When a mosquito bite causes itching and discomfort, you can often find relief with kitchen staples like oatmeal, honey, or baking soda.

You may not feel it immediately when a mosquito bites you. But the bump the bite leaves behind comes with a persistent itch that can linger for days.

Creams and ointments can help, but you can also beat the itch with things that are probably already lying around your house.

Note, however, that though mosquito bites are often harmless, in rare cases, they can carry diseases or lead to an allergic reaction,

One remedy for an uncomfortable mosquito bite may also be one of your favorite breakfasts. Oatmeal can relieve itching and swelling because it contains special compounds that have anti-irritant qualities.

How to use

Make an oatmeal paste by mixing equal amounts of oatmeal and water, then apply it to irritated skin for 10 minutes before wiping it off.

If you have many bites, try an oatmeal bath instead. Place 1 cup of oatmeal or ground oats into a bathtub full of warm water and soak for 20 minutes.

Cold temperatures and ice can reduce inflammation. The cold also numbs the skin, which can give you immediate but short-term relief.

How to use

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using a cold, damp cloth or an ice pack to relieve the itching caused by a mosquito bite.

A bag of crushed ice can also work well in a pinch, but make sure to place a barrier, such as a washcloth, between your skin and the ice.

To relieve the itch, apply a cold pack for up to 5-10 minutes several times a day.

Turning up the temperature on your bug bite may also help you get relief.

How to use

You can purchase a tool like BiteAway for targeted heat treatment to the bite, or try soaking a cloth in warm water and applying it to the bite for up to 10 minutes. Do not use heat therapy on open wounds.

This sugary sweet substance is a common pick among home-remedy enthusiasts.

Honey has been used for hundreds of years as a treatment for ailments like sore throats and dry skin. Medical-grade honey has many antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

How to use

Put a small drop on an itchy bite. This could potentially reduce the inflammation. It may also reduce your temptation to scratch, as scratching skin covered in honey can create a sticky mess.

A common household plant, aloe vera has many uses beyond shelf decoration. The gel has been shown to reduce pain from burns and help them heal faster. That’s why it may be a good bet for healing a bug bite, too.

How to use

To try this, cut open a small section of the plant. Apply the plant’s gel to the area that’s irritated. Let it dry, and apply again as needed.

Found in virtually every kitchen, baking soda has a multitude of uses — from baking bread to clearing drains. Otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda may also provide relief from a mosquito bite.

How to use

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests mixing 1 tablespoon of baking soda with just enough water to create a paste. Apply it to the bug bite, and let it sit for 10 minutes before washing it away.

If skin irritation occurs, stop this treatment.

The fragrant basil plant is a key ingredient of many of your favorite Italian recipes, but it does double duty as a mosquito-bite remedy.

The plant is used in herbal remedies for skin infections, and the antioxidants found in basil leaves may reduce inflammation.

How to use

To make a basil rub, boil 2 cups of water and half an ounce of dried basil leaves. Let it cool and use a washcloth to gently rub it onto mosquito bites.

Alternatively, chop fresh basil leaves finely and rub them onto the skin. Stop if irritation occurs.

For centuries, apple cider vinegar has been used as a natural remedy to treat many medical conditions, from infections to blood glucose problems.

If you have an itchy bite, dab a drop of vinegar on it. The vinegar can help reduce stinging and burning sensations. It can also act as a natural disinfectant if you’ve been scratching too much.

How to use

Try soaking a washcloth in cold water and vinegar and then applying it to the bite. If you have many bites, dilute 2 cups of vinegar in a tepid bath and soak for 20 minutes. Beware, a hot bath may make itching worse.

If skin irritation occurs, stop this treatment.

Not only can onions bring tears to your eyes, they can bring relief to your mosquito bites.

The onion’s juices, which leak out from the freshly cut bulb, may reduce the bite’s sting and irritation. Onions also have natural antifungal and antibacterial properties that can reduce your chance of infection.

How to use

Cut a slice from an onion — the type doesn’t matter — and apply it directly to the bite for several minutes. Rinse and wash the area well after you remove the onion.

The petite leaves of the thyme plant are delicious on potatoes, fish, and more. They may also help ease the itching of a mosquito bite.

Thyme is a longstanding natural remedy for skin issues. It has antibacterial properties, so it can help reduce your risk of irritating and infecting the skin around a mosquito bite.

How to use

Finely mince the fresh leaves and apply them directly to bites for 10 minutes.

