4 Natural Mosquito Bite Relievers: Science-Backed & Derm-Approved
Come summer, most of the skin care conversation zeroes in on SPF, which is absolutely necessary—proper sun care is nonnegotiable any time of year but especially under some scorching rays. But among peeling sunburns and hyperpigmentation, we can't forget about another seasonal skin care gripe: mosquito bites. Those humidity-loving critters seem to latch onto our skin once summer rolls around, resulting in unwelcome bumps peppering our limbs. Dare to don a breezy summer dress for an evening BBQ? You may very well wake up to angry, itchy bites come the a.m. We hear you!
In terms of topicals, there are plenty of anti-itch creams to snag from the drugstore. But if you don't have any on hand, take a peek in your pantry: Chances are you'll have one of these bug bite relievers sitting on a shelf:
Honey's benefits are twofold: First, the soothing, gentle goop is perfect to slather on some inflamed mosquito bites. You can practically feel those swollen bumps soothe upon application. Better yet, honey boasts anti-inflammatory properties on a molecular level—it contains natural compounds that suppress inflammatory enzymes that contribute to that insatiable itch. There's research to back it up: According to a small human study, Manuka honey improved inflammatory skin lesions, as the honey's compounds were able to control multiple inflammatory pathways.
The original sunburn soother has some promising benefits for those pesky bug bites as well. Perhaps for the same reasons it's touted as a remedy for painful burns: Research has found that aloin, a compound found in the aloe plant, has anti-inflammatory properties that aid in the skin-healing process. And it's effective for itch, too: In another study, participants who applied aloe vera to the scalp saw a significant reduction in seborrheic dermatitis symptoms, namely scaling and itching.
So if you've scratched your skin raw, feel free to slather on soothing aloe. It's pretty ahhh-inducing right off the bat—try this cooling body mask and feel the itch instantly subside.
This sleepy-time tea touts some impressive anti-inflammatory benefits. It's been around for centuries as a remedy for treating wounds and skin irritations in traditional medicine—making it a great natural bug bite reliever. "When used in topical skin care products, chamomile can help calm and soothe the skin," Joyce Park, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and global dermatology ambassador of bareMinerals, previously tells mbg. (Some partial to the DIY hack even say it can help calm acne.) Nonetheless, chamomile's anti-inflammatory properties can help soothe those angry bug bites. Just make sure you're not placing piping hot tea bags on your bites, as the heat can inflame your skin further.
Chances are you're familiar with oatmeal as an age-old remedy for rashes (especially if you're one to brew your own oatmeal bath for some extra skin hydration). But along with its ability to calm angry, inflamed skin, oatmeal can also reduce itch associated with bug bites. Take it from board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., FAAD: "Extracts of colloidal oatmeal have been shown to lessen inflammatory mediators in the skin, giving significant clinical improvements in skin dryness, scaling, roughness, and itch intensity," she previously told us. The avenanthramides in oats—an active with major anti-inflammatory benefits—and ferulic acid work to calm irritation, while antioxidants like vitamin E help protect the skin from free radicals and reduce the appearance of scars, so your skin stays clear without any remnants of a mosquito attack.
The mosquito population seems to go from zero to 100 once summer's in full swing, but there are some easy—and natural—ways to relieve any inflammation once bitten. If you have one (or more) of these four ingredients on hand, feel free to experiment and find what works best for you; the best part is, each of these items has benefits beyond calming mosquito bites—perhaps whip up a soothing face mask while you're at it.
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