Mosquitoes are biting, flying insects that are a source of great irritation for animals and people alike. Only female mosquitoes bite, as they need a blood meal in order to produce eggs. Bites generally occur on exposed skin such as the hands, neck, face, and ankles. Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, body odor, light, heat, and perspiration.
Symptoms of Bites
The immune system of the individual that was bitten by the mosquito is what reacts to the saliva. Redness, swelling, and intense itching are usually localized and last for several hours to a day or two. Occasionally, the same symptoms can occur as a delayed reaction.
Washing the area with soap and water, not scratching, and applying anti-itch products can decrease the length of the symptoms.
True allergic reactions to mosquito bites are rare. If dizziness or nausea occurs this could be an indication of a severe reaction to the bite and medical attention should be given promptly. Additionally, care should be taken if an individual was bitten in a high risk disease area as mosquitoes carry many different viruses, diseases, and parasites that are transmissible to humans.
How Do Mosquitoes Bite?
When the mosquito finds a blood capillary, it sucks the blood through the proboscis and into its abdomen, where the blood is used for the development of mosquito eggs.
The mosquito’s saliva contains an anti-inflammatory substance to numb the pain, so the act of sucking out the blood is not uncomfortable for the chosen host. However, the bitten person’s immune response to the injected saliva often results in an annoying, itchy red bump that needs treating with an insect bite remedy.
Why Do Some People Get Mosquito Bites?
Why do some people get mosquito bites and others do not? It is unclear why some people suffer terribly with multiple mosquito bites, while others never seem to get bitten. Mosquitoes are attracted to various things about people; the chemicals given off in skin and breath, fragrances worn, heat given out, movement and even the colors of clothes.
It is possible that certain combinations of these attractants make some people more interesting to mosquitoes than others, and therefore more likely to get mosquito bites.
Some people seem to have little or no reaction to mosquito bites, while others have very strong allergic reactions and their mosquito bites become very large, swollen, inflamed and painful. Severe allergic reactions to mosquito bites may require treatment with oral antihistamines. In cases of infection caused by insect bites, antibiotics may be needed.
When Do They Bite?
Male and Female Mosquitoes
Both male and female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, but only female mosquitoes ‘bite’, or drink blood. Females need the protein from the blood of humans and animals in order to develop their eggs; males do not lay eggs.
Once a female mosquito has landed on a human and bitten them, she injects her saliva into the wound. Her saliva contains properties that keep the blood from clotting and allows it to flow into her mouth. Unless disturbed, she will continue to feed until her abdomen is full. After a bite has occurred, a small amount of the mosquito’s saliva is left in the wound as it is this that causes the symptoms.
During the day, mosquitoes prefer to rest in shady areas out of the heat of the sun, and they are less likely to be active. Mosquitoes tend to go about their business after sunset when it is cooler and the air is moist, so this is when it is necessary to take extra precautions against mosquito bites.
However, even if it is a scorching hot day, it is still possible to get bitten by female mosquitoes. The Aedes mosquito is known to bite in the day.
Treatment of Bites
Mosquito bite treatment is usually straightforward, the main concern being the often very intense itching that accompanies the bites. But you don’t need to put up with the itch. There are a variety of mosquito bite treatments available, which simply and easily take the annoying itching away.
After Bite – Insect Bite Remedy – 14ml
Liquid emulsion containing ammonia, which quickly neutralises bites. Provides fast relief from insect bites and stings, including mosquitoes, horse flies, wasps, bees, nettles and jellyfish.
Mosquito bites will usually go away by themselves in a few days and will cause most people only slight irritation. However, if the itching bothers you, whatever you do don’t scratch – scratching a mosquito bite will make the itching worse and may cause inflammation. It may also break the skin, exposing it to bacteria and possibly causing infection.
What to Do
If you have an itchy mosquito bite, wash the bite with soap and water to prevent infection and pat dry. Reduce any swelling by making a cold compress – dip a clean cloth in ice cold water and place it over the affected area.
Apply a cooling anaesthetic cream or spray, or calamine lotion to reduce itching. A cream with the active ingredient crotamiton, such as Eurax cream, will help relieve severe itching.
If you don’t have any soothing creams or ointments to hand, take a look in your kitchen cupboards. A paste made with 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water helps soothe itchy mosquito bites.
Electric Mosquito Bite Treatment
Electric mosquito bite treatment, such as Care Plus Click-Away After Mosquito Bite, is a small clickable device that provides fast mosquito bite itch relief. Use the clicker to click five times on the mosquito bite and the itching will disappear.
With each click, the device emits a safe, small electric shock, which breaks down histamine in the body that causes the itching and swelling.
How to Treat Mosquito Bite Inflammation
If you are particularly sensitive to mosquito bites, you may find as well as the itching, that your bites become red, swollen, inflamed and filled with fluid. (An inflamed mosquito bite is known as a weal.)
If your mosquito bites are inflamed, you can take over-the-counter paracetamol or ibuprofen. You may also try a low dose over-the counter corticosteroid cream, such as hydrocortisone cream, to reduce inflammation.
If you have a strong reaction to mosquito bites, taking an antihistamine such as loratadine or cetirizine (the same tablets used to treat hay fever) may help control your body’s response and reduce itching and swelling.
If mosquito bite itching becomes intolerable, or swelling is severe and painful, see your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Bites & Disease
Malaria, yellow and dengue fever, and encephalitis are all examples of diseases that have been transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. Fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and body aches are all symptoms that should not be taken lightly when an individual has been bitten by a mosquito.
Having less exposure to mosquitoes is the best way to prevent bites. Stay away from infested areas at dawn and dusk. Wear long sleeves and applying mosquito repellant. Remove any standing water from close to your home.