Relieve Itchy Mosquito Bites In A Pinch With This Easy Ice Hack

Summer has arrived, and it's time for sunbathing, cookouts, and margaritas galore. The good news is that school may be out, but the bad news is that so are the mosquitoes. Individuals with an elevated body temperature, those of us sporting black or red clothing, and people with greater levels of ammonia or lactic acid in their sweat may find that mosquitoes are drawn to them like a moth to a flame (via UnityPoint Health). If you're unfortunate enough to get bit by a mosquito, ice may help alleviate some of the immediate discomfort. Rather than reaching for the ice cube tray in your freezer, however, head for your refrigerator's crushed ice dispenser.

The reason mosquito bites are so darn irritating is because when the insect bites (the female, to be exact), it burrows its various mouthparts into the skin and dispenses saliva into our bloodstream while simultaneously extracting blood for feeding. This triggers an immune system response in the body to fight off the invader by releasing the chemical histamine, which then results in a hard, itchy, red bump at the site. All of this happens within a matter of minutes. Thankfully, topical application of crushed ice may offer fast-acting relief, reports Healthline.

How to make a cold compress with crushed ice

Although crushed ice won't do anything in the way of cleaning or disinfecting the area, the cold temperature of the ice can help lessen itching, swelling, and inflammation by constricting the blood vessels and decreasing blood flow to the site (via UnityPoint Health). Ice should never be applied directly to the skin, however, as this can lead to redness, irritation, ice burns, or even frostbite, explains the Cleveland Clinic. Such was the case for an adolescent student athlete who suffered frostbite after leaving a cooling pack on their injured finger for too long, as outlined in a 2014 case report published in The Journal of Athletic Training.

Instead, fill a plastic baggie with crushed ice and wrap it in a rag or paper towel to protect the skin. Apply your DIY ice pack to the area for approximately 5 to 10 minutes, suggests the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). If you don't have crushed ice at your disposal, keep a cold spoon on hand in the freezer that you can apply to a pesky mosquito bite at a moment's notice. Alternatively, try the heated spoon hack to relieve itchy mosquito bites if you'd rather not subject your skin to a cold chill. 

Other hacks for itch relief from mosquito bites

If ice simply isn't an option, UnityPoint Health suggests a few other home remedies that may ease your scratching woes. This includes squeezing a drop of honey onto a mosquito bite. 2016 research published in the Central Asian Journal of Global Health outlines how honey has been shown to have antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Around the world, the natural sweetener has been used to treat various skin conditions, including eczema and burns. Honey has also been used to help heal wounds. Similar to honey, onion also has anti-inflammatory properties, and consuming the strong-smelling vegetable can block the release of histamine in the body. Thankfully, we don't have to eat handfuls of diced onions to ease the sting of a frustrating mosquito bite; simply apply a halved onion right onto the skin.

Whatever your hack of choice, the best thing we can do for mosquito bites is to refrain from scratching them so as to not increase our risk of skin damage or infection. If you develop fever, yellow discharge from the bite, worsening pain, or the area becomes warm to the touch, among any other concerning symptoms, seek medical care from a doctor.