There are certain phrases in the English language that, once uttered, spell doom for the speaker. “What’s the worst that could happen?” is one example, along with, “Well at least it’s not raining.” Of course we can’t forget the horror movie classics like, “I’ll be right back,” or Darwinian helpers such as, “Hold my beer and watch this!”And then there’s, “Aw, I hate bug spray. I’d rather have a couple bites.”
I went camping about a month ago and came home with 78 bug bites. Most were probably mosquito bites but there were also blood flies and at least one spider bite.I generally consider bug bites slightly worse than annoying, but this was downright agonizing. The first night, depending solely on calamine lotion, I didn’t sleep at all. By the way. Calamine lotion is worthless.
So 4 am found me googling bug bite cures. Twitter and Facebook also yielded some helpful suggestions, but stuck at home the next day, I tried the only “cure” available in the house. Scotch Tape. This sounded unlikely, but I was desperate, so I figured what the heck.
Most of the bites were on my legs, so I mummified my calves in transparent strips, covering every bite. It worked much better than I expected (in that I didn’t expect it to work at all) but certainly wasn’t 100%.
The main usefulness of the tape seemed to be reducing friction on the bites. Protected by the tape, my bites weren’t constantly irritated by my clothing, or even the air. Miraculously, I could also scratch my bites without bothering them, as the smooth surface of scotch tape let me rub without abrasion. The forum that suggested this cure claimed that the tape sucks out mosquito venom (total nonsense) but I’m pretty sure the stickiness has nothing to do with the relief. I think this is entirely caused by protecting the bites. I didn’t realize how much the tape was doing until I took it off. Then the itch-burn returned full force. While Scotch Tape isn’t perfect, it helps far more than you’d expect and I highly recommend it as a home remedy.
The down side to the tape was that I could feel it when I moved, which meant every step I took reminded me that my body was covered in mosquito bites. As you’re probably aware, the best thing you can do for bug bites is forget about them, and the tape made this almost impossible (not that it was even remotely possible WITHOUT the tape).
I asked Matt to ask the pharmacist what to use, and he brought home some AfterBite (ammonia) and Cortisone. The instructions were to put on the ammonia (stings like a scorpion), wait for it to dry, and then smear on the cortisone.
The effect of the ammonia was immediate, after the sting dissipated, the itch was GONE, though it didn’t last too long if you left it at that, and itching reawakened at the slightest breeze. The cortisone is supposedly a longer term effect, up to 24 hours before it has any impact. I can’t testify to that, since I have no idea what the itch would have been like if I hadn’t used it.
I do know that the chemicals were sanity saving. The pharmacist said nothing about covering the bites after, and I’m not sure whether health wise it’s a good idea, but I’d already witnessed how much scotch tape helped and I wanted to get rid of as much itch as possible. I wanted to SLEEP, thanks.
The scotch tape was not ideal. For one thing, taking it off left painful red marks, especially at the back of the knee, where it actually caused a friction rash, and seemed to make the bites worse. For another thing, I mean, it’s scotch tape. That can’t be healthy, right? Some people online were using duct tape, and scotch tape is probably better than that, but I thought surely there were better options.
I picked up some medical tape, and this was a huge mistake. Nowhere near as effective as scotch tape, the huge strips of medical tape dragged constantly at my skin, a painful reminder of my itching bites. Since the tape is designed to breathe, air could get in to bug my bites, but it was somehow still hotter, more sweat inducing than the scotch tape. The only plus I can see is that it would have made a good Halloween costume. Scotch tape, surprisingly, was a clear winner here.
Better though, if more ridiculous, were individual band-aids.
It took me more than an hour to cover all my bites with tiny round bandages, and it seemed like a complete waste of time, but even more than the tape, the band-aids worked beautifully. I can’t think of a better use for the band-aids, I’ve always wondered what they were for, so maybe this is it. Though time consuming, the band-aids, coupled with the ammonia and ointment, were the best by far at relieving the itch.
They’re less conspicuous than the medical tape (though not as invisible as scotch tape) relieved 95% of the itch and burn (enough that I could forget it), and most importantly, didn’t pull at my skin at all, or give any reminder that they were there.
I also tried to defend my band-aid use by claiming that they must be attractive. After all, Anime characters are often covered in band-aids and everyone knows Anime characters are hot. Right? Matt has informed me however that, while I am always hot in his eyes, being covered in band-aids is not at all sexy, and should be avoided whenever possible. Especially if they’re covering itchy bug bites.
Ah well. Half my friends on the camping trip ended up with poison ivy, so I guess it could have been worse. I’m pretty sure calamine lotion doesn’t do much for that either.