Natural remedies for mosquito bites

Drugs

Mosquitos are attracted to blood, and they bite to get their “food”.1 Mosquito bites are rarely felt, and often they aren’t noticed until hours later.

Mosquito bites are generally harmless, but sometimes they pose serious health concerns. Mosquitos can carry diseases, so they can end up passing on illnesses when they bite.1

Symptoms of mosquito bites

When a mosquito feeds, it injects saliva into the skin. The body reacts to the unwanted foreign substance through mild or severe reactions.1

Mosquito bites usually cause a red bump on the skin that can get itchy, swollen, and very uncomfortable.Puffiness, blisters, and dark bruise-like spots are also commonly seen.1

Another concern with mosquito bites is having an allergic reaction to the bite itself.1 Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from a low-grade fever to hives and swollen lymph nodes.1

So, what are some natural remedies to treat mosquito bites?

Natural remedies for mosquito bites

Tea tree oil

Mosquito bites, like many other bug bites, can cause rashes, swelling around the area, and pain. The itchy nature of mosquito bites makes it so that over-scratching can cause infections.1

Tea tree oil (formally known as Melaleuca alternifolia) is a plant native to Australia.2 It is an essential oil that is oftentimes used to help treat uncomfortable symptoms caused by bug bites.

Tea tree oil is made up of chemicals that can fight bacteria, swelling, and pain.2 Its most useful characteristic is that it can calm itchy skin. A recent study found that soothing skin ointments, made of at least 5% tea tree oil, could greatly decrease the amount of discomfort in people with itchy eyes.3

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is an incredibly useful and versatile plant. Beyond its uses as a nutritious food, post-sunburn gel, and household decoration, aloe vera can also help to treat mosquito bites.

When a mosquito bites, it causes a reaction from the body’s defense system, known as the immune system. The immune system fights against the unwanted bug bites through a series of reactions that cause inflammation in and around the area. The inflammation is what causes the itchy redness and swelling.

Aloe vera is known to fight against inflammation.4 Its anti-inflammatory properties are how it helps decrease the redness and swelling of mosquito bites, as well as soothe the itching.4

Baking soda  

Baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) is a staple ingredient in most kitchens. Interestingly, it can also be used to treat mosquito, and other, insect bites. Baking soda is able to ease the itching, redness, and stinging that come with bug bites.1

In fact, many over-the-counter treatment creams contain baking soda as an ingredient. A baking soda paste can be made as a natural home remedy by mixing three parts of water with one part baking soda.1

Ice pack

Ice packs are commonly used to alleviate aches, pains, and swelling in the body. Cold temperatures can lessen inflammation, which is why ice packs are a good way of treating swollen and inflamed bug bites.1

Applying a cold compress to the affected area is another natural remedy for mosquito bites that can reduce itchiness and provide relief.1

Over-the-counter medications

Hydrocortisone cream

Corticosteroids are a class of medications used to treat a variety of illnesses. Hydrocortisone is a popular corticosteroid used to decrease inflammation in the body.5 By decreasing inflammation, the cream reduces swelling and itchy redness caused by the immune response to mosquito bites.5

Hydrocortisone can be found over the counter as an ointment or a cream. It can be found at varying strength levels, which is useful for treating different severities of bug bites. A small amount of hydrocortisone can be applied to the skin to ease an itchy mosquito bite.5   

Hydrocortisone creams may not be advisable for everyone. Pregnant women, children, and those with skin conditions should consult a doctor before using.5

Antihistamines

Histamine is a molecule that is part of the immune system, and it is released when the body senses something harmful.6 Too much histamine can lead to allergies. Mosquito bites cause allergic reactions, because the body is producing an abundant amount of histamine.6

Antihistamine medications can help relieve symptoms of mosquito bites. They work to block the effects of histamine, which overall reduces inflammation and the unpleasant symptoms of redness, swelling, rashes, and others that can happen.6

Antihistamine can be prescribed by a doctor if needed, but they are also available as over-the-counter medications. Speak with your doctor to make sure this medication is right for you.

References:

  1. Mosquitoes Bite Symptoms and Treatment | CDC. (2020, March 6). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/mosquitoes/mosquito-bites/symptoms.html
  • Conti, B., Flamini, G., Cioni, P. L., Ceccarini, L., Macchia, M., & Benelli, G. (2014). Mosquitocidal essential oils: are they safe against non-target aquatic organisms?. Parasitology research113(1), 251–259. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-013-3651-5
  • Gao, Ying-Ying MD; Xu, Duan-lian MD; Huang, li-Juan MD; Wang, Rong MD; Tseng, Scheffer C G MD, PhD Treatment of Ocular Itching Associated With Ocular Demodicosis by 5% Tea Tree Oil Ointment, Cornea: January 2012 – Volume 31 – Issue 1 – p 14-17. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e31820ce56c
  • Davis, R. H., Donato, J. J., Hartman, G. M., & Haas, R. C. (1994). Anti-inflammatory and wound healing activity of a growth substance in Aloe vera. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association84(2), 77–81. https://doi.org/10.7547/87507315-84-2-77
  • Hydrocortisone Topical: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682793.html
  • NHS website. (2021, February 9). Antihistamines. Nhs.Uk. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antihistamines/
  • Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay 

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