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  • Mosquito bite/itch cream that works!

    (8 replies)

    I have suffered from severe reactions to things like mosquito bites since I was a child: red, bumpy, super intense itchiness. They itch so much...and I scratch and scratch. I have tried all the usual suspects and the gamut of alternative/organic salves, balms, and lotions, but am always hoping I have overlooked something. As we move into the camping season, I am wondering if there are others who have found something that eases the itchiness of a mosquito bite (mine literally end up feeling like they are burning they get so itchy). Would prefer non-toxic, but I am getting desperate. Thanks for any product ideas.

    Me too! I've scratched myself bloody on multiple occasions.  What helps the most is to put burning hot water on the bite (you can't feel pain and an itch at the same time, I think) and then put something on it that makes it sting, like rubbing alcohol or that liquid bandage stuff.  It's kind of gross, actually, but otherwise I end up covered in scabs.  

    Have you tried Itch-X? our allergist recommended it. Put it on before you scratch to reduce the itch and swelling. It really helps. You can get it over the counter at many stores. Bright yellow box. 

    Campho-Phenique works the best for me!

    I have similar issues with mosquitoes and tend to get more bites than most people.  I use hydrocortisone cream and it helps me with the bites -- but the best advice is prevention!  I discovered Repel Lemon Eucalyptus spray and it really, really works!  It is a plant-based product, DEET-free and has a pleasant smell.  I used it in South Carolina for a week and only got one bite -- on the evening I forgot to spray.  I ordered it online through Amazon - it was reasonably priced.

    you need a prescription strength steroid cream (like hydrocortisone but stronger). I use clobetasol. Since I am only using tiny amounts on small areas of my skin, I feel fine about that. 

    For us, AfterBite is the only thing that works.  Whenever we travel, I bring one for each family member, plus an extra because I usually end up giving at least one to someone who is a bug magnet like me.  Good luck!

    I was tortured by dozens of VERY itchy roof rat mite bites earlier this spring and had to look into all kinds of options.  Here's what I found:

    Worked well: taking antihistamines (per my MD), trying not to scratch (keeping nails cut very short)

    Worked somewhat: Over the counter hydrocortisone (per my MD, she also offered prescription), vinegar, rubbing alcohol, hot shower, baking soda bath (lukewarm), a paste of baking soda applied directly, mindfulness, topical benedryl ointment, keeping it covered so clothing wouldn't rub (bandaid)

    Didn't try: Aveno oatmeal bath (per my MD)

    I am very allergic to mosquito bites, and what I do is make sure they don't bite me in the first place. Here's how: I use mosquito spray with DEET in it. It really works. I don't need to use it that often, and I figure the slight toxicity of the spray is a fair trade-off for not scratching my skin raw and risking infection, or catching something the mosquitos are carrying, or picking up lyme disease from a tick.  When we are camping, I spray it on in the morning and again in the afternoon. I also wear shoes and socks and long sleeves and a kerchief around my neck when I'm in mosquito country. I stay inside when the sun is going down which is when they are at their worst.  If I do get a bite, I use 1% cortisone cream, otherwise my whole arm swells up. Rubbing an ice cube on the bite eases the itching.  BTW even the EWG concedes that DEET is "reasonably safe"

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Mosquitos breeding somewhere near our rental

Nov 2009

Our rental home is plagued by mosquitoes. I thought the problem would go away when the weather cooled, but we still have a few in our bedroom each night. This is an annoyance, especially since it makes me sad to see occasional bites on our baby. I suspect that the mosquitoes must be breeding somewhere near the house. (I'm not quite sure how they're getting in, since we have them even when all the windows are closed.) I'd love any advice you can offer about how to find and eliminate their breeding grounds. I'd also love any safe, kid-friendly options for keeping them away from us as we sleep. Many thanks! Enough with the bites, already.

