I know it’s summer when my 5-year-old, “Little,” starts getting mozzie bites all over her little body. Mosquitoes just seem to prefer the tender, sweet skin of kiddies over adults. There are many sprays, lotions and sticks we can apply to prevent insect bites, but frustratingly the inevitable insect bite does come along for all of us, especially when braaiing, glamping or picnicking outside while enjoying our glorious South African weather.
Fortunately, there are many easy and inexpensive ways to help control the itch, using products you already have at home. Here are 10 rather strange, but useful, home remedies you may not have heard of before.
Basil is not for eating only, it has this amazing alternative use too. You’ll need fresh basil leaves from your fridge or garden. To help control the itch simply rub a leaf directly onto the bite. Basil not only helps to treat mozzie bites but helps repel the little pests too. And it smells better than a citronella candle, doesn’t it?
#2 Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and can help soothe an itchy bite. The acidity of the vinegar helps to restore the pH balance of your skin and this takes away some of the itch. For treating all-over bites, dilute two or three cups of Apple Cider Vinegar in a warm bath. For individual bites, dab with a few drops on a cotton wool pad. (Regular vinegar, if you don’t have Apple Cider Vinegar, will also do the trick.)
#3 Rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer
This is a useful one for moms who often happen to have hand sanitizer in their bags. Put some alcohol on a cotton wool pad and dab, or apply hand sanitizer directly to the bite. Beware, it will sting a little, especially if you’ve been scratching the skin. Rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers have antiseptic properties which can help heal if you’ve caused a wound.
#4 Mouth wash
If you have a mouth wash that contains alcohol (most do), it can work just as well as the alcohol and hand sanitizer mentioned above. It also has the added soothing property of peppermint which gives a great cooling sensation. Perfume which is also high in alcohol will likely do the trick too.
#5 Milk and Water
Milk is good for relieving sunburns and mosquito bites! Blend equal parts milk (skim is apparently best) and water. Wet a small cloth with the mixture and hold it on the bit for a little while. The protein in the milk helps relieve the itching and inflammation.
#6 Aspirin Paste
If you keep a bottle of Aspirin (like Disprin) in your home, you can try this method. Crush one Aspirin with the back of a spoon and mix with a few drops of water to make a paste. Put the mixture directly onto the bite. Aspirin contains acetylsalicylic acid, which can help reduce the swelling of your bite.
I find this trick very useful as one always has a tube of toothpaste, whether you’re at home or travelling. I remember doing this at camps as a kid – it really works. The cooling sensation of dabbing a bite with a little peppermint oil or toothpaste helps to alleviate the itching and swelling.
#8 Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a powerful anti-microbial in addition to being anti-inflammatory, which will help your skin heal faster and helps prevent infection. If necessary dilute the oil with a little water, and dab it on the bite with a cotton ball.
#9 Tea Bags
Gently rub a cool, damp tea bag over your bites. The natural tannins in tea leaves can help draw out excess fluid in the bite that can reduce swelling.
#10 Banana Peel
The fruit acids, vitamins, and minerals in a banana peel are said to help soothe pain and itching. It might be a little sticky, but after eating it, simply rub the inside of the peel over you bites. A great tip while out for a picnic.
FINAL HEALTH NOTE: Please remember that if you are bitten by a mosquito in a “malaria area” and you start getting flu-like symptoms a week or more later, you need to get to a doctor immediately for a malaria test and get treatment if necessary.
(RELATED POST: if you’re outdoors, your allergies might flare up. Check out our post on managing allergies naturally.)