During our camping trip last summer I got an excessive number of mosquito bites on my legs, upwards of 25 on each leg. The main thing I learned from that was that it’s important to use a reasonable amount of bug spray, especially when it’s hot out and you’re wearing shorts. Around here we have mosquitoes that carry diseases, so insect repellant isn’t really something to mess with. We’re experimenting with different repellents but we have yet to be happy enough with one to recommend it.
|LOTS of mosquito bites! Look closely
to see scotch tape on some of them.
However, once I had the bites, I decided that this was a great opportunity to try a variety of natural mosquito bite treatments and see what worked best. I’ve started to pay attention to what’s in the topical products we put on ourselves and our children, because you absorb chemicals through your skin and beauty products are not regulated the way food is. I poked around on the web to get ideas of natural remedies that I could try.
Vinegar or Baking Soda
I found that vinegar provided instant relief – I dabbed it on with a cotton ball. Baking soda in a paste with water worked for a little while, but left white patches on my skin that brushed off easily – and when they brushed off, the itching returned. To sleep I took benedryl and my usual loratadine in addition to my natural remedies.
|Scotch tape on a mosquito bite|
I took baking soda paste with me to work and reapplied it throughout the day, but by about 3 o’clock I was ready to go out to the store to buy something else to try. That prompted another google search which came up with many ideas, including putting scotch tape on them. Since I had scotch tape in my desk drawer, I tried it. The tape worked surprisingly well. When I got home that evening my 1 year old was picking at my leg and I finally realized he was pulling the little pieces of tape off the bites. I had forgotten all about them! When the tape came off, the itching came back.
By this point I was getting fairly frustrated by the bites so even though it’s not a natural remedy, I started putting hydrocortisone cream on the bites, a prescription, 3% tube that I had. This helped, but did not provide any instant relief, so it needed to be paired with something else.
A few people told me that toothpaste – the paste, not the gel kind – worked for them. This worked! I was thrilled! This is now my favorite remedy for bites, and it is easy to come by and even carry a little tube in your purse. I tried Aquafresh, Crest and Tom’s of Maine. Unfortunately the Aquafresh and Crest both worked significantly better than the Tom’s of Maine. (We’re trying new toothpastes that are more environmentally friendly – watch for a post on that.)
The toothpaste worked right away, it worked for a long time and it is pretty convenient. The only drawback was that it leaves a spot of white or green that others can see. Since we’ve discovered this my children have gotten in the habit of asking for toothpaste when their bug bites itch!
I originally tried putting bandaids over bug bites so that my children wouldn’t scratch too much and make the bites bleed. It turns out that these help the itching as well. I’ve heard a theory that if you cut off the air to the bite it stops the itching. I don’t know why, but it appears to be true.
What Didn’t Work
Other things I tried included:
- tea tree oil – I didn’t notice it working
- “after bite” – mostly ammonia – didn’t work much
- putting a cross with your finger nail in the bite – the pain makes it itch less, but it doesn’t work for long
My main suggestion is to try not to get bitten, but if you do, I recommend toothpaste on the bite.
Other articles in our Greening Your Camping Series:
- Green Your Vacation – Go Camping!
- Greening Your Camping – Getting Started
- Is Your Gear Ready? Prepping for Camping
- Greening Your Camping – Mosquito Bite Relief
- Greening Your Camping – Reusable Utensils
- Greening Your Camping – Reusable Dishes or Disposable?
- Greening Your Camping – Cloth Diapers
- Camping Desserts – Apple Crumble
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