Everyone gets bitten by mosquitoes; it is a fact of life. But what should you do when you see your mosquito bite swelling? For many people, the answer is simple: use a natural mosquito bite remedy to prevent inflammation and possible infections. But before you buy anything for your nasty mosquito bites, you have to understand just what happens when a mosquito bites you.
Bites are caused by female mosquitoes; they are equipped with a special organ called the proboscis. The proboscis allows the female mosquito to puncture the first line of defense (the skin) and suck fresh blood from the nearest vein.
When a mosquito feeds on your blood, some of the insect’s saliva is left in the wound created by the proboscis. This saliva usually becomes an irritant and causes the itching sensation disliked by everyone. The mosquito’s saliva isn’t sterile or inert; in fact, it actually contains specific proteins that are also responsible for the small bumps that emerge after particularly painful mosquito bites.
Do these proteins cause the bumps because they were designed to do so? Not necessarily. The inflammation and bumps that we see are actually signs that our body’s defense system (our immune system) is fighting off the foreign bodies that have found their way into the bloodstream.
Individuals who have grown up being bitten by mosquitoes exhibit fewer allergic reactions to mosquito bites; inversely, people who are just beginning to adapt to the tropics (where the most number of mosquitoes thrive) can exhibit severe inflammation and painful sores when bitten.
When these mosquito bites are scratched, open wounds can result. That means the bite area becomes more tender and painful. The evolution of a simple bump to an open wound also increases the possibility of infection from external agents in the environment (like bacteria).
People who have lived in the tropics all their lives can attest to one, simple fact: the more you scratch mosquito bites, the more open wounds and scars you get.
Scars resulting from such bites are often large and dark in color – and if you are bitten numerous times, you can also get numerous dark, identical scars in the most common areas (the legs and the arms.)
Is it a Mosquito Allergy?
Just what qualifies as a mosquito bite allergy? The answer may surprise you. Any reaction to a mosquito bite is really an allergic reaction. There is pain, itching and swelling, all of which are lessened by antihistamines. Really, most of us have experienced a this kind of reaction to mosquito bites. But, most bites don’t need antihistamines, so it is really a question of the degree, when we are talking about an allergic response.
To understand a mosquito bite allergy, you first have to understand what happens when you are bitten. When the female mosquito feeds, she punctures the skin with a sharp, needle like feeding tube. When she draws blood from a host, she also injects saliva that contains digestive enzymes and anti-coagulants.
Oddly enough, the first time a person is bitten, their body usually does not react. After being bitten repeatedly, the body becomes sensitized to the foreign substances in the mosquito’s saliva. Then the customary red bumps and swelling appear in about 24 hours. Eventually, after being bitten multiple times, a pale, swollen hive, or wheal, appears almost immediately after a bite. This is what most of us consider a “mosquito bite”, although it is really the body’s reaction to the actual bite. The red bumps come later.
Who Can Develop an Allergy?
By late childhood or early adolescence we have been bitten often enough for this to be the customary reaction. Beyond this point, reaction to mosquito bites is very individualized. Some people seem to develop insensitivity to mosquito bites, if they are bitten frequently. This is very close to what happens when people become insensitive to allergens for which they are taking allergy shots. Once developed, some people maintain their resistance to reactions to mosquito bites, and others find that they become sensitive to them again, if they are not bitten for a period of time.
Other unfortunate people seem to develop an increasing sensitivity to mosquito bites, no matter how often they are bitten. And, for them the reaction seems to worsen over time. These are the people who have a more severe mosquito bite allergy. For those who are most affected by a mosquito bite allergy, the bites can cause blistered sores, or large uncomfortable swellings, fever and joint swelling.
Different Types of Reactions
These are the more severe kinds of mosquito bite allergies. And, for these people, something more than salves and lotions are needed. At this level, most medical experts recommend an oral antihistamine. If you are having this kind of reaction, you need to seek medical attention. Sometimes, a severe reaction like this can signal impaired immune functioning and you need to have a proper medical assessment. If you react more intensely than most to mosquito bites, please see your doctor. Often the right antihistamine, taken before exposure to the bites, can lessen the effects of a mosquito bite allergy.
Almost everyone has heard of people who are so allergic to bee stings that it can be fatal. There are very few reported cases of this kind of reaction to mosquito bites. The danger from reaction to insect stings and bites at this level is from anaphylaxis , which means you may have trouble breathing, feeling faintness, have hives all over your body(rather than just at the site of the mosquito bite)and wheezing.
If you react to a mosquito bite in this way, get emergency medical care IMMEDIATELY. While it is extremely unlikely that mosquito bites will cause anaphylaxis, it can occur and you cannot afford to ignore these symptoms. Recognized experts in the field of controlling mosquitoes bite allergies recommend prevention as the best cure. There are no allergy shots to desensitize mosquito bite reactions. Instead, prevention is the best way to avoid needing any treatment.
If you have reactions more severe than itching and wheals, you need to get professional medical advice. For the more common reactions, the experts suggest applying cold compresses or a paste of baking soda and water. And, try the remedies suggested on this site, for getting rid of the more usual discomfort of mosquito bites.
Overall, preventing mosquitoes from biting is the best way to avoid dealing with a mosquito bite allergy. Making sure you find a way for effective mosquito kill or for repelling them is still your best bet.Return to Home Mosquito Control