Getting rid of mosquito bit scars
March 28, 2008 4:10 PM   Subscribe

Is there any remedy out there that will make welts/scars from mosquito bites heal faster?

I get bitten A LOT. I know scratching means the bites take longer to heal, and I'm usually pretty good about not doing it, but when I get heaps of them at once, often I scratch without realising it. As a result I have several purplish welts, some have been around for months. Is there anything out there that will help these things fade?
posted by mooza to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If I can't ignore a bite, I'll usually ice it for a few minutes. Never have any residuals.
posted by devilsbrigade at 4:25 PM on March 28, 2008

Aloe does this extremely well! We have an aloe plant in our backyard, but you can just buy some aloe vera and that will do the trick. The aloe makes those purplish marks fade much faster.

Aloe is also good for the original itching, as is Aveeno anti-itch creme (bonus: Aveeno works like nothing else on earth for chicken pox or shingles outbreaks, too).
posted by misha at 4:26 PM on March 28, 2008

I can't say for the purple post-scratching welts, but I get huge mosquito bites and I've found hydrocortisone helps. I have excema, so I have a prescription for Topicort, which is (as far as I understand it) just much stronger steroid, and that works faster / better than the over the counter stuff, but If I don't have that around, plain old hydrocortisone is still better than nothing for me when I'm attacked in the middle of the night.
posted by JulianDay at 4:32 PM on March 28, 2008

Yes. This isn't a commercial or a plug.

It's for chapped bovine teats, but works for bipedal mammals (I use it to relieve eczema). Fantastic for bug bites and stings. Bag Balm.

I'm betting jessamyn has some in her cupboard.
posted by Mblue at 4:34 PM on March 28, 2008

I am not a doctor but i think that while there is some scarring that happens in a mosquito bite (especially if you scratch the top off of it) something that is happening with an insect bite is the same thing that happens with acne pimples... called Post Inflammatory Hyper-Pigmentation and has to do with darkening of the skin associated with the swelling and subsequent healing process....
so it isn't a "scar" in the sense that it is permanent.
As far as treating it I know there is now some over the counter topical stuff you can get for acne spots and would probably find around the facial care products that will lighten the spots.
Using a sun screen will help them not get darker as sun exposure will increase the melanin in the area.
Something like hydrocortisone or other steroid with help keep the swelling down and thus help reduce the intensity of the "scar" and also help with the itching so you don't scratch it and cause an actual scar...

hope this helps
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet at 4:45 PM on March 28, 2008

Welts & scars can be minimised by regular, thorough, and well-massaged application of any sufficiently emollient unguent, like cocoa butter, shea butter, Bag Balm, what have you. It's a combination of moisturising the area and making the matter creating the bump more malleable so that it breaks down more completely.

If the bumps are still reactive - itching, burning, stinging - application of any topical treatment for bug bites should help you, which includes most of those mentioned above and more: cortisone, Aveeno soaks, aloe, calamine, witch hazel, chamomile, comfrey, feverfew, et cetera). Pick one thing and stick with it for 2-3 days, going by the advised timing and method for application. Over-manipulation of the area can cause it to get worse instead of better.

Benadryl can help stop reactive inflammation, if it gets to a point where you're physically uncomfortable or you're developing hives.

If OTC/home remedies are not helping to end the reactive phase, you should probably see a physician, as you're likely sensitive to the toxins delivered with the bites or could have contracted something and a doc would be most helpful at that point.
posted by batmonkey at 4:49 PM on March 28, 2008

I used to get mosquito bites all the time. Taking iron supplements in the summer repelled 'em, and I'd get far fewer bites. I'm not exactly sure why.

Hydrocortisone helps a lot with the itching. Sometimes if I've gotta scratch, I'll cheat and scratch with the tips of my fingers (not my nails) AROUND the welt, not directly on it.

