Vinegar has a myriad of uses, and one thing some claim the pantry staple can do is soothe itching from bug bites and stings.
The Old Farmer's Almanac recommends
ordinary household white vinegar to help the itching of mosquito bites — and it is far from alone among nature-minded publications in touting vinegar as a dependable bug bite remedy.
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Magazines old and new praise vinegar as a bona fide treatment for the lesions left by various insects and arachnids. Reader's Digest reports
vinegar also works as a bug repellent, whether you drink small daily doses of apple cider vinegar or rub white vinegar directly on your skin.
But there is still not enough medical evidence in research, according to WebMD
, to guarantee that vinegar-based remedies truly work on bug bites.
Some experts likewise cast doubt on apple cider vinegar as a drinkable repellent.
"I have never seen any evidence that it has any effect," Harvard University public health entomologist Richard Pollack told NBC's "Today."
Vinegar does have defenders who say it is best used topically, applied to the skin after a sting or bite.
In one anecdotal field test, run by a writer for Slate
who arranged to be stung repeatedly, a homemade vinegar concoction got a big thumbs up over some brand-name bee sting salves: The intrepid bee correspondent found superior relief in a paste combining vinegar, baking soda, and meat tenderizer.
The only drawback? Smelling "like an antipasto sampler," he wrote.
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Vinegar can even aid ocean swimmers stung by jellyfish, Arizona State University nutritionist and researcher Carol S. Johnson, who has studied this common salad topper's nonculinary medicinal uses, told the National Institutes of Health
. Johnson said applying vinegar to the site of a jellyfish sting is routine practice in coastal settings because it neutralizes the creature's stingers.
It's the close encounters on land — with gnats, ticks, mosquitos, bees, wasps, and spiders — that generally garner the attention of health and wellness outlets such as Organic Authority, which advises
, "If the mosquitoes really feasted on you, take a hot bath with 2-3 cups of organic apple cider vinegar mixed in."
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