If you're wary about smothering your skin with DEET to ward off mosquitoes, you probably end up with a few too many bug bites. The itchiness can drive you nuts, especially if you're hot or trying to sleep. Although scratching the affected area might offer immediate relief, it'll only cause more inflammation, which makes it itch even more. But worse, if you scratch the bite until it bleeds, opening the skin with your dirty fingernails can put you at risk for an infection. If you're a magnet for mosquito bites, here are some healthy ways to relieve that annoying itch.
Many of these are folk remedies used in the holistic community with little to no scientific evidence to back them up, but then again, many people swear these work. Instead of just suffering, it may be worth giving them a try.
- Alcohol: While pounding a few beers can help you forget about your itchy skin, that's not the type of alcohol I'm talking about. Grab rubbing alcohol or an alcohol wipe from a first aid kit and clean the infected area as soon as you notice you're bitten, and it can help prevent severe itchiness. No alcohol? Simple soap and water works well, too.
- Lemon or lime juice: Naturally anti-itch, antibacterial, and antimicrobial, a little bit of fresh-squeezed juice on the affected area can reduce itchiness and prevent infection. Use this remedy indoors since direct sun exposure can cause your skin to blister.
- Ice: To reduce swelling and numb the itch away, an ice pack does the trick. If you have too many bites to count, go for a cold shower or a dip in a chilly lake.
- Baking soda: For an inexpensive anti-itch remedy, make a thick paste with baking soda and water, and apply it to your bites for 15 minutes. Baking soda contains an alkaline compound that may help neutralize the pH of your skin, which can help ease inflammation.
- Tea tree oil: A natural anti-inflammatory that can help with acne or poison ivy, this essential oil can also help reduce swelling and prevent infection if you can't help but scratch.
- Toothpaste: If you don't mind little white spots all over your skin, apply dabs of peppermint toothpaste for quick itch relief.
- Salt: For fast relief, moisten the bite with a little water and gently rub it with finely ground salt. Or better yet, if you're near the beach, go for a saltwater swim.
- Aloe: The cooling effect of fresh aloe can soothe the itch and help heal the skin if it has been scratched open.
- Apple cider vinegar: Diluted in your bathtub, it not only can soothe sunburn, but the malic acid in apple cider vinegar can also soothe your itch. Not into taking a bath? Dab a few drops on a cotton ball and apply directly to the affected areas.
- Banana peel: Don't knock it till you try it! The sugars from the peel may help draw fluid out of the bite, so try rubbing the inside of a banana peel on the area.
- Saliva: A trick my brother used to use on me, spit a little on your finger, gently dab it on the bite, and let air-dry.
- Slapping: It may seem a little odd, but you can confuse your nerves by slapping the area with your hands, and your brain won't be able to discern between itch and pain.