TODAY I’M GR8FUL 4: My Itch Erasers

(I’ve been contemplating recently how important it is to “count your blessings”—regularly pondering those things—both little and big—you are grateful for in life—in order to maintain a positive attitude, reduce anxiety, and learn more and more to trust God. I’ve decided that one way to encourage myself to do the counting is to share my thoughts about some of those blessings with others via this series of entries in my BrightStarr blog, “TODAY I’M GR8FUL 4:”. I hope it inspires readers to count their own blessings, small and great, and share them with others also.)

It happened again yesterday. Since we’d had nighttime temperatures down close to freezing several times lately, I assumed I was safe. I was not.

I had decided that the clutter in the carport needed to be sorted through, getting most of it ready to take to the trash. I’ve avoided the project for months because of Them.

Oh … no. Not THEM. Those were ginormous ants in that 1954 horror flick. (I saw the movie at the theater when I was seven years old, and can still remember it giving me horrible nightmares!)

This Them is our abundant crop of much smaller resident mosquitoes here in north Georgia.  Since childhood, I have been the Prime Target at any family gathering for the resident mosquitoes, everywhere from Michigan to Ohio to Georgia. I can complain that “They’re eating me alive!” and the rest of the crowd looks at me with the look you give someone you are sure is delusional. Nobody else is even providing the mosquitoes a nibble.

No, it isn’t any scent from perfume or hairspray, or whatever seems to attract them to other people. I don’t use any of those cosmetics. It just seems that whatever scent my body puts off is like the fragrance of Mosquito Chocolate to them.

It’s not a matter of going deep into the woods … or even deep into our suburban backyard. Like I said, I was in our carport, over concrete and under an aluminum roof, with no “underbrush” in sight for them to hide in, no swampy area for them to breed in. They just seem to lurk in among the dry cardboard boxes, just waiting for me to pause more than two seconds in any one spot—to get groceries out of the car, to step outside for just a moment to sign a delivery slip for a FedEx driver, or to fumble at the back door for just a few seconds with my arms full of shopping bags in order to get the door open. I don’t even have to be stationary … a swift trip to the mailbox by the road will often yield several bites.

You might wonder why I just don’t use mosquito repellant … but think about it. I’m not talking about “going to a picnic” for a limited time. I’m talking about ANY time I walk out my door, day or night! I’d have to put on the repellant in the morning, refresh it several times a day, and only wash it off at bedtime. That can’t possibly be good for your system. Besides—I’m also allergic to chemical scents like those in air fresheners, cosmetics—and mosquito repellant. And no, there is no effective “unscented” repellant on the market.

Praise God for air conditioning. If I lived in a stuffy house and had to go out on a patio in the summer for relief… it would be no relief! And the bites aren’t just little ones—I seem to have enough of an allergic sort of reaction to make many of them welts as big as a nickel or more. And there’s never just one—during one ten second session one or more can hit me several times—behind my knee, somewhere on an arm, on an ankle, down a calf.

But this post isn’t about praising God for air conditioning. (Although I do!) Because, of course, I MUST go outside sometimes, to get to the grocery, the doctor, the dentist, the hair salon, the mall. What I am being Gr8ful 4 this day is … My Itch Erasers.

I lived for almost 60 years without an itch eraser. I’m not quite sure how I survived so many summers full of mosquito bites without going crazy. I guess when I was younger I tolerated the day or two of itching from bites better than I have once I became AARP age. You’d think the aches and pains of an aging body would overshadow the bothersomeness of such itching. They don’t. They just multiply the aggravation of one another.

And then one day, I think it was likely in the pharmacy section of WalMart, I saw the box.

After so many years of trying every sort of nostrum to alleviate the mosquito bites, you can bet I was skeptical! But also desperate enough to try something I’d never heard of before. So I got one, took it home, and waited for my next run-in with a mosquito. It came soon enough. I then followed the directions on the box to use the Itch Eraser on the welt that was quickly forming. And was stunned—it worked! Almost instantly, in a way I’d never experienced before. Where had this product been all my life?! (I just read today that it’s been around for 30 years or so…but somehow I’d missed it.)

So just what is “After Bite—the Itch Eraser,” and why and how does it work? I assumed at first that, for it to be so effective, it must be a proprietary concoction of secret chemicals invented by a genius. No, as it turns out, it is just a little plastic applicator sort of like a magic marker—

…that contains nothing but a 3.5% solution of plain old ammonia, in a base of some bland oil.  Period. That’s all. Yet it works like a miracle.

You remove the screw-off lid from the applicator. That lets you see that there’s a little hole in the end of the applicator, that allows you to just hold it upside down and let a little bit leak out, that you rub around on the mosquito bite with the tip of the applicator. IF you do this within the first 15 minutes or so after the mosquito bit you, all over any area that has started to swell, it will almost immediately stop the itching. And within minutes the swelling will go down and disappear. An hour or two later you won’t be able to tell you were ever bitten at all! In the past, I’d have welts, that would go from white to red, still remaining two or three days after being bitten. And they would itch the whole time.

As I understand it, it works like this: When a mosquito bites you, it sucks a drink of your blood out, and injects into the spot some of its own saliva, which is “acidic.” Your body reacts to the chemicals with the itching and swelling. The ammonia is a “base,” which, when added to an “acid” can neutralize it. This cuts short the chain reaction that usually leads to extended swelling and itching.

The ammonia also acts as an antiseptic, which aids in healing the bite. I’ve not had occasion to try the Itch Eraser on other types of bites, but it is supposed to work also for bites from black flies, fire ants, chiggers, fleas, and more.

Just remember … it doesn’t work unless you use it promptly. Once the chain reaction has built up for an hour or more, you can’t get ahead of it, and will just have to deal with the itching some other way. (And I’ve never found a really effective product that will do the job.)

So to be sure I can use it promptly, I have multiple Itch Erasers. There’s one in my purse, one in the car, one in the bathroom medicine cabinet, one in a basket near the door where I stick things like my keys and my purse. My 17 year old granddaughter, who lives in the same house, seems to have inherited my “mosquito attractant” status (while all the other family members are not bothered nearly as much), so I have presented her with her own personal Itch Eraser that she keeps in her own room. But even the other family members, if they’ve been outside very long, to mow the lawn or rummage around in the garage for perhaps an hour, sometimes come to me covered in mosquito bites and asking to use one of my Itch Erasers.

There are very few products of any kind that I would even agree to be paid to “endorse,” but this is one of them I’d willingly be a spokesperson for at no cost because it really, truly does what it claims!

As I said, I’ve got enough occasional aches and pains these days as a Senior Citizen that I can’t do very much about. I don’t need the extra aggravation of mosquito bites. So I am very, very Gr8ful 4 my Itch Erasers. Yes, indeed, as I look at a mosquito welt just disappearing on my arm, I really do stop to say a little prayer of thanks to God!

It seems like such a small thing, but sometimes it’s the improvement in small things that make life more enjoyable than the “big box” goodies we can surround ourselves with.

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