Mosquito bites produce an inflammatory response that leads to swelling and redness of the bitten area. When a mosquito bites you it releases saliva in your blood that contains an anticoagulant and proteins, which enables free flow of blood from the site. This saliva and proteins are identified as a foreign substance by the immune system of the body and as a result histamines are released that trigger the inflammatory response leading to itching and swelling of the region.
How Long Are Mosquito Bites Itchy?
Since the mosquito bites occur as a result of complex immune response, it can remain itchy for many days. The itch can remain longer in certain people who are more sensitive than others. Normal mosquito bite itch can remain for 3 to 4 days. The swelling and redness can last a couple of days longer. Sometimes this reaction can be extreme and lead to skeeter syndrome where the swelling and bump is associated with fever and bruising or blistering on the bitten area. It is better to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by taking appropriate measures. It is the female mosquito that bites in order to feed on blood. Male mosquitoes are harmless as they feed on nectar. Female mosquitoes usually prefer to feed on men, women who are pregnant, obese people, people with blood group O type, alcoholics, people who produce increased amounts of urea, lactic acid and ammonia. Also mosquitoes are more likely to bite people who wear dark clothes because they absorb more heat. They thrive in hot and humid climates and breed in swampy areas. Children are more sensitive to mosquito bites as compared to adults as they are exposed to the saliva for the first time and take time to adjust to the foreign agent; whereas adults who have been bitten multiple times by mosquitoes get desensitized over a period of time.
The mosquito bites produce soft bumps on the skin that will appear reddish pink and itchy. The redness and swelling will appear a few minutes after the mosquito bites through the skin. This inflammatory response will subside after a day or two in most people. It is also important for a mosquito to remain in contact with the blood for more than 6 seconds in order to produce a response or reaction. Once the bite starts healing, the redness and swelling will fade along with the itching and skin will return to its original color and form.
Sometimes some people can experience a severe allergic reaction to a mosquito bite that might require immediate medical attention. These reactions include a significantly large area of itching, lesions, bruises or hives around the area of bite, inflammation of the lymphatic’s and anaphylactic reaction where there will be difficulty in breathing and swelling of the throat. It is an emergency condition and should be immediately dealt with as it can be fatal. Other more severe reactions include fever, weakness, nausea, sensitivity to light, rashes, muscle weakness on either side of the body, mental fogging and pain in the head.
In order to control allergies and also spread of certain diseases such as malaria, dengue, zika virus and yellow fever it is best to prevent mosquito bites. Breeding places of mosquitoes such as stagnant water should be eliminated. When going outside in the evening one must wear light colored clothes that cover whole body along with socks and hat. Mosquito repellent creams and sprays can be used that provide 5-6 hours of protection against the mosquitoes. To relieve the itch application of a steroid cream or calamine lotion will help. Applying ice cubes also helps in relieving redness and swelling. For more severe reactions antihistamines are highly beneficial and for itching benzocaine can be used. In case of anaphylactic reaction epinephrine should be used immediately to relieve symptoms of breathlessness and swelling. Scratching the bites should be avoided as they might lead to break in the skin and further lead to infections.
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