Hi there! Just a quick question. There is an old remedy in our family for itchy bug bites - to put a baking soda paste (baking soda mixed with water) over the bite. Supposedly this is to “draw out the poison.” Now, I kind of doubt it draws out any poison, but it does seem to decrease or eliminate the itchiness of mosquito bites. Have I been experiencing a placbo effect from this, or does it actually work? I swear it seems to work better than hydrocortisone cream, and I don’t have to limit myself to slathering it on only a few times a day. (The down side is that it dries quickly and tends to flake off everywhere, making a bit of a mess, but I’d rather have baking soda in the carpet than a horrible itch I shouldn’t scratch.)
I have heard this folk cure recommended by medical sources. I don’t know the whole story but I would suppose that because it’s a base and neutralizes acids, there might be an acid component to insect venom.
I would be surprised if this works for mosquito bites, because the mosquito injects an anticoagulent and anesthestic, which most people have allergic reactions to. I don’t think baking soda acts as an antihistimine.
It definitely works – the alkaline baking soda can neutralize the venom. The Mayo Clinic suggests it, as to many children’s hospitals.
I’ve used it for years, and there’s obviously some chemical reaction going on: when you put it on a bite, the “lump” becomes less defined and the swelling goes down. A similar bite without it remains more of a bump and usually takes longer to fade away.