The Buzz on Bug Bites – What You Need to Know Before They Feast
I was sitting outside the other night and within two minutes, a little sucker landed on my shoulder, and left me with a nice, itchy mosquito bite. We’ve all been there before, fun day playing in the grass or beautiful hike through the woods and next thing you know you’re covered in bug bites and itching uncontrollably. It got me thinking – why do they always get me? Is there anything I can do to deter them? And is there a better solution than scratching them raw?
Why do they bite
Each person has a different reaction to a bug bite. Some people attract more mosquitoes than others, while others may not react at all. However, it’s unlikely that someone actually remains bite-free their entire life! When it comes to mosquitoes, only the females bite us. While it’s unknown what attracts mosquitoes to some humans and not to others, 85% can be attributed to genetics. Blood type O is a mosquito’s favourite and more bites have been linked to people with this blood type. Variation in skin bacteria and the smell of skin odour may also play a role. The more carbon dioxide you exhale and the warmer your body temperature, the more attractive you become; being active outside or being pregnant therefore increases your odds.
How to prevent
Avoid: perfumes and cologne, heavily scented sunscreens, wearing bright clothing, shiny jewellery, and the consumption of beer. All are known to attract mosquitos.
Garlic: Several days before you trek into a bug-filled territory, start eating garlic. Have a clove or two every day. Apparently, as you sweat out the garlic odour, it can repel many insects.
Bug Spray: Try making your own all-natural bug spray using essential oils! Try out the recipe here.
How to relieve
Ok, so you tried your best, but you got a few bites and you cannot stop scratching! Try these home remedies for some quick relief:
Cold Compresses or ice stops the spread of histamines and other body chemicals that cause itching and swelling. Place on the bites as soon as possible.
Baking Soda: Add a few drops of water to some baking soda, mix it into a paste and apply it directly onto the bug bites. The alkalinity of baking soda can help neutralize the pH of the area and reduce itching.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Soak a cotton ball or the area itself in apple cider vinegar for a few minutes. Similar to the baking soda, it should help relieve redness and swelling.
Tea Tree Oil: this essential oil is not only antiseptic, but it will also help decrease the itch. Mix a few drops in a carrier oil (coconut or olive work well). Dab onto a cotton swab and rub the area. Other essential oils that work include witch hazel, lavender and peppermint.
Full body? Try an oatmeal soak. The oats will help decrease inflammation, balance the skins pH (which relieves the itch), as well as soften and moisturize your skin.
Make an herbal poultice: mash the leaves (peppermint, jewelweed, plantain and/or chickweed) with a mortar and pestle into a paste and apply directly to the bite. Or in a pinch, chew the leaves to mash them!
1. Zand J, Rountree R, Walton R. 2003. Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child. Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2nd Editition.
2. DIY: 7 Best Natural Mosquito Bite Remedies. Gardenista.com From: http://www.gardenista.com/posts/stop-the-itch-natural-mosquito-bite-remedies
3. Health Check: why mosquitoes seem to bite some people more. The Conversation. http://theconversation.com/health-check-why-mosquitoes-seem-to-bite-some-people-more-36425