Mosquito Bite Relief

Mosquito biteWhile the ideal scenario is to avoid getting mosquito bites in the first place, that’s certainly easier said than done. But here’s a helpful preventive tip: about 30 minutes before you go outside, take Claritin® or Zyrtec® to get antihistamine into your system before your first encounter with a mosquito. I find I have a very mild reaction if I’m bitten, with little swelling, redness, or itching.

Once bitten, the best treatment is to avoid scratching the bites, as scratching further aggravates the inflammation and actually makes the itching worse. There are a lot of “home remedy” treatments for mosquito bites, not all of which work for everybody. Some people swear by the “soap remedy,” which is simply rubbing a dry bar of soap on the bite. Others reach for an alcohol swab, honey, vinegar, or a paste made from baking soda and water. I’ve found that a layer of cool compresses placed directly over the bites tends to soothe the skin and lessen the itch.

Not all mosquito bites are equal because there are many species of mosquito, and you may react differently to each. If discomfort from a bite or the itch-scratch cycle becomes a problem, you may consider using a mild topical steroid such as cortisone cream or oral antihistamines. I advise avoiding topical Benadryl® compounds and Neosporin® because they can cause contact dermatitis in those who have sensitive skin, resulting in a condition worse than the bites.

Instead, stick to soothing, nonirritating lotions like calamine or Sarna® Anti-Itch Lotion, both effective and readily available in drug stores. If the itching is extreme, you may need to consult your dermatologist for a prescription steroid, or antihistamine cream such as Zonalon®, which may cause drowsiness and should be used with caution. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe oral antihistamines like Atarax®, commonly used to treat allergic reactions and which may also cause drowsiness.

Mosquito bites should not be a problem for more than a week. If bites are not healing by then or if they are getting worse and interfere with your quality of life, see your doctor. Some skin conditions masquerade as bites and need different treatment. And some children have long-lasting reactions to insect bites and require treatment to keep them from getting worse. In these cases, I recommend trimming the child’s nails, using a topical medication, and covering the affected area with a Band-Aid® to reduce scratching until you can see a doctor. Avoiding future bites is especially important for the comfort of these children.

I hope these mosquito bite treatment tips are helpful to you and wish you a safe and itch-free summer.

Published on 06/11/2009 | Last updated on 10/18/2018