Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

What to Do With Mosquito Bites?

Photo by Syed Ali

Mosquito bites can be the most annoying thing that we bring home after a nice outdoor outing. There are over 30,000 species of mosquitoes in the world and around 200 species found in the United States. Every year on August 20th, World Mosquito Day is observed. It marks the day that Sir Ronald Ross, a British doctor, discovered the link between mosquitoes, humans, and malaria in 1897. Because mosquitoes are vectors of severe disease (such as West Nile, dengue, malaria, and yellow fever), it is important that we take appropriate measures.

How do we get a mosquito bite?

Only female mosquitoes bite! The female mosquito sucks your blood into her abdomen and at the same time injects her saliva into the wound. The proteins from her saliva produce an immune response which causes the release of histamine to attack the foreign invasion leaving localized swelling or bump as well as an itch. The external sign of a mosquito bite is usually a small bump but can also result in a more severe reaction such as hives, fever, or profound swelling.

Are mosquitos attracted to certain people?

  • Some people may be more prone to bites.
  • Wearing darker colors such as black makes you easier to spot as mosquitoes are highly visual
  • Female mosquitoes are equipped with odor receptors that can detect carbon dioxide and the scents of humans. They are drawn to higher carbon dioxide emitters (such as in pregnancy), those with higher body temperature, those who sweat too much, and those who drink beer.
  • Research has shown that your blood type also matters. Type O blood has been found to be almost twice as attractive to mosquitoes than those with Type A blood.

How to prevent a mosquito bite?

  • Wear lighter color clothing such as white
  • Regular use of insect repellent
  • Protect your arms and legs with longer sleeves, especially during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are more active
  • Use window screens and door screens to keep mosquitos out
  • Avoid areas with standing water
  • As of now, studies have shown that ultrasonic devices do not work

How to treat a mosquito bite?

  • Resist the urge to scratch! Scratching can lead to an infection
  • Wash the area with soap and water
  • Apply lotion or ice to the bite size
  • You can use calamine lotion or anti-itch cream
  • If there is bothersome itching, you can take an over-the-counter antihistamine