Does Scratching Mosquito Bites Make Them Worse?

Does Scratching Mosquito Bites Make Them Worse?

Mosquito bites can be extremely itchy as a result of release of histamines that lead to inflammation. When a person scratches the already inflamed area it makes the condition worse. The scratching does not relieve the itching, instead it increases inflammation and therefore making the area more itchier than before.

When a female mosquito feeds on humans she will leave behind her saliva that triggers the immune response in the body. The body identifies this saliva as a foreign agent and produces antibodies against it. These antibodies then bind to the antigens present in the saliva that will lead to release of histamines. Histamines will help in making capillaries of the cells more permeable when the inflammatory response takes place. The white blood cells and proteins play an important role in engaging with the foreign substance entering the body and triggering the immune response causing the region to swell and form a pink itchy bump. When a person scratches this bump it irritates the skin even further that will lead to an increased immune response where it will try to get rid of the foreign substance even quicker and therefore more itching and inflammation. This process continues and the itchy bump ends up lasting longer than they are supposed to. Although itching provides temporary relief to the inflamed area, but in the longer run it will result in aggravation of the symptoms. So, it is advised to not touch and scratch the area and use natural or over the counter products to help relieve the itching.

Does Scratching Mosquito Bites Make Them Worse?

The bite of a female mosquito might not lead to the same reaction in all individuals. In fact the first time a person is bitten by a mosquito the immune response is not triggered as the exposure to the foreign substance is not recognized. But then body recognizes the saliva the next time and release of histamines takes place. Some people might even become tolerant to the mosquito bite over the course of some years. While some others have more sensitivity to mosquito bites. The reason behind this is not clear as different people have different response to various allergic components.

Management Of Mosquito Bites

A number of remedies are available for relieving the itch caused by a mosquito bite. The over the counter medicines used to reduce swelling and itching are antihistamines that prevent the release of histamines and hence the inflammatory response. Corticosteroids also help in reducing inflammation and itching but they should be used for a short span of time and cautiously as they can cause side effects due to prolonged used.

Some home remedies include applying heat to the affected area. It results in decreasing inflammation on the mosquito bitten area. Honey is known to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and helps in reducing symptoms of itching and redness. Aloe Vera also has soothing and healing properties and can be used on the mosquito bites. Basil oil is also a potent anti-inflammatory agent and helps soothe the mosquito bite.

Scratching should be avoided at all costs when there is inflammation due to mosquito bite. It can lead to breaking of the skin that might further lead to infection. When they become infected they take longer to heal. Sometimes a person can also undergo an anaphylactic shock due to a mosquito bite and will present with difficulty in breathing, swelling on face and hives. Immediate treatment is required in these people with an epinephrine injection. Some people also might experience high grade fever, swelling on joints, lesions, hives and blisters over the skin. In all these cases a person must consult a doctor as these are rare severe allergic responses that might be serious in nature if not treated immediately. Mosquito bites can also lead to spread of certain diseases such as dengue, malaria and chikungunya. They should also be ruled out by appropriate blood tests when high grade fever and joint pain is present.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 27, 2019

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