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2-min read

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch? Here's How You Can Soothe Them

The area where the mosquito bites swells up because of histamine, which is produced by the immune system. Histamine increases blood flow and white blood cell count around the affected area, which causes swelling.

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Updated:September 1, 2019, 1:53 PM IST
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Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch? Here's How You Can Soothe Them
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Mosquitoes increase during monsoon and thereby the risk of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, chikungunya, zika virus, malaria and others enhances during the season. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and it becomes really crucial to avoid accumulation of water in the vicinity. We often don't realise when mosquito bites us but as soon as we are bitten by mosquito, our immune system kicks in to protect us against the attack. Mosquito bites are similar to allergic reaction and cause a raised, itchy bump to appear.

Why do mosquitoes bite us?

Mosquitoes bite humans to suck/drink their blood as the nutrients contained in human's blood help female mosquitoes to form the eggs they need to reproduce. Only female mosquitoes bite people.

With the help of its sharp tip of straw-like mouth (proboscis), a mosquito pierces a person's skin. It locates the blood vessel and draws blood up through its mouth. As the mosquito does this, it injects saliva that contains an anticoagulant. This stops the person's blood from clotting. If the blood were to clot around the mosquito's mouth, it might get stuck.

Why do mosquito bites itch?

As a mosquito bite breaks the human skin, the person’s body, which has been bitten by mosquito, recognises the mosquito's saliva as a foreign substance. This causes an immune system response, which aims to flush out the intruder.

The area where the mosquito bites swells up because of histamine, which is produced by the immune system. Histamine increases blood flow and white blood cell count around the affected area, which causes inflammation or swelling.

The area where the mosquito bites start to itch because histamine also sends a signal to the nerves around the bite.

The immune starts to response as soon as the body learns after being exposed to a foreign substance.

Does scratching mosquito bite make it worse?

If a person scratches mosquito bites it may make the itching worse. The area where mosquito bites becomes itch due to inflammation.

Scratching an already inflamed area increases inflammation and makes the area itchier. Constant scratching may also enhance the risk of infection if it breaks the skin. If the area becomes infected, it will itch more and will take longer time to heal.

Treatment

There are ways to help reduce the swelling and itching of a mosquito bite:

Antihistamines: Available at your nearest medicine store, Antihistamines help to reduce inflammation and itching.

Applying honey: Applying honey on mosquito bite reduce inflammation and prevent infection. Honey has antibacterial qualities which helps heal wounds. Honey may help reduce the symptoms of a mosquito bite when applied to the affected area. It is however, essential to wash it off before stepping out, as it can attract mosquitoes and other insects.

Corticosteroid cream: To get respite from inflammation and itching, Corticosteroid creams can be applied. As these creams are steroid based, however, people should avoid applying them to open wounds.

Aloe: Aloe littoralis, one species of aloe, has been shown to reduce inflammation and encourage wound healing in animal studies. Applying aloe gel to a mosquito bite may help relieve the inflammation and help provide respite from itching.

Basil oil: The anti-inflammatory properties of basil oil may help to relieve mosquito bite inflammation.

How to prevent from being bitten by mosquitoes:

To prevent or reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, a person should use mosquito repellent, wear long-sleeved clothes, wear clean and washed clothes, take shower as sweat may attract mosquitoes.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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