Red bumps that itchy for several days before disappearing are typical of mosquito bites. But for people allergic to mosquito bites, symptoms are more severe and can include a rash, extensive excessive swelling, and even bruising.
This inflammatory response, also known as “Skeeter syndrome,” is very rare. However, for those allergic to mosquitoes, this can have a big impact on their ability to enjoy the outdoors. Intense itching can even eventually lead to a skin infection.
This article looks at mosquito bite allergy, its symptoms, and risk factors. It also looks at the diagnosis and treatment of mosquito bite allergies and what you can do to prevent mosquito bites.
Symptoms of mosquito bite allergy
Most people have multiple reactions to mosquito bites. Symptoms may even change over time. For example, if you have been bitten multiple times over many years, they may occur less frequently.
These reactions may include:
- immediate or delayed swelling
- Itching around the bite site
- bleeding or oozing when scratched
If you have these reactions, you probably don’t have a mosquito bite allergy.the term allergy Reserved for those with more severe or unusual reactions.
When allergic reactions occur, they can cause:
- Extensive swelling at the bite site
- blistering rash
- low-grade fever
- swollen lymph nodes
These reactions tend to occur within the first few hours after the bite.
Some people experience extensive swelling after being bitten by a mosquito. For example, the swelling may include most of the arm or leg.
Mosquito bites can also become infected, usually by scratching to relieve discomfort. Signs of infection include redness and warmth at the bite site. See a healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms.
Skeeter syndrome itself is not life-threatening and does not cause long-term problems, but skin infections should be treated promptly.
allergic reaction, the most severe type of allergic reaction, is a very rare reaction to a mosquito bite. It requires immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Difficulty breathing
- swelling of the tongue, lips, or throat
- red sores or bumps on the skin called hives or hives
- feeling weak or dizzy
Others may have hives and swelling all over the body (Angioedema). Additionally, people with asthma may experience worsening asthma symptoms after being bitten.
These severe mosquito bite allergy symptoms usually appear within minutes of a mosquito bite, but can take hours to appear.
Most people experience itching and swelling at the site of the mosquito bite. People allergic to mosquito bites may experience blisters and extensive swelling. Anaphylaxis is the most serious allergic reaction. Seek emergency care right away if you develop hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing after being bitten by a mosquito.
Causes and Risk Factors
Only female mosquitoes feed on humans to lay their eggs. They can detect carbon dioxide in the air humans exhale. They are also attracted to odors in human sweat. This can help them find the biter.
When a mosquito feeds, it pierces your skin and injects saliva. If you have Skeeter syndrome, your body mistakenly sees the proteins in your saliva as harmful, and your immune system responds accordingly, leading to an allergic reaction.
You’re obviously more likely to be bitten if you’re in a mosquito-friendly environment. This happens once the temperature is regularly above 50 degrees, ideally 70 degrees. The warmer and wetter the area is, the more active the mosquitoes are.
Those who may be at higher risk for an allergic reaction to mosquito bites include:
- People who work or exercise outdoors
- People with no previous exposure to local mosquito types
- immunocompromised people, such as those with HIV or cancer
People who spend a lot of time outdoors are more likely to develop mosquito bite allergies. In addition, people who are naturally immunocompromised or have problems with their immune systems are also at risk.
Diagnosing mosquito bite allergies
If you have a severe reaction to mosquito bites, be sure to see an allergist, a doctor who specializes in these types of allergic diseases.
Diagnosis of mosquito bite allergy based on a positive skin test, or radioactive allergy adsorbent test (RAST). The test purposefully exposes you to an extract made from the mosquito’s body to see if you respond.
Only people with a history of severe reactions consider testing necessary. People who develop the typical small, red, itchy bumps after being bitten by mosquitoes do not need the test.
Unfortunately, mosquito bite allergy tests can only identify 30% to 50% of true mosquito bite allergies.
If you have been diagnosed with an allergy to mosquito bites, your allergist can develop a treatment plan and/or prescribe medications that can protect you in the event of an allergic reaction.
Treatment of mosquito bite allergy focuses on treating the bothersome symptoms of localized reactions and, where applicable, working to reduce the likelihood and extent of severe reactions.
It also involves establishing a plan to treat life-threatening systemic reactions, should they occur.
Alleviate local reactions
Local reactions are limited to one part of the body. There are many ways to treat local reactions at home. These include:
- topical corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone cream
- oral antihistamines
- ice to reduce swelling, redness, and itching
- Elevate to reduce swelling
- Apply cooked oatmeal to reduce itching and swelling
- Calamine lotion helps relieve itching
Taken before being bitten, Zyrtec (cetirizine) has been shown to reduce topical responses to mosquito bites. Likewise, taking Claritin (loratadine) daily may help reduce reactions in children.
