A Miraculous Cure for Bug Bite Itching? This Remedy Really Works!

For the past several years, I have put up a version of this post. The response from people has been quite enthusiastic. So, given that we’re entering the buggy summer months, I thought it would be good to redo and repost this information.

First of all, though, let me be clear that I am not a doctor. (Well, okay, I have a Ph.D. But I’m not a medical doctor.) One should never take my medical advice too seriously.

Second, let me add that I’m generally very suspicious of “home remedies” for bodily ills, especially when they’re found on the Internet. There is no end to the nonsense out there. But, I found on the Internet what I’m beginning to think is a miraculous cure for bug bite itching. (Okay, okay. It’s not miraculous in the strict sense. Just surprising and wonderful.)

A little background: I am quite allergic to bug bits and stings. I have to be especially careful with bee and wasp stings, to which my body overreacts big time. But minor bites, like from mosquitoes, often lead to an unusually strong response. Where most folks get little bumps that itch for a few hours, I can get large welts that itch terribly for days. It’s much worse with spider bites and the like.

The bad news for me is that I now live in Texas, in the country, no less. My move to the outskirts of Boerne must have brought cheers to the insect kingdom, because bugs love to bite me, and there are tons of them where we live. We’ve got the usual bees and wasps, plus mosquitoes, biting ants, fire ants, chiggers, spiders, noseeums, etc. etc. The mosquitoes haven’t been too bad, actually. But I’ve had my share of chigger and ant bites, mostly because I haven’t been careful.

This is a small fire ant mound. If you see something like this in your yard or the local park, avoid it! Photo from gurdonark on Flickr.

A couple of years ago, in my lack of caution, I manged to get about a dozen fire ant stings on my legs. If you know something about fire ants, you know that I rather lucked out by getting a dozen rather than a couple hundred. Fire ant stings hurt right way, but soon the pain disappears. A couple of days later, the stings start itching . . . terribly. They itch worse than any other kind of bite I’ve been privileged to receive.

In my itching agony, I couldn’t sleep. I’d been using the typical treatments – hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl cream, aloe, etc. – with modest success. But I wondered if I could find something better. So I decided to check out the Internet, the source of all wisdom. (Not!) As I surfed around, I started running into lots of people who found heat to be helpful in reliving itches. Here are some examples: Poison Ivy; People’s Pharmacy; Home Remedies.

This is ironic, of course, because heat often causes itches (heat rash, etc.) or can make them worse. But many people testified that applying significant heat to an itch for a short amount of time made the itch disappear for several hours, maybe even longer. I was skeptical, but figured it would be worth a try. After all, what did I have to lose?

Some of the proponents of heat therapy for itches recommend using very hot water, not so hot as to burn the skin, but just a little cooler than this. Others swear by hair dryers. They recommending pointing a hair dryer at an itchy spot for several seconds or minutes. The skin should become uncomfortably hot, but not anywhere near being burned. After this heating of the skin happens, the itch is supposed to go away.

I got out my wife’s hair dryer and followed the instructions I had found online. I heated up one of my worst bites for about 45 seconds. My skin felt hot and began to hurt just a bit. But I was careful not to burn myself. When it seemed like I had done enough, I removed the hair dryer and waited to see what would happen. In a few more seconds, it seemed like the itch had completely disappeared. But I thought I might be doing a mind over matter trick, so I decided to treat my other bites and see what happened. In about eight minutes, I had heated up all of my bites. And it felt as if I had no more itching, just some residual warmth. About ten minutes later the feeling of warmth had vanished and so had my itching. Completely. I felt amazing relief. And it continued for probably six hours. Then I did a second treatment, and that was pretty much the end of itching. The bites were still there as nasty little welts. But I had no discomfort.

Since that first experiment, I’ve treated many more bites with the same results. It’s worked with mosquito bites, wasp stings, and spider bites. (So far I’ve managed to avoid scorpions!) I’m quite sure I’m not fooling myself with wishful thinking. Heating up a bite and the area right around it with a hair dryer really does seem to take away the itch. (Added note in 2013 – Some bites require maybe four or five heat treatments, spread over two or three days, before their itch is completely gone. Others need only one treatment.)

I’m sharing my findings with you because it’s summertime and the bugs are hungry. If you try the blow-drying method and it brings relief, then I’m glad. I do realize there’s some risk in putting this up online. If you do something stupid and burn yourself with your hair dryer or get electrocuted, you or your heirs will probably want to sue me. So let me say, once again, that I am not a medical doctor. I don’t know if there are any long-term disadvantages to this method of itch relief.

