the bite worse and might lead to a wound or infection.
To help you ease the discomfort and treat the bite effectively, here are a few home remedies that you can try to bring you quick relief from the same.
- Banana Peel
You may think twice before tossing away that banana peel next time. It might seem strange, but the natural oils found in the banana peel help soothe the itch and pain of an infected mosquito bite(8). For this natural remedy, simply take the banana peel and rub its fleshy side down on the mosquito bite. Also, when there’s a cluster of bites concentrated together in a small patch of skin, applying the banana skin upside down helps soothe them all in one go.
Rubbing alcohol has an instant soothing and cooling effect on the mosquito bite. It works by denaturing the proteins in the saliva of the mosquitoes, thereby eliminating the cause of histamine response. This in turn helps relieve the itch and swelling thereof (9). Alcohol wipes or even a quick dab of your nail polish remover would work pretty well too.
Ice or a cold compress can help decrease the swelling and inflammation of a mosquito bite (10). While the cool sensation reduces and soothes the itch, it might take a bit longer to clear up the bite overall.
- Aloe Vera Gel
You can apply any 100% aloe vera gel that’s readily available or you can simply cut open a small section of the plant, and rub the gel to the affected area. You can let it dry and repeat as often as required.
- Baking Soda
Baking soda is a multipurpose ingredient that can easily be found in most households. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, it is not only used for baking your favorite cake but also is found to be effective in providing relief from mosquito bites (12).
- Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with just enough water to form a paste.
- Apply it to the affected area.
- Let it sit and work on the bite for 10 minutes.
- Wash it off gently.
You should stop this treatment if you find your skin reacting to the same.
Colloidal oatmeal is an effective remedy against most itches and irritations of the skin. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help soothe an itch and calm any flare-ups on the skin (13).
- Mix an equal amount of oatmeal and water in a bowl to form a paste.
- Apply it to the affected area with a washcloth.
- Wipe it off after letting it sit for 10 minutes.
It is also an effective natural home remedy when you have been bit by mosquitoes all over the body. In that case, you can try an oatmeal bath instead. You can simply sprinkle a cup of ground oats in a bathtub full of warm water and let yourself soak in for about 20 minutes, making sure to occasionally rub some at the bite sites.
Honey is a natural ingredient that is known to have many antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (14). Just a few drops of honey on the site of the mosquito bite can reduce the inflammation and the temptation to scratch.
While basil is an herb that finds regular use in cooking healthy meals as well as in ayurvedic treatments, it also doubles up as an effective home remedy for mosquito bites (15). To make the basil rub, you can steep a few dried basil leaves in 2 cups of boiling water and leave the mixture to cool down. You can then dip a washcloth in this liquid and dab it on the sites of the mosquito bites. Alternatively, you can chop a few basil leaves and apply them directly to your skin.
Julianne, a blogger, recounts her struggle with sleeplessness due to a mosquito bite. She writes, “I got up and grabbed a basil leaf. Crushed it between my fingers and placed in on the mosquito bite. What happened next shocked me. Wait for it…wait for it, actually there was no waiting. It was instant relief, no swelling, and hours later I still have not felt any itch or pain whatsoever (i).”
Apple cider vinegar acts as a natural disinfectant and helps reduce the stinging and burning sensation after a mosquito bite (16). Just dabbing a few drops of vinegar on the spot of the mosquito bite helps soothe pain and relieve the itch. You can also dilute 2 cups of vinegar in your bath water to help with multiple bites all over the body. You should however stop this mosquito bite treatment if you find any reactions to the same.
Onions are known to have natural antimicrobial properties that help reduce any chances of infection (17, 18). Onion juice when applied to mosquito bites provides quick relief from the sting and irritation. You can simply cut any kind of onion and apply a slice to the site of the bite for a few minutes and then rinse it off well, to help heal the bite.
Chamomile tea when applied to the skin, helps soothe the irritation and reduce inflammation, helping in the healing process (19). You can simply steep a tea bag in cold water for 30 minutes and then apply it to your skin to help relieve the irritation. You can also keep it back in the fridge and reuse it as required.
While garlic is known to aid in improving your heart health and other metabolic issues, it also provides effective mosquito bite relief due to its anti-inflammatory properties (20). You should, however, never apply garlic straight after cutting it out of the bulb as it might cause burning or stinging. You should mince a bit of garlic and mix it with a natural body lotion or coconut oil at room temperature to reduce its potency while still helping you get relief from the mosquito bite. You can then wash it off after 10 minutes and repeat as necessary.
- Tea Tree Oil
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil can help reduce itching and swelling (21). Therefore, you can try using tea tree oil for mosquito bites. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a carrier oil such as coconut oil. Apply the mixture directly to the bite using a cotton swab or your fingertip. Repeat as needed, but be cautious, as tea tree oil may irritate your skin.
- Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is rich in menthol, which cools the skin and reduces the itchy sensation (22). This makes it an effective remedy for mosquito bites. Simply dab a diluted mixture of peppermint oil onto the affected area using a cotton swab to soothe insect bites and alleviate itching.
