The People's Perspective on Medicine

How to Prevent and Stop the Itch of Mosquito Bites FAST!

How do you prevent mosquito bites? Deet, picaridin, vitamin B1, Listerine? If your tricks fail, how do you stop the itch of mosquito bites? How about HEAT?
Public domain from image id#8923 credit James Gathany

Some people are mosquito magnets. They attract mosquitoes like honey draws flies. A bunch of people can be sitting around the back yard enjoying themselves and not being bothered by mosquitoes. That’s because one or two people in the group are getting all the mosquito action. It’s not fair! I know because I am one of those mosquito magnets. What do I do to stop the itch of mosquito bites? This reader would like to know what to do when strategies to prevent mosquito bites fail.

Q. Recently I was out in the backyard for about 15 minutes with my grandkids. I ended up with two large swollen bites that itched and kept me awake for a couple nights. No one else out there was bitten.

This happens to me every year. I attract mosquitoes and then I seem to be hypersensitive to the bites. Any advice?

Preventing Mosquito Bites in the First Place!

A. Someone like you, who is especially attractive to mosquitoes, should apply repellent before going outside. DEET is effective but if you prefer something else, oil of lemon eucalyptus or picaridin also work to ward off mosquitoes.

Learn more about products such as Repel Lemon EucalyptusSawyer Picaridin and Natrapel Picaridin at this link:

How Can You Keep Mosquitoes Away?

Other Ways to Keep Mosquitoes at Bay:

Our readers have lots of suggestions to keep mosquitoes from sucking your blood. Please keep in mind that there is tremendous variability in responses to such remedies. What works for one person could be completely ineffective for someone else.

Vicks VapoRub:

Pat in Saint Helens, Oregon:

“Use Vicks Vaporub. The mosquitos hate the smell.”

The only trouble with Vicks is that it is greasy! You will feel slimy from the petrolatum (petroleum jelly). Other humans may also hate the smell.

B Vitamins:

Although many readers swear by vitamin B1 (thiamine) as a mosquito deterrent, the science says it doesn’t work. We think body chemistry might have something to do with the variable responses. We believe some people do benefit from thiamine while others do not. Here are some stories from those who have benefitted. We would caution not to overdose on thiamine. A few days may be safe to take higher than normal doses…but don’t overdose for long periods of time without first checking with a nutrition expert.

Elle hates the blood-sucking stalkers but loves Vitamin B1:

“I hate mosquitoes. For the past 25 years, I have been tormented by these (evil) blood sucking-stalkers. Unfortunately, I am highly allergic to their bite, specifically the saliva. My skin swells up to unnatural proportions with itching so intense it is unbearable. I’ve wished I could have the bite area surgically removed to stop the itching. Nothing helped, including antihistamines, and every home folk remedy known.

“I’d scour the internet daily to find/try anything that might work. Finally, about 3 years ago, I found it! Someone had traveled in Thailand. A pharmacy team in Bangkok prescribed THE best preventative remedy.*Vitamin B1* 400mg daily, not anything less! I take 2x 250mg tabs daily.

“B vitamins are water soluble [like vitamin C]. Your body needs B1, and it will naturally eliminate the excess in your urine. No more potions, mixing, slathering, garlic smell or dryer sheets. This works! The odd bite I did get didn’t have the histamine reaction in my body. No swelling and barely an itch. I thank God.”

Heide in Delray Beach, Florida, also likes vitamin B1 to prevent the itch of mosquito bites:

“For over 35 years I have been taking Vitamin B1 (thiamine 100 mg) every day to keep mosquitos away. I heard it on The People’s Pharmacy. I play golf. The ladies are spraying repellant all over themselves. When I lived in Raleigh, N.C. I used it from April to November, but now I am in Florida and I use it every day.

“The B-1 puts out an odor. We cannot detect it. The mosquitos don’t like it and keep away. Vets suggested it to dogs to keep the pests away. When my granddaughter was 4 she got all bit up playing in her yard. My daughter started her on 50 mg. and after that she didn’t have a problem. I have suggested this to others and they too find it works. The bugs fly around me but don’t land on me.”

Pat in western North Carolina is also a mosquito magnet:

“I am usually the mosquito magnet in any crowd. I was proactive this year and started taking both a higher-dose vitamin B combination and a fermented black garlic capsule twice daily. This seems to be working! I am also eating cashews which someone said worked for them.

“Sooooo, don’t know which of the treatments is the magic one, or if it’s the combination of the 3, but something IS WORKING. It’s great to be able enjoy being outside more.”

