Mosquitoes are among the most nagging species of insects we know. Even though a mosquito bite does not seem to be a big issue and often remains unnoticed, it can pose serious problems for some people.
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Why do mosquitoes bite?
The only mosquitoes that bite are females. They feed on blood because they need it to produce eggs. Once a female finds an exposed spot on the human skin, she lands, pierces it with her tiny proboscis, reaches a blood vessel and sucks blood. Her saliva contains proteins, which prevent blood from clotting. It is the proteins that cause what we call mosquito bite allergies in humans. They cause the affected area to swell, redden, and become itchy. In most cases, a mosquito bite has an appearance of a red or pink spot or bump, which appears after a few hours and becomes very itchy.
How do allergies manifest themselves?
In allergic people, a mosquito bite can produce a more severe reaction. Spots may grow bigger and more painful. They may develop rash, hives or blisters around a bite. The symptoms may become generalized and occur in any region of the body. Other reactions include lesions, joint swelling, fever, nausea, vomiting, confusion, fatigue, lightheadedness.
Some people develop serious anaphylactic reactions, such as swelling of the entire body (Skeeter’s syndrome), throat, and suffocation. They can be life-threatening and require immediate assistance.
Who is more likely to develop an allergic reaction?
People who have had severe reactions to wasp, bee, etc. bites, should be careful. A mosquito bites rarely causes so much trouble. However, if you are staying in an area swarming with mosquitoes, please, take precautions.
Children have a more sensitive skin and therefore are more vulnerable to mosquito bite allergies. Reactions tend to go away with age as the body learns to protect itself.
How do I treat a mosquito bite?
If you have a localized reaction, do the following: сlean the affected area with an antiseptic lotion or soap using warm water. Use calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream or aloe vera to ease the itching. Do not scratch it, because it will make the itching worse and stave off recovery. Anti-inflammatory ointments can reduce the swelling and reddening. Make sure you are not allergic to any of the medications you are going to use.
If you have a more serious reaction like generalized rash, blisters, confusion, fatigue, please, consult your physician. Should any signs of anaphylaxis occur (shortness of breath, wheezing breath, swelling throat, etc.), call your local emergency service immediately!
How do I prevent it?
This is just a case to say ‘prevention is better than cure’. Particularly, it applies to those who have had a history of insect bite allergy.
- Mosquitoes are most active from dusk until dawn. If you prefer to sleep with your windows open, use mosquito nets and an anti-mosquito plug-in. Please, make sure you are not allergic to vapors.
- Mosquitoes hang around standing water. If there are puddles, bird feeders, rain gutters near your house that are filled with water, take steps to drain them.
- If you are about to visit an area that is heavily inhabited with mosquitoes, take repellents with you. Use those containing 6-20% of DEET. Make sure you are not allergic to the repellents.
- Brightly colored clothes and perfumes may attract mosquitoes. Take on clothes that leave a minimum amount of skin exposed.
It is advisable to have your skin tested and have a treatment plan at hand.
STUDIES ON MOSQUITO BITES – Onlinelibrary.wiley.com