The Weekly Edit: Bitten

Jul 24, 2020

On Wednesday night, we went to a friend’s house for an impromptu wedding celebration.  The party was lovely, but being so close to the river, I got eaten alive by mosquitos.  I’ve never been sure why those little pests like me so much, but I’m allergic to them, so my legs are now spotted like the Mad Madam Mim.

I’ve been pouring After Bite onto them like my life depends on it, but I still have huge welts.  Benadryl isn’t helping.  I’m really at a loss.  So if anyone has any miraculous mosquito bite cures, please leave them in the comments.

A while back, a meme of a man pulling a lawn mower behind his bicycle made the rounds on the Internet.  The tag line being, “Only in Toledo.”

Filmmaker Dan Lior tracked the man, DeShawn Willis, down.  The resulting short film is powerful.  In a time when white America is learning more about what it means to be black in America, his story of trying to build a lawn care business from nothing is deeply moving.  The GoFundMe to provide him with proper lawn care tools and a truck and trailer to haul them is rightfully going gangbusters.

Earlier this year, I bought a Vitruvi essential oil diffuser for my office, and I love it.  Something about having your favorite scent wafting through your workspace just makes being stuck at home a little better.

I usually use Vitruvi’s Sweet Orange oil, but my neighbor turned me on to DoTerra’s On Guard.  I don’t know if any of the brands claims about building immunity and strengthening respiratory function are true or pure puffery, but the smell is incredible.  The oils has a citrusy, earthy, herbacious bouquet that I find utterly revitalizing.  I turn it on in the afternoons and my focus and productivity increases five-fold.

Looking for a less expensive diffuser?  This one has a very similar look and style.

Blood Ties is a new fiction podcast from Wondery about two children of privilege who lose their parents in a plane crash.  In the aftermath of the crash they learn that their family members were not who they thought they were.  The podcast is engrossing, well-produced and a nice escapist break from the every day.  The shorter episodes also make it perfect for a quick sanity walk or short drive to the store.

How good does this chicken and veggie bowl look?  It’s the perfect thing for a hot summer day when you need dinner and don’t want to heat up the kitchen.  Cook the chicken on the grill, chop some veggies, use the Trader Joe’s microwavable rice, make the sauce and you’re done.  And if you’re looking for a great chicken rub to add flavor to your dish, Spiceology is a Spokane company whose Chile Margarita rub will turn any bland chicken dish on its head.

{this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}

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  1. Megan says:

    Blood Ties is so good! For the bug bites, I’d say try a hydrocortisone cream, I’ve found that they work better for bites than Benadryl. If you want to try a home remedy, holding a hair dryer over the bug bite stops itching (weird but effective) and a baking soda/water paste can bring the swelling down.

    • L c says:

      Yes to baking soda and water paste. It took giant, horribly itchy sand flea bites and reduced them in size and itchiness in a few hours. Cheap and effective.

  2. Rachel says:

    I feel you on the mosquito bites – I have full-on skeeter syndrome (it’s real, look it up!) and have ended up in the ER due to really bad reactions multiple times.

    The only remedy that consistently works for me is Zyrtec, which is the best antihistamine for any kind of skin allergy. I take it everyday in the summer as a preemptive measure, but it also helps reduce sweeping and itchiness if you already have bites. I also recommend wearing citronella bracelets in situations where you might encounter the violent little scoundrels. Good luck!

  3. Lucy says:

    So, it’s too late for you now – but the Bug Bite Thing works amazingly well on fresh bites. It’s just this little suction tube, but it somehow works! I’m someone who gets enormous welts from mosquitos, but if I use this within maybe the first half hour after the bite they are gone – no welt, and no itching. As the directions say, you might have to do it a couple of times per bite, but it’s only a couple of seconds. The only catch is if you don’t catch the bite right away it doesn’t work.

    • Jen says:

      I came to shill for the Bug Bite Thing too. It’s amazing for mosquito bites that you catch right away. It doesn’t work for all bites in all locations, but it’s worth having around.

