While humans have different physical reactions to mosquito bites, many can agree that receiving them can prove irritating, and harmful in some cases. We tackle the most common mosquito bite FAQs regarding why some people get bitten more than others, and how to prevent potential diseases.
You want to know the cause if you are especially sensitive or have family members that develop bad allergic reactions. Learn how to prevent mosquito bites and how to get rid of them.
When A Mosquito Bites
Females are typically the only mosquitoes that feed on blood, and they do it because they need the protein to help develop their eggs. Without a blood meal, the eggs don’t mature to the point that the female mosquito can lay them for hatching.
The female mosquito has a proboscis that can pierce the skin. In male mosquitoes, the proboscis is designed for feeding off plants.
Out of three thousand mosquito species, only two particularly favor human blood. The Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae variants are also the most likely carriers of diseases.
What Attracts Mosquitoes?
The female mosquito’s head consists mainly of two giant compound eyes able to pick up movement and bright colors from long distances. From as far away as 120 feet, she can smell the carbon dioxide you exhale and the lactic acid that gathers on your skin from sweat. A little nearer, and your body heat begins to draw her like the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign at Krispy Kreme.
The mosquito lights on your exposed skin and slides a serrated proboscis into you, searching for a capillary. At the same time, she injects saliva that contains enzymes to dull the pain and keep your blood from clotting. Left uninterrupted, she will draw blood until her abdomen is full.
What Do Mosquito Bites Look Like?
A mosquito bite will generally look like a red or red-brown bump, of raised skin. Other people may develop small bruises or blisters, depending on their immune system.
Enzymes cause this reaction. They induce an immune defense that can prove irritating during a regular day.
Your body doesn’t like them because they are foreign invaders, so your mast cells release histamine, a naturally occurring substance that rushes to the site and causes blood vessels to enlarge. Sometimes the body releases too much histamine. The result is mosquito bite swelling, or what’s called a “wheal.” The area around the bite rises turns red and begins to itch.
How much and for how long varies from person to person, but swollen mosquito bites generally are about the size of a dime and last about a day. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic report that, in some people with extreme sensitivities, mosquito bites can swell to the size of grapefruits and linger for days.
And occasionally, there are people who experience anaphylaxis, a severe reaction to mosquito bites. When that happens, the person’s throat can swell shut, restricting breathing, the person’s skin may break out into hives – itchy red bumps – anywhere on the body, not just at the bite. While rare, the reaction can be life-threatening, according to Mayo Clinic.
WebMD reports that repeated mosquito bites over a lifetime may help people become immune to the saliva. In other cases, the bites can have the opposite effect, making a person even more sensitive.
How To Stop Mosquito Bites From Itching
Learning how to stop mosquito bites from getting worse can ease your daily comfort. There are a lot of suggestions for soothing the discomfort of an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite. Some are common sense, some medical, and some just a little odd. But they all have advocates who swear they work. Among The Suggestions:
- Don’t scratch the bite. That only irritates your skin further and could lead to infection. Give it a light washing with soap and cool water.
- Try calamine lotion. The pink goo, a favorite of moms everywhere, is a mixture of zinc oxide and iron oxide and works as a cooling, all-purpose soother. The Food and Drug Administration declared in the early ’90s that it’s ineffective in treating itches, but doctors still recommend it. You might also try Caladryl, which contains both calamine and an analgesic to help relieve the sting.
- Apply an OTC hydrocortisone cream. The cream contains corticosteroids which will counteract the effect of the histamines and help reduce the swelling, which should give you some relief from the mosquito bite itch. An anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen will also help.
- Use a cold compress or ice pack. Histamines dilate the blood vessels, filling the affected area with excess blood. Cold causes the vessels to constrict so that the amount of blood is reduced around the bite.
- Take an antihistamine. This won’t work immediately, but an OTC medication like Benadryl will prevent histamines from binding with receptors at the blood vessels. The vessels in the bite area return to normal, and the swelling and itching dissipate. Remember, you can take an antihistamine before going outside to minimize your allergic reaction to a mosquito bite.
