Home remedies for mosquito bites and repellent in Japan

Mosquito treatment and repellant JapanFurther to my daughter having a bad reaction to multiple mosquito bites, I have learned a lot about treating mosquito bites and repelling the annoying pests over the last few days. I wanted to share the most effective treatments easily purchased here in Japan.

For treating a severe bite;

I found massaging aloe vera gel on to the aggravated areas really helped relieve the itch for my 2-year-old (2yo) daughter. If, like me, you do not have an aloe vera plant yourself, aloe vera products are readily available in Japan.  I had a gel to hand as I had bought one as after sun in Tokyu Hands in Ikebukuro.  I thought seen as it cools a burn it might help a bite. I subsequently read on many websites after, that it is a known “home remedy” for bites. The one I bought is Banana Boat Soothing Aloe After Sun.  You can find information and access details for Tokyu Hands in English, Chinese and Korean here.

While the aloe vera was great for relieving the itch instantly, it didn’t do anything to reduce the size of the bite and the effects wore off after a couple of hours. The next time I tried straight vinegar applied to cotton wool and I held it to each bite for about 5 minutes. This seemed to sting on impact, but then relieved the itch and brought the swelling down a little.  I read after to reduce the sting effect you should dilute the vinegar with some water. Thankfully, vinegar is very easy to come by in Japan as it is something most people have in their home. It is stocked in supermarkets and large drug stores.

Baking soda with water to form a paste was a popular suggestion online. I tried it and it was good for the itch, but it wasn’t ideal at nighttime as its messy.  The baking soda in Japan is different from what we have at home (essentially Arm & Hammer), so you need to be careful that you don’t get the wrong one. Here there are 2 products; one for cleaning purposes (juusou 重曹) and one for baking (tansan タンサン or 炭酸). The good news is that you can get Arm & Hammer baking soda at Kaldi, yes the “coffee farm”! I believe other stores with a good selection of worldwide foods also stock this particular baking soda.

Another way I relieved the itch and ache for her was by cooling it with ice packs wrapped in gauze.  Ice packs are also something readily available in Japan. You often receive them free when you purchase refrigerated or frozen goods.  I hold onto them and store them in the freezer for picnics / bentos and bumps on the head!

Of course, the cream I subsequently got from the chemist worked the best. You can find information about that in the post about 2yo’s bites. (blog post here)

For repelling mosquitoes

I have a number of store-bought purpose designed mosquito repellents, but at night I don’t like to have anything like that in the kid’s bedroom. So I researched online and made my own child friendly mosquito repellant with ingredients I had in the house.  I mixed one cup vinegar, with one cup water and 2 drops of Tea Tree oil.  I get my Tea Tree oil at Muji.

Most articles I read suggested being more liberal with the tea tree oil, but with a baby in the house I didn’t want to take my chances as tea tree oil can be harmful if ingested and occasionally it can cause an allergic reaction when applied on skin.  I sprayed some in the room and put a few drops on 2yo’s pyjamas and bedding.  I frequently spray tea tree oil around the outside of the sliding doors and windows as it deters ants and cockroaches. I did not know it is a popular home remedy for deterring the mozzies too, but it makes sense as it is the smell that deters them all.

Vinegar on its own and / or Tea Tree oil on its own seem to be very effective too. My husband often uses a homemade lemon concoction that is a popular home remedy in Japan, but I think it is less effective than vinegar or tea tree. I put a few drops of vinegar in 2yo’s hair today as she often gets bit on the face, she had some of the store-bought stickers on her clothes as well as drops of tea tree on her shoes and socks. Between the combination of the home-made concoctions and the store-bought wipes and stickers I will be amazed if she does get bit again!

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