When you hear that high-pitched whine and feel the sting of a mosquito bite, you know the lovely evening has come to an end. Especially if you are hypersensitive or have mosquito allergy.
Why do mosquitoes bite?
Only female mosquitoes bite. They use protein from gathered blood in egg production. Female mosquitoes have piercing mouthparts through which they extract the blood of a host. Males do not bite and feed on blood. Instead, they get their energy from plant nectars and other sweet substances found in their habitat.
After puncturing the skin with their mouthparts and feeding on blood, mosquitoes leave hard, itchy bumps. In the blood-feeding process, mosquitoes inject saliva into their host which creates the immune system reactions that cause bite symptoms.
How to distinguish allergy symptoms from hypersensitivity?
Most mosquito bites are harmless and the symptoms subside in a few days. But if you’re highly sensitive, symptoms can last for several days. That little spot can turn into an itchy sore the size of a quarter.
Normal discomforting symptoms include:
- A puffy, white bump appearing a few minutes after the bite often with a small red dot in the middle of the bump
- A hard, reddish bump, or bumps, that shows up about a day after a bite
- Swelling around the bites
- Small blisters instead of hard bumps
- Dark spots that look like bruises
Children are more likely to develop a severe reaction than adults, because many adults have had mosquito bites throughout their lives and become desensitized.
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction may include:
- large area of itching
- bruises near the site of the bite
- lymphangitis (inflammation of the lymph system)
- hives (at or around the bite)
- anaphylaxis (a rare, life-threatening condition that results in swelling in the throat and wheezing and requires immediate medical attention)
What to do?
When spending time outside, individuals with known or suspected mosquito allergies should cover their skin in khaki or beige clothing, as mosquitoes are not as attracted to these colors. Because mosquitoes may be attracted to certain smells present in soap, shampoos and lotions, these should be used in moderation and unscented varieties may be less attractive.
When to see a doctor?
If mosquito bites seem to be associated with more-serious warning signs — such as fever, headache, body aches and signs of infection — contact your doctor.
Mosquito bite allergies don’t cause any long-term illnesses or lifestyle intrusions when they’re properly managed. Just be aware of these pests and have the right tools on hand in case you get bitten.