Mosquitoes can carry life-threatening diseases, but for many people, torturous itchiness feels like more of a threat.
While there are plenty of ways to try to prevent the bites in the first place, nothing is 100 percent foolproof, and most of us know all too well that skeeters have a way of finding -- and preying on -- even the tiniest bit of exposed skin.
That's why it's helpful to arm yourself with some handy ways to ease the itching. But first, says Dr. Neal B. Schultz, a board-certified dermatologist in practice in New York City, we need to understand why a bite itches to begin with.
"Itching is a low-grade form of pain," he tells The Huffington Post. "The mosquito is injecting a material into your skin that causes inflammation, which is redness, swelling, tenderness and heat. That then becomes an itch." The body's natural reaction to the bite is to release histamine, he says, a compound that signals an allergic reaction, which causes itching. (That's why medications called "anti-histamines" often do the trick.)
While it's endlessly tempting to scratch, there are a couple of problems with doing so. First, breaking the skin anymore (with your dirty fingers, nonetheless) exposes the bite to a greater risk of infection, says Schultz. Plus, scratching actually creates more inflammation, leading to more itching and worse pain. Essentially, scratching mosquito bites is "fueling the fire" he says.
Instead, many people turn to the afore-mentioned anti-histamines to reduce itching and other symptoms of their bug bites. However, many are known for causing pesky side effects, particularly drowsiness, although Schultz says new iterations are less likely to make you sleepy. Still others opt for calamine, which acts as an astringent, meaning it will draw fluid out of the swollen bite to reduce some of the discomfort, says Schultz, just be prepared to be covered in pink splotches.
If you prefer to go the natural route, there are some options that can at least temporarily relieve the itching. Keep in mind, says Schultz, that an effective treatment needs to target itching, swelling and pain.
Click through the natural treatments below, then let us know what else you've tried in the comments.
For more on beauty and skin, click here.
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