MOSQUITOES – Who has never looked for a thousand and one techniques to successfully stop scratching after a mosquito bite, sometimes several? “After a bite, there is a local reaction which is of the urticaria type, because there is a release of histamine by our immune system”, recalls Marc Perrussel, vice-president of the National union of dermatologists-venereologists (SNDV).
“It is this molecule which is responsible for the urticarial reaction, which will cause vasodilation [gonflement de la piqûre]. It responds to the anti-coagulant substance that the mosquito injects in order to be able to suck up the blood”, specifies the dermatologist.
Ice cubes, hydrocortisone-based treatments, aloe vera… Marc Perrussel takes stock, for The HuffPost, on what to do or not to do to soothe a mosquito bite.
What to do after a mosquito bite?
“The first thing to do is to disinfect, generally with an antiseptic, and then if we have it available we can use a corticosteroid cream afterwards”, begins Marc Perrussel. “It remains a medical prescription drug: there must be certainty that it is a mosquito bite and that the area is not infected”, nuances the dermatologist, however.
Instead, you can find over-the-counter products that contain low levels of hydrocortisone, such as Apaisyl, to relieve itching. “You can also take antihistamine-based tablets,” says Marc Perrussel.
If you prefer grandmother’s remedies to these treatments, the dermatologist advises using ice cubes. “The ice cubes will reduce the effect of vasodilation, it is a remedy more related to a mechanical phenomenon to try to limit vasodilation”, underlines the specialist.
In the American edition of HuffPost, dermatologist Jeannette Graf suggests using aloe vera or baking soda for their “anti-inflammatory properties”. Remedies approved by Marc Perrussel who nevertheless warns: “You must not be mistaken in the concentration of baking soda otherwise it becomes caustic”.
What not to do after a mosquito bite
“Most of the time, what is not recommended is to put products that burn, caustic products which can cause the suppression of itching but which will above all have serious consequences. Some people, for example, will use alcohol at 90 degrees, which is totally inadvisable”, warns the vice-president of the SNDV.
Similarly, dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo warns, with the HuffPost American, against applying heat to the area where mosquito bites are. “It will increase the redness, swelling and itching,” she points out.
Finally, Marc Perrussel recommends not scratching: “When the person scratches, the risk is to cause an infection since apart from the fact that it itches, it causes sores which, in hot weather, can easily infect”.
What to do to avoid being bitten next time?
“There are many techniques to avoid being bitten: the mosquito net, possibly the use of fans which will allow the mosquito to be repelled by the wind”, lists the specialist. “Above all, you must avoid putting your legs under a table covered with a tablecloth or sitting on a balcony in the evening at dusk with a small light,” he reminds us.
“We can apply repellent products based on lemongrass, whether spray or perfume”, then advises Marc Perrussel. “You can put plants around your house like geraniums or eucalyptus which are mosquito repellent plants,” he also adds.
Finally, the specialist recommends “avoiding wild water points, in cups, tires where water stagnates. A small puddle is enough for mosquitoes to reproduce and proliferate”.
See also on The HuffPost: “In Russia, Thousands of Mosquitoes Looking for a Mate Create a Hellish Tornado”