Mosquito Bites: Prevention and Treatment

Mosquitoes are attracted to things that remind them of nectar or mammal flesh. They are attracted by some body odors, and for this reason they choose some individuals over others in a crowd. They bite more frequently when the weather is hot or humid. The simplest anti-itching compound is a paste made of baking soda and water. Use just enough water to make a sticky paste, then spread it on the bite. Calamine lotion works in a similar way, and usually the effect lasts longer. A topical anesthetic containing pramoxine (such as the prescription PrameGel or the over-thecounter Caladryl) can take away the pain and itching.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using an insect repellent on exposed areas of skin. The most effective compound is DEET (N,N-diethyl meta-toluamide), an ingredient in most insect repellents. However, insect repellents containing DEET should be used sparingly on children. Don’t apply it under clothes, or too much of the toxic substance may be absorbed. Also, avoid applying repellent to portions of the hands that are likely to come in contact with the eyes and mouth. Pediatric insect repellents with only 6-10% DEET are typically available at your local pharmacy.