How To Deal With Bug Bites Without Going Insane
By Michael Pollak
So we’re in the final stretch of summer, or are we? Since it’s quite likely the hot, humid days will extend well into September, we’re all going to need a little help to make it through. Have the mosquitos been eating anyone else alive? Being outside has practically turned us into pin cushions. Our Heyday Skin Therapists are answering your bug bite curiosities and giving their pro tips on how to survive these muggy, buggy times.
Whenever I’m out in a group, there’s always one person who gets bit the most. Are some people just more attractive to mosquitos?
The science is fuzzy, but there are some pretty solid correlations which suggest why some people are mosquito-magnets:
If you can’t shower immediately after exercise, keep Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes in your gym bag. Use one for your face, and one more for your body. It’ll hold you over until you shower and take the mosquito target off your back.
My bites always blow up and swell, am I more sensitive? Or even allergic?
Here’s some food for thought. There are interesting findings that say in a group of people, everyone is probably bit the same amount of times, yet it’s how and if your body reacts to the bite which determines how if you’ll have an itchy red bump to follow. So yes, you may be very sensitive or have a full-blown allergic response.
The severity of your reaction depends on how your body responds to the deposit of mosquito’s saliva which is deposited into your body as she eats (only females bite!). The saliva is concentrated in enzymes and proteins which most people’s bodies treats as an allergen, triggering itching, inflammation, and redness. However, not everyone experiences the same level of allergic reaction, or reaction at all.
I remember being so much more bit-up as a kid. Did my body change?
It’s quite possible. Just as we may develop food intolerances or grow out of certain sensitivities or allergies through life, same goes with our response to mosquito bites.
Some people are naturally less sensitive, or not sensitive at all to the saliva, while others have extreme reactions of severe swelling. Studies suggest people with repeated exposure to the mosquito allergen, such as those who live in damp, warm environments, may eventually stop having an allergic response.
What can I use to keep away mosquitos?
Our team had a few different ideas. But they all come to the same conclusion that you see in The Cut’s article about mosquitos. These little pests can be repelled by certain smells and dampness. Esme P. says that she uses vanilla extract. Guess mosquitoes don’t like cake! Jenna W. says that “years visiting Florida got me hooked on using what the locals use, a mixture of lemongrass, citronella, geranium, and water. It’s called ‘No-See-Um Natural Insect Repellent Spray’ and it’s a lifesaver.” Briony swears by Neem Oil.
Any quick-fixes to calm the bite and stop the itch?
It turns out that there are natural ways to get rid of the itch of a bug bite, and it’s not just making an x-shape in the middle of the bite. Katya P. recommends mixing baking soda with water until it turns into a paste. Then can be applied directly to the skin. Alix S.loves oil of oregano. “It really calms them and takes the itch out! It’s strong, so best to dilute with a carrier oil.”
And Joanne D., swears by an unlikely choice, meat tenderizer!
Sounds crazy, right but she is a total believer. “Growing up on the Long Island Sound, I spent by youth being sprinkled with meat tenderizer! Yep, the kind you buy at the grocery store in a shaker. It really does work, the reason is that it has the enzyme papain in it. It breaks down the toxin in the bite (or sting from a jellyfish) to stop the itch or ouch! Simply sprinkle on wet skin or mix with a little water to form a paste and apply. Really, it’s something that should be in every diaper bag, camping kit, and medicine cabinet!”
I’ve gone overboard with itching, my skin is really mad, help!
Wanda C. agrees that a homemade paste is the best bet here. “Make an oatmeal paste by mixing equal parts of oatmeal, honey, and water until you have a spackle-like substance. Spoon some paste onto a cool damp washcloth and hold it, paste-side down on the irritated skin for 10 minutes. Then gently wipe clean.” If it’s a full body situation, then it might be time for an oatmeal bath instead.” Sprinkle 1 cup dry oatmeal or ground oats into a bathtub full of warm water. Soak in the bath for 20 minutes, occasionally rubbing some of the clumped oatmeal bits onto irritated areas of skin."
It’s rough out there kids, be careful!
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