- The most effective home remedies for mosquito bites include aloe vera, an oatmeal bath, or a cold compress.
- Other common natural products to soothe your bite are raw honey, tea tree oil, and a baking soda paste.
- While hydrocortisone cream and other over-the-counter products are the best way to stop the itch and treat your mosquito bite, these natural home remedies can be effective substitutes.
- This article was medically reviewed by Mona Gohara, MD, a dermatologist at the Yale School of Medicine.
- This story is part of Insider’s complete guide to Bug Bites.
Mosquitos, the uninvited guests that show up to every backyard barbeque and leave pesky reminders of their attendance, are one of the least enjoyable parts of summer.
There are plenty of over-the-counter treatments that can get rid of mosquito bites. For example, hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion can stop the itch and help your bite heal quickly.
But if you don’t have those products, and you can’t get to the pharmacy, you may have some other natural remedies in your home right now.
1. A cold compress
The most basic home remedy for mosquito bites is an ice pack or any cold compress (for example, a bag of frozen peas works well, too).
When a mosquito bites, it injects its saliva in your bloodstream. That saliva triggers your immune system to send histamines to the bite, which causes an inflammatory response — that red, swollen, itchy bump.
There is no complicated science to this cold treatment: ice numbs the area of your mosquito bite, which helps reduce the itchiness and soothes your skin. Applying the compress for about 5 to 10 minutes should be enough to relieve the discomfort, at least temporarily.
Ice can also help decrease the inflammation and swelling as your body responds to the foreign substance injected by the mosquito, says Rich Agbortoko, PharmD, a pharmacist in Maine. But it won’t help the bite heal any faster, though.
2. Aloe vera
Aloe has been used medicinally for thousands of years, as far back as early Egypt. These days, it is a fairly common, and easy to care for, house plant. The gel inside the thick, stocky leaves is used to treat many skin conditions, and aloe can help relieve sunburn or mosquito bites.
For starters, slathering aloe onto a mosquito bite will likely bring you immediate relief, because it has a slight cooling effect on the skin.
Moreover, aloe vera has also been shown to be effective at reducing erythema, which refers to the redness that accompanies skin irritation, whether from a mosquito bite or sunburn.
In a small 2015 study, researchers used a sodium lauryl sulfate solution to intentionally irritate the forearm of 17 female participants. After six days of applying treatment twice a day, aloe vera was as effective at relieving erythema as other medical creams, like hydrocortisone.
3. Baking soda
To both treat the itch and promote healing, mix baking soda with water and put that on your mosquito bite. You don’t have to worry about exact measurements of water and baking soda, just start with about a teaspoon of baking soda and add some water to create a paste that you can apply on your skin.
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a base, so it helps counteract the acidity of the reaction between your body and the mosquito saliva. “It helps the body neutralize the reaction and keep it from spreading and irritating,” says Agbortoko.
Baking soda can also be used as a home remedy for chicken pox or eczema, which cause dry, itchy, inflamed patches of skin. Often, products or treatments marketed for eczema will also help with mosquito bites, Agbortoko says, because they address the same symptoms of skin inflammation and irritation.
4. An oatmeal bath
Like baking soda, oatmeal is a common kitchen item that has been used for years to relieve itchiness.
The most common method is an oatmeal bath. You can get it in a form called colloidal oatmeal, which is basically just finely ground oatmeal made specifically for skin treatments. Regular uncooked oats will also work, but it’s best if you grind them in a food processor or blender first.
To take an oatmeal bath, just sprinkle the oatmeal into a warm bath, then get in and soak for about 10 minutes, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you are using store bought colloidal oatmeal, follow the instructions on the container. If you are using DIY ground oats, add about a handful to the water.
According to a 2012 study published in the journal Dermatology Research and Practice, oatmeal can help form a protective barrier on the skin and soothe irritation. The study examined children with atopic dermatitis, an inflammatory skin disorder. Children who used both a colloidal oatmeal cream and a colloidal oatmeal cleanser twice a day reported being less itchy.
5. Raw honey
This method, while a bit sticky, has a number of benefits. Honey, like many of the other home remedies, has anti-inflammatory properties that will help treat your mosquito bite.
According to a review of raw honey in the journal Wounds, the sticky substance facilitates debridement, the medical term for removing dead tissue and foreign debris. Basically, the honey pulls fluid from the tissue around the wound, which also helps wash the wound and flush out any irritants.
If your mosquito bite opens up — like if you’ve been scratching it a lot — consider putting a dab of honey on it, just like you would any type of ointment. You may want to cover it up with a band-aid to avoid getting honey on anything else.
6. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil, which comes from the leaves of Australia’s shrub-like tree Melaleuca alternifolia, has been used medicinally for decades, mainly as antiseptic and anti-inflammatory medicine. It is now also found in some over-the-counter anti-itch treatments, says Agbortoko. You can buy the essential oil at a local health food store.
A 2002 study published in The British Journal of Dermatology also suggests that tea tree oil may be a natural antihistamine, which can help reduce itch for mosquito bites. Researchers injected 27 volunteers in the arm with histamine diphosphate, then measured the flare and weal of the reaction every 10 minutes. After participants applied tea tree oil, weal volume decreased.
To use tea tree oil on a mosquito bite, you’ll want to mix a little bit with any other common type of oil — like olive oil or vegetable oil — to dilute it. Then, you can just dab it on the bite.