Nothing says mosquito bites like summer. Whether you’re spending a weekend at a beach house, hosting an outdoor dinner party, or if you’re like me, sleeping with your windows open, gaining a few swollen, red bites are inevitable—whether or not you remembered to apply bug repellent.
Aside from mosquito bites cramping your summer style, they’re also non-stop itchy until they finally heal. Dealing with mosquitos is arguably the most annoying part of the season, so we turned to NYC Celebrity Dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe to for her tips on how to soothe bites and what changes to your skincare routine can help remedy the situation.
If you have multiple bites at once, one of the first things you probably notice is that some are more red and swollen than others. “When a mosquito bites you, she injects her saliva into your bloodstream and this saliva contains proteins which cause swelling, itching, and redness that many of us experience,” explains Dr. Bowe. “But, our reactions to mosquito bites can vary based upon our sensitivity (or allergy) to mosquito saliva. For example, a non-reaction means that you aren’t allergic or sensitive to the saliva. Most of us are somewhat sensitive to mosquito saliva which results in varying degrees of bumps, welts, redness and itching.”
For bites that are unbearingly itchy and red, Dr. Bowe says there’s a few remedies you can try to relieve the discomfort and kickstart the healing process. She recommends applying an ice cube to the bite because it will constrict the blood vessels and decrease the body’s natural histamine release so that you’ll itch less. Another dermatologist approved DIY is dabbing your skin with a washcloth dipped into a mix of equal parts whole milk and water to soothe itching and the discomfort of a bite.
In terms of skincare products, Dr. Bowe recommends adding MetaDerm Eczema Moisturizing Cream ($15; amazon.com) to your regular lineup minimize discomfort and promote healing. “It contains 25 botanicals which naturally dial down inflammation/itching and speed healing,” she says.
And while you’ve heard it before, but the best thing you can do is try not to scratch. “ You should really resist the urge to pick at a mosquito bite and try to scratch as little as possible because you don’t want your skin to scar,” says Dr. Bowe. Other things you should avoid: taking hot baths, which will exacerbate existing irritation, and using rubbing alcohol to reduce itching because it will only cause further dryness and inflammation.
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The good news: there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent getting mosquito bites. Along with insect repellent, Dr. Bowe recommends covering up your skin if you’re going to be outside at night which is when mosquitos are most active, and opting out of wearing fragrance, which will also attract the bugs. At home, she says to keep stagnant water at a minimum, because this is where mosquitos cultivate. She suggests covering containers that hold water, scrubbing them clean often, adding mesh wire to the covers, and covering cracks and open vents and plumbing pipes.