Mosquitoes need water to breed, but it can be tiny amounts. Just the water in the saucers under your plants can be enough to cause problems. Or your neighbor may have a pond. Sometimes you can get people from the county vector control to come out and put mosquito fish in ponds or help in other ways. The UC Davis IMP website is great for helping people gain an understanding of pests and how to control them. This is the part about mosquitoes: anon

Hi, I'd try calling Alameda County Mosquito Abatement. They are total mosquito vigilantes and will likely come look around to see where the problem is, even in neighbor's yards, etc. They used to patrol my little fish pond I had when I lived in Berkeley. It is possible that they are in the gutters of the house, if they are blocked and have standing water in them. Or, there are puddles in the trays of flower pots, or containers outside with standing water. Dumping out the water does it. If there are areas that moisture collects and it's not a pond with other creatures, an eco-friendly way of getting rid of mosquito larvae is to put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in the puddles, the oil forms a surface that blocks air and the larvae suffocate. If you are hunting mosquitoes in the house in the evening, a flashlight turned to the upper corners and lower corners of the room can be easier in spotting them.Good luck, that's all I've got. Carol

You can buy mosquito netting, probably at a camping supply store. The best advice I heard about dealing with mosquitoes once they're in the house is to vacuum them up. I've done this and it's very effective.

Besides the obvious sources of standing water on your property, I would see if any neighbors have standing water or if you have any underground drainpipes that might not drain completely. The street behind our house has standing water in the gutter the year around from underground streams that ooze up from under some of the houses. A situation like that might breed mosquitoes. You might ask your neighbors if they also have a mosquito problem to help narrow down the source. Francesca

Mosquitoes! First, locate any standing water in your yard. All they need is 1/4 inch of water left standing for 5 days, and you will then have mosquito larvae, almost ready to hatch. Check under your house in the crawl space for any standing water. Cover the floor of your crawlspace with plastic to stop them from hatching (this has other benefits too, such as keeping the inside of your house drier.)

Plug the holes: Even with the windows closed, they can get into your house through the holes where the plumbing enters, where your heater ducts enter if they aren't sealed at the edges, and in gaps around the mantle of your fireplace -- any place that air can flow. You will have to do a search, and then block the holes with an expanding foam that will conform to the shape of the gap, or use caulking (water-based is easiest to use.)

If the standing water is on your neighbor's property, help them to understand that this is a community health issue. Mosquitoes can spread West Nile virus, among other diseases. Make it a contest with the kids to locate and destroy the sources.

The City of Berkeley's Health & Human Services department has a public health branch and website that has more info; look up ''Vector control'' for more info. Dry & Bite-Free in Berkeley

Look for any standing water in your yard and ask neighbors to do the same, dump it out and don't let it collect. That's where mosquitos breed. Also, call Alameda Co. Mosquito Abatement. They helped us by contacting neighbors, treating the nearby sewers and coming out periodically to monitor our situation. Eventually, they found that under a neighbor's house there was a leaky pipe creating a breeding area. The neighbor fixed it and our problem was solved. Kat

Mosquitoes in winter?

Feb. 2004

Help! This is our 3rd winter in Berkeley and every winter we have mosquitoes. Our front yard is mulched with lots of different plants, but it's a slope so we don't have standing water. We do have some water under our house, but can't do anything about that this year. Can anyone give us some advice on a non-toxic way to get rid of these mosquitoes? We have a young baby in the house now and she's already been bitten several times. anon

Please call Alameda County's Mosquito Abatement program (510.783.7744) for help. It's free (our tax dollars at work). They'll send someone out to inspect for mosquito breeding grounds, add some nontoxic stuff to your puddle, they even have mosquito fish if that's what's called for. It's helpful if you can catch one of the offending mosquitos, that'll help them figure out where the mosquitos are breeding. Shirley

I was one of those people who, if there was one mosquito in the whole East Bay, it would find me- any season of the year. I could never find a source nearby. Then I read in this Digest, that taking Vitamin B-1 could make your unappealing to mosquitoes. It worked! I take 100 mg/day, and never more hear that horrible whining honing in at me at night. Check with your pediatrician to see if there is a dose that you could try for your infant. Cecelia

Can people get heartworm from mosquitos?

