Once bitten, the mainstays of treatment are cool compresses, antihistamines, anti-itching compounds, and anti-inflammatory medicines.
- For a cool compress, apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel or soak a washcloth in cold water and press it on the bite.
- Ask your pharmacist to help you select an appropriate antihistamine for your child. Some are available by prescription only. You might have to balance strength versus drowsy side effects. Zyrtec, a newer antihistamine for children, usually works very well while not being very sedating.
- The simplest anti-itching compound is a paste made of baking soda and water. Use just enough water to make a sticky paste, and spread it on.
- Calamine lotion works in a similar way, and usually the effect lasts longer. Other children prefer a menthol lotion such as Sarna.
- A topical anesthetic containing pramoxine (such as the prescription PrameGel or the over-the-counter Caladryl) can take away the pain and itching.
- For the anti-inflammatory part of treatment, ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or naproxen (Alleve) can reduce redness, pain, itching, swelling and fever.
- Topical steroid creams of various strengths can also be useful. Occasionally reactions to mosquito bites can be severe enough to warrant systemic steroids.
- Studies suggest that some natural anti-inflammatory remedies are very effective in some people: oral evening primrose oil (Lancet, 2:1120, 1982) and papaverine (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 13:806, 1985). You might find both of these in a health food store.
Reviewed by: Khanh-Van Le-Bucklin
Last reviewed: July 10, 2000