  4. chloe says:

    I swear by Caladryl Clear vs calamine – only thing that helps the itching and soothes on contact.

  5. cristina says:

    Ivarest (intended for poison ivy) works really well on bug bites, including mosquito and chigger bites, ugh!), and it’s a lot stronger than products marked as for insect bites, in my experience. get the “Ivarest Maximum Strength Poison Ivy Cream.”

  6. Kate says:

    Zyrtec. I get welts the size of ping pong balls when I get mosquito bites, but that’s the only thing works.

  7. PW says:

    I bought this a few weeks ago: Its available at REI, Amazon, etc.

    It works by sucking out the mosquito spit which is what causes the reaction. I use it once a day or so when the bite is irritating me and also a topical itch cream and the bites are pretty bearable.

  8. E says:

    Zyrtec and hydrocortisone for the bites. My daughter and I both get half dollar sized welts, and last weekend we both got bit on our faces!?! Also keeping a toddler from scratching is impossible. You could also try calamine lotion or potentially an oatmeal bath to help with the itching.

  9. Anon says:

    I get terrible swelling from mosquito bites too. Cortisone cream works better for me than any anti-histamine options.

  10. Monica T says:

    Thanks for sharing the Only In Toledo video, I don’t see a lot of viral stuff, but this is really inspiring and wonderful.

  11. Colleen says:

    I’ve used CereVe Anti-Itch lotion for insect bites. It helped with residual itchiness.

  12. lILY says:

    Rubbing ice cubes on the bites is the only thing that makes a difference for me in terms of appearance. For itching, I whiz a big handful of oats in the blender until it looks like flour, then combine that with a few tsp of baking soda and water until it’s a spreadable paste. Leaving that on the bites for 30mins or so tends to do the trick.

  13. Jubilance says:

    For the bug bites, try a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel and then applied to the bites. It works best the sooner you do it, but you will probably get some benefit by doing it now.

    Also not sure if you’re aware but DoTerra is an MLM. The first season of The Dream podcast talks a lot about them and Young Living oils.

  14. CIndi says:

    Hi! Some women I know take 2 doses of Zyrtec in a day. It will make you drowsy though.

    Last summer I had a couple of bad bites. I used a pen and outlined the red swollen area around the bite on my knee – within a matter of hours, the swelling extended at least an inch beyond the pen line.

    My dr prescribed a course of prednisone and antibiotics to treat it. My immune system overreacts to mosquito bites.

  15. Shawna says:

    I like Redmond Bentonite Clay for mosquito bites. I make a little paste and let it dry on the bites. I also like propolis and lavender essential oil. If the itching is driving you crazy, a tooth numbing gel (like Oragel) works wonders.

  16. Anon says:

    If you can get them (I couldn’t find any on, I find mosquito bite patches to be very effective – something like this:, although I haven’t used that particular brand.

    For the future, you might want to try taking one-a-day garlic capsules (even the odouress oens), as they can helodeter the things in the first place. When I first came across this, a friend who kept horses told me they routinely add garlic capsules to the horses’ feed in teh summer to stop them being bothered by horse flies.

  17. irmck says:

    I totally feel you on the bites. Seriously, talk to your doctor. I have a Rx steroid cream that is the only thing that gives me relief. I only have it because I happened to be in for something else, and she saw the welts on my legs. It’s worth a call.

  18. B says:

    Try applying a generous amount of tea tree oil on your bug bites. Repeat application if you still itch after the oil dries. This should stop the itch and swelling. If you don’t have tea tree oil on hand, put scotch tape on your bug bites. This will stop the itch.

  19. Kate says:

    The best combination for it over the counter is a combination of one Zyrtec and one Zantac. Take them together. All things work on certain people. Sometimes teabags on bites as well as soda paste will help.
    The doctors who told me about the Zyrtec Zantac combination and it helped me immensely.

