Summer brings days spent at the poolside and the aroma of barbecue meals. But the season also tows in a swarm of vicious vampires, and not the sparkling Hollywood kind. Mosquitoes are prowling and chances are you’ve got the bites to show for it. The itch is often unbearable and no matter how much you resist the sensation, fighting the urge to scratch is almost always a losing battle.
In order to soothe these bites, it is important to first understand the science behind what’s making you itch in the first place. When a mosquito hones in on your blood buffet, she injects an anti-coagulant protein in order to prevent the blood from clotting. In response to this foreign substance, your body releases histamine, which causes the blood vessels to swell and produce that infamous bump on your skin. The heat from that inflammation causes the itching sensation that you oh-so-dearly love (love to hate, that is).
But how do you relieve that pesky itch? There is a plethora of products that could be purchased from your local drug store, but the solution can be found much closer to home:
The protein that the mosquito injects under your skin cannot survive at high temperatures. The temperature of a hot spoon should do the trick to stop that itch. It only takes a moderate amount of heat to break down the mosquito’s injected proteins, so make sure that the spoon is not too hot or it may burn your skin.
If you can’t stand the heat … well, you don’t have to get out of the kitchen. The next remedy can be found right in your freezer. Apply ice to the bite in order to prevent swelling and numb the nerves that conduct itching and pain.
You can use toothpaste or Vicks VapoRub to produce a cool feeling around the affected area. These products won’t numb the area per se, but the cooling sensation can help relieve the itching while drying up excess liquids and diminishing the swelling. Plus, you’ll be left smelling minty fresh.
Vinegar’s acidity is perfect to treat bites. Apply vinegar to a cotton ball and use it on the individual bite. If you’re coated head to toe with bites, dilute two to three cups of vinegar in a bathtub full of warm water.
When life gives you lemons, make … a remedy for mosquito bites? The juice from a lemon or lime has anti-itch, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. Not only will you relieve your itch, but you will also prevent the possibility of infection that often accompanies skin broken by scratching. However, users should be cautious only to use this remedy while indoors. The oils from the fruit will react with the sun and can cause a blistering reaction. Opt to use this remedy during a day spent indoors curled up with your favorite book or summer flick.
Anti-Inflammation, Anti-Bacteria, Anti-Itching:
Tannins in tea act as an astringent to draw fluid away from the bite. Lay your used tea bag on the bite in order to combat the inflammation.
Sodium bicarbonate also helps to draw away the mosquito’s toxins and diminish the inflammation. Mix baking soda and water and apply it to the bite.
Honey has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that will help treat your bites. However, the sugars that the substance is filled with might attract even more mosquitoes, so be careful how much you use it.
A large part of that irritating itch comes down to the bite’s exposure to air. Blood wants to rush to clot the punctured area, but can’t because of the anti-coagulant obstructing its path. In order to cover the area, attach a Band-aid or piece of Scotch tape, or paint it with a coat of nail polish. Not only does it close the wound off to air that prompts the itching, but when removed it may also remove some of the saliva that the mosquito left behind. Clear polish is recommended, unless you want to walk around with an art project painted on your arm.
Papain, the enzyme in meat tenderizer can help to break down the toxins left by the mosquito. Create a paste with meat tenderizer and water and apply it to the bite. Rinse after 10 to 15 minutes.
In order to prevent mosquitoes from biting you in the first place, take necessary precautions against those tiny predators. In addition to using mosquito repellant and eliminating standing water where mosquitoes breed, follow the three Ls: light-colored, loose-fitting and long-sleeved. Mosquitoes are attracted to heat, so wearing clothing that fits these requirements will reduce your body’s temperature, making the mosquito’s attack much more difficult. Shirts and pants that cover your skin yet do not hug your body make it more difficult for the bug to come into contact with your blood.
Mosquitoes may be the bane of your existence, but with these household remedies you should have one less worry on your mind as you rest and relax this summer.
- Written by Marcus Dieterle, a senior in the Literary Arts program at Carver Center for Arts and Technology, where he serves as a managing editor of his school’s newspaper, Catalyst. In addition to journalism, he works in the genres of fiction, poetry, scriptwriting and acting as the sole sound source of stability among the goofballs — ahem, friends — that he has grown to adore
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