Lyn in North Carolina is a fan of vitamin B1:

“I am a gardener and have always been a mosquito magnet. Read about B1 and have been taking it for several days. Just went outside at 6 pm and not one bite! Usually they are all over me! Plus, we have had rain for several days which makes them worse here in the South. I will continue to take B1 until cold weather!”

Jennie G in Georgia goes with B complex to avoid the itch of mosquito bites:

“I read many years ago that B vitamins repel bug bites. Not just mosquitos but all bugs that bite. We have what is called no-see-ums here in my part of Georgia. I’ve been taking B complex for years and I can sit outside without being bitten and everyone around me is getting bites.”

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Carl in Duncanville, Texas, likes old-fashioned amber Listerine:

“I apply Listerine to my arms and head before I work outside. I have never been bit when I do this. I know it will last for at least three hours.”

Not everyone agrees:

CSV says Listerine didn’t help:

“This does not work. I have tried it several times with no luck. I still get eaten alive no matter how much Listerine I spray.”

Avon Skin So Soft:

Nadine in Texas loves Avon Skin So Soft (SSS):

“Skin So Soft oil spray was the only thing that repelled sand fleas in the swampy areas of South Carolina. Spending weeks in swampy environments as an active duty Marine, Deet products coupled with the sun’s rays damaged my skin. The Skin So Soft was mild on my skin and repelled all kinds of bugs. The troops and I would mix one cap full of rubbing alcohol in our bath oil spray bottle. The effects only lasted a few hours, but it works.

“I have tried every kind of bug repellent but Skin So Soft is the only product that my troops, my family, and I trusted for protection against insects in the woods and swampy environments.”

Pearl in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, agrees:

“My campus doctor at university told me when I was preparing to go to Malaysia, where she had been in her medical experience, to take at least three bottles of SSS body splash with me for the summer. I did so, and went out in the jungle and palm oil plantations where there are masses of mosquitoes. I also went on a ‘pig hunt’ taking photos, fully rubbed down with the formula. I was the only person of all the party who had not one mosquito welt on my skin.

“I dare say that with the extreme perspiration and humidity we were also much more tolerable. Nowadays, living in Louisiana, I am experiencing an unusual increase in mosquito activity, so I purchased a bottle of the bath oil from a local representative, relating the reason why. She said there was not a splash available any more, but the oil was reputed to be effective. I didn’t find it to be as reliable as the original formula I had with me in Malaysia, but it’s better than going out either coated with serious chemicals, or nothing.

“I have to refresh it after a few hours, probably due to perspiration. Not sure. But I don’t want to go outside without it! I was just advised by a friend that there is actually a repellent formula available now, so I will inquire of my Avon contact to try that.”


Chris in Fairview, Texas, likes nutritional yeast:

“I started taking nutritional yeast to control my allergies. It took about 4-6 weeks to kick in, but it does a good job of allergy protection. A surprising side effect is repelling mosquitos. I am one of those people that mosquitos can smell a mile away but not since I have been taking 2 teaspoons daily of premium nutritional yeast seasoning flakes. I can now go out in the early morning and late evening without being bitten. I am 66 and wish I had discovered nutritional yeast years ago.”

Overcoming the Itch of Mosquito Bites with Heat:

Once bitten, our best advice is to try heat. Hot tap water for a second or two can stop itching for a few hours. Some people use a brief application of a metal spoon that has been submerged in hot water. Be careful not to burn your skin.

Maryanne says it really works:

“I learned about the hot water method from my mom, a practical nurse, back in the 1970s. She said the hospital where she worked was experimenting with this method for patients with severe itching.

“Be careful you don’t burn yourself, though. Start slowly! (For this reason, I would NOT recommend applying heat of any kind to another person — especially elderly — b/c they might not be able to feel when it’s getting too hot!) 

“I have also used the hot water method successfully for flea, mosquito, and poison ivy itch.”

J.B. has been using hot water for decades:

“An old friend in the Navy told me many years ago that they had been taught to put really hot water on any bug bites to stop the itching. I’ve used that technique for the last 40 years and it always works.”

Nancy in California tried the hot spoon trick:

“I just tried this method this morning. I applied the hot spoon several times to an angry looking mosquito bite. Darned if that didn’t stop the itching almost immediately! Also, the welt is gone.

“I still have a red spot, but the swelling is completely gone, and it has been several hours. One thing I did read about this method is that it should be used as soon as possible after being bitten. I believe I was bitten early this morning and had the hot spoon on it within minutes of noticing it. I will definitely be testing this method again!”

