Mosquitos are small flying insects with long mouthpieces that can pierce the skin. Some mosquito bites are harmless, but others may carry risks of diseases.
Mosquito bites pose significant health risks, causing millions of deaths every year worldwide. Malaria, a severe and sometimes fatal disease unique to mosquitos, affect many people in Australia alone.
The good news is there are preventative measures available to keep mosquitos at bay. This article explores the symptoms and risks, treatment, and how to avoid a bite.
What Happen During Mosquito Bites?
The mosquito will first pierce into the skin using a unique mouthpiece (proboscis) to suck up human blood. As it feeds into the skin, it also injects saliva, which causes reactions in the body. In most cases, it will result in red, bumpy, and itchy skin.
Some people only have a mild reaction to mosquito bites. At the same time, others react severely, with large areas of swelling, soreness, and redness all over.
Common signs of a mosquito bite include:
- A puffy and reddish bump was visible in the first minutes after the bite
- Hard and itchy bump or bumps
- Small blisters
- Dark spots that may look like blisters
More severe bites happen in children, first-timers for insect bites, and people with immune system disorders. Severe reactions may include a large area of swelling, low-grade fever, hives, and swollen lymph nodes.
An infected mosquito bite can lead to health complications. It is rare, but if left untreated, it can develop into cellulitis or abscesses.
First Aid Treatment
The following steps help to treat itch and other reactions from a mosquito bite.
Do Not Scratch
It is harsh advice, but it is best to leave the bite alone. Scratching creates an opening in the skin, which will allow bacteria inside, causing infection. It only provides temporary relief, and scratching too hard can break the skin. Bleeding will come shortly, and you may risk disease.
Use Anti-itch Lotion
Over the counter (OTC) anti-itch lotions help alleviate the itching from an insect bite. Look for one or more of these ingredients before buying one: calamine, Benadryl, or hydrocortisone.
Applying ice to the bite site lessens the itchy feeling. The cold helps constrict the blood vessels, which blocks the blood flow to and from the bite. Keep ice on it for no longer than 15 minutes, and avoid putting it directly on the skin. Icing for too long can result in frostbite and hypothermia.
Take oral antihistamines if the person has a history of severe allergic reactions. Antihistamines contain diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine maleate, loratadine, or cetirizine, effectively reducing early mosquito bites symptoms.
If a bite causes fever, vomiting, or shortness of breath, call triple zero (000) or get to an ER immediately.
Do the following to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos and other insects.
- Stay indoors at dawn and dusk, even during the early evening.
- Wear long pants and long sleeves when spending time outdoors.
- Apply a cream with DEET all over.
- Use window screens to keep the insects out.
- Always empty the water from pots, buckets, pool covers, trash cans, and other possible locations that collect water.
- Get rid of any standing water where mosquitos breed and lay eggs.
Not all insect bites and stings have the same effects. Different first aid treatments and medical care are provided depending on what type of creatures or mosquitos bite you. Certain species can cause more damage than others. It also sometimes depends on one’s overall health. Some people have allergies that raise the risk of severe reactions.
Learn first aid to treat mosquito bites and insect stings.