Treatment and Prevention
of Mosquito Bites
and Other Insect Bites

family enjoying in garden

Unless you live inside a protective bubble 24/7, insect bites are an inevitable part of life. And since insects (like mosquitos) tend to also be in spaces where we live, work, play and move about, avoiding getting bitten is a good skill to know and cultivate.

But should you be inconvenienced by a mosquito bite or any other insect bite, here are some first aid procedures to keep in mind:

  • Move to a safer area to avoid further bites or stings
  • If the insect stinger (from a bee or wasp) is still embedded in the skin, remove it by scraping the back of a straight-edged object (like a stiff card) across it. Do not use tweezers because it may squeeze the venom sac inside the stinger and cause it to inject more venom into the bite(1)
  • Wash the affected area with soap and water
  • Apply a cool compress to help reduce the pain and swelling

Mild reactions usually result in insect or mosquito bite rashes that have redness, itching, stinging, or minor swelling in and around the bitten area. The symptoms should go away in a day or two, but if they persist, or if the person bitten shows signs of a severe allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, swelling of lips, eyes or throat, vomiting, etc.) contact a doctor or emergency services immediately(2)

Topically-applied creams and ointments

Topically-applied creams and ointments are an excellent source of effective relief when applied directly onto the insect bite. Look for those that have eucalyptus oil and camphor in it for soothing relief from mosquito bites, especially from mosquito bite rashes.

Both eucalyptus oil and camphor have anti-inflammatory properties that help to relieve pain and itch associated with mosquito bites. Despite these benefits, always remember to follow package instructions on how much and how often to apply the ointment, and if there are any age restrictions as well. As an example, ointment can be applied externally to mosquito bite rashes in children age 2 years old and above.

Additional tips for prevention

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And not getting an insect bite is much more preferable than getting bitten, so here are additional tips to keep in mind:

Cover up. Especially if you're outside when and where insects are active. You can wear long-sleeved, light-colored shirts, loose-fitting pants instead of shorts, and shoes instead of sandals(5).

Slather on insect repellent. If it's too hot to cover up your arms and legs, make sure to apply insect repellent on exposed areas of skin (like your arms, upper arms, and legs) that make for easy targets for insect and mosquito bites. Look for ingredients like diethyltoluamide (DEET)(6) in insect repellents.

protect home icon

Avoid wearing strong smells. Avoid using strongly perfumed products like soaps, shampoos and deodorants, as you might attract the insects yourself.

Be mindful of where you are. Be careful around places where insects tend to live and converge. Locations near stagnant water, gardens with flowering plants, trees that may have hives in it, etc.

Keep food and drink covered. If you are eating outside, make sure to cover your food or drink, especially sweets, as they are more susceptible to attracting insects(7).

Invest in mosquito screens and netting. If insect and mosquito bites plague you at home, consider putting up thin screening on your windows and doors to prevent insects from getting inside the house. You can also use bed nets to give you an extra layer of protection against insect bites.

  1. "Stinger removal." Mediline Plus. Accessed 02 September 2020.
  2. "Insect bites and stings: First aid." Mayo Clinic. Accessed 01 September 2020.
  3. Dhakad, Ashok K et al. “Biological, medicinal and toxicological significance of Eucalyptus leaf essential oil: a review.” Journal of the science of food and agriculture vol. 98,3 (2018). Accessed 02 September 2020.
  4. Zuccarini, P. "Camphor: risks and benefits of a widely used natural product." Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management vol. 13,2 (2009). Accessed 02 September 2020.
  5. "Malaysia: Insect Bite Preventtion." International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers. Accessed 02 September 2020.
  6. "DEET." United States Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed 02 September 2020.
  7. "Prevention: Insect bites and stings." National Health Service UK. Accessed 01 September 2020.