No one likes mosquito bites. At best, they are itchy and annoying. At worst, they expose us to diseases ranging from Zika to West Nile to Malaria. Unfortunately, science hasn't discovered why mosquitoes prefer certain people (although research does suggest they remember the smell of tasty meals, as well as those whose attempts at swatting mosquitoes, make them more trouble than they are worth). That means everyone is susceptible to suffering at least a few mosquito bites during their lifetime. Even so, not everyone keeps anti-itch medications on hand or even wants to use them in the first place. The good news is you don't need to.
Here are five remedies for treating mosquito bites that can be found in virtually any home:
1. Vinegar. Moisten a clean cotton ball/swab with vinegar (any vinegar will do, but apple cider vinegar is somewhat less acidic than other kinds of vinegar) and apply to the area of the bite. You can also dilute the vinegar with water if it stings. It helps stop the itch and promote healing.
2. Ice. Wrap ice in a washcloth or apply an ice pack to the area of the bite. Do not apply ice directly to your skin. The cold will help reduce swelling at the site of the bite and may also numb the area enough that you can ignore, or at least tolerate, the itch.
3. Honey. Apply a small amount of honey (preferably raw honey harvest locally but any honey will do) to the bite. Do not rub in or cover the bite. Honey's antibacterial properties act as a natural bandage and help prevent infection while promoting healing.
4. Garlic. Rub the bite with a piece of fresh garlic to relieve swelling and itching. Some say the smell of garlic will also repel mosquitoes (and other bloodsuckers, like vampires) however this has not been proven.
5. Baking soda. Mix baking soda and water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the bite and allow it to dry. Use fresh baking soda is possible, not the stuff from the box that's been sitting in the refrigerator or freezer for months. The baking soda paste should relieve itching and reduce some of the swelling. It also works on burns as does aloe vera gel which may provide some relief for mosquito bites as well.
Most mosquito bites are harmless; however, if you notice the swelling persists for several days or the area around the bite becomes red, hot or increases in size you should consult your doctor. If you develop other symptoms and suspect you have contracted a mosquito-borne illness seek medical attention immediately.