In March, the first baby with Zika virus–related microcephaly—a condition in which infants are born with small heads and brain damage—was delivered in the contiguous United States.
The mosquito-transmitted disease is a very real concern on U.S. soil—over 370 potentially infected pregnant women in the country and outlying territories are being monitored by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as we speak. And this isn’t the first disease that can be traced back to mosquitoes. You might remember the West Nile virus outbreak of 2012, and the same species that carries Zika also transfers dengue and chikungunya virus.
Preventing bites, from mosquitoes in particular, is more important now than ever, especially if you’re expecting or trying to get pregnant. The CDC recommends covering up, mosquito-proofing your home, and always using an effective repellent when you’ll be outdoors—check out the full recommendations here.
But just in case you happen to get bit, we’ve got a few natural remedies to help take the itch or sting away.
First step—apply ice (with a protective layer of cloth between the skin and the cool pack) to a bite for 15 to 20 minutes at a time to help minimize swelling and itching.
Cooling aloe vera may be just as soothing for bug bites as it is for sunburns. Aside from its antifungal and antimicrobrial properties, aloe contains two hormones, auxins and gibberellins, known to help heal wounds and fight inflammation,
Moisturize with this miracle oil to eliminate dryness that can exacerbate irritation—massage in a dab to the affected area and it’ll help alleviate itchiness and leave behind a protective layer on skin to allow bites to heal.
A plant known for its calming properties, chamomile in tea form boasts some tannins, naturally occurring compounds that can reduce swelling. Steep some chamomile tea in hot water, let the bag cool, and apply directly to bug bites for quick relief.
If you’re still feeling the pain, some natural health enthusiasts find that bathing in ACV can cut inflammation and relieve itchiness. Add 1 to 3 cups into a warm bath and soak for as long as you’d like.
If mosquitoes make you their next tasty morsel, now you’ll be well-equipped to handle the itch.
Illustration by Foley Wu