Dec 2003

We have a new batch of kittens and I'm looking online for flea treatment for cats. During this, I noticed that there's a medication called 'Revolution' that's intended for treating heartworm in cats. Does anyone know anything about this? Do cats get heartworm? And worse, is it dangerous for children who play with kittens all day long? In fact, can people get heartworm? I think I heard it's transmitted by mosquitoes, and now I've got very paranoid about mosquito bites... Any further information much appreciated! Janice

You don't have to worry about heartworm in California. The mosquitoes that carry the larvae aren't in this part of the country.

When I took my newly rescued dog to the vet a year ago and asked about heartworm meds he said that most animals around here really don't need heartworm meds because we don't have a problem with it here. He said if you take your dog (I assume for cats too) to the Sierra's or to the hills in Napa regularly then he'd recommend heartworm meds, but not for city critters. He thought the push for it was too much hype and unnecessary spending, not to mention a burdon on the dog/cat's system. Hope this helps.

Cats do get heartworm, but much more rarely than dogs. In the east bay region where mosquito control is very well done by our local mosquito abatement crew, heartworm in cats is very unlikely. If the cat (or dog) visits places where mosquito control is not as extensive (Napa, Mendicino, Santa Cruz mountains, S! ierra foothills, etc.), I have seen heartworm in both dogs or cats that are not receiving some sort of preventative. If the cat stays here in the East Bay, I don't think heartworm preventative is as important. A local Oakland vet

Standing water in baby pool

July 2003

I am very concerned about mosquitos (and west nile virus), and I am very careful not to leave standing water around anywhere. However, we have a little inflatable pool for our toddler, and I really hate to empty it out every time we use it. I don't like to waste the water, and I like it to warm up over the course of a few days, and I have noticed in the past that the racoons like to walk through it with muddy paws if it is not full. So, my question is, do I really have to empty it completely every time? How about if I add a bit of chlorine to it? Would that kill any larvae? What kind and how much would I add, and how often? If I did add chlorine, would that then be really bad to dump out on the grass every few days or so (I do empty it when it gets too buggy and dirty anyway)? I do not want to harm any wildlife, beneficial bugs, or the birds that eat them! I'm also concerned about my son swimming in and accidentally swallowing any mosquitos or larvae. What do others do with these pools? Thanks! Tracy

We have a toddler pool in our yard as well and have decided that filling it up each time and draining the water immediately after our kids get out is the only way to prevent a drowning accident. Obviously, I don't know where your pool is and whether your toddler can access it without your help, but before making the decision not to drain, I would run through all the various scenarios to make sure there is no way your child (or any other child) would try to get in while you aren't watching. Small children can potentially drown even in only a couple of inches of water, even if they can swim in a normal pool, so I'd recommend extreme vigilance around this issue. Melissa

We empty the wading pool after every use, and make a game out of using buckets to transfer most of the pool water onto the dry grass or into potted plants. I am concerned not only about critters getting into the water, which my daughter could swallow (or worse, whose waste my daughter could swallow), but also about drowning risks with other neighborhood children (or even my daughter, in a moment of inattention). water emptyer

Have you tried covering the pool at night with a tarp or something?? Anon

You don't need to change the water every day, it takes a while for the larva to become mosquitoes. Changing it once a week should be fine.

I have three comments:
1) Have you ever seen any mosquito larva in your pool? I have always been under the impression that mosquito prefer stagnant water, not fresh water. If there are larva, you will certainly see them.
2) I don't know if the chlorine or chloramines that are put in municipal water is enough to kill the larva, but you could ask the Alameda County mosquito abatement program.
3) Why not just put a cover on the pool? This would also make it safer for toddlers who might play near the pool ( I have read that toddlers can easily drown in just a few inches of water.) Gen

Regarding the toddler pool standing water, I would leave it up to a week without worry. We do, and we're still using it extensively! You could add very small amounts of chlorine or iodine, but I agree that if you repurpose it to water plants & lawn, you don't want to harm them. My greatest concern is small toddlers waddling into the pool and drowning, and so it should be in a safe location. Robert

Gary Bogue has a column in the contra costa times. he says changing the water every 3 days is adequate for preventing mosquitos. You can probably find his info on-line. eve

Mosquito Nets

June 2003

Mosquito season is arriving and with it, no doubt, West Nile will reach California. I remember hearing last year that it was most risky for the elderly and other adults with compromised immune systems and babies under one. I have been thinking that we should perhaps put up mosquito nets over all of our beds for two reasons: 1) we have an infant son 10 mos old who obviously falls into the at-risk group and 2) if the rest of us become carriers of the disease, even if we remain symptom free, mosquitos could transmit the virus from us to others. For that reason it seems like it might be wise for all people who live in affected areas to consider mosquito nets.