For a concentrated liquid, steep thyme sprigs in boiling water and use a thyme-soaked washcloth on the bites. Wrap it around an ice cube for extra relief.

Peppermint oil is another centuries-old natural remedy used to relieve itching.

A small study from 2016 suggests this oil can relieve itching from long-term causes like diabetes and liver conditions. So, in theory, it could also work for temporary causes like an insect bite.

How to use

Mix peppermint oil with a carrier oil and apply to the affected area. For added relief, add peppermint oil to a warm bath.

However, always consult with a doctor before trying this, and note that this treatment is not suitable for young children.

Lemon balm is a leafy plant that’s closely related to mint. There is some evidence that it could help reduce itching and discomfort related to various skin conditions, such as psoriasis and genital herpes.

Lemon balm contains tannin, a natural astringent. In addition, lemon balm contains polyphenols. Together, these natural compounds ease inflammation, speed up healing, and reduce the risk of an infection.

How to use

There is no evidence it can specifically relieve itching related to insect bites, but you can try to apply finely chopped leaves directly to the bite, or you can buy a lemon balm cream.

Witch hazel is a natural astringent you can buy over the counter in pharmacies and grocery stores. Like lemon balm, witch hazel contains tannins, which can reduce inflammation when applied to the skin.

Applying witch hazel to the skin reduces inflammation, soothes the burning and irritation the bite causes, and can speed up healing.

How to use

Apply a small amount of witch hazel to a cotton ball. Gently dab or swipe it over the bite. Allow it to dry. Repeat this as needed.

Arnica is another natural product you can buy to treat minor skin concerns. The herb itself is toxic but can be diluted to produce the products available in stores. Options include creams and gels.

Although it’s a popular home remedy, scientific evidence shows mixed results. However, many claim that arnica reduces bruising, pain, swelling, and inflammation when applied to the skin.

How to use

All you need to do is apply a small amount of arnica cream or gel to the bite. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about how to choose a good quality arnica product.

Chamomile, which is a member of the daisy family, is a common natural remedy for many ailments. When applied to skin, the oils found in chamomile can reduce itching and inflammation.

How to use

To soothe a bug bite, steep a tea bag filled with crushed flowers in water for 30 minutes in the fridge. Squeeze out any excess water and apply it to the bite for 10 minutes. Wipe clean with a wet rag.

It’s rare, but be aware that chamomile can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Garlic is a well-known natural remedy for conditions from heart disease to high blood pressure.

While more conventional treatments may be preferred for those serious conditions, a bit of garlic applied to an irritating bug bite is an easy home remedy for a mosquito bite.

How to use

To use garlic for wound or bite relief, don’t apply it directly as it may cause burning and stinging.

Instead, mix finely minced garlic with an unscented lotion or petroleum jelly and let it sit for 10 minutes before wiping it off and applying a cool washcloth. Repeat if needed.

What is the best thing to put on a mosquito bite?

According to the CDC, placing an ice pack on the bite for 10 minutes and then applying a mixture of baking soda and water for another 10 minutes can help you get fast relief. The fast remedy, however, might be to take an over-the-counter antihistamine.

How do I know what insect bit me?

It’s not always easy to tell what insect bite you have, as many insect bites can either itch, sting or burn. Some bites can have specific visual characteristics, however. For example, a mosquito bite will typically be a small, round, puffy bump that appears within a few minutes. It may become swollen, red, and itchy.

Learn more: Identifying bug bites and stings and how to treat them.

When should you worry about an insect bite?

Many bites and stings cause only minor, mild reactions. In some cases, however, you can experience life threatening allergic symptoms that require medical attention. An allergy to mosquito bites is known as Skeeter syndrome, and it can result in anaphylaxis.

Signs of an emergency

Anaphylaxis can be a life threatening emergency. If someone experiences signs of a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or your local emergency services.

Anaphylaxis can cause symptoms, including rash, low pulse, and anaphylactic shock. This can be fatal if it isn’t treated immediately.

Was this helpful?

Trying out one or more of these remedies might help you get relief from a mosquito bite. Of course, the best way to get rid of irritation is to avoid a bite altogether.

Keep in mind that these insects are more active in the evening and at night. If you want to enjoy a summer evening outdoors but fear the petite blood-sucking bugs, cover your skin and stay away from standing water to reduce your exposure.

If you are bitten, quickly stop the swelling and itching with a safe, cost-efficient homemade remedy. If you notice irritation or other negative reactions when using a home remedy, stop using it right away.