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Mosquito bites seem to be unavoidable in tropical countries like India. Every bite of a mosquito comes with a bundle of risks and diseases. The very first and most usual human response to a mosquito bite is itching, later on, a red, small bump could develop in the affected area. Mosquito bites could also lead to some serious diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, Zika virus infection and West Nile virus.

To prevent itching and above mentioned serious and life-threatening illness, you should take all the preventive measures to avoid mosquito bite in the first place.

Did you know, only female mosquitoes bites? Well, there are many more interesting facts you will come across while reading this article.

At the same time, you will be knowing all the easy and effective home remedies along with a few definitive medicinal treatments to stop mosquito bites from itching.

  1. Why do mosquito bites itch: Science behind it
  2. How to stop mosquito bites from itching
  3. Natural remedies for itching mosquito bites
  4. Over the counter medicines for itching
  5. When to see a doctor
  6. How to prevent mosquito bites

Before directly jumping into the solution, let's know a little bit about why do even a mosquito bite itches, leaving you restless with frequent scratching. This would also make it easy for you to understand the working mechanism behind the remedies and treatments.

Whenever a mosquito bites you, they inject their saliva into the point of penetration in order to draw blood easily from your body. Saliva of a female mosquito is the main reason behind the itching. Their saliva contains some chemicals that prevent your blood from clotting. Your immune system recognizes these chemicals as a foreign substance and stimulates body's protective response that manifests in the form of itching, redness and swelling. This contact should last at least six seconds to initiate the reaction.

Once you get bitten by a mosquito and develop an itchy, red swelling that gets irritating and painful, intervention is needed to stop the undergoing process. There are various options that you could opt for, majorly divided into two categories, home remedies and medicinal alternatives. Both of the ways are quite effective, it's up to you what you want to follow in order to get definitive relief from itching bites.

If it doesn’t result in disease, mosquito bites are nothing more than pesky rashes that makes you want to scratch. In such cases, home remedies are the most convenient option. They provide instant relief and also come with added skin benefits. But you’ll still have to get up from the bed. Well, let's explore what all options you have:

Ice

Ice has a cooling effect on the skin, it numbs the localised area, relieves pain, limits tissue metabolism, and alters blood supply. Together, all these effects help reduce swelling and itchiness associated with a mosquito bite. Here is how you can use ice to relieve itchy mosquito bites:

Ingredients:

  • Ice cubes

Procedure:

  • Take a few ice cubes, wrap it in a small piece of cotton cloth.
  • Rub it on the affected area with this in a figure of eight motion, until you get some relief.

Aloe vera

This magical plant can provide you with enormous benefits, especially when it comes to problems related to skin. Within a few seconds of application of aloe pulp, you will feel its calming, soothing and relaxing effect. Furthermore, pulp of aloe vera is loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory (ability to modify the body's immune response) properties. These help break down the inflammatory products like bradykinin and reduce production of prostaglandins when applied topically thus giving you reassurance from discomfort. All you have to do is go to your garden and pluck an aloe leaf:

Ingredients:

  • 1 aloe vera leaf
  • 1 knife

Procedure:

  • Take the aloe vera leaf, peel it with the help of a knife and get the pulp out of it.
  • Rub the affected area gently for a few minutes.
  • Repeat it after some interval, if needed.

Honey

Honey is so versatile in nature and use that almost every household has a place for it. Right from its consumption for weight loss to application on face for getting plump and brightened skin, honey possesses a wide range of properties. It is also one of the most popular remedies for itching and mosquito bites.

Studies indicate that honey has immense anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties, which help in reducing the itching and swelling caused due to mosquito bites. All these benefits of honey are attributed to the phenolic and flavonoids compounds it contains. And the best part is that it is extremely convenient to use.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of honey

Procedure:

  • Isolate the area and cover it with a thin layer of honey
  • Keep it for a few minutes and then rinse with cold water
  • Repeat its application if you feel so

Concentrated heat

Just like cold application, concentrated heat application could also alleviate the discomfort and pain of an itchy mosquito bite. It can give you rapid relief within 10 minutes of application.

Several studies confirm the efficiency of concentrated heat in reducing pain, redness and itchiness associated with insect bites. In fact, a clinical study done on 146 patients with wasps, bees and mosquitoes bite or stings specifically demonstrated the positive effects of heat in alleviating inflammatory swellings.

Here is an easy way to use heat for relieving itching:

Ingredients:

  • ½ litre water
  • Piece of cotton cloth

Procedure:

  • Pour water into a saucepan and bring it to boil
  • Dip the cloth in hot water and apply it to the concerned part
  • Keep doing this until the water temperature drops to normal

Lavender oil

Lavender oil is extracted from flowers of lavender plant by the process of steam distillation. It is an essential oil with a ravishing smell.

But apart from soothing your senses it also has several therapeutic benefits. Studies suggest that this oil possesses antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties. These may be helpful in reducing inflammation and itching associated with mosquito bites.