Whatever you do, don’t burn yourself. Be sure to read and follow all the warnings that come with your hair dryer. Don’t do what I’m recommending while sitting in a bathtub. Don’t do it in a rainstorm. Don’t do it while standing up high on an aluminum ladder. Don’t do it while driving in a car or talking on a cell phone. Don’t do it while filling your car with gasoline. Don’t do it while using mind-altering prescription drugs. Etc. etc. etc. Fill in your own legal boilerplate.

If you try this and it works for you, please add a comment to this post. If you try it and it doesn’t work, ditto. And if you have some other sure fire method itch relief, let us know. Good luck!

P.S. Lesley adds a comment below that I will put here as a word of caution: “Please don’t try this on poison ivy. I learned the hard way that it will increase the circulation of the toxin in your system and spread the rash.” Thanks, Lesley.

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  • Ed

    I normally don’t believe these sorts of testimonials, but I tried it on a spider bite this morning that kept itching me after almost a full day and it worked – amazing – I wish I had known this years ago. Thank you very, very much. Ed in Georgia

  • Marva

    OKAY! I can’t believe that this blow dryer thing really works! I was bitten by Fire Ants on Saturday and had two days of awful itching! It was so bad that I went to the pharmacy to get something….anything…to soothe the itching. I was told to take 2 benadryl and to use cortisone. Then I ran across this article that talked about HEATING THE BITES WITH THE BLOW DRYER! Instant relief….lasted for over 24 hours…enough for me to finally get some sleep. Yesterday, I had one small recurrence, but after the second hairdryer treatment I was fine —–and slept again last night! No more itching! Took my mother to the podiatrist today and mentioned the bites to him, first thing he said was “put some heat on it.” WOW and thanks to the guy who posted this!

  • George

    The heat breaks down the protein in the venom, so the sooner you do it, the better.
    I’ve known about this for years, but it’s hard to convince people that it works. It also works for bee stings. When a hair dryer isn’t handy, you can carry a couple of those re-useable heat packs that you boil to reset, then snap the little disk to release the heat.

  • Joann

    I just tried the hair dryer remedy. Unbelievable. Tried everything else. Only thing that worked. What a relief. Thank you so much!

  • http://www.nile7.com jaklin badr
  • Savannah Kerr

    Wow, this worked really well for me :D Thanks

  • Norine

    Just found your remedy last night at 4am in the morning. I was so desperate to find something that would help that. Went online and found your post. It was a MIRACLE!!!! I used the hair dryer and just did a second treatment. NO ITCH!!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you Mark!!!!!!!!

  • Hannah McCarthy

    This TOTALLY WORKS! Had a bite/sting from a black ant on my finger. It was painful when it happened and turned into a NASTY itch (fire) about 16 hrs later, which kept me up much of the night. First thing in the morning I was desperate for relief and found this post. Tried it right away and it worked like a charm! I’ve been itch-free for 10 hours now. Thank you!!!!!

  • ami

    Oh my thankyou this is possible the most amazing post I’ve ever read I’ve always suffered with being bitten alive !! I have two bites on my toe that have even waking me up through the night and generally driving me nuts for days !,Just tried this and so far it’s working thankyou thankyou thankyou !!!

  • Momof4

    I just recently learned of this from my children’s pediatrician! It does work, but is difficult to judge the temperature on someone else so caution must be used obviously. Another item that works is ice, but not as well. I put ice packs on my kids bites all the time! Great for night time sleeping. Ice must be held on bite to the point it no longer hurts the spot it is touching. ( so when first touches skin it feels cold, then it hurts from cold and then goes numb) only takes 1-3 min. itching will disappear enough to distract kids to fall back to sleep or continues playing if during the day.

  • Alyssa

    God bless you sir! I can now go back to sleeping normally without getting up and getting anxiety from how bad it itches.. I just got a new puppy and he brought the fleas to my house with him.

  • jane

    I am buying one of these therapik pens to put in my vehicle. My husband is a bee keeper and getting stung happens once in awhile. This will be great when this happens to take the sting and itch away asap.

  • Dianne

    Poison ivy does not create a “toxin” in the body. It is surface contact irritant which causes contact dermatitis. Heat cannot make it spread, except by liquifiying any oil on the skin left from the plant contact. By the same token, it should not help, either, since it is not a bite. Best thing is to be sure the oils are washed off (not smeared around), then take antihistamine. You can purchase special lotion washes to remove the oils asap after possible exposure.

