- Bites from a mosquito
- Cause itchy, red bumps
- Often they look like a hive
- West Nile Virus (WNV) questions are also covered
Types of Reactions to Mosquito Bites
- Red Bumps. In North America, mosquito bites are mainly an annoyance. They cause itchy red skin bumps. Often, the bite looks like hives (either one large one or several small ones).
- When a mosquito bites, its secretions are injected into the skin. The red bumps are the body's reaction to this process.
- Suspect mosquito bites if there are bites on other parts of the body. Most bites occur on exposed parts such as face and arms.
- Swelling. Bites of the upper face can cause severe swelling around the eye. This can last for several days. With bites, the swelling can be pink as well as large (especially age 1-5 years).
- Disease. Rarely, the mosquito can carry a serious blood-borne disease. In the US and Canada, this is mainly West Nile Virus (WNV). In Africa and South America, they also carry malaria and yellow fever.
- Prevention. Insect repellents can prevent mosquito bites. Use DEET (applied to skin) and permethrin (applied to clothing).
Cause of Mosquito Bite Reaction
- The skin bumps are the body's reaction to the mosquito's saliva.
- While it's sucking blood, some of its secretions get mixed in.
Mosquito Life Cycle
- Only female mosquitoes bite. They need a blood meal to produce eggs. The female may bite 20 times before she finds a small blood vessel. She then sips blood for 90 seconds.
- Males eat flower nectar and plant juices.
- 170 species of mosquito are in North America.
- At a far distance, they are attracted by smell (breath odors, sweat and perfumes). They can smell up to 120 feet (36 meters). At a close distance, they are attracted by body heat and movement.
Risk Factors for Increased Mosquito Bites
- Warmer body temperature
- Male more than female
- Children more than adults
- Breath odors
- Perfumed soaps and shampoos
Complications of Insect Bites
- Impetigo. A local bacterial infection. Gives sores, soft scabs and pus. Caused by scratching or picking at the bites. More common in itchy bites.
- Cellulitis. The bacterial infection spreads into the skin. Gives redness spreading out from the bite. The red area is painful to the touch.
- Lymphangitis. The bacterial infection spreads up the lymph channels. Gives a red line that goes up the arm or leg. More serious because the infection can get into the bloodstream. (This is called sepsis.)