  20. Kate says:

    I have a similar reaction to mosquito bites and a product called Chigarid has been a lifesaver for me. Smells potent when it first goes on, but that fades quickly. It does make a physical barrier on your skin that looks shiny like clear nail polish, but that also means that it stops me from scratching absentmindedly days after I get bitten. Not a great look if you’re out in shorts, but then again, neither are the huge red welts themselves…

    On the prevention side, I’ve also had good luck recently with the Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil bug spray. We keep a bottle by the back door for our buggy backyard, and it works better for me than similar Repel Lemon Eucalyptus spray.

  21. Beth-c says:

    The low-tech, no-purchase solution I found is to take a metal tablespoon and run it under the hottest water your tap will produce until the bowl is hot. (I fill a glass up because this takes a few tries.) Press the bowl against the bite. The heat causes the mosquito saliva to dissipate. You’ll know it is working as the itching gets less and diffuses out. The welt melts away under the heat.

    It also works on chigger bites, the absolute bane of my existence.

    • Kate says:

      This! I do a slightly more extreme version – I’ll either run my leg under the hottest water I can stand or dip a cloth in it. It’ll make it itch like crazy while the heat is on it, but when the itch stops and it just hurts, I’ve bought myself a few hours of blessed relief.

      One other thing: friction makes my bites swell up horrendously, so if I have one I know is going to rub on pants or sheets I’ll cover it with a bandaid, and it definitely helps prevent the tennis ball sized welts that make it hurt to walk.

      • Chrissy says:

        So interesting! I do almost the same thing but with *ice*. I find using an icepack on the bite numbs the area, keeping me from scratching, and dissipates the poison very quickly.

  22. M says:

    I am also loved by mosquitos. I’ve never found anything that works as well as witch hazel. Honestly, it’s a godsend.

  23. Eleanor says:

    I avoid MLMs in general (I recommend season one of the podcast The Dream for why), but also DoTerra is insanely overpriced. Here’s a list of good dupes for cheaper, including the on guard blend:

    And for mosquito bites, I got this and also can’t believe how well it works:

    • caitlin f says:

      Thank you Eleanor! That price difference is insane, and from looking at the ingredients I don’t see how the two MLMs could claim theirs is worth the extra $$$$… besides being MLMs of course.

  24. Jill says:

    Grateful for the mosquito bite tips. I sat on my D.C. porch this week, covered in bug spray, and got bites through my fairly thick yoga pants. And I use preventive mosquito dunks around the porch, always vigilantfor standing water, etc. Ugh.

  25. Tara Collins says:

    If scratching mosquito bites is a big problem, use Campho Phenique. There’s also a unscientific method we use in the south of making an X with your fingernail into the bite and it can relieve itching. They go away quickly if you don’t touch them which is the hard part! And obviously avoid shaving until they are healed.

  26. Meighan says:

    For bites, I like Icy hot or Tiger balm. Any of the muscle balms actually feel great on bug bites!

  27. roons says:

    Mosquito relief – recently discovered CBD ointment works amazingly well. I was stunned. Give it a go

  28. Chrissy says:

    This may seem weird, but I highly recommend icing bites! Take ice or a cold pack and when they are bothering you ice the bites like you would a sore muscle. Growing up in NC the mosquitos *loved* my blood–still do. Numbing the area reduces my need to scratch and helps me momentarily forget about them. If I don’t scratch/irritate the site, the poison dissipates quicker. This works better for me than any topical ointment which may work the moment it is applied, but then creates a magnified “itchy area” when it dries/flakes off.

  29. Maria says:

    I used to work outside so the following is a bizarre but insanely effective suggestion used by fellow field techs: meat tenderizer. No I’m not joking, but try to find one without seasoning. Meat tenderizer has an enzyme (papain) that breaks down proteins and toxins that makes bug bites itch.

    A more normal solution that has also worked but more temporarily is hydrocortisone. Smother liberally, several times a day.

    Good luck!

