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Stop the Itch! 12 Quick Household Remedies for Relieving Itchy Bug Bites & Stings

Updated: Aug 4, 2021

With warm weather comes bugs, and with bugs come bites, and with bites come itches. From ticks and spiders to mosquitoes and bees, insect bites come in sundry shapes and sizes, but they all commonly pull an itchy, red reaction out of our bodies.

Here are some home made remedies to stop that itch!

Apply Heat to the Itch

Heat causes histamines to disperse all at once, freeing you of their concentrated focus on the infected area. You can easily apply heat using a warm washcloth, with a hot coffee mug, by running warm tap water over the itch, or taking a hot shower or bath. Even a hair dryer will work.

Cool Down the Itch Site

Similar to heat therapy, a cold pack or a cube of ice can also take the itch out of bites. If you don't have an ice pack, you can always get creative by holding a cold glass of water to the bite area or even some ice pops.

Soak the Itch in Baking Soda

If you have a ton of bites (sorry about that!), soaking in a baking soda bath might be your best option. Being alkaline, the bicarbonate of soda will help neutralise pH levels at the infected site(s). To do so, add about a cup of baking soda to a tub of warm water, hop in, and relax for 30 minutes to an hour.

Coat the Itch with Oatmeal

If you've ever been to a spa, you might have gotten a nice oatmeal face treatment. Commonly used in pricey lotions and face washes, oatmeal has a bunch of surprising benefits (beyond making yummy cookies). While it may not look very appealing, the rolled oats actually do wonders for the skin.

Apply Mud to the Itch

If you're out camping, you can easily find mud for this DIY. Simply apply a thin layer to your bite to relieve the itch and/or swelling. At home, you can quickly make your own, too, with a bit of backyard soil and water. It's Mother Nature's natural skin care product and one of the oldest, proven remedies you can find. Plus, it's free!

Soothe the Itch with Honey

Known around the world as a natural antibiotic, honey has been used to treat burns as well as dry skin and chapped lips. Considering all this, it's not surprising it can also be used to soothe insect bites. Simply apply a dab of honey to your bite location for fast itch relief.

Fight the Itch (Infection) With Fruit

Citrus fruits are naturally anti-itch and anti-bacterial, which makes them perfect for bug bites. If you have a lemon or an orange, squeeze the juice onto the bitten area or even rub it with the peel. It may burn a little bit (lemon juice on a cut?!) but after the initial jolt, you should feel the itchiness start to taper off.

Dull the Itch with Rubbing Alcohol

Although I've never tried pouring Jameson on a bug bite (such a waste), you can use isopropyl alcohol, also known as your common household rubbing alcohol. The mixture usually comes in a 90% solution, which will be more than enough to help clean the bite and dull the itch. Use a cotton swab or cotton ball. You can also use alcohol wipes.

Neutralise the Itch with Vinegar

If you don't have any rubbing alcohol in the medicine cabinet, vinegar is a great stand-in. Apple cider vinegar is best (less acidic), but you can use any kind you've got on hand. Just like the rubbing alcohol, use a cotton swab or cotton ball to apply the vinegar to the itchy spot. This remedy is also similar to that of baking soda.

Rid the Itch with an 'X'

What? By using your fingernails to press an "X" directly onto the bite, you can push the histamines away from the irritated spot. This can lessen the itching for a little while, buying you some minutes. Every minute counts in the battle against scratching.

Distract Your Brain from the Itch

While your brain is a pretty impressive organ, it can still be outsmarted. For some reason, the mind seems to only register one kind of pain at a time; so if you slap an itch, the itching will cease as the brain processes the mild thwack you just gave yourself. Obviously, this again is not a permanent fix, but if you don't have anything else available, it's an option for temporary relief.

Again, Refrain from Scratching That Itch

We circle back to square one: No matter how tempting it is to scratch, do not do it. Keep in mind that this seemingly instant relief is really just exacerbating the itch, reopening the site and aggravating the initial bite. It may feel like it's getting better, but take a look: it's much worse!

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