Taking the Pain out of Mosquito Bites

West Nile Virus detected in NYC

It wouldn’t be summer without pesky mosquitoes and the annoying and sometimes painful bites that they bring. Once bitten, people are left to wonder how to deal with the itchy red bites that cause so much irritation.

An initial reaction people have is to scratch but Dr. Steven Garner, Emergency Medicine Specialist at New York Methodist Hospital, says “slap, don’t scratch” your mosquito bites.

He also says there are a few at home remedies that are effective in alleviating the pain and swelling.

“Something as simple as an ice cube or ice itself put on the bite stops the spreading of the chemicals and reduces the inflammation and actually controls the pain,” Garner said.

Another remedy Dr. Garner recommends is roll-on deodorant, something he says people should carry during the mosquito season.

“If you happen to have roll-on deodorant, or just keep it with you if you don’t, you could put on a bit of the roll-on deodorant. It contains aluminum chloride and it will stop the pain and the swelling,” Garner said. 

Dr. Garner advises people to look out for redness, heat, fever and red streaks if you suspect the mosquito bite is infected. If you have these symptoms, see the doctor.

There are many myths regarding who gets bit more often than others. Garner says men are most at risk along with people who have Type O blood and those who are obese. The secret to avoiding mosquito bites is Vitamin B.

"If you take one pill a day ---  either 75 or 150 mg -- it creates an odor that is very unpleasant to mosquitoes," Garner said.

Mosquito bites aren’t dangerous unless they’re carrying a disease like the West Nile Virus and for the first time this season the Health Department has detected the West Nile Virus in New York City mosquitoes. 

The infected mosquitoes were collected from a neighborhood in Staten Island.  So far, no human cases have been detected but the Health Department has increased mosquito surveillance and mosquito larvae control efforts in the affected area.

“West Nile Virus has returned to New York City, but simple precautions can help protect you and your family,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner.

West Nile virus can cause neurological diseases such as encephalitis, a serious inflammation of the brain or spinal cord, and can also cause a milder flu-like illness with headache, fever and fatigue, weakness and sometimes rash.

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