If you’re like me and are trying to enjoy these last few summer nights, it is likely that you are spending a lot of time outdoors…swatting away mosquitoes.
Despite using bug repellents, sometimes it’s inevitable to get one or two itchy bites. Instead of stocking up your medicine cabinet with creams and sprays that are likely to expire before they are all used, let’s see if a more everyday product will work. Some studies suggest that toothpaste can work just as effectively in alleviating mosquito bites as over-the-counter remedies. Before we go putting sticky toothpaste on our skin, let’s see if research can back up this claim.
When we feel an itch, or a tickle, it is our body’s way of telling us that something foreign is threatening our skin. If something brushes against our skin, it is our natural defense to move our hand to try and brush away the intruder. The Huffington Post explains that, if we have already been bitten, then “the body’s natural reaction to the bite is to release histamine […] a compound that signals an allergic reaction, which causes itching.”
Many common over-the-counter allergy medications contain anti-histamines which aim to stop itching. These sprays or creams aim to soothe our skin; however, Live Strong, points out that “cooling the affected area is your top priority in soothing an itch, ” and what’s more refreshing than minty toothpaste? Dermatologist Dr. Neal B. Schultz, explains that, when applied to skin, mint “causes a cooling sensation, [which] gets to the brain faster than the itching,’” The Huffington Post explains. When we apply cooling products to our skin, our brains are tricked to focus on the cooling sensation rather than the pain. The Huffington Post states that since “the brain can only process one sensation at a time, cooling agents are often added to skin products to act as ‘counter-irritants’ […] which prevent and block other sensations.”
SEE ALSO 6 All-Natural Bug Bite Remedies
Even though toothpaste has been proven to help lessen the itch, doctors advise to use caution when choosing the brand of toothpaste. According to a 1997 study conducted by the University of Oslo, “propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate [two ingredients in popular toothpaste brands caused…] skin reactions,” Live Strong states. To avoid irritation, it is recommend to use a natural or homemade toothpaste. Rosemary Gladstar, author of Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, used “1 cup green volcanic clay, 2 tbsp. salt, water, and peppermint essential oil [and] mixed the clay with enough water to turn it into a paste. Add the remaining ingredients, then apply the paste to itchy skin and let it dry,” Live Strong concludes.
Verdict: Fact. Toothpaste can help alleviate the itch we feel after a bug bite. Put a small dab on any itchy bug bites you get during the remaining of the summer for a quick and cheap remedy. Be sure to test the toothpaste on a small patch of skin to make sure your skin won’t get a reaction before applying it on multiple bites. Talk to your doctor–toothpaste may be a remedy that is worth trying!
For similar features, check out our articles here.
Have you tried the toothpaste itch remedy before?