Dear Dr. Jo,
I have seen several articles on facebook claiming that Orajel is a new “cure” for mosquito bites. What do you think?
Dr. Jo Herzog
Orajel is used for teething and mouth pain. It contains an anesthetic called benzocaine which blocks the sensation of pain. This chemical is also found in many other preparations that are marketed for itching and pain such as Vagisil, Dermaplast, Benzotic, Tanac, Ambesol and Orabase. Benzocaine is also used by physicians to numb small areas prior to procedures and in some preparations for sore throats and hemorrhoids. Use of this product is safe for most people when used on a limited basis.
People with Methemaglobinemia should not use this product, as it could have adverse reactions. Using too much of this product over too large an area, using it over skin ulcerations or large blisters, or occluding it with tape or plastic wrap can also be dangerous, as too much medication can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
When used carefully over small areas, benzocaine is useful to treat itching and mild pain. It probably does help the itch of a mosquito bite, but that should be temporary relief only. I don’t think that it could hurt if only small amounts are used, but I would not apply over large areas.
If you are bothered by a lot of itching bites, you are better off taking an antihistamine and applying some hydrocortisone cream to the bites. Also, keep the areas clean, as scratches can become infected. New fads for treating mosquito bites come around every year. When I was a kid it was toothpaste.