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Battery-Powered Heat to Stop the Itch of Mosquito Bites:

Another option is a battery-operated device that heats the skin around the bite. We know of two brands, Therapik and Bite Helper. Such gadgets are especially helpful when you are away from home and don’t have ready access to hot water.

L.H. Offers this endorsement of Therapik:

“A super effective way to stop the itch of a mosquito or flea bite is to dip a metal spoon into hot water for about 10 seconds or so, and then put it on top of the bite (when it feels barely tolerable–don’t actually burn your skin!). You may have to reapply the spoon a few times. You may have to repeat the next day as well.

“I usually get a bad reaction to bites and scratch them relentlessly even in my sleep, but this has worked miracles for me! The heat neutralizes the venom; this is supposed to work for all kinds of insect bites. There is also a little battery-operated device you can buy online which has a safe little ‘laser’ button which has the same effect–great when you don’t have hot water and a spoon available. It’s called a ‘Therapik.’ Makes a great gift for camping friends–the friends I’ve given one to have practically cried with joy after they’ve experienced how well it works! :-}”

What Do You Do to Stop the Itch of Mosquito Bites?

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Chiggerex is my go-to for mosquito, chigger, fire ant bites. It is not a “home remedy,” but OTC, inexpensive and easy to use, contains aloe vera & chamomile, takes just a tiny dab, so supply lasts a long time, and almost immediate relief…sometimes hard to find because it often sells out during mosquito and chigger “season.” This was suggested to me by a pharmacist when I had a large number of chigger bites on my ankles and knees after standing in weeds on the bank of a creek to fish while visiting in Arkansas 40 some year ago. His pharmacy was out, but he directed me to one down the road…RELIEF!! I used that same “bottle” for years. Mosquitoes and chiggers love me, so I have used it a lot but have had to buy very few bottles, maybe 5 or 6 over the years because it lasts so long (even with my boys using it…DH isn’t bothered). (Editing of this is welcomed :)–but it is such a good product.)

My late wife discovered at an early age that placing a piece of tape (adhesive, scotch, or whatever’s handy) on the bite stops the itching very quickly. This is effective for bites of most common insects

The best remedy for a mosquito bite is Tea Tree Oil. Dab a little on and it stops itching almost immediately and the itch does not return. Tea Tree Oil is also great for burns, stopping the pain in much the same way. I would not be without this in my medicine cabinet!

My mother always mixed up a paste of meat tenderizer and would rub it on the bites it takes away the itch and swelling every time.

Meat tenderizer contains papain, an enzyme that breaks down proteins. That’s how it tenderizes meat, and it is how it stops the pain of a bee sting. We never tried it for mosquito bites.

I discovered that facial mudmask applied to the bite, soothes the itch, and calms the swelling. It also works on other bug bites. My whole family swears by this. It definitely draws out what ever is making the itch.

I just put a dab of mustard on the bite. It works really well! It can’t hurt because it is edible. It can be messy, which is the only drawback.

Years ago my 18 month-old daughter fell on a Man of War jelly fish on the beach. She was writhing in pain. I tried a paste of meat tenderizer. That did not work. Ended up taking her to a hospital, and in the emergency room they put her in a kinda hot water bath, a big sink, and before you knew it she was happy as a lark, pain free and playing in the water.

I have recently learned to use 100% aloe vera gel for mosquito bites. (I was desperate to stop the itch of multiple bites on my legs.). It stops the itch immediately. There is no odor or color, and it’s actually good for your skin, I believe.

I have always been a mosquito magnet. I was taking garlic pills to see if they would help control my cholesterol. They didn’t so I stopped taking them once the bottle I had run out. I had noticed I wasn’t getting bitten as much but it really hit home when I stopped the pills, and those bugs were after me again. I have started the garlic again, and it is working for me. I take a 500 mg supplement made from organic garlic bulb. Maybe it will help you, too.

An older gentleman friend of ours splashed on Old Spice every day before going outside to work on the farm. Pests never bothered him.

I spray a little white vinegar on the bite. The itch stops quickly, and the size of the bite shrinks quickly. The sooner after the bite, the better. Does help some on fire ant bites.

I have used toothpaste to stop the itch of insect bites. It doesn’t matter what brand. Very easy and effective.