My concern is putting a mosquito net over our son's crib (if I can ever get him to sleep in it). Isn't he likely to pull it down or get all wrapped up in it? Anyone know how people in malaria affected areas deal with this issue? Also, I'm not too savvy about how to put up mosquito nets over beds in general or even where to get mosquito nets. Any opinions/info/handy tips you all have on this issue welcome.

Here's an offbeat idea for $35 an outdoor screen house, really a canopy with mosquito netting for walls. This one might fit in a bedroom http//

I once had night-time mosquito problems and solved them by sleeping in my freestanding backpacking tent on top of the bed. One caveat, though, it gets a little warm in there. kim

You can get mosquito nets at REI. They are easy to put up using just one hook in the ceiling over the center of the bed. The net comes with a spreader device like a star at the top that allows it to spread over the bed. Monika

Mosquito nets are great for the kids. The provide protection and a great camping feel - much better than chemicals. What about where they come from? The county of Alameda has a free mosquito abatement program. A specialist will come to your area to hunt out mosquito breeding sources and if you have one, will provide mosquito eating fish for your pond or puddle - all for free. Call 510-783-7744 for more info nancy

Mosquitos Biting Child Every Night

Sept 2002

We have always had problems with mosquitos, and it seems recently that everything we do to avoid our son from getting bitten fails. Not only are we concerned with our son's alergic reaction to these bites (he swells up and scratches the bite until it bleeds), with the scare of the West Nile Virus seeping it's way to California, we are running out of options. My husband and I have tried everything- Mosquitos repellants, coils, lotions, sticky paper. But unless we remember to put on the repellant every night, we can expect our son to wake up with a new bite in the morning. My husband has suggested that we fumigate our house and possibly have someone professionally replace our window screens, but before we go off and spend a boat full of money on this projects, I was wondering if someone could recommend an alternative. Besides, will fumigating our home really help with our mosquito problems? Please anyone? Monica

I don't know if you have tried contacting your local Mosquito Abatement District (Alameda has one and so does Contra Costa), but they are very responsive to the public. If you call them and explain that you have a high incidence of mosquitoes, they will probably send someone out to look around your neighborhood and figure out where the mosquitoes are coming from. They can make recommendations about how to keep them out of your home and they can abate the mosquito breeding areas, if there is, say, a low spot which tends to accumulate moisture.

Also, from all I've heard to date on West Nile virus, it seems to be a threat only to elderly people, so I don't think you really need worry too much on that score for your child. The West Nile episodes of the last couple of decades seem to suggest that the spread of the virus is self-limiting, and perhaps there is not a serious threat of the virus mutating and becoming more dangerous to the general public. Again, the Mosquiot Abatement districts are currently in Over-drive getting out information on this. I suggest you call the Contra Costa office at 925-685-9301 for a start if you are in CC. Frances

Our son also gets awful welts from mosquito bites, and he must have sweet breath because they always find him. We finally bought a mosquito net for his bed, and put it up in the spring. It almost always works, he's much less bitten up these days. We bought it off the web at and are pretty happy with it. The ''Baby Klamboe'' net is just big enough for a twin bed. Avi

For what it's worth, I've been told that mosquitos don't like the smell of B-vitamin people. I rarely get many mosquito bites, even when people are getting eaten alive. I take B-vitamins and also have used Brewers Yeast in the past. I have no scientific information to back that up so it may just be a coincidence. I was also told years ago when I went on an extended back packing trip to wear khaki colored pants rather than blue jeans because mosquitos were attracted to the color blue. Again, I've never read any reports about the truth of this, so it may be a wives tale. June

