By Kim Robson:
Here on Green Mom, we’ve covered several different ways to ward off summer’s annoying biting insects. There’s Thieves’ Oil, which has been in use since the days of the plague; a natural bug spray you can make at home; and even a mushroom-based repellant. But no matter how diligent we are, sometimes getting a mosquito bite is simply unavoidable. Too often, I don’t even realize I’ve been bitten until I’ve been unconsciously scratching it for a while. By then, it’s too late: I’m consumed with relieving that itch.
It’s always best to avoid scratching the bite in the first place, as that aggravates it, turning it into a raised red welt. Scratching only makes the itch worse, as it spreads the histamine response to a wider area. Over-scratching can lead to broken skin and infection.
Here are some natural remedies for relieving mosquito bite itch. All are simple ingredients you probably already have at home.
Calamine Lotion: Parents of kids who’ve had the chicken pox probably have some leftover calamine lotion in their cabinets. I love Aveeno’s Anti-Itch Concentrated Lotion. It has both calamine and colloidal oatmeal, and a wee dab works WONDERS.
Ice Cube: Grip an ice cube with a dish towel and rub the ice on the bite. This chills the welt, driving blood and histamines away from the area. This can provide enough temporary relief to stop the urge to scratch.
Minty Coolness: Look for products with cooling properties: mint-flavored toothpaste or Vick’s Vapo-Rub, or essential oils like peppermint, camphor, tea tree, or eucalyptus are some examples. Apply sparingly. The anti-inflammatory properties of mint can help reduce pain, swelling and itching.
Ammonia: Believe it or not, ammonia is the active ingredient in many anti-itch products like After Bite, which has earned a safe grade in the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics database. Use just a tiny dab.
Baking Soda Paste: Mix a bit of baking soda with water or lemon juice to form a paste. Apply it to the bite and let sit until dry.
Aspirin Paste: Crush an aspirin tab and mix with a bit of water to form a paste. Apply to bite and let sit until dry.
Aloe Vera: Great all-purpose soother of burns, bites, scratches and abrasions. Grow it yourself or buy ready-to-use gel in a bottle.
Slap It, Don’t Scratch It: If you can’t get your hands on any of the above, and you just HAVE to scratch, try slapping the bite instead. Slapping provides most of the relief you’d feel from scratching, but without making the itch worse or the risk of infection from tearing open the welt.
Over-the-Counter Antihistamine: Technically not a natural remedy. But if you’re covered in multiple bites, you could be at risk for a skin overreaction such as hives or cellulitis. A mild OTC antihistamine like Alka-Seltzer Plus or Benadryl can provide whole-body relief and the chance to get a good night’s sleep without itching.