  • Dianne

    Two days ago I was either stung by a caterpillar or received a spider bite on the ankle. The initial stinging felt like row of briar stickers sticking me, but I also have two possible fang marks…lots of scratches from doing outdoor yard work so I am not sure. The itching as been horribly intense with a slightly swollen hard pink area about 4 inches in diameter. Prevented sleep or focusing on other things. There is definitely a center area which feels more raw and more itching.Tried antihistamine cream, topical analgesics, licocaine 4% cream, ice. Used tape to pull any possible catepillar hairs remaining. When I tried a different topical, I took care to wash off the old stuff so I would not get a chemical burn from mixing different meds on the skin. Took oral Benadryl at night which seems to help a little on the intensity of itching. But the thing that is helping the itching the most is was hot wet compresses. Tried them last night and also a little while ago. Itching stopped for several hours, or was greatly relieved. The science behind this is that the heat increases blood flow to the area, which dilutes and helps flush the histamine (body’s response to the venom) and the venom from the local tissues.

  • Caitlyn

    I had to hold it on my bites for an uncomfortably long time (maybe close to 2 mins each) and was literally about in tears the itching sensation was so bad with the dryer on them. But I clenched my teeth and gritted through the (itching) pain and after there was def more relief than any of the shorter trials I did. Hoping I can sleep now and will most likely do more heat in the am. Hope this helps

  • Debbie in Florida

    Can’t believe how this works but I am thankful to you for sharing! I am allergic to mosquito and no seeum bites and living in Florida I get my fair share! This method is the only way I got relief from the horrible itching…..I no longer have to suffer……thank you!

  • MamaDawn

    I thank God that I found this info a year ago. I too am extremely sensitive to insect bites, and they seem to think my body is a buffet. I HATE TO ITCH! This method has never failed me.

  • Lilly Ann Rutgan

    I work at a Dog kennel. We keep everything clean and all the poop and whatnot picked up, but flies and gnats are still abundant. Especially on hot days outside in the play yard. On a particularly bad day I was bitten 14 times on my legs and feet. Despite the fact I was wearing closed toed shoes and long pants. ( I was wearing a short sleeved shirt and still managed not to get any on my arms or hands. No idea how but that’s another mystery on it’s own.) Between the antihistamines and itch I could not sleep. I tried the hot water on the bites as well as heating a metal spoon and then putting the spoon on the bites. Nothing. I just tried the blow dryer about 10 minutes ago and I can already feel the difference.

  • ferretgal

    This works for a lot of different types of itching. I have eczema and whenever I get any kind of wound, it goes through a period of itching that can drive me mad! I found the heat cure a few years ago (have mostly used hot water), and it’s kept me from ripping the skin off (or reopening a healing wound) many times. Oh, and it doesn’t help that I’m allergic to most bandages and ointments. Hydrocortisone is a bad joke.

  • Lindyloo

    Was bitten two weeks ago and the itching has been driving me crazy, read this after spending ten minutes furiously scratching despite drenching my feet in calamine lotion and figured anything was worth a try. Am now itch free, long may it continue, thank you

  • Mai Tran

    Its works! Thank you so much .

  • Michelle

    I got stung yesterday by two bald face hornets. Not only extremely painful, but I had an allergic reaction. Ended up at the doctor with benadryl and epinephrine. Fine now but the itching this morning…holy moly. I tried Gold Bond lotion, and while it eased it, it didn’t stop it. So I found this site via Google search and tried it. Both spots do not itch…hallelujah! Thanks for the tip!

  • paul

    Very effective with spider bites.
    It reminds me of the way my grandmother approached burns when I was a lot younger – in 1950 – she used to ‘burn out burns’. For small burns she would hold the burn as close as possible to a heated flat iron. The pain was intense and you could almost feel the burn being drawn out. Never a blister or a mark on the skin. I used this throughout my life for small burns and cannot recall suffering a burn blister or scar.

  • krista

    i also heard with the oils to take a cool shower to rinse the oils off before spreading

  • Jenna

    I’m pretty sure you just became my hero! I am moderately allergic to fire ant bites. Got bit (a total of five times) across both ankles. One is fundamentally worse than the other in that the solitary bite is on the soft fleshy spot behind my ankle bone. I work in an office and have to dress extremely professional – including nylons! I read this forum and it saved my life! ……at least, my sanity and possibly my job to boot!

  • dfb

    Thank you so much. I had no see um bites after a service trip to Mexico. They were driving me crazy. This worked and I can’t thank you enough!

