Why do Mosquito Bites Swell? Is this Normal?

Why do Mosquito Bites Swell? Is this Normal?

September 30, 2021

When you get a mosquito bite, the area that’s bitten typically becomes red and itchy. It also tends to swell, making the bite look puffy, elevated, and similar to a welt. While this swelling can sometimes be alarming, it’s perfectly normal to have mosquito bites that get bigger and puffier over time, especially if they are uncomfortable and cause you to scratch. But why do mosquito bite swell? Here, our experts explain the science behind what happens when you get a mosquito bite.

A very close up shot of a bug on an arm.

Why Do Mosquitos Like to Bite Us?

Humans are meals to mosquitoes. They bite us in order to drink our blood, which contains nutrients the female needs to lay eggs and reproduce. In fact, here’s a little known insect fact — only female mosquitoes bite people (though that doesn’t make their bites any less itchy or uncomfortable!).

Mosquitoes have sharp tips at the end of their straw-like mouths called the proboscis. This is what the pests use to pierce a person’s skin, tap into blood vessels, and draw blood into their mouths. As a mosquito does this, it also injects its saliva into the human’s skin, which contains an anticoagulant. This substance prevents a person’s blood from clotting, which is important to the mosquito. If the blood were to clot while the insect enjoyed its meal, it might get stuck at the feeding site and die.

What Causes Mosquito Bites to Itch & Swell?

When a mosquito breaks a person’s skin and injects saliva into their system, the body recognizes the saliva as a foreign and potentially dangerous substance. To ward of danger and try to flush out the intruder, the body causes an immune response that involves the production of histamines. Histamines increase blood flow to the bite site while also producing white blood cells to fight off infection. This is what causes the area to swell and become inflamed.

Histamines are also what cause mosquito bites to itch, as they send signals to the sensitive nerves around the affected spot. Because people’s immune systems react differently to various types of infections, not everyone experiences the same level of discomfort from mosquito bites. People who have immune systems that are more tolerant of histamines will experience less inflammation and discomfort than those who have highly sensitive immune systems.

How Do You Treat Mosquito Bites?

First and foremost, don’t scratch your mosquito bites! We know this can be hard, but scratching the affected area can create openings in your skin that attract bacteria and cause infection. To minimize the itchiness of a bite and lessen your risk of infection, wash the area gently with soap and water, then apply calamine lotion, an over-the-counter anti-itch cream, or an itch-relieving essential oil. Applying ice to the bite is another good way to bring down swelling, as is taking an antihistamine such as Benadryl or Claritin.

How Can You Avoid Getting Bitten?

The best way to protect yourself and your family from itchy mosquito bites is to be proactive about pest control and have a professional evaluate your property. MosquitoNix offers a number of safe and highly effective solutions, including misting systems and fogging treatments. Get in touch with us today to speak with a licensed pest control expert and schedule a free evaluation.

A man outside spraying his arm with bug spray.

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