Skip to content

    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


    Important It is possible that the main title of the report Anaphylaxis is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

    Read the Anaphylaxis 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