Luckily, I am one of those that the sketos don’t bother. Only occasionally I do get a bite. I have learned to wet my finger and then salt the tip and rub the bite area with that mixture. Shortly afterwards the itching goes away. To prevent those bites, one should cover up as much as possible. I have heard of using those ‘dryer sheets’ you place in the dryer. I have heard of rubbing your clothing down with them and even tying them to your belt loops if you are hiking. I can’t attest to that myself, but I pass that folklore along. Some of those sketos are very bloodthirsty, and anything you can do to prevent getting bitten is well worth the effort to save you from life-long misery. Good Luck.

Several years ago I read about putting a dab of liquid dishwashing soap on the bite. I tried it and found that the itching went away completely within a few minutes. Applying lather from bar soap also works fairly well.

I found many years ago that if I never scratch, rub or touch the bite, it will not form a welt nor itch. I believe histamines are released to the site if we scratch or rub it. I do not react any longer, as long as I practice this. It took about 6 months of no scratching to make my body stop reacting.

During those 6 months, I pressed my finger nail into my skin about 1/2 inch away from the bite. It stopped the itch; perhaps, by distraction of my brain.

This will not prevent bites, but it certainly does stop the itch. When left on for a few hours will prevent the large red splotches: cover the bite with a piece of cellophane tape – works well EVERY time.

Any bite I have gotten, mosquito, red ant, etc., has responded fabulously to tea tree oil. The itch is gone at once.

While I have no idea if this is true – adding heat right away makes sense. The hotter temperature on the skin helps draw the insect’s saliva out of the wound. If you had put a cold cloth on the bite, the saliva would be forced further into the skin. In essence, the heated spoon is acting like a mini poultice, pulling out the poisons that cause the allergic reaction.

I learned this when I had to clean my home-raised chicken eggs. If you wash eggs in cold water, the water, and what’s on the outside of the shell, will be drawn into the egg; wash in hot H2O, and everything on the egg shell will be drawn away from the egg. The same principal may be working for the heat on insect bites.

To stop the itch, I’ve always found this to do the job quickly: apply a little dab of butter, cover the bite with some salt, and rub the mixture in. By the time you finish, guess what? The itch is gone. Just that quick!

I use the juice from the Aloe Vera Plant. Not aloe creams or lotions. Just remove an outer edge leaf from the plant, slit it open with fingernail or sharp knife, and rub it on – instant relief.

This is an easy plant to grow. Water only every two months or so.

We use apple cider vinegar. For prevention, put in a small spray bottle and spray on skin before going outside. After bitten, spray or wipe on bite – sting and itch gone! You can also take the sting out of bites from bees and wasps by applying ACV after bitten.

My fair-skinned, red-haired little boy was very sensitive to mosquito bites. Each bite would make a hard, red, itchy welt the size of a quarter. His pediatrician told me to apply clear nail polish to a bite immediately. It worked! He, and later his little brother, would run to me for that wonderful relief as soon as they could after a bite. Colored polish works the same, but clear looks better. It peels off in a few days. My sons are now fathers and still use this remedy.

I just run hot water over the bite if I can. Bites on my hands itch the most. I run the water hot as long as I can stand it, and the itch goes right away and stays gone…

I learned this long ago in Maine. It works every time. Just wet a couple of fingers and shake salt on them. Then rub the salt firmly into the bite. Itch stops immediately and the bite disappears quite quickly. And the scratching sensation when you are rubbing it in feels great!

I also react very quickly to mosquito bites, with red welts developing immediately. I found quite by accident that applying hand sanitizer with aloe helps right away and can actually diminish the bite by half in minutes. I guess it’s the ethyl alcohol.

Sometimes I follow up by washing the bite with regular soap and water, then reapply more dabs of the sanitizer. I keep an 8 oz. jar of the Walmart Equate on my kitchen counter in the summer!

I use a homeopathic remedy called Sting Stop. Works on mosquito bites, horsefly bites and most importantly, chigger bites.

I have been finding a drop or two of high-quality tea tree oil applied directly to the bite seems to stop the itch. I tested it against the Benadryl liquid bite ‘pen’ (dabs on from a pre-filled branded dispenser) and the bites covered with the tea tree oil stopped itching permanently and the Benadryl treated bites need reapplication after a few hours.

I’ve also been using a tea tree oil cream from Thursday Plantation made in Australia as bite prevention when working in the yard. It’s not as good as Picardin or DEET, but is a nice solution if I only need to be out for a short time and don’t want to feel like I’m a walking chemical cloud for the rest of the day like when using ‘real’ repellents.

