I'm a romantic at heart, and so at the risk of facing commenter-wrath, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it: the season's first mosquito bite isn't such a bad thing. In a strange way, it's kind of like earning your summertime stripes. Don't you think?
No? Well, romantic notions about pesky insects aside, I admit that by this time of summer the first bite has turned into the first forty and I'm ready for a bit of relief.
In case you haven't gotten around to whipping up a batch of DIY: Bug Repellent Balm—and we suggest you do—we present you with a list of natural remedies for mosquito bites that might have you putting away that chalky pink Calamine lotion forever.
Photographs by Erin Boyle.
Above: My arsenal of natural mosquito bite remedies. We're sharing seven of our favorite remedies here, but if you've had any luck with others, please let us know in the comments section below.
1. Ice cubes: Using an ice cube or cold pack can be a surprisingly effective remedy for mosquito bites. The ice temporarily numbs the area and helps control swelling. Wrap cubes in a towel and press against bites for 10 minutes (or for as long as you can tolerate).
2. Tea bags: Natural tannins in tea act as an astringent, drawing toxins out of the skin and helping to lessen your discomfort. Press a used tea bag against your bites until the itching has subsided.
3. Tea Tree Essential Oil: Antiseptic properties in tea tree oil help it treat a variety of skin-related symptoms, including mosquito bites. Dab a small bit of essential oil onto a cotton swab and rub it on the affected area. Lavender and peppermint oils also work well. A caveat: Some people are sensitive to applying essential oils directly to their skin, if that's the case for you, try diluting them or choose a different remedy.
4. Baking Soda Paste: Mixed into a paste with a few drops of water, alkaline baking soda can help neutralize the pH of an infected area and reduce itching. Apply the paste directly onto bug bites and allow to dry.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar: In the same way that baking soda can help neutralize a bug bite, a swab of apple cider vinegar (or a few cupfuls diluted in a bath) can help balance the pH of an infected area. Apple cider vinegar is somewhat less acidic than other vinegars and a good choice for restoring natural pH.
6. Aloe Vera: Often associated with relieving painful sunburns, aloe vera is as helpful for mosquito bites. You can check the produce aisle for fresh aloe vera or buy gel at the pharmacy. If you decide to go the fresh route, gently peel away the tough outer skin from the inner gel with a sharp knife. You can then pulverize the interior gel or rub the intact interior on any offending bites.
7. Peppermint Poultice: The cooling sensation from peppermint leaves that have been mashed into a paste can offer a quick remedy for especially bothersome bites. If you're an adept forager, you can also try making a poultice from jewelweed, plantain, or chickweed. And if you find yourself out and about without your mortar and pestle, all of these herbs can be chewed and spit onto bites for relief. Bonus points for using your very Gardenista wilderness survival skills.
Don't go, we've got more summer bug stories:
Are moths feasting on your winter wools? See No More Mothballs: Keep Moths Away with an Herbal Sachet
Enamored of fireflies? Here's how to protect them.
Prefer something between you and the bugs? See 10 Summery Mosquito Nets on Remodelista