Often we don't even notice when a mosquito bites. The bite only becomes apparent a few hours later, with severe itching and a reddish swelling. Although mosquito bites are usually harmless in our part of the world, they can still be very annoying. The internet suggests a wide variety of possible remedies - but what really helps? Dr Silke Schmitt Oggier, Medical Director of santé24, knows the answer.
(Video in German)
Home remedies and medicinal plantsIf the bite is relatively recent, there are some home remedies that can cool it and stop the itching for a while. These include a slice of onion, (apple) vinegar, a slice of lemon or curd cheese. If you're out and about and don't have a remedy to hand, you can always use ribwort. But be careful. You should only use it if you're certain you have the right plant. The video explains in more detail how the various remedies are used.
(Video in German)
Another home remedy for itching is honey. It also acts as a disinfectant and can be applied directly to the affected area. Honey must not be used on babies under 12 months of age because of the risk of infant botulism.
Heat or warmthThe advantage of many of the home remedies mentioned above is that they cool the sting safely. Of course, you could also use an ice cube or a cold pack. However, caution is advised here. The cooling elements should never be placed directly on the skin and should not be used for too long. Otherwise, chilblains may occur.
The same applies to heat treatments. You may have read that it's a good idea to press a hot spoon on the spot. Heat can in fact help with the itching and swelling, but a spoon that is too hot can quickly lead to burns. In this case, so-called bite healers are better. These devices emit heat in a concentrated and controlled way for a few seconds. "The heat can be a little painful, but it actually helps quite a bit against the bite," says Dr Silke Schmitt Oggier.
Remedies from the pharmacyThose who prefer conventional medicines will find a range of remedies at their pharmacy. One well-known active ingredient is antihistamine. It can be found, for example, in the form of creams and tablets. In addition, there are other products such as gels and roll-ons which provide short-term itch relief. These can therefore be applied regularly.
Why do we feel compelled to scratch?Our body defends itself against the foreign proteins in the mosquito saliva by releasing histamine. "Studies have found that our brain prefers pain to itching. In other words, by scratching we cause ourselves pain, which distracts us form the itching for a short time," says Dr Silke Schmitt Oggier. The itching stops for a short time we scratch the bite area but can result in open wounds or even unsightly scars. Bacteria can also penetrate the skin through a scratched bite, which can make antibiotic treatment necessary in severe cases. So, no scratching!
In the event of further health-related questions, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 telemedicine service free of charge on +41 44 404 86 86. A telemedicine practice licence allows santé24 physicians to provide additional medical services in cases that are suited to a telemedicine approach. SWICA customers can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. During a subsequent phone call with santé24, customers can decide for themselves whether to release their information from SymptomCheck to santé24.