While you can't totally erase those pesky red marks from your skin, these six solutions can stop your mosquito bites from itching and driving you nuts.

A speck of black floats past your face or a wispy buzz sounds in your ear. Sometimes (if you’re lucky) you can detect the presence of mosquitos before they’ve had a chance to bite. But in most cases, you don’t notice them until one or two (or five) have feasted on your ankles and elbows, causing itchy red welts to rise up on your skin.

Why do mosquito bites itch?

Why do mosquito bites itch and become inflamed? “As part of the feeding process, all blood-feeding organisms introduce saliva into the wound,” says Dr Jonathan Day, a mosquito researcher.

Proteins in a mosquito’s saliva prevent blood clotting, Day says. That allows the mosquito to extract your blood more quickly and efficiently. Once the mosquito has finished her meal and departed, her salivary proteins stay behind. “Your immune system sees those proteins as a foreign substance, and immediately attacks them with histamine,” Day says.

Histamine is an immune chemical your cells release in response to the presence of an injury, allergens, or other irritants. And it’s this histamine that produces the itching and swelling some people experience following a mosquito bite, Day explains.

He says “some people” because, surprisingly, not everyone experiences an itchy reaction to mosquito bites. “For most people, the first time they’re bitten by a type of mosquito, they get that reaction,” he says. “But as you’re bitten more, most people cease to have a reaction.” Basically, your immune system learns that a particular type of mosquito’s bite is not a threat, and so it stops freaking out every time that species of blood-sucker bites you, he says. But this isn’t true for all people, he adds. Some of us never stop experiencing an itchy reaction. Also, if you travel to a new place with new types of mosquitoes that your immune system hasn’t been exposed to before, you’re likely to get an itchy, inflamed reaction to a bite, he says.

How to make mosquito bites stop itching

Of course, the best way to stop mosquito bites is to prevent them in the first place with one of the best mosquito repellent. Whether you’re the type who always has a reaction or you’re heading to a new place where unfamiliar mosquitos may lurk, the good news about mosquito bites is that they tend to stop itching within two to three days, Day says. Don’t want to wait that long? Here are six simple ways to stop mosquito bites from itching ASAP.

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