(Can't help with the dark scar things, though. I have one from an ingrown hair that's at least a year old.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:57 PM on March 28, 2008

Well, for someone that grew up in Skeeterville, (Ghana), Vicks mentholated ointment worked best for fresh bites - the welts go down within 15 mins and the itching disappears (or could be that you don't feel the itching for all the tingling...). For post-itch welts, fermented corn dough is your savior!
posted by ramix at 5:45 PM on March 28, 2008

After having it recommended for surgical scars, I've started applying vitamin E oil to every little cut and scrape. I fully believe, in my heart, on my solemn vow, and from the evidence of my eyes, that it is making them heal faster. It might even be true. At any rate, it can't hurt to try.
posted by nax at 5:48 PM on March 28, 2008

A small drop of tea tree oil on fresh ant or mosquito bites usually prevents swelling for me.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:30 PM on March 28, 2008

Witch hazel on a cotton ball.
posted by krikany at 9:13 PM on March 28, 2008

I usually use some sort of caladryl clear product. Usually I tell myself not to itch a bite and then forget and 5 minutes later unconsciously start itching it again. If it gets really bad I put a band-aiid over it to remind myself not to itch it.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 10:00 PM on March 28, 2008

I haven't had any luck reducing the appearance of bite scars, but, for future reference, I have had some success in preventing prolonged itching with the following method. Soak a washcloth in water that is as hot as you can tolerate without burning yourself. Partially wring out the washcloth, then apply the washcloth to the bites for several seconds. This should kill the itch for a few hours, which might help you prevent the inadvertent scratching that leads to the scars.

nax - There is some research suggesting that Vitamin E might not work as well as you believe and that it might actually be a problem for some people. There are a couple of studies that show just the opposite of what you recommend and indicate that topical vitamin E may cause contact dermatitis. This little study and this other study on surgical scars are cited in the NY Times summary here.
posted by nobodyyouknow at 11:25 PM on March 28, 2008

I'm Australian, and always tell people that putting a little vegemite on a mossie bite makes it go away faster. It doesn't, of course, and just leaves them smelling like rotten salt.

That being said, once a friend called back a few days later to thank me for the wonderful tip, as all his bites had apparently magically disappeared. Who knows? Perhaps it actually works.
posted by twirlypen at 11:39 PM on March 28, 2008

I use Vitamin E to solve all my skin scarring problems (I've always suffered from acne and end up with scarring/pigmentation from it). You can get Vit E oil, or moisturisers which have it in, or wheatgerm oil also has a lot of Vit E in it. I find that scars heal a LOT quicker when I use these products, although, as batmonkey pointed out it may just be moisturing the area which helps. However kiwi fruit have a very high Vit E content (twice your RDA) which I find is even more effective for good skin than applying products directly.

I've never had an adverse reaction from using Vitamin E and as it naturally occurs in many products I would suggest that any problems that occur from using it are probably suffered by a minority with a specific sensitivity (that said, having not investigated the study links posted by nobodyyouknow).
posted by Happycat79 at 4:20 AM on March 29, 2008

I can't help you with the welts, but a good remedy for the swelling is a dab of Accent meat tenderizer mixed with water. Make a small paste, rub it in, and let it dry. The tenderizer removes the anti-coagulant protein that is injected by the mosquito. Read about it in a few fishing magazines/books. I've used it a few times and it works well.
posted by mr. plow at 11:00 AM on March 29, 2008

Well for goodness sake nobodyyouknow, now it's not going to work anymore!
posted by nax at 1:25 PM on March 29, 2008

I get the purplish welts. Are you also the color of milk?

Exfoliation followed by moisturizer as a regular habit. I use the St. Ives Apricot scrubby-stuff. Don't scrub the still-angry bites, of course. I've found that taking overall more careful care of the skin helps minimize the little battle scars. It's a nuisance, but when I slack off I'm re-motivated by how my legs look with little purple smears of scars around the ankles and on my bony shins.

Taking flaxseed oil has helped, too. I started taking it to help with my very very dry winter skin, but it seems to help scrapes heal faster, too.
posted by desuetude at 2:25 PM on March 29, 2008

Externally, Vitamin E oil/cream, rose-hip oil, or this Bio Oil stuff which I've found to be quite remarkable. Internally, I've found flaxseed to be the most effective, followed by Vitamin E or fish oil.
posted by goshling at 11:19 PM on March 29, 2008

To back up nobodyyouknow, the heat thing works. I understand that it overloads the histamine response and they're depleted for a while so it doesn't itch as much. Benadryl also works to reduce the itching and swelling if you have a bad reaction.
posted by jefftang at 12:16 PM on April 22, 2008

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