While you may not even notice them when you’re lazing around on the dock, picking berries in the woods, or sleeping in the comfort of your own tent, you will know you’re the victim of a blood-thirsty mosquito when big, itchy welts start popping up on your skin. If you find yourself dealing with an unbearable itch, but the nearest store is either too far to travel to or closed, there are some simple and natural ways to get some relief. Dr. Paul Saunders, a naturopath with a PhD in botany who practices in both Ontario and Michigan, tells us what everyday items can help.
Black tea has tannins that can help reduce itching and promote healing. “Tannins break down proteins—including the proteins in the inflammation, helping to seal it up so that it doesn’t get infected if people scratch it,” Saunders says. So if an afternoon tea isn’t already part of your daily routine, consider buying some tea bags for the next time you’re devoured by bugs. All you have to do is moisten the bag and lay it on the bite.
Press a baggie full of ice on your bite for relief, or—if you’re covered in bites from head to toe—take a cool bath. If you can, hold the ice there for up to 10 minutes to numb the area. This will take down the swelling, which should improve the itch.
Create a paste that can be applied directly to the skin by mixing a few drops of water and some baking soda in a small bowl. After applying the paste directly to your bites, be sure to leave it there to dry for a few minutes.
Peppermint can soothe your bites, but it will not be as effective as a substance with tannins, Saunders says. “It’s not going to work as well as a tea bag, but peppermint will provide some soothing.” Mash the leaves into a paste and apply directly to the bites, waiting for it to dry, as you would with baking soda.
Often used to treat sunburns, Saunders says that aloe vera can also help ease the inflammation caused by mosquito bites. There are compounds in the plant that are not only soothing, but also promote skin healing. If you’re using fresh aloe vera, use a sharp knife to peel away the tough skin, then rub the gel on any irritating bites.