Why You Need to Stop Scratching Those Mosquito Bites, According to a Derm

How to calm a mosquito bite

Once you’ve been bitten, it’s best to don a pair of mittens and sit on your hands. But, our modern world prohibits such idleness, so there are some alternate solutions to soothe a mosquito bite. 

Most importantly, don’t start scratching. “Just like an acne bump, these lesions are very inflammatory from the start,” Dr. Pritzker notes. “If you pick, you are increasing the inflammation and risking a scar, which could be permanent.” (Case in point: My dotted legs.)

Of course, once you start scratching, it’s difficult to stop. In these cases, Dr. Pritzker recommends applying an over-the-counter steroid cream. “Hydrocortisone can help with the itch and reduce the inflammation faster,” she says, “hopefully preventing a scar.” If you’re particularly reactive to mosquito bites, Dr. Pritzker advises asking your dermatologist for a stronger prescription cream to have on hand.     

[Editor’s note: As always, talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any new treatment.]

How to prevent mosquito bites 

If you want to avoid mosquito bites in the first place, spritz on some repellent. DEET, or diethyl-meta-toluamide, is a tried-and-true option contained in many commercial mosquito repellants. The ingredient has stirred up some controversy in the past due to potential health concerns, but according to the CDC, it should not be harmful when used as directed. Safety aside, DEET has a distinct, pungent odor that’s arguably just as effective for repelling your fellow humans as it is repelling insects.

If you prefer spending time in the great outdoors without smelling like a camper, consider a fragranced repellent like Kinfield Golden HourTM ($22), which contains citronella with hints of vanilla and clove. Interestingly, fragrance fans swear that Victoria’s Secret Bombshell® ($25) effectively repels the little bloodsuckers — and science has since backed these claims. 

Now that I’m armed with mosquito knowledge, I’m hopeful that my constellation of skeeter scars is part of a finite universe — one that I can control with perfume, lounging indoors, and a touch of hydrocortisone as needed. 

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