From mites to mosquitoes, a variety of bugs bite humans, creating itchy skin reactions that range in severity from a mild irritation to a nasty rash. Itching is one of the more common reactions to bug bites, generally brought about by foreign proteins present in the offending insect's saliva. If a bug decides to munch on your skin, consider taking advantage of a home remedy to lessen mild irritation, but make sure you're familiar with other signs that could indicate the need for prompt medical attention after a bug bite.
The Mayo Clinic suggests a variety of home remedies for itching caused by bug bites, including calamine lotion, cold packs and baking soda paste, which provide relief by cooling and soothing the irritated skin. Pharmacologist Joe Graedon, coauthor of "The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies," suggests crushed plantain leaves as an effective herbal remedy for stopping itching from bug bites, but if you opt for this one, it is important to make sure you can successfully identify the plantain plant, a common backyard weed in the United States.
Home remedies treating itching from bug bites vary in effectiveness, depending upon the type of bug bite and the severity of the itching. Scratching the bite extensively before applying a home remedy may lessen the effectiveness of the remedy or even lead to a skin infection, in certain instances. You should avoid using moistened table salt---a common home remedy for mosquito bites---on a bug bite that has been scratched a lot because the salt may irritate and cause a burning sensation on the broken skin.
As a general rule of thumb, you should wash the bitten area of the skin first with hot water and soap to maximize the effectiveness of the chosen home remedy. If you opt for baking soda, it is best to use a baking soda to water ratio of three to one, as recommended by the Mayo Clinic, and mix the powder and liquid together before dabbing it gently on the affected area of the skin. You should use a soft cloth or cotton ball to apply liquid home remedies.
Home remedies for bug bite itching are generally considered to be safe, but it is important to always check with your doctor first, if in doubt. In addition to itching, insect bites and stings may cause severe allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. Signs of a serious allergic reaction include breathing problems, tightness in the throat, turning blue and swelling on the face or in the mouth, according to the National Institutes of Health. Immediate medical treatment is necessary to deal with this potentially life-threatening condition.
Most individuals choose a home remedy for bug bite itching based on what is available at the time of the bug bite. If you want to use a home remedy for bug bite itchiness, you should try to plan ahead of time, especially if you're going to be away from home. You can take your preferred home remedy with you when traveling, on camping trips or going on vacation. Applying a home remedy to the bug bite promptly minimizes your chances of developing a skin infection, especially with children.
- Mayo Clinic: Mosquito Bites-Lifestyle and Home Remedies
- "The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies"; Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D.; 2000
- National Institutes of Health: Insect Bites and Stings