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What Causes Mosquito Bite to Itch and Swell up & How to Treat It?

Why Does a Mosquito Bite?

Mosquitoes bite humans to suck their blood as the nutrients present in the human blood help female mosquito in making eggs to reproduce.  It is known that only female mosquitoes bite people. It uses sharp tips of its straw-like mouth to bite a person’s skin, where it locates the blood vessels and draws up blood into the mouth. During this process, it injects saliva containing anticoagulant. This prevents the blood from clotting.

What Causes Mosquito Bite to Itch and Swell up

Why Does Mosquito Bite Itch and Swell?

Itchy mosquito bites can be very disturbing. As a mosquito bite, the body recognizes its saliva as an intruder and the immune system gets active to protect against the attack. The immune system produces histamine that causes swelling around the bite.

Histamine increases the blood flow and white blood cells around the affected area which causes inflammation and swelling.

Itching is caused, as the histamine sends signals to the nerves around the bite.

The first time a person is bitten, the body may not react this way. The immune response develops gradually after the body is exposed to a foreign substance. Some people may never react to a bite, while a few might get more tolerant to the saliva over time.

Scratching a bite may worsen the itching and may also increase infection.

How to Treat a Mosquito Bite?

There are a few treatments that may be helpful in relieving the swelling and itching of the mosquito bite.

Applying Heat

Heat application on the mosquito bite may be helpful in reducing inflammation and itching. A study found that administering heat locally was helpful in giving relief from the symptoms of a mosquito bite.(1)

Apply Honey

Honey has antibacterial properties and can be helpful in reducing inflammation and preventing infection.(2)

When applied to the mosquito bite, the symptoms can be reduced. Also, honey if applied, should be washed before going out as it may attract more mosquitoes and infections.

Antihistamines and Corticosteroids

Antihistamines are over-the-counter medications that can be effective in treating mosquito bites. Corticosteroid creams can be helpful in reducing inflammation and itching.

These should be sparingly used and should not be applied to open wounds.

Aloe vera

Animal studies show aloe vera to be effective in relieving inflammation and encouraging wound healing.(3)

It can be applied to the mosquito bite and can be helpful in soothing itching and relieving inflammation.

Basil Oil

Study shows basil to be effective in relieving arthritis. It has anti-inflammatory properties.(4)

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is also thought to be effective in relieving inflammation due to mosquito bites.

When to Consult a Doctor?

Sometimes the mosquito bites get infected and are no longer able to heal on their own. This is a reason a doctor should be consulted.

Some people are allergic to mosquito bites and may have an anaphylactic reaction after being bitten. It may lead to trouble breathing, facial swelling, and hives. This condition would need emergency treatment.

Mosquito bites may also lead to the following symptoms:

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should make sure a doctor is consulted. Mosquito bites are also linked with a number of diseases including Zika, dengue, and chikungunya.(5)

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Mosquito bites can be prevented by:

  • Using mosquito repellant
  • Wearing long-sleeved tops and long trousers
  • Washing frequently as sweat is known to attract more mosquitoes
  • Avoiding alcohol as it can increase the probability to be bitten

Mosquito bites mostly heal in a few days. Scratching should be avoided as it reduces the healing time. Some people with sensitive skin experience skin pigmentation as the bite heals. The use of sunscreen and vitamin E creams can be helpful in preventing it.

Also Read:

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:October 15, 2022

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