When you get a mosquito bite, the area typically becomes red and itchy. It also tends to swell, making the bite look puffy and inflamed. 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, and why are some people more prone to itching and irritation than others? MosquitoNix® can explain the science behind what happens when you get a mosquito bite, how to get some relief and how to protect your family and property.
Why Do Mosquitos Like to Bite Us?
Humans and animals are a walking buffet for mosquitoes. They bite us to drink our blood which contains nutrients the females need 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 a proboscis, which the pests use to pierce a person's skin, tap into blood vessels and draw blood into their mouths. As a mosquito uses its proboscis, it injects its saliva into the human's skin which contains proteins and an anticoagulant that prevents a person's blood from clotting. 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 that saliva as a foreign and potentially dangerous substance. To ward off danger and try to flush out the intruder, the body initiates an immune response by releasing histamines. Histamines increase blood flow to the bite site while producing white blood cells to fight infection. The swelling and redness you associate with a mosquito bite are just your body's immune system doing what it does best.
Histamines also 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 infections, not everyone experiences the same level of discomfort from mosquito bites. People with immune systems that are more tolerant of histamines will experience less inflammation and discomfort than those with highly sensitive immune systems.
How Do You Treat Mosquito Bites?
First and foremost, don't scratch your mosquito bites! We know it is difficult to resist the urge, 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 disease, wash the area gently with soap and water, then apply calamine lotion, an over-the-counter anti-itch or cortisone cream, or an itch-relieving essential oil.
Some people use rubbing alcohol, which has a cooling effect, although too much can dry out your skin. Aloe vera gel, cold tea bags and honey, which has antiseptic properties, are also helpful in minimizing inflammation and itchiness. Applying ice to the bite is another good way to reduce swelling, as is taking an over-the-counter antihistamine medication.
How Can You Avoid Getting Bitten by Mosquitoes?
The less skin you expose, the less area a mosquito has to attack, so it's always a good idea to wear long sleeves and pants outdoors. Stick with loose clothing that doesn't hug your skin, making it harder for the biting pests to bite through the fabric.
Mosquitoes are attracted to sweat, body odor, lactic acid, heat and carbon dioxide, making it virtually impossible to exercise and cool off outside when mosquitoes are active. Consider limiting workouts to indoor settings and showering after to make yourself less attractive to their appetites. If you do plan to spend time outside, you may want to spray yourself and your children with an insect repellent.
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 several safe and highly effective solutions, including misting systems and fogging treatments. Contact us today to speak with a licensed pest control expert and schedule a free evaluation.
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