One of the best things to help keep those dang bugs away during the night is a ceiling fan. They can't get near enough to you to bite if on! The other thing to do is to be sure you have no obvious sources outside your house. Take advantage of our local Mosquito Abatement program. I presume you live in Alameda county (if not, you'll have to do some checking). Its a great program. They'll come to your house for free, check for sources, and deal with it. We had a pond, so they gave us free mosquito fish. They also gave us a briquet to drop into our sump. The gentleman was very nice, helpful and friendly. I'm sure with the West Nile Virus scare they are busy these days, but you should still call them. They may also be able to calm your fears about the virus. Hilary

Have you tried rigging mosquito netting around and over his bed (a canopy of sorts) yet? anon

We have had this same problem. My sons even add ''don't let the mosquito bugs bite'' after our standard good night wishes. I just bought and installed mosquito nets for both boys and they love them. Not only do they keep out the bugs, but it is like camping every night. Now they ASK to have the window open on a warm night because they have no fear of the bugs. I purchased ours at Pier 1 in El Cerrito but you can also buy them online. nanyc

Call the Alameda County mosquito abatement department. They are extremely helpful. They sent a biologist to my house, provided me with advice and literature, and filled my garden fountain with mosquito-eating fish - all free of charge. Clearly there is standing water somewhere in your neighborhood. Enlist the pros to help you tackle your problem. That's what they do, and it won't cost you a thing. MEG

I once received a visit from the ''Mosquito Abatement'' patrol - it's one of the more humorous line items on our local taxes, but at least they do make house calls. Apparently one of my neighbors complained of mosquito problems, so an officer came to my door and asked permission to walk around my house. She explained that the local mosquitos only travel a short distance, maybe a few houses or so. If you can remove any standing water (empty garden pots, puddles, whatever) you can eliminate the problem at its source. This may take a little neighborly cooperation, but it beats fumigation. I'd try it, and also consider replacing your screens. It worked for us. - sarah

MOsquito net - camping stores like REI have these. Also make sure there is NO standing water anywhere near your house, because this is where the baby mosquitos grow. Finally, stay inside at dusk when they are worse. BR

I have found that putting undiluted tea tree oil directly on mosquito bites helps a lot. It seems to stop them itching, and prevents infection. Janice

There was an article in the paper recently about recent research into the most effective non-toxic lotions for repelling mosquitos. If I recall correctly, they found that lotions containing eucalyptus oil to be almost as effective as deet, but they only last 90 minutes. Since it sounds like you are trying to keep mosquitos from biting during your son's sleep, you might consider a gentle fan that I've heard keeps the lightweight mosquito from flying into the area the fan is blowing. We've used one all summer for our 4 year old son who is also allergic to mosquito bites and who is, for some reason, very attractive to them. He always gets more bites than his sister. He hasn't had more than one mosquito bite all summer, the fan has really worked. We keep it several feet away so that the breeze he receive is fairly mild and oscillating. Naomi

Most counties have a mosquito abatement program, that provide free services. Also I recently bought a product to put in standing water that prevents mosquito eggs from hatching. I put it in my water garden, tho the package says you can put it anywhere there is standing water. I bought it at Smith and Hawkins. jennifer

for relief of the welts, you can try a couple of of homeopathic remedies that work quite well for me, who is a sufferer of the same sort of reaction. i spent my childhood taking extra b vitamins with no relief. these remedies work for me. milk based tablets of apis mellifica (also works for bee stings orally & topically together). dissolve them into a paste in your palm with a few drops of water and apply them to the bite as a poultice (you may have to bandaid an itchy toddler), or there is a topical salve for itch relief, called sting stop. both products are available in most health food stores. linda

Someone posted advice on mosquitos saying they have heard (and tried) that taking brewers yeast will deter mosquitos, but doesn't have any scientific info to back this up. Well, in my experience brewers yeast does help. For instance, when I went to Yosemite with my class in 1980, everyone got many many mosquito bites except for me, and I was taking Yeast 500. At the time, Yeast 500 could be purchased at Williams Natural Food store on San Pablo Ave in Richmond. Hana

Just a quick comment about the West Nile virus, in the context of the mosquito issue. From everything I've heard, this virus is generally not a problem in healthy people, including (maybe especially) healthy kids. It seems to be no worse than a mild case of the flu, if you catch it at all. It is problematic in people with compromised immune systems (such as elderly people with health problems); the reason it's a big concern in the SF Bay area is we have a large population of people with compromised immune systems -- people who are HIV positive. Karen

