It would be near impossible to find someone who’s never been bitten by a bug. Bug bites are basically just a part of life, like getting a cold or stubbing your toe. In most cases, it’s not a big deal. You might feel a momentary pinch or sting and see a small red patch or mark on the bitten area of skin, and that’s all there is to it. Five minutes later, you’ve already forgotten all about it and have moved on with your life. However, not everyone recovers from bug bites so quickly. And some bugs bites, such as those delivered by mosquitoes, pack a little more “punch.” Unlike many other pests, mosquitoes don’t just bite — they draw blood out of the body that they use to nourish their eggs. While the typical mosquito bite reaction is the development of a small, itchy bump, a bite can cause bigger problems for certain people.
A Bad Reaction to Mosquito Bites
A certain segment of the population is actually allergic to mosquito bites. Young children, the elderly and people with immune system disorders are more likely to experience bad mosquito bites than the general population, although some people are just more sensitive to the proteins found in mosquito saliva than others. How can you tell if you’re experiencing an allergic mosquito bite reaction? Signs to watch for include:
- A large area of itching and/or swelling that extends beyond a small red bump
- Bruising around the site of the bite
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- An outbreak of hives around the bite
- The presence of skin lesions around the bite
- Swelling of the throat, wheezing and shortness of breath, which may indicate the presence of a potentially life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis
If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention as quickly as possible, especially in the case of anaphylaxis.
Getting Tested for Mosquito Bite Allergies
Your doctor can perform a simple in-office skin test to determine if you have a mosquito bite allergy. Mosquito allergy testing is a good idea if you’ve had a bad reaction to mosquito bites or other types of bug bites or stings in the past. However, mosquito bite allergy testing is not foolproof as different species of mosquitoes have different varieties of proteins in their saliva. It’s possible that one form of protein will cause a bad reaction, while another form may cause no symptoms at all. It is virtually impossible for physicians to test for every type. It’s also interesting to note that the more you have been bitten by mosquitoes in the past, the less likely you are to have a bad reaction to mosquito bites in the future, as you will become immune to the bite’s impact.
Preventing a Mosquito Bite Infection
Another way “average” mosquito bites can turn into a bad reaction is if they become infected. Bites can become infected if you accidentally scratch the bite open, allowing for bacteria to penetrate the wound. Immediate treatment after the bite can alleviate the itching and reduce the chances of the area getting infected. Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water, and apply ice to reduce the swelling. Use calamine lotion or anti-itch cream to reduce the itching and discomfort. You should also take an antihistamine to help prevent a stronger mosquito bite reaction from occurring.
Taking Precautions Against Bug Bites
You can reduce your chances of being bitten by mosquitoes and other pests by wearing light-colored clothing, applying a DEET mosquito repellent to exposed skin and limiting your outdoor activities at dawn and dusk. Additionally, installing a Mosquito Magnet® trap on your property can significantly reduce the mosquito population near your home and in your backyard.