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Living Well

Mosquito Bites: Easing Your Itch and Aggravation

Last updated: Jun 11, 2012



As our cool, wet New Jersey spring gives way to the warm days of summer, menacing mosquitoes are on the hunt!

What does a mosquito bite look like?

Mosquito bites are usually red, slightly swollen, and very itchy. Your symptoms can appear immediately or within a day or even 2 days after you’ve been bitten.

Protecting Against Mosquito Bites

If you plan on being outdoors:

  • Use screens on windows and doors
  • Stay inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are active
  • Avoid damp and wooded areas
  • Avoid perfume and scented soaps
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants; tuck pants legs into your socks
  • Spray exposed skin with insect repellent that contains 30% DEET (child-safe repellents have less than 10% DEET)
  • Spray your clothing with insect repellent

Treating Mosquito Bites

If you get a mosquito bite:

  • Wash the bite and surrounding skin immediately with soap and cool water
  • Keep the bite and surrounding skin clean can help prevent infection; using cool water and gently patting the bite dry instead of rubbing it can help prevent itching
  • Avoid scratching the bite, which can spread infection-causing bacteria
  • Treat the bite with a topical corticosteroid or antihistamine cream or lotion. Applying hydrocortisone cream (a corticosteroid) or Benadryl® cream (an antihistamine) several times can help minimize itching and lessen the urge to scratch!

You also can use an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl® to help relieve itching, especially if you have multiple bites.

When Your Mosquito Bite is Infected

Your mosquito bite might be infected if the area gets redder, swelling increases, and the irritation spreads to a larger area. Other signs of infection include a center that oozes clear or yellow fluid.

If you think your mosquito bite has become infected:

  • Clean it with soap and cool water
  • Treat it with a topical antibiotic cream such as Neosporin® or Bacitracin® to fight infection
  • Apply a corticosteroid or antihistamine cream to prevent itching
  • Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and itching

If your mosquito bite worsens
or doesn't begin healing within a few days,
see your doctor!