Here is how you can use lavender oil to prevent mosquito bites from itching:

Ingredients:

Lavender oil 

Procedure:

  • Apply a few drops of lavender oil on the bitten skin
  • Massage it gently.

Just after a few seconds of application, you’ll notice a reduction in itching.

If you are someone who is not a fan of home remedies and wants a straight and definitive treatment for an itchy mosquito bite, this section is specially written for you.

Antihistamines

Histamine is a mediator released from your immune cells in order to protect you from the adverse effects of a mosquito bite. This histamine is responsible for itching. To counteract its effects, you need to take antihistamines. They suppress the effect of histamines, thereby banishing the discomfort and itching. However, it is better to seek a doctor’s consultation before taking any medication.

Usually, antihistamines are taken in the form of pills but if you can also go for topical antihistamines if it’s just a few itchy bumps. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that is available in topical formulation meant for external use. You need to clean the area with soap and water before applying this cream, rub gently until it gets absorbed completely. Always remember to wash your hands after.

Hydrocortisone

Topical hydrocortisone is an over the counter medicine, meant for the treatment of redness, swelling and itching. It is available in the form of lotion, cream, gel or spray. This cream increases the production of antibodies in your body to reduce itching and discomfort. To get relief, you should apply a very thin layer of this ointment on the concerned area a few times a day and rub it gently.

Avoid contact with eyes and never wrap the area after application of the ointment.

Almost all mosquito bites can be safely and successfully treated at home with home remedies and over the counter medicines like hydrocortisone, diphenhydramine ointments and oral antihistamines.

However, some of you might develop aggravating allergic symptoms. This could possibly happen if you are bitten by many mosquitoes at once.

Run to the emergency if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned below:

Probably, you have heard the saying “prevention is better than cure”, in this case, it certainly stands true. The best way to avoid itching bites is it not to get bitten by mosquitoes in the first place. To ascertain that, here is the list of all precautions you should take:

  • Topical insect repellants: Insect repellent creams are the best options to prevent mosquito bites in an outdoor setting. Due to a rise in mosquito-borne diseases, these repellents are now available in various forms (gels, lotions and creams), in varying potencies that are suited to individuals of various ages. These are well evaluated, effective and certified products that keep mosquitoes away from you and prevent mosquito bites. DEET is the most well-known repellent. However, due to its toxicity for children and pregnant women, it is being replaced by various other less toxic options such as IR3535 and picaridin. Make sure you read the instructions on the pack before buying any topical repellent and always buy from trusted brands.
  • Appropriate clothes: While stepping outside, try to cover yourself as much as you can by wearing full sleeves, ankle length pants and socks. Mosquitoes can even bite through thin clothes. To avoid this, apply mosquito repellent beneath your clothing.
  • Keep mosquitoes away from home: Keep you doors and windows closed in the evening and night time. You can also add a fine-meshed net window and door to your home. It will allow ventilation but keep mosquitoes away.
  • Electronic-liquid repellant: Liquid repellents with vaporizing machines are one of the most convenient options to keep mosquitoes away from your home. They act by diffusing the vaporized liquid repellant all around the room when connected to an electric source and are commonly available in all the general store under various brand names. However, there are various concerns about the use of these repellents ranging from rising resistance to toxicity to humans, especially children and babies. They have also been reported to cause headaches and sore throat in some people.
  • Mosquito net: If you want a good sleep without even a single mosquito humming right next to your ear, use a mosquito net. It is a kind of mechanical barrier to keep mosquitoes away. Though it won't decrease the mosquito population in your house, it will certainly keep you safe from itching bites.

References

  1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. TAKE A BITE OUT OF MOSQUITO STINGS. Milwaukee, WI [Internet]
  2. Daniel P. Singh et al. Effects of Topical Icing on Inflammation, Angiogenesis, Revascularization, and Myofiber Regeneration in Skeletal Muscle Following Contusion Injury . Front Physiol. 2017; 8: 93. PMID: 28326040
  3. Vinay K. Gupta, Seema Malhotra. Pharmacological attribute of Aloe vera: Revalidation through experimental and clinical studies . Ayu. 2012 Apr-Jun; 33(2): 193–196. PMID: 23559789
  4. Saeed Samarghandian, Tahereh Farkhondeh, Fariborz Samini. Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research . Pharmacognosy Res. 2017 Apr-Jun; 9(2): 121–127. PMID: 28539734
  5. Nilima Thosar et al. Antimicrobial efficacy of five essential oils against oral pathogens: An in vitro study . Eur J Dent. 2013 Sep; 7(Suppl 1): S71–S77. PMID: 24966732
  6. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Histamine is released
  7. Bernard A Foëx, Caroline Lee. Oral antihistamines for insect bites . Emerg Med J. 2006 Sep; 23(9): 721–722. PMID: 16921091
  8. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Diphenhydramine Topical
  9. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Hydrocortisone Topical
  10. American Academy of Dermatology. Rosemont (IL), US; Bug bites and stings: When to see a dermatologist
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