- Dab on some baking soda paste. For some reason, the Mayo Clinic doctors – and dozens of home-remedy advocates – suggest adding a bit of water to regular baking soda, then applying the paste to the mosquito bite. The reason isn’t clear, but it apparently helps relieve the itch.
- Heat up a spoon and apply to the bite. The heat will destroy the protein that caused the reaction and the itching will stop.
- Go homeopathic. Suggestions range from rubbing the bite with the inside of a banana peel to dabbing on toothpaste to covering the bite with mud. Dr. Alan Greene, pediatrician, and prolific health writer suggest that some natural anti-inflammatory remedies such evening primrose oil may also help reduce the swelling and itching associated with mosquito bites.
These are some of the steps you can take in the hours immediately after a bite. But remember, if you start feeling sick in the days ahead, particularly if you feel flu-like symptoms that include neck stiffness, headache, nausea, and fever, then it’s possible that a mosquito bite left you with something worse than just an itch. Go to the doctor. Period!
How To Get Rid of Mosquitoes
The best way to treat a mosquito bite really is to avoid getting bitten in the first place. Simple as it sounds, this can be a real challenge, especially during the summer or in warm climates. A device like the Mega-CatchTM will do the trick by proactively handling swarms. Our traps are the best way to keep mosquitos away from your patio, house, or patio.
If you live in an area with canals or lakes, having a mosquito trapper will make your days easier. Some of our machines have customizable options so you can determine the amount of LED lights to attract mosquitoes and the size of the range. Decide if you want to use attractants or not.
Obviously, you’ll want to avoid the places where mosquitoes tend to congregate – which is anywhere near water. Treat any swimming pools or ornamental ponds with appropriate chemicals to prevent larvae from growing. Empty birdbaths frequently, and keep mosquitoes away from other pools of water.
If you don’t have to be around swamps, marshes, rivers, canals, lakes, and ponds, then don’t. Otherwise, at least get clear of the water from dusk until a few hours after dark, when the bugs are out hunting for blood meals.
Unless you take certain precautions, you may also have to abandon your own backyard during the evening hours, so you’ll need to do some work on your environment:
- Get rid of any standing water around the yard because it will become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Keep the grass and bushes trimmed so they don’t have resting places. Make sure all your windows have screens, and that they are in good shape, and consider screening in the back porch or deck.
- Install a mosquito control device, such as a mosquito trap that uses light, gas emissions, and heat to emulate a mosquito’s human targets. The traps attract the mosquitoes, then kill them before they get to you. You can use these devices in conjunction with citronella candles that are reported to repel mosquitoes and subdued lighting or yellow outdoor bulbs that aren’t as likely to draw hungry insects.
- When you do go outside, try to keep as much of your skin covered as possible, and avoid bright colors that will attract the attention of mosquitoes. Wear dark trousers and long-sleeved shirts, ideally made of lightweight fabrics. Use an insect or mosquito repellent containing DEET on the bare areas.
- Dr. Greene also recommends vitamin B1 (25 to 50 milligrams three times a day) or garlic supplements. Both will produce a skin odor that is supposed to naturally repel mosquitoes. It takes about two weeks of regular doses for the B1 to become effective, he says.
The bottom line is, there’s just no way to guarantee that you’ll never feel the sting of a mosquito feeding on your blood. The occasional mosquito bite is inevitable, and that’s how it is. But there’s no reason you have to suffer.
With luck, you can use some of these tips to get a little relief when it happens. In addition, you can reduce potentially extreme reactions from your immune system.
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The Mega-CatchTM device combines environmentally-friendly policies with innovation to create new repellent devices. Trust us with domestic or international orders, as our company can send the Mega-CatchTM for either. You can keep mosquitoes away from your patio, pool, and more.
To find out more about how to make mosquito bites go away, please reach out to us today. No matter the species of mosquito, Mega-CatchTM can assist in reducing the amount of potentially irritating bites or risk of disease.