Mosquitoes are insects that feed on blood.
If a mosquito bites a sick person, it can become infected.
If it stings other people afterwards, the infection can be transmitted.
For this reason, it is a risk factor for the contagion of diseases in those areas of the world where the most spread of some viruses and parasites occurs.
Why do mosquito bites itch?
Mosquito bites can drive people to despair for one simple reason: they cause itching.
When a mosquito bites, it penetrates the skin and sucks blood with its toothed and pointed mouth (or proboscis).
In addition, the mosquito injects its saliva, which contains anticoagulants. This substance prevents the blood from clotting around the proboscis, because this phenomenon could cause the insect to stick.
Only the female mosquito bites because she needs the nutrients contained in human blood to produce her eggs.
The immune system recognizes the proteins in the mosquito’s saliva as a foreign substance and launches an attack. According to Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida Vero Beach, the immune response also consists in the release of histamine.
The histamine reaction causes itching, like when pollen gets into your eyes and you feel the need to rub.
Histamine also leads to dilation of blood vessels, the consequences are:
- Wheal formation at the site of the bite.
Not everyone reacts to mosquito bites with an itchy rash.
- Do not have any reaction,
- Can’t even notice a puncture site.
Professor Day adds: Over time, many people develop a tolerance for mosquito bites.
Most of the adults:
- Get used to the mosquitoes,
- They react much more mildly than they did when they were children.
However, when they travel and encounter new mosquito species, the mosquito bite can cause the same reaction it caused when they were children.
The most common mosquitoes are:
Culex mosquito or common mosquito
- Light brown in color,
- 5-7 mm long,
- Present in summer,
- Stings especially at sunrise, sunset and at night;
- Often found on stagnant waters or in moist-shaded zones (under the trees).
These mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus or West Nile fever in areas where the disease is common.
The Anopheles or malaria mosquito can be recognized by:
- Dark brown color,
- She has white or black spotted wings,
- Lives in swampy areas;
- Present in summer,
- Stings especially at sunset and during the night;
- Is mainly found in: Africa, Latin America, South Asia;
This mosquito is the main vector of malaria.
Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus)
The tiger mosquito belongs to this family and can be recognized by:
- The black color with white spots and strokes on the body and legs;
- The size varies from 4 to 10 mm;
- It occurs from spring to the beginning of winter and lays its eggs, which survive even in winter in cold temperatures.
The tiger mosquito reproduces in stagnant waters, even in small puddles, for example, in flower pots.
It is mainly found in Africa, Latin America and South Asia, but also in Europe.
The tiger mosquito bites in the cool hours of the day:
- Early in the morning,
- At sunset.
According to the European Environmental Agency, the tiger mosquito is a vector for 20 diseases, including:
- Yellow fever
- Rift Valley fever,
- West Nile virus,
- Japanese encephalitis.
Although scientists do not know how many diseases are transmitted by the infected mosquito, it has been demonstrated that it can transmit two diseases:
- Dengue fever
- Chikungunya fever.
Symptoms of mosquito bite
As a rule, the bites of the common black mosquito do not cause pain, but only itching.
The sting causes a skin reaction with blistering or rash that causes:
- Itching around the sting.
Symptoms of tiger mosquito
According to a scientific study from Spain (1):
- The most common symptom is a small swelling (78%),
- The most affected part of the body is the legs (93%),
- Children are stung more often,
- Blister-like lesions are more common in women,
- The itching is very intense (65%), especially in women (71%) and children (76%).
Symptoms of Chikungunya Fever
Patients may form symptoms in the area of the skin and mucous membrane:
- Measles-like rash,
- flaking of the skin,
- Spotty rash (on the macula of the eye),
- intertrigo (type of a rash),
- hypermelanosis (skin spots),
- Dry skin,
- Scratched papules,
- petechiae (small hemorrhages that form red spots on the skin),
In addition, chikungunya leads to joint symptoms, including swelling and arthritis:
Only the joints of one half of the body can be affected.
