Anyone who’s prone to mosquito bites knows just how irritating they can be. After scratching tirelessly and hoping for relief, you’ve probably wondered if there is a way to deal with the itch that actually works. The Active Times consulted medical professionals for advice on how to properly treat those pesky bumps just in time for your outdoor barbecue.
Use soap and water
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, founder of MedAlertHelp.org, told The Active Times that instead of digging your fingernails into the bite, the first thing you should do is wash the area with soap and cool water. “Scratching your mosquito bite will only lead to further irritation and possible infection of the skin,” Djordjevic said in an email. “Make sure you wash it with soap and cool water first.”
Invest in a device
Products like Bite Helper, Bug Bite Thing and Buzzy physically interact with the bite in various ways — by suctioning out irritants under your skin or applying vibrations and heat or cold. “Vibration in very high frequency provides the relief without damaging tissue,” said Dr. Amy Baxter, CEO and founder of Buzzy, in an email to The Active Times. Both Bite Helper and Buzzy use vibration; Bite Helper also applies heat to the skin, while Buzzy applies cold. If you don’t want to spend the money on a device, you can try applying a heating pad to the bite. Although you won’t get the added bonus of suction or vibration, this could also help relieve discomfort.
Ice your bite
There is a reason you are always told to apply ice to an inflamed area: It actually works. “Ice slows the spread of the wheal-and-flare histamine response, and numbs the a-delta nerves that transmit itch,” said Baxter. The body releases histamines in response to a bite (the same compounds that your body releases during any allergic reaction), which make it itchy, red and swollen. Adding an ice pack can help slow this uncomfortable reaction.
Soothe your skin with calamine lotion
Calamine, which is a mixture of zinc oxide and iron oxide, will cool your skin and relieve itching, according to Djordjevic. This lotion can be purchased at stores like Walgreens, Target or CVS for around $5.
Don’t overlook oatmeal
Yes, this staple breakfast food doubles as a bug bite treatment. Naturopathic doctor Drew Sinatra told us via email that he suggests applying oatmeal paste directly to the bite to treat itching and swelling. “If you have bug bites all over, an oatmeal bath may give you some much-needed relief,” he wrote.
Try using honey
If you’re in need of some quick relief, look no further than your kitchen cabinet. “Honey is a natural remedy which helps in wound treatment, and it can be a great remedy for mosquito bites,” said Djordjevic.
Now that you know how to treat your mosquito bites, you don’t have to let the bugs scare you away from your favorite summer activities. Lather on that bug spray and soak up some sun. Hit the beach, go for a hike, start your own garden or maybe even take advantage of the outdoors by tasting plants and flowers you didn’t know you could eat.