Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Preventing and Treating Mosquito Bites

By Ellen Greenlaw
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

It’s summer -- time to enjoy the outdoors! But we’re not the only ones. Bugs like mosquitoes thrive in the warmer weather, too. And that means more chances of itchy mosquito bites.

Try these methods for itch relief:

Recommended Related to Allergies

Could It Be an Allergy?

Wondering if your nagging cold is actually an allergy? Or what about your new skin cream that made your hands break out? Distinguishing an allergy from a non-allergic condition is not always a clear-cut task. But knowing the difference can sometimes help you solve what's ailing you, which in turn could mean faster relief. Mary Fields knows just how difficult pinpointing an allergy can be. The 64-year-old Bronx resident tells WebMD she was convinced her frequent hives were caused by something in...

Read the Could It Be an Allergy? article > >

  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • A cold compress or ice may help reduce itching and swelling.
  • Calamine lotion, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, or a topical antihistamine may also help relieve the itch.

Preventing Insect Bites

Your best bet is avoiding a bite to start with. It may be impossible to prevent all mosquito bites, but there are ways to reduce your risk.

  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin during prime mosquito hours -- usually from dawn to dusk. Also apply repellent when you’re in wooded or brushy areas.
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), insect repellents with DEET or picaridin as active ingredients typically provide protection that lasts longer than others. Studies have also found that oil of lemon eucalyptus provides protection similar to products with low concentrations of DEET.
  • Wear long-sleeved tops and pants when outdoors.
  • Don’t let standing water accumulate around your yard. This is where mosquitoes breed. Keep your gutters clean, drain children’s pools, change the water in bird baths regularly, and empty excess water from flower pots.
  • Keep bugs out of your home by keeping your screens in good condition. Repair any screens with holes or tears.

Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus

Mosquito bites can be an itchy nuisance. But mosquitoes also can carry illness.

In other areas of the world, mosquitoes transmit malaria and Dengue fever. In the United States, mosquitoes can spread West Nile virus. For about 80% of people who are infected, this virus causes no symptoms. But in some people, West Nile virus can cause severe illness and even death. Those more at risk for getting sick from West Nile virus are people aged 50 and older.

In mild cases, symptoms may include:

Serious symptoms require a doctor's care. They include:

Symptoms usually occur three days to two weeks after a bite from an infected mosquito. If you notice any severe symptoms, see your doctor right away. You can usually treat less severe symptoms, such as a mild fever or headache, at home.

Mosquito bites can be a pain, but with a little planning you don’t have to let them ruin your time outdoors.

Reviewed on April 08, 2011

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?

blowing nose
woman with sore throat
lone star tick
Woman blowing nose

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat lying on shelf
Allergy prick test
Man sneezing into tissue
Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching