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How to Get Rid of Mosquito Bites

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How to Get Rid of Mosquito Bites

If an innocent outdoor BBQ usually leaves you covered in nasty red mosquito welts — yet your husband is always left unscathed — you can blame another common seasonal annoyance: allergies. Turns out, those itchy red bumps on your skin are actually an allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva, according to Dr. Rajani Katta, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Bellaire, Texas.

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“The reaction is caused by salivary proteins introduced when adult female mosquitoes penetrate the skin,” she says.

So just like some people are crazy-allergic to nuts and while others like to down a jar of peanut butter for a midnight snack, some people will have a more severe reaction to mosquito bites than others.

The good news: Finding itch relief is easier if you stick to the right methods — and avoid the common home remedies that make bumps worse. Popular “cures” like witch hazel, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar actually do more harm than good.

“All three of those can irritate the skin, so they might increase inflammation and redness,” explains Katta.

The number one weapon at your disposal can likely be found in your medicine cabinet: “I usually go straight to 1% hydrocortisone cream used twice a day,” Katta says. “That has the benefit of calming both the inflammation — helping reduce the redness and the swelling — and the itching.”

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A topical steroid like Cortizone-10 ($6, works in most cases, but Katta advises against using it on your face for more than a month. “Steroids cause thinning of the skin,” she explains, “so it makes you more susceptible to cuts and bruises, especially in fragile areas like your eyelids.”

Whatever you do, resist the urge to scratch. Any open sores put you at a higher risk of infection, and could lead to long-lasting hyperpigmentation or worse, scarring.

Try tapping the irksome bumps instead. “There’s a particular nerve fiber that carries the message of itching to the brain, but you can distract it tapping or applying pressure,” Katta says.

As for your next outdoor excursion, beat bugs before they bite by stocking up on insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants. Before you head outdoors, apply the Good Housekeeping Institute‘s pick: Sawyer Products Controlled-Release Insect Repellent Lotion ($8,, which protects against mosquitoes for up to 11 hours. Allethrin lamps and geraniol candles can also help de-bug the backyard.

Since mosquitoes can transmit disease, the extra precautions will save you from both uncomfortable itchiness and potential illnesses like Zika or West Nile virus.

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