How to reduce itching from mosquito bites: Causes, treatments, and products to try

How to reduce itching from mosquito bites: Causes, treatments, and products to try

Buzz off

Text: Emily Heng

If we had a dollar for every time well-meaning aunties told us the best way to deal with 'em pesky, puffy bumps was simply to... stop scratching, we'd probably be millionaires. Sarcasm aside, this year has seen the worst dengue outbreak in Singapore's history with over 14,041 cases reported since January 2020. We trust you've been undertaking all necessary steps to prevent mosquito breeding (insecticide; removing stagnant water), so the next natural step in dealing with this draining sitch is to address the itch. Namely, what you can do — and use — to reduce the likelihood of you pawing at those inflamed spots. Here's everything you need to know, below.

First things first: why are mosquito bites so darn itchy?

According to Gary Goldenberg, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, this is because mosquitos inject a bit of their saliva while they're drawing out blood. Said saliva contains anticoagulants and proteins, which are designed trigger your body's immune system to release histamine in response. These are compounds that transport white blood cells speedily to the affected area, which, in turn, causes itchiness, inflammation, and swelling in response.


What can I use to help reduce itching?

1. Ice cubes, or a cool compress

The first thing you'd want to do is reduce the swelling. Other than holing up in an air-conditioned room, it is also recommended that you press an ice pack to the affected area so as to bring down your skin's temperature. Don't keep it on for too long as direct contact with ice could damage your skin barrier. We suggest wrapping the ice in a towel or cloth as an extra precaution.


2. Take an over-the-counter antihistamine

Remember what we said about histamines earlier on? Well, lucky for you, there are medications out there designed to dull the effects of this compound. Consult your local pharmacist as to your best option —personally, Clarityn has worked wonders for us.


3. Lather up with oatmeal

Not just a nutritious breakfast option, it seems. These hulled oat grains actually contain active properties that help soothe insect bites and allergic reactions; a tried-and-true godsend for those suffering from chronic dry skin or chickenpox, even. Add water to your oatmeal of choice, and mix it up until it forms a paste before slathering it on. Wash it off after 10 minutes to witness significantly calmed, cooler skin.


4. Honey, honey

An anti-septic and anti-bacterial ingredient goes a long way it wound healing. Apparently, honey is even recognised for its ability to prevent skin infections, which makes it all the more productive against mosquito bites. Don't apply it if you'll be heading out, though — that's a sure-fire way of attracting more mosquitos and bugs to, uh, take a bite.


5. Lay it on thick with the moisturiser

The last thing you want is for your skin to start getting dry and flaky as that makes it more prone to irritation than ever. A gentle, unscented moisturiser should do the trick. And to help really seal it in, apply it when skin is still damp right after a shower. Word on the street is that refrigerating your moisturiser helps a great deal too, where it reduces both itch and inflammation.

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