    • Anon says:

      Papain is the enzyme that’s in papayas, so you could at a pinch try papaya flesh! I wonder if pineapple might work, as it also has enzymes that tenderize meat (which is why your lips can get sore if you suck on fresh pineapple, and why you can’t put fresh pineaplle – or often even tinned pineapple – in jelly/Jello – the enzymes break down what makes it set). In Germany, I was prescribed a tablet form of the pineapple enzyme to reduce swelling.

  30. Megan says:

    A tip I learned for any kind of bite or allergic skin reaction from a friend who did medical studies in Africa: fill a tub with the hottest water you can stand and submerge the bites in it for as long as you can hold out. It will break down the chemical reaction that causes the itch and swelling. For severe itching (I learned this from her after a man’o’war sting) repeat 24 hours later. Good luck.

  31. Jessica says:

    I just saw this recommended on The Strategist but haven’t bought it yet….the author raved about it:

    That and the Bug Bite Thing are my as-yet-untested suggestions!

  32. B says:

    Not a post-bite solution, but if you’ve never heard of picaridin as a bug-repellant I highly recommend it. I’ve always been a mosquito magnet, and picaridin works way better for me than deet. And unlike deet, which smells like poison and eats my camping gear, picaridin is safe to put on clothes/plastics and has a pretty mild smell.

    • Kayleigh DeLap says:

      I recently started using picardin as well and it works so much better than any DEET spray (and lasts up to 12 hours). My local Passport Health recommended it as I was supposed to visit India for work (thanks Covid). So instead I have been using it vigorously this summer and its been great (when I remember!). I have also found my aloe plant to be helpful to recover from my bites when they happen.

  33. Nichole says:

    I am also allergic to mosquitto bites. I use the Benedryl stick (I will link below). I carry one in my purse and keep one in the bathroom and one in my desk at work. I also use a maximum strength cortisone cream to help reduce the itching.

  34. Nichole says:

    DoTerra is an MLM. I recommend getting oils from Revive. Their quality has been just as good as anything I’ve tried from DoTerra our Young Living. Here is the one that is the same as OnGuard:

  35. Shannon says:

    For mosquito bites, google “hot spoon for mosquito bites.” I am an attractor and a reactor as well, and this is the only thing that works to stop the itching. With less itching, you get less swelling and redness too. It’s one of those home remedies that really works! (My husband the scientist says the heat breaks down the enzymes that makes the bites so itchy.)

  36. Alex says:

    I have similar issues with bug bites. I’ve ended up in the hospital because of bites and allergic reactions. An at home remedy that has worked is meat tenderizer, but the only thing that really worked for me was a steroid cream that my dermatologist prescribed. The cream is Clobetasol propionate and I apply it on bites as soon as possible and sometimes put a small piece of athletic tape if the reaction is worse than usual (

    Good luck! It does make it much harder to enjoy summer weather!

  37. Annette says:

    I am a mosquito magnet- tea tree oil helps or if you really bring in the big guns- open a Benadryl capsule and put the powder on the bites.

  38. Sarah says:

    Not a mosquito bite remedy, but the thermocell is magic for repelling mosquitoes. We found it because we like to camp a lot, but now we use it in our backyard and you can literally see the mosquitoes hit the protective area and turnaround.

  39. Eleanor says:

    Could you do a post of what to wear to a backyard wedding celebration? I’d love your thoughts on appropriate attire, as well as mask ideas!

  40. Allison says:

    Try Insect Shield… I picked the wrap which anyone in mosquito territory should own –

    No affiliation with the company, but their clothes have worked well for me

  41. K says:

    Please be careful with the essential oils. Many can cause health issues for people or pets when diffused and the MLM aspect makes for extra sketchy and sometimes predatory business dealings (especially for women looking for legitimate side income).

  42. Allie says:

    This won’t help get rid of the bug bites, but for moments when you are beside yourself with how itchy your feet/legs are, soaking them in a bath or bin of ice water will instantly stop the itching. It only lasts as long as your feet stay cold, but sometimes the instant relief is a godsend. Works on reactions to the brown-tail moth/caterpillars up in Maine too.

  43. `Devon McGoldrick says: is the only thing that has worked really well for me with mosquito bites.

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