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There are a lot of options for trying to prevent mosquito bites (DEET on skin, permethrin on clothing, mosquito nets while sleeping, etc.), but what about after you get bitten? What is the most effective way to stop or reduce the itching from mosquito (or other insect) bites?

  • 1
    After the first 10,000 bites, you start to develop an immunity... :-) – sdg Jan 4 '13 at 22:39
  • 1
    @sdg or die of blood loss... :D – Nisan.H Jan 5 '13 at 0:05

11 Answers 11

10

You need an antihistamine cream, there are many different brands available, but you'll find them all similarly effective.

7

Have a look at AfterBite, it is a treatment for insect bites and stings.

You can apply it to bitten areas, provides relief from mosquito, ticks, fleas, horse flies, black flies, etc.

Note: I am not affiliated with this product in any way, shape, or form.

7

In case you don't have anything to put on your bites, I found out the following.

  • If you got snow around you, put a piece of metal (I prefer a spoon) in the snow or cold water, and wait for it to nearly freeze. And then just put the freezing cold spoon on the bite.
  • You can also heat a spoon (or just use a lighter directly) and as soon as you won't burn yourself anymore, hold it against your bite, it will sting a bit, but it's very effective

Nonetheless I prefer the electric method.

  • You can just buy a lighter with a Piezocrystal, an then you disassemble it to get only the spark. If you get bitten just put the spark against your bite and "Fire it" this will destroy the protein and neutralize the itching.

If you're lazy or prefer a bought solution you can also buy something like this.

But I still prefer the lighter method, because in my opinion it feels "a lot better".

  • 2
    A very effective technique once you're home, if you have a large number of bites all over you is to have a shower, as hot as you can stand. Till your skin reddens. This somehow "overloads" the nerves and the itching signal will be dramatically reduced for hours. Your cold or hot spoon may be doing something similar. – Kate Gregory Jul 30 '13 at 13:58
  • Yeah that works too, but i can't recommend jumping into a boiling or ice cold lake if you're outdoors :) – Jeredepp Jul 30 '13 at 13:59
5

A friend of mine got severely bitten while we were traveling through Central America together. After trying a number of more conventional treatments without success we picked up Itch-A-Way while in Belize and she said it worked wonders.

5

Don't scratch!

Mosquitos inject an anti-coagulant under your skin as soon as they puncture you, this is to prevent the blood from clotting so their noses don't get glued to the inside of your dermis while they're sucking. This is what makes you itch, scratching spreads the anti-coagulant around over a greater area and makes the itch worse than if you had just left it alone.

Your natural immune system will have a much easier time containing and eliminating the annoying toxin if you simply do not touch the area around the bite, the itching will not last as long, and you may not even show a bite. It takes some mental training and some will power to overcome the urge to scratch, but you'd be amazed how fast they go away when left alone.

Of course there are times when you don't know you've been bit until after you've already unconsciously scratched the area. To alleviate things, I've found that you can control the itch by 'containing' the anti-coagulant. This can be accomplished by gently scratching towards the bite from just outside the perimeter of the itchy area, but don't scratch the bite itself. This accumulates the anti-coagulant into a smaller area, the smaller area the itch covers, the less itchy it will feel.

  • 1
    Can't recommend this enough! I often go about my cottage shirtless and in shorts and people wonder why I don't get bitten. The secret is that I do get bitten... I just never scratch the bites and they fade away within a day without discomfort. – Matt K Jan 29 at 20:54
  • @MattK You can also avoid bites by not eating Bananas or other high potassium foods that attract mosquitoes. – ShemSeger Jan 30 at 15:40
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    Much more efficient, find a partner who gets bitten instead of you. (Likely it is a temperature thing, the warmer person gets bitten.) – Willeke Jan 30 at 18:21
4

I use Solarcaine, which contains a local anesthetic, on both mosquito bites and sunburn. Just don't get any in your eye, nose, or other tender areas. It's sold for sunburn relief but works just as well for preventing itching.

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It's readily available in Canada and this page lists some brand names around the world for the same active ingredient.

4

Put some sort of thick covering that prevents oxygen from reaching the bite. Popular options include Vaseline.

2

There is a very simple way to relieve the itching for a while.

Press firmly on the bite with your fingers or thumb for 20-30 seconds. The pressure causes the body to release endorphins that will suppress the itch.

This is not a cure, the itching returns after an hour or so - just press again.

Of course, this is only practical if you have a small number of bites. If you have several, it is not realistic to press on your whole body.

2

Clove oil applied to the bite will help. Boil down a strong solution of cloves. Test it on your skin to make sure it doesn't burn or feel too hot. If it does, boil it for longer until it reduces down. Put it on a wet cloth and place the cloth on the bite.

Clove oil is a minty, slightly camphorous and strong smelling essential oil that repels bugs and also treats bug bites. It is rich in eugenol, an aromatic compound that is analgesic, anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants.

Clove oil can help relieve itching, reduce pain and decrease swelling from all sorts of bug bites including bee stings, wasp stings, ant bites and more.

Source-Top 10 Essential Oils for Bug Bites

Should insects get the best of you, herbal treatments can ease the discomfort. Many commercial bug-bite products contain plant-based counterirritants that stimulate sensory receptors in the skin, creating a sensation of warmth, coolness, or reduced pain. These include camphor, derived from the essential oil of the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora); menthol, the chief constituent of oil of peppermint (M. ¥ piperita); and oil of clove (Syzygium aromaticum).

Source-Herbs for Health-Treat Insect Bites and Stings

In addition to stopping itching, clove oil is a great pain killer, which you sometimes need for those bites. It's only one step below Novocaine as a pain killer.

2

I have found calendula cream to work well. It's the Neosporin alternative if someone is allergic to the active ingredient in it. Being a cream, it is also a bit cooling, so that may be what helps.

1

What I found useful when nothing else was on hand: putting a short layer of toothpaste on it. The menthol gives a cool feeling, thus reduces the itching.

protected by Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Jan 30 at 3:30

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