Mosquito bites can be annoying and irritating for most people. But while for the majority of us it can leave an itchy swelling at worst, when mosquitoes bite it can be debilitating for some and even life-threatening for others. So what should you do if you've been bitten by a mosquito?
Firstly be on the lookout for signs of a mosquito bite which include:
- A puffy and reddish bump appearing a few minutes after a bite
- A hard, itchy, reddish-brown bump, or multiple bumps appearing a day or so after the bite or bites
- Small blisters instead of hard bumps
- Dark spots that look like bruises
However, people experiencing more severe symptoms, or even an allergic reaction, may have the following after a mosquito bites:
- Large area of swelling and redness
- Low-grade fever
- Swollen lymph nodes
If you think you've been bitten by a mosquito you should try and wash the affected area with soap and water as soon as possible. Then apply an ice-pack for at least 10 minutes to try and reduce the swelling. Re-apply as necessary to stop the mosquito bite from swelling up.
If you can't get to a chemist immediately for an itch cream, calamine lotion or an over the counter antihistamine tablet or cream, then you can make a quick remedy at home for a cooling effect by applying a mixture of baking soda and water, which can help reduce the itchiness.
- Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with just enough water to create a paste.
- Apply the paste to the mosquito bite.
- Wait 10 minutes.
- Wash off the paste.
There are other home remedies you can consider for mosquito bites if you don't have any baking soda to hand.
- Oatmeal - contains compounds that can reduce swelling and relieve itching on the skin. Make an oatmeal paste by mixing equal amounts of oatmeal and water in a bowl. Spoon some paste onto a cloth and hold it, paste-side down, on the irritated skin for about 10 minutes. Then wipe the area clean. If you have multiple mosquito bites you can make bathe in an oatmeal bath
- Crushed ice - or an ice pack can relieve the itch but don't leave it on the skin for longer than 5 minutes as ice can damage skin
- Honey - it doesn't have to be expensive Manuka, but due to its anti inflammatory properties, honey has been used on bites and stings for years and is seen as an effective remedy
- Aloe Vera - a common household plant that can help reduce the skin swelling and itching if you've received a mosquito bite. Simply cut a small section of the plant and apply the plant's gel to the area of the skin affected.
- Basil - studies suggest that a chemical compound called eugenol, which is found in basil or basil oil, could relieve itchy skin. To make a basil rub, boil 2 cups of water and add half an ounce of dried basil leaves. Leave the mixture to steep until it’s cool. Then dip a washcloth into the liquid, and rub it gently on your mosquito bites
- Vinegar - if you have itchy mosquito bites, dab some vinegar on them. The vinegar will reduce the itch and soon you'll forget about insect bites and feel like some hot chips
- Onion - freshly cut onion juice can reduce a bite's sting and irritation. Onions also have a natural antifungal property that can reduce the risk of skin infections. Wash your skin after applying the onion for several minutes
- Thyme - has antibacterial and antifungal properties, so it can reduce the risk of irritating and infecting the skin around mosquito bites
- Lemon balm - contains tannin, a natural astringent. In addition, lemon balm contains polyphenols. Together, these natural compounds ease inflammation, speed up healing, and reduce the risk of an infection. If you don't have any lemon balm plant (closely related to mint) then you can use lemon balm essential oil.
- Witch Hazel - used on its own, witch hazel is beneficial for any number of skin irritations, from minor cuts and scrapes to hemorrhoids. Applying witch hazel to a mosquito bite reduces inflammation, soothes the burning and irritation the bite causes, and can speed up healing
- Chamomile Tea - chamomile, which is a member of the daisy family, is a common natural remedy for many ailments. When applied to the skin, the tea can reduce inflammation, ease skin irritation, and speed up healing after a mosquito bite
- Garlic - be careful with this one and do not apply garlic directly to a mosquito bite - as this may cause burning and stinging. Instead, finely mince up fresh garlic and stir it in with an unscented lotion or room temperature coconut oil. These ointments and creams will reduce the garlic’s potency but still allow you to get relief from the garlic’s natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then wipe it off your skin. Wipe the area down with a cool washcloth. Apply more later if the itching persists.
You should not scratch a mosquito bite as it could become infected. If this happens then the bite may appear red, feel warm or a red streak will spread outward from the bite. You should immediately consult with a GP or chemist for advice, diagnosis or treatment if you experience this. The doctor may prescribe a hydrocortisone cream to relieve the itch.
Itchfix is a soothing gel available over the counter at chemists, or online here, which relieves the sting from mosquito bites.
Of course the best way of avoiding the itch from a mosquito bite is to prevent one in the first place. If mosquitoes are present and active then cover exposed areas of your body with a DEET-based mosquito repellent spray, gel or cream. You should also try and cover your body with loose fitting clothing.
Avoid standing water, and empty any containers with water from your garden or backyard as this is the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.