Delicate yet determined, when the lady mosquito lands on you she has but one goal: a meal. Unlike male mosquitoes that survive by feeding on flower nectar and sweet juices, the female not only feeds on various sugars for energy but requires blood nutrition to develop her eggs. On her mission, she’s drawn by your scent, perspiration, even your carbon dioxide emissions. And once she’s attracted to you, very little can deter her -- with the possible exception of a timely swat.
After that little winged lady sticks her long sharp proboscis into your business, she leaves behind a form of saliva that contains proteins, digestive enzymes and anticoagulants which can prevent your blood from clotting. Fortunately, the body’s immune cells break down and remove this foreign matter from the bloodstream. What’s more problematic is the redness, swelling and signature bump that together cause an incessant itching that can’t be ignored. The itching leads to scratching and scratching leads to a possible infection that will take time to heal.
To avoid these pesky insects from ruining your summer or vacation plans, consider your options in advance. While there’s a plethora of commercial mosquito repellents and treatment products on the market, most of them contain harsh and potentially harmful ingredients like DEET and smell -- well, pretty awful.
Before you spray yourself in a cloud of chemicals in an attempt to prevent painful and itchy mosquito bites, opt for a natural alternative. Here’s eight simple, yet highly effective natural repellents and remedies you’ll find either at home or at your local health food store that will help stop the sting or calm the aftereffects of being stung.
Garlic is commonly seen in the movies as a remedy used to ward off evil, blood-sucking vampires. While that may be fiction, it’s a proven fact that mosquitoes don’t like it much either -- particularly its smell. Take a proactive approach to keeping these bugs at bay by taking garlic capsules or eating garlic and foods rich in vitamin B during the summer months and while on vacation in warmer climates.
Vanilla Extract and Olive Oil
Make your own natural repellent by using a safe solution of clear liquid vanilla mixed with olive oil. Another plant extract, cinnamon leaf oil, was also found to be more effective at killing mosquitoes than DEET.
Prior to a hiking, biking or any other prolonged outdoor activity, wash with citronella soap and follow by rubbing 100% pure citronella essential oil on your skin. It’s refreshing lemony fragrance naturally repels mosquitoes.
At the first sign of an itchy bite, apply a small amount of vinegar on a cotton swab directly to the bump. If you have multiple bites, soaking in a hot tub of water with 2 1/2 cups of vinegar - preferably organic apple cider vinegar - will help relieve your discomfort.
Reduce swelling and calm itching by treating the bite with a thick paste of baking soda and water. Apply the paste generously to the affected area and you should feel relief shortly afterwards.
Known for its anti-microbial properties, raw honey can help prevent infection from mosquito bites. Take a small amount of the honey -- preferably local organic honey if possible -- and spread it directly on the bite.
While on vacation with no access to the usual products in your pantry, you can quickly relieve the annoying itch of a mosquito bite with toothpaste. Apply a small amount of all-natural peppermint or neem-based toothpaste to the bite, allow it to dry and keep it on as long as needed.
Long established as an excellent remedy for mosquito bites as well as many other maladies, Aloe Vera not only eases itching and inflammation, but will also help heal the wound.
Apply the fresh inner leaf gel directly from the plant to the bite, or use Aloe Infusion Organic Skin Cream. Enriched with vitamins, minerals and combined with fresh-squeezed organic Aloe Vera juice, this multi-tasking hydrator soothes and heals dry and irritated skin without fragrances, colorings or preservatives.
The body’s response to insect stings ranges from mild to severe and it’s essential to get medical attention immediately if you know you are or appear to be allergic to mosquito bites.