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How to stop mosquito bites itching

04 Jul 2023 • 10 min read

Mosquito bites are a common side-effect of a Mediterranean summer or a tropical adventure further afield. The majority of mosquito bites simply cause a little discomfort and a small, red lump or swelling that itches.

However, mosquito bites do affect individuals in different ways, and some people experience more severe symptoms of swelling and itching than others.

In this article, we’ll answer the question “why do mosquito bites itch”. Then, we’ll look at different methods of mosquito bite treatment. Finally, we’ll give our advice on how you can prevent mosquito bites.

Why do mosquito bites itch?

Why do mosquito bites itch?

Getting bitten by a mosquito can not only be an inconvenience, but also hard to ignore, which might leave us wondering, why are mosquito bites itchy? Mosquitos don’t just suck your blood when they give you a bite; they also put some of their saliva inside the wound.1

Because mosquito salvia is alien to the human body, the immune system begins to attack it by releasing histamine. Histamine is the same chemical the body releases when it experiences an allergic reaction, which is why the uncomfortable symptoms of a mosquito bite share a resemblance with an allergic response. Most people experience swelling, soreness and itchiness after suffering a mosquito bite.2

How long do mosquito bites last?

Most mosquito bites tend to itch for 3-4 days and swelling can last up to 7 days, although sometimes symptoms may be more severe and last longer. It is important to ensure that you don’t itch your mosquito bites as this can increase your chances of scarring or the site getting infected.3

How to stop mosquito bites from itching

Humans have dealt with mosquito bites for thousands of years. As a result, there are many home remedies for mosquito bites you can try. However, the best solution for mosquito bite relief is to not scratch the affected area at all, as this can further irritate the bite and could lead to an infected mosquito bite. Here are our top suggestions for how to stop mosquito bites from itching:

• Surgical spirit 

Clean the bite and apply surgical spirit to the wound with a cotton pad. Although you’ll experience a stinging sensation for a couple of seconds, that will subside, and due to the drying effect of the surgical spirit, the itching might too.

Honey 

Due to honey being packed with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it is useful to aid healing wounds.4 However, don’t use honey if you intend to head back outside, as insects will be attracted to the sweetness.

• Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel, either bought or from within an aloe vera leaf, has cooling properties which can have a calming effect. By applying aloe vera to a mosquito bite, the cooling effect can also help aid itchy mosquito bites. Find out more about aloe vera such as uses and benefits here.

• Basil

Basil leaves contain chemicals which work as a natural balm to help resolve feelings of itchiness and skin discomfort. Make a rub with blended basil leaves and a neutral oil to soothe the skin. As a bonus, basil oil will likely make you smell lovely!

Reducing the risk of getting bitten by mosquitos

To avoid getting the dreaded itchy mosquito bite, measures should be put in place to ensure help protection from mosquito bites. Techniques to avoid mosquito bites include:

1

Long layers

Mosquitos rarely bite through clothes, therefore it’s a good idea to cover exposed skin with long sleeve t-shirts and long trousers when possible.

2

Avoid light

Insects, and mosquitoes in particular, are attracted to light, so turning off or dimming lights can help to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitos are also most active at dawn and dusk, so keeping to the indoors at this time, might help to reduce the chance of getting a bitten by a mosquito.

3

Insect repellent

Insect repellent is the most effective way to prevent and repel mosquitoes. Insect repellent doesn’t kill mosquitoes but helps to repel mosquitos and avoid them landing on and biting your skin.5

Insect repellent should be applied to all areas of exposed skin and reapplied regularly to ensure maximum protection.

Mosquito bite allergy

Unfortunately, some people can experience a mosquito bite allergy. This is a result of an allergic reaction to the proteins in a mosquito bite, this can also be known as Skeeter syndrome.6

Symptoms can include a large, swollen mosquito bite and skin warmth.7 However, these typically resolve themselves with the help of mosquito bite treatment and antihistamines, but it is best to consult a doctor for more advice.

The final say

Mosquitos usually live in warmer climates, and if you get bitten, they can trigger a histamine response – leaving you with angry, itchy bumps. The best thing you can do to reduce itching is to avoid getting bitten in the first place, by wearing longer layers, avoiding lights, and wearing insect repellent.

While mosquito bites can be annoying when you are trying to enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation, luckily there are some tricks you can keep up your sleeve to provide some relief if you start itching!

bhupesh-panchal

Bhupesh Panchal

Author

Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
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