There’s a lot to love about summer – the water, the warmth, the vacations, the frosty drinks, baseball, tennis, bbq, lightning bugs – the list goes on and on. There are also plenty of things that are less than great (wasps, anyone?), and for many people, mosquitoes and the itchy, red bites they leave behind top that list. Not to mention the fact that they spread disease, including ones that can be pretty scary if you’re at risk or pregnant.

The process they use to extract your blood (to make other bloodsuckers, blech), is pretty gross, btw: the mosquito injects saliva to numb the area, then that same saliva expands your blood vessel and prevents it from clotting while the little bugger feeds.

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The itch, it turns out, is a reaction the histamines in your own body produce in response to the saliva and not anything the mosquito leaves behind – it’s an immune response, essentially.

Sure, you can try sprays and candles and essential oils, but chances are, a couple enterprising pests are going to find your bloodstream and leave with a full belly – so, what’s the best way for you to cope with the fallout?

First off, here are some common tricks that definitely do not work:

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A hot bath: heating up your skin makes it itchier, so just say no.

Alcohol (the kind you rub, not the kind you drink): it will dry out your skin and bring on more itching.

Honey: it is a good antibacterial, but it doesn’t have any proven effects on immune response.

Here are some that could work…

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Lemon (or other plant-based oils): there is some research that says lemon or lemon juice could work, but as far as other plant-based materials, make sure you’re not going to have an allergic reaction and make the initial response worse.

A cold compress: Cold will reduce swelling and blood flow, so it could temporarily relieve the itch and puffiness associated with a fresh bite.

But the best option? A steroid cream.

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A simple cortisone cream will constrict the blood vessels and reduce the inflammation that’s causing the itchiness – something essential oils can’t do, and something cold can only do temporarily – and they’re easy enough to find at your local drug store.

You’re all set – go forth and enjoy the rest of your summer!