Tips For Treating Mosquito Bites

Dr. Greene’s tips for treating mosquito bites:

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 (cetirizine), an antihistamine for children that is available over the counter, 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 (Aleve) 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.


Medical Review on: September 20, 2014
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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