  • Virginia

    This is so funny- I too found this blog post in the middle of the night because the mosquito bites on my feet (I counted 22 of them) were so itchy, I couldn’t sleep. Out of desperation I tried this and it truly worked. I felt relief immediately and was able to go back to bed and sleep soundly with no itching. I had to do it a few more times on especially troublesome areas – but i even put on socks and sneakers and worked out the next day and they didn’t start itching again! This is the first home remedy I’ve ever tried that actually worked. I want to tell everyone I know now.

  • Crystal Jones

    I received 34 fire ant bites the 11th of July. After a week I went to urgent care and they gave me a steroid shot. Today is 8-15 and I still have quite a few bites still on my leg and ankle. It’s time for these things to leave. I have used all the creams but I think I’ll try the hair dryer. Hoping it works. Thanks for the information.

  • kay allyn

    Thank you SO much. I’d given up hope of ever finding relief from insect bites. I felt relief in just a few minutes. It’s been 2 hours and no itching.

  • Trisch R.

    My 9 year old son got stung on the hand by a hornet–ouch! We were using benadryl internally and externally, ice, essential oils–found your post and it WORKED!!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

    (And loved the disclaimer paragraph, by the way! :) )

    God bless!

  • Brenda

    Thank you so much! I eat a lot of fruits + veggies and the bugs all love me. This worked brilliantly! GoVEG! xo

  • Kathy

    I am truly amazed! I have been going crazy with no-see-em bites, which I feel are worse than mosquitos. I had put everything on them that I could think of to help the itching with little success. I tried the hair dryer for only a few seconds until I couldn’t stand the heat any longer and got instant relief. I hope it lasts as long as you said. I will never forget this remedy. Thank you for saving my sanity!!

  • julianneclamcake

    Got bitten on my middle toe by some kind of nasty spider while sleeping in Big Sur. After two weeks of only itching when scratched, suddenly the bite started itching all the time and keeping me awake (seriously, when is this thing going to heal?) I even saw a doctor that gave me Clobetasol cream, which was doing nothing after the intense itch started. Like everyone else, I was like, why not give this a shot? Probably bunk, but whatever.

    It does work.

    The itch and sting is so bad in this thing that the heat doesn’t eradicate it, but wow, is it better. When the bite is touched or moved at all, it starts to itch a little again, but the dryer fixes that right up. I fully anticipate that I won’t have to deal with the full-blown hair-pulling rip-your-skin-off itch again thanks to this. WOO SCIENCE.

  • tina

    I woke up at 6am this morning with 4 HUGE, what looks like to me mosquito bites on the back of my upper thigh, they were all close together. I really have no idea what bit me as I was asleep, but woke up fast as I thought my leg was on fire. I live in Buffalo, NY so I don’t have a ton of what I will call ” hungry for human blood” bugs, my whole life I have been annoyed by the vampire of all bugs, the MOSQUITO!! They are the worst for me! I get the same reaction as Mark does, big red welts that seem to itch for weeks, and the slightest movement of the body part just triggers an itch frenzy that I can barely describe. I am always very, very careful when I am outside, but I never imagined being attacked in my own bed! I went camping twice and didn’t get bit once. I had to search out a better remedy then Benedryl, which I have been applying all day, hint— no relief at all… This really is a miracle cure, to me. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! God bless you, and I will say a prayer for you as well, for I will be thanking him for allowing me find your answer to itchy bug bites on the first attempt..lol :o)

  • tina

    Hey, crazy things work in a crazy world!! I just cant get over how much this works!! I needed this many years ago…

  • Keke

    Tried this on my shark bite – dint help!

  • Jennifer

    My daughter has been itching uncontrollably for 2 days now from bug bites covering the lower half of her body. We have tried alcohol, benedryl, benedryl cream, baking soda, resinol, foille & ibuprofen. ..NOTHING worked! She was clawing herself to death. So on to Google I went. She looked at me like I was crazy when I told her to get the blow dryer . We used then on all of her bites 2 hrs ago. Not another word about itching!!! THANK YOU! THANS YOU!!!

  • George


  • Anna

    Thank you so much for this wonderful cure!!! I had two sleepless nights because of really bad mosquito bites on both of my ankles, even after taking sleeping pills. I even resorted to using my mother’s prescription poison ivy medication, and it still wasn’t working. Finally, when I desperately searched google for home remedies at 2am last night, I came across this AMAZING post. It was too late to turn on a blow dryer (I didn’t want to wake the whole house up), so I filled a large bowl with hot water and submerged my foot in it for 3 minutes. Initially, the itching sensation was unbearable, but as soon as I took my foot out, the itching was completely gone! It was such a wonderful feeling to get back in bed and not worry about my ankles rubbing against the sheets in just the wrong way to trigger that unbearable itch again–I slept very well and I’m still not itchy! Thank you!!