- Calamine Lotion
Calamine lotion has been a long-time favorite when it comes to soothing skin irritations. It contains zinc oxide that works to reduce itchiness by effectively decreasing inflammation (23). This pink-colored lotion can be applied several times a day to keep the discomfort away.
- Hydrocortisone Cream
Over-the-counter anti-itch creams are commonly found to be effective against the itch caused by mosquito bites. Such creams with at least 1 percent hydrocortisone help inhibit the inflammatory response in the body and calm down the red, swollen itchy patches of skin (24). These should however not be used for a prolonged period.
Histamines are the compounds produced by your cells during the immune response to a mosquito bite. These cause itching and inflammation. Anti-histamines work to counteract the histamine response, thereby reducing the itch and irritation (25).
How Long Does It Take For Mosquito Bites To Go Away?
While the saliva proteins and venom can stay in the bloodstream for a few days after a mosquito bites you, the itching and inflammation might last longer. With the above home remedies and regular precautions, it might help to heal and get rid of mosquito bites altogether in a few days.
While the bite might take some time to heal, it is the itching that’s annoying in the meantime. You should be careful not to give in to the temptation to scratch the spot as scratching it, again and again, would lead to more release of histamines and further inflammation delaying the healing process.
When To See A Doctor?
While mosquito bites are usually harmless, there are times when they act as carriers of harmful diseases. In those cases, a mosquito bite would trigger some severe reactions like chills, fever, headache, and body pain. When this happens, it’s best to consult a health practitioner and get the required blood work done to rule out the commonly prevalent mosquito-borne diseases in your region.
Along with being tender, red, and swollen, mosquito bites might cause visible inflammation in other parts of your face or skin as well, even leading to breathlessness at times. If you find yourself to be allergic to mosquito bites in any way, it becomes crucial to get it checked by a doctor as early as possible (26).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dengue affects nearly half the global population, with 400 million infections annually. Approximately 100 million people fall ill, leading to 40,000 deaths from severe dengue, posing mosquitoes as a serious threat to human health.
While you know now how to treat mosquito bites effectively, it is always better to take certain precautions to avoid being bitten by them in the first place.
- Full Sleeves
Mosquitoes tend to be more active early in the morning and around dusk hours. It helps to keep your body covered when you go out during these hours. Especially, when kids go out to play in the evening hours, they should preferably wear full-sleeved clothes to stay protected.
- Anti-repellent Creams And Lotion
There are a variety of mosquito repellent creams, lotions, and sprays available these days that help keep the annoying mosquitoes away. These usually are infused with herbal oils and chemicals that ward off mosquitoes with their natural fragrance (27). Also, make sure to check if the particular mosquito repellent you want to use is safe for babies, kids, and pregnant women.
- Mosquito Net
If you stay in a place that is usually warm and humid throughout the year, it helps to have certain physical barriers in place. A mosquito net comes in very handy in such places to keep you protected from mosquito bites while you sleep. Mosquito screens fitted to doors and windows also keep the mosquitoes from entering your premises.
- Proper Water Sanitization
Mosquitoes breed and flourish in stagnant waters. Hence, make sure you keep your surroundings clean and free of accumulating water. You should regularly check old buckets, tires, swamps, and even swimming pools to get rid of any long-standing dirty water.
Mosquito bites are harmless and usually resolve by themselves in a few hours. However, they can be itchy and annoying. The presence of red, swollen bumps indicates that your immune system is functioning properly and is attempting to prevent foreign contaminants from spreading in your body. You can speed up this recovery process by following these simple mosquito bites home remedies. These remedies are effective as they feature ingredients with anti-inflammatory, soothing, or disinfectant properties. You can also use OTC lotions and creams to reduce the painful itch. It is recommended to wear full sleeves tops or use anti-repellent creams to prevent mosquito bites.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do bites itch more at night?
During the day, the body’s cortisol levels are higher, which has a natural anti-inflammatory effect. Low cortisol levels and a lack of outside distractions may make bites feel more itchy at night.
Why do my mosquito bites get so big?
The more a mosquito feeds and injects saliva onto your skin, the larger the mosquito bite site can get. Some individuals are also more sensitive to the saliva of mosquitoes and may have a greater reaction in terms of swelling and itchiness, which leads to a bigger bump.
How many times can one mosquito bite?
There is no fixed number of times a mosquito can bite as it can bite any number of times it feels like feeding, till it’s full.
- As your immune system reacts to mosquito bites, you develop red, swollen bumps and an intense itch.
- Banana peel, honey, and onion are simple home remedies that soothe mosquito bites.
- You are less likely to be bitten by mosquitoes when you wear full sleeves and use a mosquito repellant spray.
A mosquito bite can lead to extreme itchiness and further redness from scratching. So, how do you get rid of it? Uncover the ways to quickly soothe a mosquito bite itch in the following video. Check it out now!