Updated: Nov 3
Mosquito bites are a universal nuisance which only seem to be increasing over the years. Besides the momentary discomfort they bring, the persistent itch that follows can be maddening. But why do they itch in the first place? And, most importantly, how can you stop that itch?
As a seasoned dermatologist, I've dealt with numerous such cases, and today, I'm going to share some tested and recommended methods to soothe that irritating mosquito bite itch.
Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?
When a mosquito bites, it injects saliva into your skin.
This saliva contains proteins that can cause an allergic reaction in many people. As a result, our immune system releases histamines, which increase blood flow to the affected area and cause an inflammatory response, leading to itching and swelling.
Before you move to the recommendations, I'd like to quickly introduce you to one quick repercussion of a mosquito bite: Dark spots. Do read my article if you want to be one step ahead of the dark spots that appear after mosquito bites.
Dermatologist-Approved Recommendations to Stop the Itch
Pramoxine-containing topical creams or lotions can be applied over the area.
The CeraVe lotion is useful for itching that occurs with sunburns and poison ivy stings too. It's also a moisturizer with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.
The use of Concentrated heat is also effective for insect bites. You can use specialized electronic devices that apply concentrated heat to the area of the bite. The application is done only for 3-5 seconds, and it helps in reducing the itch, swelling, and pain in minutes. Check out the bite away Insect Sting & Itch Relief Stick. It's portable, quick, effective, and especially useful for people on the go.
Use creams or lotions containing calamine or menthol. Both calamine and menthol help with relieving itching and pain associated with insect bites. The Humco calamine lotion can help provide relief against mosquito bites.
Cold Compress: You can opt for this when you don't have access to the options mentioned above. Applying a cold pack or a cloth filled with cold water directly on the bite can help reduce inflammation and numb the area, diminishing the itch.
Antihistamine Creams or Tablets: This should really be your last resort and only after you've consulted with a dermatologist. Antihistamines counteract the effects of histamine (the cause of the itch). Creams can be applied directly, while tablets like cetirizine or loratadine can provide systemic relief.
Other Popular known Home Remedies to Relieve the Itch
While the remedies below are not as effective as the ones I have mentioned, they are quite popular:
Aloe Vera: This natural remedy is known for its soothing properties. Applying aloe vera gel to the bite can alleviate the itch and promote healing.
Baking Soda: Create a paste with baking soda and water and apply it to the bite. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce itching.
Apple Cider Vinegar: With its anti-inflammatory and pH-balancing properties, dabbing a small amount onto the bite can help soothe the itch.
Tea Bags: Used, cooled tea bags can reduce inflammation when placed on mosquito bites, thanks to the tannins they contain.
Hot Spoon on Mosquito Bite: Does It Work?
Ah, the "hot spoon" method! It's one of those home remedies that has been passed down through the generations and often comes up in conversations about mosquito bite relief.
Let me try to shed some light on this age-old remedy.
How It Works
The principle behind the hot spoon method mirrors that of the thermotherapy devices we discussed earlier.
Heat the Spoon: Boil some water and immerse a metal spoon in it for a few minutes to heat it up.
Test the Temperature: Before applying the spoon directly to your skin, test its temperature on the back of your hand or another less sensitive area to ensure it's not too hot.
Apply to the Bite: Press the bowl of the spoon onto the mosquito bite for a few seconds.
Does It Work?
There's some science to back up this method. Heat can reduce itchiness by lowering the activity of histamine (the compound our bodies produce in response to allergens, leading to itching) at the site of the bite. Moreover, heat can denature mosquito saliva proteins, neutralizing their itch-inducing effects.
Many swear by the effectiveness of the hot spoon method, claiming it provides instant relief from itching.
Risk of Burns: There's a potential risk of burning the skin if the spoon is too hot. Always ensure the spoon is at a bearable temperature before applying it to the bite.
Not a Cure-all: While the hot spoon method may provide temporary relief, it's not a long-term solution and may not be effective for everyone.
When to Seek Medical Attention
While most mosquito bites are harmless and the itching subsides within a few days, watch out for signs of an infection such as excessive redness, warmth, pus, or if the itch becomes unbearable. Some people might also have more severe allergic reactions. In these cases, consult a dermatologist or a primary care physician immediately.