Taking one of these drugs daily during mosquito-heavy months may help people with Skeeter syndrome. However, any medication can have side effects, so be sure to check with your doctor before deciding to try it.
Pregnant women with Skeeter syndrome should be careful to avoid mosquito bites. This is because not all over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are safe to use during pregnancy. Always discuss your options with your healthcare provider.
Severe cases of Skeeter syndrome may benefit from immunotherapy, a form of allergy treatment in which you receive an injection containing a small amount of the allergen.
The purpose of this treatment is to help your body adapt to the allergen so that you are no longer sensitive to it. Over time, it can improve your symptoms.
There is some evidence that allergy shots can reduce severe reactions to mosquito bites. However, they are not currently a widely accepted treatment for any type of mosquito bite allergy. This is mainly due to limited research and substandard treatment.
epinephrine for allergic reactions
Your doctor may recommend carrying an EpiPen, which contains a man-made version of the stress hormone epinephrine.
Healthcare providers often prescribe this injectable drug for people with a history of severe allergies. When given, epinephrine can stop the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Be sure to call 911 after using the EpiPen. Emergency medical personnel will decide if you need a second dose.
Hydrocortisone creams, antihistamines, calamine lotions, and cold compresses are effective for topical allergic reactions. If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to mosquito bites, you must carry an EpiPen.
For people with mosquito bite allergies, preventing mosquito bites is the best strategy.
When you plan to be outdoors, consider the following measures:
- Try not to go out at dusk or dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Avoid swampy and tall grass areas.
- Remove or treat areas of standing water (eg, water basins).
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Avoid perfumes and scented lotions.
- Use a repellent containing DEET (N, N-dimethyl-3-methyl-benzamide).
- Treat clothes, camping tents, and other fabrics with pesticides permethrin (Do not apply directly to the skin).
- Limit vigorous exercise and sweating during peak mosquito periods.
You can safely use DEET at a concentration of 10% to 30% on children over 2 months old. Be aware that repellents can cause side effects, including eye irritation, dry skin, rashes, and possible allergic reactions. Use the lowest concentration that works for you and reapply as needed.
ways to avoid
Some repellants are ineffective. For example, insecticides are not effective against mosquitoes because mosquitoes are always more attracted to the body than insecticides.
Mosquito repellent wristbands are also not very effective. That’s because they only keep mosquitoes away from your wrists, not your entire body.
There are some smartphone apps that claim to repel mosquitoes. Unfortunately, there isn’t much evidence that these work.
when it may not be an allergic reaction
There are many reasons to avoid mosquito bites, whether you are allergic or not. Mosquitoes can transmit diseases, including:
- Oriental horse encephalitis (EEE)
- West Nile virus
- yellow fever
- Zika virus
Some diseases are uncommon in the United States, while other mosquito-borne diseases can occur anywhere mosquitoes are present.
These diseases cause the following symptoms:
- fever and chills
- joint pain
- nausea and vomiting
- stomach ache
- stiff neck
- muscle weakness
- Muscle pain
If you experience any of the above after being bitten, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Mosquitoes can carry disease. If you experience symptoms such as a stiff neck, muscle weakness, or abdominal pain in addition to a skin reaction, you may have one of these conditions rather than a mosquito allergy.
How to protect yourself from the Zika virus
An allergy to mosquito bites is known as “Skeeter syndrome.” If you have Skeeter syndrome, you may have a blistering rash, bruising, and extensive swelling. Also, some people may experience anaphylaxis, the most severe type of allergic reaction.
In severe cases, you can treat mosquito allergies with antihistamines, topical creams, allergy shots, and an EpiPen.
People with Skeeter syndrome should also avoid mosquito-infested areas, wear long sleeves and repellants, and avoid activities such as exercise that may attract mosquitoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What blood type do mosquitoes like?
Mosquitoes prefer to feed on people with type O blood, the study found. The reason for this is unclear. Blood type doesn’t seem to affect how many eggs a female can lay.
Do mosquitoes bite through clothes?
Yes. Mosquitoes can bite through thin and tight fabrics, including T-shirt fabric, leggings, and sometimes even denim. Loose knitted sweaters also don’t offer much protection.
What does Skeeter syndrome look like?
People with Skeeter syndrome often experience extreme itching and swelling. The swelling may affect the entire limb. There may also be oozing blisters. Sometimes the person’s eyes are swollen and closed.