Mosquito bites can be more than just an annoyance – they can be itchy and irritating.
Learn why mosquitoes bite and how to stop them from itching and irritating your skin with simple tips on how to prevent these pesky insects.
Table of Contents
Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?
Mosquito bites can cause intense itching as a result of substances in the mosquito’s saliva. When a mosquito bites, it draws blood and injects proteins from their saliva along with an anticoagulant to aid blood flow.
These proteins are foreign molecules that trigger the body’s immune system which leads to the release of histamine, a compound responsible for the itchiness, inflammation and swelling.
People who are bitten by mosquitos for the first time may not have any response due to their body not recognizing the foreign invader yet; occasionally some people won’t feel or notice mosquito bites at all.
Additionally, this resistance could build over time amongst certain individuals. To avoid further irritation and possible infection it is best not to scratch one’s bite as doing so can cause more itchiness!
How Long Does a Mosquito Bite Last?
Mosquito bites can last for hours or even up to a few days. While reactions vary from person to person, itching and scratching the bite can prolong the duration of the bite.
Hyperpigmentation may occur in people with sensitive skin and can be prevented by using creams with vitamins C, E, or niacinamide, as well as sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher on areas that are exposed to sunlight.
How to Stop Itchy Mosquito Bites?
If you’ve been bitten by mosquitoes and need immediate relief, there are several remedies that may work for you.
1. Use Rubbing Alcohol
Cleaning a mosquito bite with rubbing alcohol is an effective measure to quickly relieve the itching. Make sure not to use too much as it can create irritation.
Rubbing alcohol has a cooling sensation, which will help reduce resolution of the area. Wiping the affected area with rubbing alcohol should be done shortly after the bite to get optimal relief.
2. Try Taking an Oatmeal Bath
Reduce itching and inflammation with an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal has active compounds which can help alleviate bug bites, allergic reactions, chicken pox, and dry skin.
With colloidal oatmeal, make a paste by combining it with some water, then apply it to the bite for 15 minutes.
Rinse off afterwards with warm water, and you may add honey for extra help. Afterward, remember to hydrate the area using a cream or moisturizer.
3. Use a Cool Tea Bag
One way to provide relief for mosquito bites is to use a cold tea bag. Green and black tea contain anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce swelling.
To use tea for this purpose, soak a tea bag in cold water, then place it over the bite for relief from itchiness.
4. Apply Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties, helps to heal wounds and calm any possible infections. Plus, the cool feeling formed when it is applied directly onto skin can help to diminish itchiness.
5. Apply Corticosteroid Cream
Doctors recommend using an over-the-counter corticosteroid cream as a way to reduce inflammation and itching.
However, it is important to keep in mind that these creams can’t be used on open wounds or in the face, and if used over a long period of time, they may result in side effects such as thinning skin, excessive hair growth, or acne.
6. Take an Anti-Itch Treatment
Since antihistamines can help reduce itching, taking an anti-itch medication like Benadryl or Claritin may help alleviate the discomfort of a mosquito bite.
You can also apply recommended over-the-counter topical medications to the affected area. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before applying any product directly to your skin as some topical treatments are not safe for children or those with allergies.
7. Make a Basil Rub
Basil has a number of chemical compounds that can help relieve itchy skin. To make your own rub at home, boil 2 cups of water and 1/2 an ounce of dried basil leaves.
Once the mixture cools, dip a washcloth into the pot and apply it to the affected area. Alternatively, chop up fresh basil leaves and rub them directly on your skin for more immediate soothing effects.
8. Other Home Remedies
Some home remedies can provide relief. Baking soda mixed with water to make a paste, lemon or lime juice applied directly to the bite, toothpaste smeared on the area and vinegar dabbed onto the bite are all popular solutions.
However, these methods should be used carefully as they can lead to an exacerbation of skin irritation or unwelcome side effects including acne, burning and dryness.
When to See a Doctor for Mosquito Bites?
If your mosquito bite causes anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, seek professional medical help right away.
If a person is going into anaphylactic shock, they may have hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing, or feel like their throat is closing.
To treat this serious condition, they will need to get an injection of an EpiPen. Even though it’s rare, other symptoms from mosquito bites can include blisters, lesions and hives as well as high fevers and swelling in the joints.
If you experience any of these side effects after being bitten, see a doctor immediately and take an antihistamine to lessen the body’s reaction.
It’s also a good idea to go see a doctor if you’re traveling to areas where blood-borne diseases spread by mosquitoes such as Zika and malaria are common; there might be vaccines available for some of these diseases.
How to Prevent Mosquito Bites
Clear Standing Water
Mosquitoes are attracted to standing water, where they lay their eggs. To help reduce your chances of being bitten, avoid standing water and make sure to empty out containers of stagnant water in your garden, such as bird baths or flower pots.
If you are spending time outdoors then dress appropriately and use a mosquito repellent with DEET to protect yourself from bites.
Use Insect Repellent
Insect repellents containing DEET can be a lifesaver when it comes to protecting yourself from mosquito bites.
Try to choose one which contains the active ingredient Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus as these have proven to be effective in repelling mosquitoes.
You should apply insect repellent on clothing, skin and equipment to stop mosquitos coming into contact with you.
Re-apply every few hours depending on the level of protection provided by each product.
Wear Light and Loose Clothing
Wearing light and loose clothing can also help with preventing mosquito bites. Light-coloured clothing can make it easier to spot mosquitos, while tighter clothing may make them more likely to bite exposed skin.
Airy and loose clothes can also create space between you and the mosquitos, stopping them from getting close enough to feed on your blood.
Install Screens on Windows and Doors
One of the best ways to keep mosquitoes from bugging you is to install screens on your windows and doors.
This will stop them from entering your house or apartment, and since windows and doors are common entry points for mosquitos, installing screens will help ensure a mosquito-free space indoors.
Additionally, using insect repellent such as citronella candles or sprays may also help protect your skin when you’re outside.
How long before mosquito bites stop itching?
When dealing with a mosquito bite, the itching and discomfort may peak within 24-48 hours, however it can take up to a week before it completely subsides. Although most people experience relief after three to four days, some may find the itching and swelling lasts even longer.
Why do mosquito bites itch at night?
This is because between evening and morning, cortisol levels in your body tend to dip lower. Cortisol plays a role in fighting off inflammation that leads to itchy bug bites. Additionally, people tend to be more focused on the itchy sensation of mosquito bites as they try to fall asleep, leading them to notice the itchiness more than in busier times of day.
Why do mosquito bites itch more when you scratch them?
Mosquito bites have the potential to be very itchy and annoying, but scratching them can make it even worse! This is because when a mosquito bites on your skin, they release saliva containing enzymes that can cause inflammation. When you scratch the affected area, this friction causes more of the enzymes to be released, resulting in further inflammation and greater itching sensation.
How do I make myself less attractive to mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are attracted to certain scents, body heat and movement. To make yourself less attractive to mosquitos, avoid using strong-smelling perfumes or lotions, wear light colors of clothing that cover your arms and legs, stay away from boggy areas if possible, and apply an effective repellent that contains DEET or icaridin.