I use the heat from a hair dryer to stop the itch of bug bites or any rash such as poison ivy, etc. I

I am also a magnet to mosquitos, getting several bites at any given time, that are itchy and BIG. I have used “natural” sprays that somewhat help. But after the fact, I found that Capzasin really helps the itch. I don’t know if the pepper ingredient capsaicin heats up the area or ??? I apply with a cotton ball or q-tip so there is no residue on my fingers. You don’t want to get that stuff in your eyes!!

Tea tree oil helps anything that itches.

The other night I put castor oil on a mosquito welt. It stopped the itch right away.

Clear hand sanitizer!

My wife has several gardens in our yard and she is one of those who seem to attract mosquitoes if she is not fully covered up. The bites also are very itchy and if she is not careful, she will scratch the bite and make it much worse looking.

She happened to have some Purell (advanced, 2X strength) in her pocketbook one day and I told her that I read hat hand sanitizers are basically strong isopropyl or ethyl alcohol mixed with a thickener (glycerol) so that the alcohol can stay on the skin much longer without evaporating away. The longer the alcohol contacts the skin, the better it can kill germs, bacteria and even some viruses. Apparently, the “soaked in” alcohol can also break down mosquito saliva proteins that are said to cause the allergic reaction that most people have (redness, itching). Many sanitizers also have Vitamin E and / or aloe vera (oils) that soften the skin and also help prevent instant evaporation of the alcohol. The longer the alcohol stays on the skin, it seems to actually penetrate deeply into skin or even below the epidermis layer (my pet theory)!

However it works, my wife and I both notice that the quickly treated mosquito bites do not itch and heal very quickly after 2-3 treatments with a quality hand sanitizer.

I tried to marinate a steak in wine once (15% alcohol), but I made the mistake of leaving the 2 inch steak sitting in about a 1/4″ puddle of wine for about 30 minutes. The alcohol in the wine soaked into the connective tissue of the steak at least 1 inch deep (!) and the steak meat just fell apart upon handling it.

So I learned that given enough time, alcohol can definitely soak into firm muscle and fat. Hmm, I wonder if given enough time with repeated applications, hand sanitizers can soak through the human skin to areas underneath – and say, help break down a subcutaneous cyst? Maybe?

I am also a mosquito magnet who really needs to use insect repellent when I spend time outdoors. However, I have always hated the greasy, sticky feeling of most bug sprays. Last year, I discovered a wonderful bug repellent that is totally non-sticky and really keeps the pests away. It is OFF Deep Woods, insect repellent VIII, DRY. I can’t even tell that I’m wearing it. It got a score of 98% from Consumer Reports, one of their top rated bug sprays. Be sure to get the one described above. OFF puts out other insect repellents in similar packaging that aren’t quite as good.

Soy sauce for Yellow Jackets, Fire Ants, and Mosquito bites.

As a person who kept bees for 25 years I learned the value of using a drop or two of pure lavender oil applied to the area of the sting. Here you first need to “flick” the stinger out of your skin with your fingernail. Lavender also works perfectly to stop the itching of mosquito bites. But I suggest that you find a health food store product specialist to help you choose only high quality lavender oil as there is a massive amount of counterfeit lavender oil on the market and the fakes smell fine but are ineffective.

Witch hazel for mosquito or fire ant bites. I just squirt some on the affected area and voila! Itching and burning gone. I found this when trying almost every substance in my bathroom in sheer desperation.

Alcohol, cortisone, bactine, ammonia. All worthless. Witch hazel is the thing.

If I have been bitten, I apply household ammonia with a cotton ball. This stops the itching.I then apply a cortizone cream. I have never tried the hot spoon, but will. I am a mosquito
magnet and am finding creamy baby oil to be a highly-effective repellant.

When I was young we lived where there were lots Chiggers. I have had chigger bites that were several inches round. One night when I couldn’t stand it anymore I finally went and sat on the edge of the tub, turned on the water to warm, and then gradually increased the heat as it ran over my legs. It took several minutes, and my skin started turning red before I turned off the water. Not only did it stop the itching but I was able to sleep the rest of the night, and the chigger bites started healing.

In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a popular remedy for bites is to enjoy a summer sauna. It works and many people find relief. Another benefit is that the outside temperature will feel a lot cooler for hours after a nice sauna.

Apple cider vinegar applied with a cotton ball dulls the itch for us. Reapply as needed.

For itching, I use Calagel. The itching stops immediately and it lasts for hours.

CBD cream works for me! Stops the itch and bites heal fast.

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