Chikungunya also often causes acute tendonitis.
Rarely, a Baker’s cyst is formed.
Symptoms of dengue fever
According to the American CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), symptoms include high fever and at least two of the following:
- Severe headache,
- pain behind the eyes,
- muscle and joint pain,
- bleeding from the nose and gums,
- Decreased white blood cells,
- Characteristic, measles-like rash.
Usually the patient improves in 10-12 days, but in some cases there is an aggravation and a complication can occur: severe dengue fever.
When do the symptoms go away?
If the person doesn’t scratch themselves, the bladder will shrink within 15 minutes, but it may take a day or two for it to pass completely.
What should you use? Natural remedies for mosquito bites
Chopped onion or garlic
Onion and garlic will help reduce the swelling and itching caused by the sting.
In addition, their strong smell drives away insects and mosquitoes.
- Spread chopped onion and garlic directly on the affected area,
- Wait 5 minutes,
- Wash off the skin.
Alcohol has an antibacterial effect and can be used to relieve irritation caused by mosquito bites and reduce the possibility of infection developing from it.
- put a small amount of alcohol on a cotton ball,
- Brush the affected area of skin with it.
At first, this may burn a little, but after a short time the itching and swelling will decrease.
If there is no alcohol in the house, you can also use vinegar.
Toothpaste can greatly reduce the itching caused by a mosquito bite.
A small amount on the area in question is sufficient.
In order to quickly achieve a good result, you should use toothpaste with anti-inflammatory substances such as:
- Sodium bicarbonate
You should not use tooth gel.
Cold temperature leads to vasoconstriction and limits the flooding of inflammatory substances in the area of the bite site.
Ice cream also brings immediate relief.
It is important to apply the ice cream correctly, because too much cold leads to the opposite effect.
- wrap a few ice cubes in a towel,
- Place on the affected area,
- Wait about 10 to 15 minutes.
If there is no ice cube, you can remove the affected area:
- immerse yourself in a pool of cold water (for example, feet or hands),
- Hold under a stream of cold water.
Lemon has natural anti-inflammatory and disinfectant properties and can therefore be very useful in the treatment of mosquito bites.
- Cut a lemon into two parts,
- One half on the itchy skin, spread to get a quick relief.
- Applying lemon juice to the mosquito bite will prevent infection from developing.
Prevent bites from mosquitoes and other insects
There are many products to prevent insect bites, for example insect repellents in the form of ointments or creams such as Off or insecticides.
Based on my experience in tropical countries, one can protect oneself from mosquitoes without the use of chemicals that can be harmful to humans.
You can use a natural repellent consisting of:
- Lemon grass
- Tea tree oil,
- Aloe vera.
These oils can be applied directly to the skin.
However, some people are allergic to citronella or develop skin reactions when rubbing themselves with tea tree oil.
10 pieces of advice to keep mosquitoes and other insects away
Mosquitoes are attracted by stagnant waters, by light and by dark objects, so it is recommended:
- Keep the apartment dry, including the bathroom;
- Do not leave buckets or bottles open in the house;
- Taking the trash outside every night before bed;
- Turn off the light before opening the door to go out;
- If windows or shutters are closed and it is necessary to push up or remove a fly window, you should first make light blows to the grid with your hands to remove the insects;
- Do not use dark towels or clothes because the mosquitoes hide in the fabrics.
How to protect yourself from mosquitoes?
- In a closed environment, you can use a fan to limit insect bites. The air moved by the fan interferes with the flight of insects and therefore they do not sting.
- Use a mosquito lamp with a fan on the back. When the mosquito approaches the light, the fan pushes the insect against the lamp and prevents it from moving away again. There are cheap models without a fan, but they are not as effective.
- close slots on doors and windows,
- A fly window is recommended. In tropical areas, mosquitoes can also bite in the late afternoon and early morning, even when it is not dark.
On the Internet, many report about mosquito traps from a plastic bottle. I tried all these methods several times, but it never worked.
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