  • billy

    Its 3am and up at 5 for work and cant get no sleep stupid spider bite driving me crazy and boom this worked after a few min with hair dryer. The wife thinks im crazy now tho haha using it middle of the night but now maybe i get some sleep thanks ;)

  • Stacie Standifer

    Thank you! I had ant bites on the tops of both feet. Nothing topical or over the counter gave me anything but very minimum, temporary relief. I was itching so bad I couldn’t wear shoes or concentrate. I didn’t have a hair dryer handy so I heated up two wet washcloths in the microwave so they were very warm but wouldn’t blister my feet. The bites burned at first but then after the first treatment I could barely feel any itch. It felt so good though I did two more rounds of heating up the cloths. After about 15 minutes total the itching is completely gone and the bites are barely visible at all any more. I really appreciate the post as nothing else I tried had worked.

  • terry

    You would have to have a very big inverter in your car for a 1200 watt hair dryer

  • margaret o Donnell Ireland

    Hi i am so delighted to find a cure for midge Bites as i get such a bad reaction,and the itch and swelling drives me crazy,this has been such a big problem for me for many years,i just cant wait to try this out,at the moment my legs are distroyed in bites,and the marks stay on my legs for ages due to all the scratching,i get it that bad that my legs swell up and feel as hard as rocks,the itching can last for as long as two weeks,thats why it takes so long for my legs to clear up,because of all the damage to so mwwany layers of skin,in the past i had so many bites that the Doctor told me it would take about 12months to clear and it took 14 months before it was better so i am well pleased to find out using a hair drayer to stop the itching,Thank u so much for this information,your a life saver.

  • margaret o Donnell Ireland

    Im so pleased to discover after many many years of midge bites and going mad with the itching that if i use my hair dryer on the bites it will help get rid of the itch,my legs are distroyed with all the bites,and from scratching so much i have damaged layers of skin,so please God i wont have this problem any more,i can cope with the bite but its the itching that drives me crazy,every year i get covered in bites,i can not sit out and enjoy my garden,as i know how bad the itch can get,so i feel like this is a Miracle,thank you all for sharing this Information,already i feel like a new woman…lol

  • Old Broad

    I spent last weekend in the country and received about 50 trophies for my excursion….mosquito bites everywhere !! I’d been on the internet for two days trying to find remedies for the itching spots. I tried everything I could think of. I consulted my doctor and two pharmacists and spent $40 on recommended creams, lotions, potions, etc. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, worked. I was getting maybe four hours of sleep a night as I googled and itched, googled some more and I’m sure my silent screams were heard in Timbuktu. Then I found Mark Roberts’ “cure”. As soon as I saw the word “miracle” in the lead-in I was immediately suspicious, but being desperate, I got a spoon, ran it under the hot-water tap, held it on a bite for a few seconds, repeated it a couple of times and …. BINGO the itch was gone…I mean GONE. Just like that! With the help of my partner, we spent the next hour hitting every single bite and they are ALL quiet…no itching whatsoever. Mr. Roberts, I think I love you! I send you a million thank yous, and wish you every blessing!! You are truly a God-send.

  • Lindsay Barrett

    After being up all night in agony, itching so bad I was just about in tears from little bites covering my feet I figured it couldn’t hurt. AMAZING! It’s only been 10 minutes so far but I would honestly do this treatment every half hour if it meant getting the relief only for another 10 minutes. Thank you soooo much for this post! Ahhhhhhh :)

  • Cyntha

    This works! I got bit on the hand by a spider last night in the garden. It stung badly for hours and today it’s been itching and driving me crazy. The rubbing and scratching only increased the swelling. Anti-itch medication gave little relief. Finally I had a break at work to google “spider bite itch” and I found this article. I immediately went to the kitchen and ran hot water on the bite. The water was as hot as I could stand it and I only ran it for 10 seconds. Finally some relief! It’s been over an hour. I’d repeat this treatment even if it only lasted 10 minutes. The long term effect is a bonus!

  • Doug Starling

    I was clearing brush near my home in Southern California. I was bitten twice by a spider the size of a ’57 Buick on the inside of my elbow. I tried all of the creams for the itching which was intense. I figured that I would just have to grit-it-out until itching went away. After three days, I tried the hair blower thing. The itching is gone as though someone just switched it off. Amazing. Thank you for the suggestion. It actually worked.