We all know they're pesky bugs but they can have serious health consequences. Of course, I'm talking about mosquitoes.
The bite of a mosquito causes redness and itching at the site of the bite. This is a normal response. However, some people can have a reaction that goes beyond the "normal" amount of itching and swelling. Allergists actually refer to this condition as "Skeeter Syndrome". Typically, the person suffering from Skeeter Syndrome will have a very large local reaction to the mosquito bite.
On a rare occasion, a person's allergies will be so severe that they will develop anaphylaxis. This will include symptoms such as hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, and shock.
Of course, any insect bite may become infected. This is particularly problematic with children and mosquito bites because itching leads to scratching and when the skin is broken, bacteria can grow in the broken skin and cause a local infection.
Mosquito Borne Illnesses
There are many diseases that can be transmitted by mosquitoes. These include malaria, yellow fever, and West Nile Virus just to name a few. So mosquitoes can be a problem even if you are not allergic to them. The symptoms of West Nile Virus can vary from no symptoms at all to encephalitis (a serious brain infection).
This is the first step in managing mosquito borne illnesses. Mosquitoes breed in standing water—eliminate these breeding grounds when possible. Also, limit outdoor exposure when mosquitoes are out in greater numbers. Of course, some animals (certain fish and predatory insects) eat mosquitoes so we should encourage these animals’ habitats.
There are many types of insect repellents available for purchase. Currently the most commonly recommended ones are those containing DEET.
Treating Mosquito Bites
The first step in treating Mosquito bites is to control the itching. One may use a variety of anti-itch medications—either orally or topically. Check with your doctor to see which one is right for you. If a mosquito bite starts to develop a larger reaction or if you notice excessive redness, drainage, red streaks, swelling, or tenderness at the site, you should see your doctor to determine if it is infected. Of course, it is often difficult to tell the difference between an infected bite and an allergic reaction. If there is any doubt, you should see a specialist in Allergy/Immunology. You should also see your Allergist if you have an anaphylactic reaction to a mosquito bite. If you are concerned that you may have developed one of the mosquito borne illnesses such as West Nile Virus, you should immediately see your doctor or Infectious Disease Specialist.
For more information, the following web pages may be helpful.