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How To Relieve Mosquito Bites

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How To Relieve Mosquito Bites

Relieve mosquito bites with heat, nail polish or scotch tape…

When it comes to mosquito bites there are plenty of ointments and remedies to counter that annoying itching sensation. But like many symptoms, there are some more natural remedies you can employ when you haven’t got any cream.

how to relieve mosquito bites 550x314 How To Relieve Mosquito Bites

Relieve Mosquito Bites

Perhaps the most unusual remedy would be to place Scotch Tape or nail polish over the bite. Although we don’t have any scientific reasoning as to why this works, Twitter user Lemcott and Floridian offers this explanation:

“The itch is actually caused by blood rushing to fill in the small entrance, but not be able to due to the proteins the mosquito used as an anti-clotting device. Thus it inflames, and the blood pressure sets off the nerve endings. Tape/nail polish actually keep the area around the entrance more stable, letting it heal faster/ become less inflamed. Scratching also only irritates the area further, meaning a longer heal time = more itching.”

However not all agree, Lifehacker user jkuster said:

“When the immune system is activated by foreign protein in the bite, local immune cells in the skin respond by releasing signals that increase blood flow/delivery and fluid accumulation (swelling). This allows other immune cells to accumulate/assist and the removal of waste from destroyed tissue, etc.

Histamines are one of the signals released by the local immune cells, and what majorly contribute to itch by interaction with a type of nerve fiber that senses them, C-fibers. It’s known that C-fibers also respond to heat, and this is the reason why heat can temporarily relieve itch, it overrides the histamine signal for a while. This is similar to scratching, as pain also overrides the histamine signal temporarily in C-fibers.

Heat may also promote the ability of release of histamines by the local cells, as heat is part of the immune response resulting from increased blood flow to the area, (or in other cases like fever a result of blood flow AND metabolism changes). It is supposedly not the main reason for relief of itch sensation.

There’s no reason why nail polish should relieve itch unless it somehow stimulates the nerve fibers by it’s presence on the skin. Even then it should only have a temporary effect, unless it operates somehow in a completely different mechanism. (chemically.) But, if tape works similarly, it would have to be a physical and not chemical presence that is doing the job. Air exposure was never covered as affecting the immune response in my medical school immunology course icon smile How To Relieve Mosquito Bites but I could be wrong!”

Since I live in Thailand – where mosquito bites are frequent – I have the opportunity of trying these remedies first hand

Literally as I write this article! And despite jkuster’s more technical explanation, I do have to say that as I sit here with scotch tape on my ankles, the urge to itch my bites is much less intense. However the sensation of the scotch tape stuck to my leg is making me wonder if it’s more of a placebo effect than physical or chemical process reducing the itching sensation?

Another natural remedy – tried and tested by yours truly – is to apply heat to the mosquito bite. As mentioned in jKuster’s comment, heat releases the histamine in the cells, so as you apply the heat, it’ll actually start to itch more. But once all the histamines are released, the pain receptors take over and you’ll be left with a minor sensation of pain. Our bodies are naturally equipped to deal with pain, so the heat on the bite will be more bearable than that annoying itch.

You can apply heat to your bite with hot water or a hot hair dryer. If you are using hot water, try to make the water as hot as possible without burning yourself. If you are using a hot hair dryer, blast the skin in short burst to reduce the risk of burning.


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