Quell the itch

Posted in Blog on 6th March 2018

Lets face it, mosquito bites are annoying. They can ruin holidays, develop dangerous complications and even kill. For most of us however, the threat of contracting malaria from one of the 34 species of mosquito in the UK is negligible but on the rise. But what if you do get bitten either here or abroad and you want to stop that itch?

Well, if you are like me and you suffer welt-like reactions to mosquito bites, this article may provide you with some form of relief.

Mosquito bites itch because your body reacts to the saliva left behind by the mosquito. Mosquitoes pump a little saliva into the bite to reduce the coagulation of your blood stopping things like platelets from binding together at the opening, which would stop the mosquito from removing its proboscis . Your body’s antibodies swarm into the area when the mosquito leaves, attaching themselves to the foreign antigens of the saliva.

The release of Histamine, a compound that makes internal access to the bite through capillary walls and the like, much easier is part of your body’s natural defence mechanism. This results in the familiar swelling and itching of the area. Itching this only makes things worse, as your body will think it needs to work harder as the inflammation gets worse. The less you itch the quicker your body will recover!

The best ways to reduce the itchiness are either by removing the saliva, thus reducing the reaction or by breaking down the proteins in the saliva that caused the reaction in the first place.

Use creams with a Hydrocortisone steroid or which contain ibuprofen. These are anti-inflammatory  and provide relief from the dreaded itch.

Use a syringe like tool too draw out the saliva, one such as this: http://www.aspivenin.com/english/main.html

Or why not try an ammonia based application such as Afterbite. This topical application will disinfect the bite.

From your bathroom you can apply a roll on antiperspirant. The aluminum salts draw out the fluid. The same will happen from the application other toiletries such as toothpaste, soap and nail varnish

If in your kitchen, you could apply a paste of baking soda and water or the internal membrane of an egg. This will draw out the fluid too. Honey is a good antibacterial substance, so if the bite is open this will provide protection from bacterial infections as well as a seal to the outside.

You can break down the compounds in the saliva that your body reacts to by heat.  You can either run water past or bathe the bite in hot water for as long as you can stand. If you can get your hands on a meat tenderiser such as papain, this will do the same job without the burn.

Of course all of these are useful ways to remove the itch but try not to get bitten. Total prevention is the best way to stop the itch and will mean you don’t pick anything nasty up. Stay safe!

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