Barbecues, going swimming, basking in the sunshine, watching the sun go down; all these things are what makes the summertime so great. But mosquito bites... not so much.
Female mosquitoes love to feast on us; we provide the necessary nutrients for them to breed even more mosquitoes. While they're going to town on our nutritious blood, they inject saliva into us as an anticoagulant; in other words, their saliva acts as a blood thinner that makes it easier to suck up more of our blood.
That residual spit is the reason we get itchy; coincidently, it's also the reason why mosquitoes are the number 1 killers in the world, since their saliva can sometimes contain diseases. While mosquito borne illnesses are becoming more of a global concern, most of the time you're just left with ugly and incredibly itchy red bumps.
Here are a few ways you can get a bit of temporary relief.
Giving your skin a cold blast is an old-school method that helps soothe the itch from a mosquito bite. Ice works to numb the itch and relieve any swelling, so when you haven't got much of anything else, a cube of ice is a great go-to trick.
Similar to ice, a cold slice of cucumber helps to cool and soothe itchy skin. Unlike the ice, it won't melt against your skin within a minute, so that's a win!
3. Tea Bags
When you get a nasty mosquito bite, chemicals called histamines are released by the skin, which make you want to dig your fingernails in and itch.
Tea bags contain tannins which have astringent properties; they work to relieve inflammation and reduce swelling.
Leave a tea bag on your bite for 5 minutes or so, but make sure it's cold.
4. Aloe Vera
Many people swear by the soothing properties of aloe vera. It's anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, so when applied to a mosquito bite it eases itching and swelling, and helps you recover quicker.
You can either use aloe vera gel, or just snap off a piece and rub it on your skin.
5. Lemon Juice
A few drops of lemon juice (or lime, if it's available) is another tried and tested temporary relief for itchy mosquito bites. The citric acids help numb the itch, and the juice is also antibacterial.
For the best relief, apply the juice before you start to get itchy. If you get juicy after you've been clawing at it, you'll probably just replace the itching with a stinging sensation.
Honey is a natural antibiotic, so applying a few drops to mosquito bites will help soothe the skin and keep wounds clean. It's also an anti-inflammatory, so that sweet sweet goodness will help lessen swelling.
The anti-inflammatory ingredients in toothpaste (such as baking soda) can provide hours of relief with just a small amount applied to the bite. Plus, the menthol creates a cooling sensation to temporarily ease the pain of an itch.
8. Make an X on your skin
As the saying goes... X marks the spot.
This very temporary mosquito bite relief method is one a lot of us have been doing since we were kids. Using a fingernail, make an X on top of the mosquito bite, and boom - the itching subsides... for a little while, anyway!
9. Essential Oils
Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Basil, Thyme, Rosemary... take your pick! They're all great for relieving bites; just make sure you read the instructions and dilute them with water before applying to your skin.
10. Antihistamine Cream
The name says it all! If you've got some handy, this might give you the most relief. If not, they're generally available over-the-counter for around $15.
Avoid Mosquito Bites All Together
Here's an idea - instead of spending time relieving itchy bites, how about just not getting bit in the first place?
Your best defense against mosquito bites are the 3 D's: Drain, Dress, Defend. For a longer term solution for your home, backyard barrier protection will ensure you avoid the dreaded bite all season long.
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