Q. I’ve just read about the “hot water” remedy for mosquito bites. I too seem to be a mosquito magnet and have found Vicks VapoRub is a magical remedy. I have no idea how or why it works, but it does! A little dab rubbed on and around the bite not only soothes the itch but takes the swelling down as well.
Can you explain this?

A. Others have told us that Vicks VapoRub can ease itching from mosquito bites. We tracked down a review article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (Nov., 2007) suggesting that menthol (an ingredient in Vicks) has been used since antiquity to ease itching. It works by affecting itch receptors in the skin. These same receptors react to the pain caused by very cold temperature.

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  1. E. Dots
    Reply

    The juice of macerated common plantain leaves also works, and promotes rapid healing. In looking up information on the weeds that have taken over my lawn, I discovered this information online – checked it out for myself – and discovered that it really does work.

  2. msg
    Reply

    I was also going to comment about using rubbing alcohol – in my case for mosquito bites – which I get a lot of. The alcohol is something that most people keep around anyway.

  3. dlf
    Reply

    Reading the comment about Vicks Vapo Rub reminded me that my mother used to use Vicks VR on chigger bites when we were kids back in the 50s. It would get rid of the chiggers and relieve the itch.

  4. ECC
    Reply

    I’ve found that Preparation H (used for hemorrhoids) works great on mosquito bites as well.

  5. abigail
    Reply

    Menthol is also an ingredient in Listerine – along with eucalyptus – which I find relieves the itching of bites and hives.

  6. Gas
    Reply

    We use tooth paste it gives the same results as Vicks’ it stops itching and reduces swelling fast!

  7. Lynn
    Reply

    If this works for mosquito bites, I am going to try it on spider bites, as the bite itches for the first few days.

  8. kaf
    Reply

    I have been bothered by fewer bugs this summer than ever before. I am not sure if it is due to the dryness of the summer or if it is because I switched to an unscented shampoo (365 brand) and unscented soaps in response to my husband’s complaints about scented shampoos and soaps. I’m still as clean, and the bugs don’t seem to notice me as much. Could it be the lack of perfumes?

  9. dp
    Reply

    Vicks works. Everyone’s skin chemistry differs. What works well for one may not work for another. As a constant gardener, mosquitos are my bane. What works the BEST for me after bites is a liberal application of vinegar, white or apple cider. Takes the itching and allergic response of a hive at the bite away immediately. Works for me for any topical allergic response such as poison ivy or latex reaction.

  10. M.A.L.T.
    Reply

    Re the People’s Pharmacy column in today’s Seattle Times about alcohol relieving mosquito bite itch. My mother has used rubbing alcohol for years to reduce the itch from flea bites. Livng in So. California, with cats, she discovered that dabbing a bit of rubbing alcohol on the flea bite would sooth and contain the itch.

  11. Lisme
    Reply

    I am also an instant magnet for biting critters. I have used the hot water treatment in the past and the slight pain actually feels good compared to the insane itch. The treatment is not always convenient, however.
    I tried the Vicks treatment and it actually works. It takes a while for the effect to kick in, but it’s convenient and doesn’t sting even if the skin is broken. You just have to be careful not to make a mess.

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