It may be worth while to get screens. I recommend calling Screen Mobile. They will tell you who runs the franchise locally and that person can give you an estimate. We are very happy with our screens from Screen Mobile. We have regular screens for our double-hung windows and pull down screens for our casement windows. The cost may not be as much as you think, and you don't have to put stuff on your kid's skin at night or buy and install a fan. You also don't have as many moths in your clothes and food, nor spiders to torment arachniphobes. The only maintenance I do on the screens is to vaccum them once a year, while they are still in the window. - suzanne

Hi. I haven't read all the responses so I hope this isn't repetitive. Liquid B-Complex vitamins exude a taste or smell through your pores which mosquitos don't care for. As does garlic, like in Kyolic pill form, if your child is old enough. I don't know if there is specifically a children's B-complex in liquid form, check a health food store, otherwise 1/3 to 1/2 the adult dose, if you want I can e-mail you from a chart of RDA's according to child's age for each B vitamin. Also I read you can spray lice treatment on clothes, somewhat toxic, maybe citronella/ pennyroyal (if you and he can bear the smell) on the pj's, blanket instead of on skin each night. And check for any stagnant water sources near your home. We bred many a mosquito accidentally having let some water accumulate in kiddy pool. Mosquito Phobe

Mosquitos in the House

June 2001

Hi-Our two year old daughter has been bit in our house several times by mosquitos. I remember hearing that ceiling fans help? Does anyone know this to be true? Do other fans help? We rent our house and there are no screens. We use some screens that fit any window; not a perfect fit. We have tried to seal it up. She still gets a new bite every few days. We would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks amy

Ikea has mosquito netting that can fit over any size bed and is about $25. Just tuck it in. You can combine that with mosquito coils which are about $2 for 10 from Ace Hardware or Target and you can pretend that you are in an exotic, warm,tropical place like Thailand! The netting looks very romantic and beats Deet spray! Good luck. amelia

We have ceiling fans in both bedrooms, and in our opinion, they are helpful at keeping mosquito bites down for several reasons. One, when the fan is up high, the mosquitos can't get to you. Two, they keep YOU cool, so you tend to sleep under the covers all the way, rather than on top, thus decreasing the amount of skin exposed to the critters in the first place! We LOVE having ceiling fans in our bedrooms; its the only way to have a good nights rest during the hot weather. Hilary

Our son gets dreadful mosquito bites too. I did when I was a kid but am apparently less tasty now. After years of stress and a trip to the allergist, we finally bought him a mosquito net that hangs from the ceiling above his bed. It's kind of odd looking, but it really keeps the bugs away from him at night. We bought ours from a nice little online store <> (Baby Klamboe size) but I just saw a large size at Ikea in Emeryville last week. Avi

Sounds like seal the place up isn't an easy thing to do and I know that burning citronella candles day and night isn't practical at all, but what about bathing or spraying your daughter in a safe non-toxic version of this to help repel the bugs? Avon's Skin So Soft is a bath oil that is a natural bug repellent. It is a nice product I have used it for years (it wasn't originally developed as a bug repellent, but they discovered that it works well as one).The other option might be to go to Lhasa Kharna (SP?) and talk to them about citronella or other essential oils that you can use as a natural deterrent. Good luck Molly

Ceiling fans, or any sort of fan will work well to discourage mosquitos from biting you - they home in I believe on the carbon dioxide your skin gives off - and the breezes blow them off course. This is only relatively helpful if the mosquitos are so plentiful that they stumble across you by accident anyway. Repellent will keep them off but it's not very desirable for little children. We lived for many years in a house with no screens and had both fans and individual mosquito nets for the babies - I have accidentally brought two of these nets with me from Australia and if you'd like them you'd be very welcome to have them (I was about to list them in the marketplace). My daughter loved to have one even when there were no mosquitos because of the princess tent effect. One is nylon and unused, the other is cotton and has been used. You can reach me on 486-8192 or at thefionahamer [at] good luck. fiona