To understand allergic reactions to mosquitoes, it is important to understand the process of a “mosquito bite.”
The female lands on your skin and sticks her proboscis (long, skinny straw like appendage) into you because she needs to obtain the necessary protein to lay eggs from the blood of her host. Her saliva contains anticoagulants that prevent your blood from clotting and keep the blood flowing into the mosquito’s mouth. She sucks your blood into her abdomen until she is full. After she has bitten you, some saliva remains in the wound. The proteins from the saliva evoke an immune response from your body. The body’s immune system produces an antibody immunoglobulin E and histamine in response to these allergens. The area swells and you itch, a response provoked by the saliva. Most of the time the swelling goes away, but the itch remains until your immune cells break down the saliva proteins. The consequence for most is uncomfortable swelling and itching at the site of the bite for a short period of time.
Unfortunately, young children, immune deficient persons and those previously unexposed to mosquitoes are at increased risk for a severe reaction to mosquito bites according to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Researchers have identified this reaction as “Skeeter Syndrome,” defined as mosquito-bite induced large, local inflammatory reactions accompanied by fever.
Other signs of allergic reaction to mosquitoes:
- Very red skin
- Itchy skin
- Asthma symptoms
- Blisters on the skin
Mosquito Bite Treatments:
- Wash the infected area with mild soap and water. This will provide temporary relief from the itch and will also wash away any bacteria from the skin.
- Do not scratch the bitten area. Scratching can cause damage to the skin and sometimes bleeding. Make sure to clip children’s fingernails to help cut down on the chance of infection from scratching.
- Applying anti-itching medications such as calamine lotion and cortisone creams can relieve itching for a significant period of time.
- Taking Benedryl by mouth will also reduce the itching caused by the allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva.
- If the itch is unbearable, topical anesthetics take away pain and itching.
- If you are one of the unlucky few who experience allergic reactions to mosquito bites, anti-inflammatory medication containing ibuprofen such as Motrin, Advil, and Aleve can reduce redness, pain, itching, swelling and fever.
- If you feel dizzy or nauseated after you have been bitten, it could be an indication of a severe allergic reaction. It is recommended that you seek medical attention immediately.