I am from Minnesota-thus, I have an extremely intimate relationship with mosquitos. Especially given the time I spend up in the north woods. I’ll never forget the evening I was visiting with an out-of-state friend and, without even thinking about it, idly clapped a mosquito straight out of the air that she hadn’t even seen. She was quite impressed as I continued to do this throughout the night. Detecting, deterring, and ridding the area of mosquitos is something us Minnesotans learn to do practically before we learn to walk.
Female mosquitos are attracted to us, and other animals, for our blood. They take about 3 milligrams per bite, and use the iron and proteins in it to develop their eggs. The mosquito doesn’t actually “bite” of course. She pokes around with her proboscis (a long, needle like mouth part) and finds a blood vessel close to the skin. She then punctures the skin with her proboscis, and sucks out the blood.
The irritation that comes after the mosquito bite is the result of the mosquito’s saliva, which acts as an anti-coagulant that keeps the blood flowing while she’s feeding. The human body reacts to the foreign saliva by releasing histamines, organic compounds that (put very simply) regulate inflammation. The itchy swollen red bump (called a wheal) that raises up becomes a bullseye target for your itching and scratching.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
A dab of apple cider vinegar may help with inflammation and itching-especially the itching. I couldn’t tell you exactly why it works, but it does. It’s just one of those things. If you’ve scratched at the bite and it’s open, this will sting. Sometimes even that is preferable to the infuriating itch you’re feeling though! **
You will need…
-Apple cider vinegar
Soak a cotton ball in the ACV and squeeze out the excess so it’s not dripping all over the place. Press over the bug bite for 5 seconds or so. Repeat if needed (which it probably will be.)
2. Ice It
When it starts to really drive you nuts, break out the ice. The coolness reduces the hot, uncomfortable inflammation, and numbs the area enough to drive away the sensation of itching for the time being. It can get a little messy, but I prefer to place an ice cube directly on the bite, versus putting some in a plastic bag and holding it on.
You will need…
Hold the ice on the bite until the ice cube melts-or at least until it’s halfway melted. It’s really not an exact science.
3. Cucumber It
The same as icing it-only with a cucumber instead of ice. And with less mess. It’s not *as* effective, in my personal experience, but other people experience the opposite-where the cucumber is more effective than the ice. It’s a matter of trial and error, as everybody is going to respond differently. Cucumbers do have an anti-inflammatory constituent known as fisetin, which has been shown to inhibit several inflammatory causing cytokines. Cytokines are basically a broad and generalized group of proteins that signal cells to act a certain way. I would think you’d have to ingest the cucumber to get these benefits, but if your bites are terrible and you’re desperate for relief, feel free to see if it helps with the itching. (And do report back, as I am curious to see if this would have any effect-although I suspect you’d need to consumer quite a few.)
You will need…
Slice up a cucumber and store the slices in the refrigerator. When you need it, hold the slice over the bite until the itching stops. It’s cool, soothing, and unlike the ice the cucumber won’t melt against your skin (and if it does you have bigger worries than a mosquito bite) so simply hold it there until you get relief.
4. Peppermint Toothpaste
This one is good if you’re REALLY in a pinch. Apply some (organic) peppermint toothpaste to the affected area. It can help take the bite (pun totally intended) out of the itchiness. The menthol in the peppermint will create a cooling sensation that can bring you some measure of relief until a more formal (for lack of a better word) remedy becomes available.
You will need…
-Organic peppermint toothpaste
Dab a small amount of toothpaste over the bite and spread it in a thin layer. Before reapplying, rinse the old stuff off first.
5. Got Lemons?
You should. I am NEVER with lemons on hand-especially if I know I am going to be getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Honestly, I think the sting, or potential to sting, is what takes away some of the discomfort, as odd as that sounds. It may also help prevent bacteria from entering or irritating the area if you’ve scratched it open.
You will need…
-A lemon OR lemon juice, if you don’t have the fresh fruit on hand.
Cut a slice of lemon, then wrap the rest of the fruit and stick it in the fridge for a later use. Rinse the bite with cool water, pat dry, and then squeeze a few drop of lemon juice out directly onto the bite. Alternatively squeeze it into a bowl, then use a cotton ball (or your clean fingers) and dab it on.
Do Mosquitos Love You More?
Ever get the feeling that you’re getting singled out when you go camping? Like all of your friends are untouched by mosquitos, and you must have sweet blood because you’re getting eaten alive? It turns out, it may not all be in your head. Studies have shown that mosquitos will land on folks with blood type O nearly twice as often as people with blood type A. Based on other genes, about 85% of people secrete a chemical signal through their skin that tells what blood type you have. Mosquitos seem to favor them, versus the 15% who kept their blood type “secret.”
So, the world is a wildly unfair place, and mosquitos might just like you more than everyone else on your camping trip.
(You may also like: 4 Homemade Traps to Get Rid of Fruit Flies)
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