Pesky Pests: Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch

Mosquitoes are without a doubt, the most universally hated creature in the world, followed closely by wasps and lice. These disease-carrying pests survive by sucking the blood of just about any living creature, humans especially. By doing so, they not only cause a great deal of discomfort to their victims, but they also end up killing them sometimes. As a matter of fact, mosquitoes are by far the deadliest animals on earth. They are responsible for spreading many deadly diseases, including encephalitis, malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and a variety of vicious parasites.

Interestingly enough only female mosquitoes bite humans and animals, whereas male mosquitoes feed mainly on flower nectar. Female mosquitoes also prefer nectar apparently, but they need to feed on blood in order to reproduce. This is because our blood contains quite a lot of protein which female mosquitoes wouldn’t be able to get from flowers alone. Also, not all mosquitoes bite humans, however, as there are some who prefer birds or amphibians.

Why does the bite itch?

First of all, we call them ‘bites’ but there isn’t much biting going on whenever a mosquito feeds on our blood. Instead, a female mosquito will usually land on a part of our body that is discovered and will proceed to insert a part of her mouth called a proboscis through our skin. Once her proboscis has penetrated our skin, the mosquito will begin looking for a blood vessel to feed on. After locating it, she will release saliva into the wound, preventing it from coagulating due to its anti-coagulant properties.

Although you don’t usually realize right away that a mosquito is feeding on your blood, your immune system will react instantly. Upon detecting the mosquito’s saliva, it will produce a substance called histamine to fight the anti-coagulant within the blood vessel. When reaching the area of the skin where the mosquito has inserted its proboscis, histamine will cause the blood vessels to swell. It is at that point that you first realize that a mosquito has been feeding on your blood all along.

Mosquito bites are dangerous

Like we already said, mosquitoes are some of the deadliest animals on Earth. This is because they carry a multitude of diseases and parasites that they carry from one person to another. While it doesn’t affect the mosquito itself, the deadly diseases they carry will undoubtedly react with their next victim’s blood once they get into their blood stream. Not only do mosquitoes carry malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis, West Nile virus, or dengue fever, but they also sometimes carry heartworm which can prove deadly for our pets.

Given the fact that some mosquitoes can travel up to 100 miles from their larval breeding habitat, they can sometimes spread diseases thousands of kilometers away in just a few days. It is because of the fact that they carry diseases that mosquito bites should be avoided at all costs. You see, when a flea bites you, it would be safe to assume that you are its first if not its only victim, whereas a mosquito can infect you with all sorts of diseases that they bought from hundreds of miles away.

Make the itching stop

Say you were bitten by a mosquito, how exactly do you get the itching to stop? First of all, you have to be aware that the itching will not go away until the blemish has properly healed. The healing process can tale longer for people who are sensitive to mosquito bites, meaning that their bodies produce a larger histamine response. It is important to know that you will only aggravate the irritation by scratching it, making it prone to infection.

You should clean the bitten area with alcohol, alcohol wipes, or even plain water. Also, you can apply an antihistamine cream if appears that the blemish is getting bigger. If you want, you can also wash the area with an antiseptic or baking soda, but under no circumstances should you scratch them. Furthermore, some people use apple cider or vinegar to treat mosquito bites, or salty water.

Other methods include warm water, ice cubes, cooled tea, a wet sponge, alcohol, toothpaste (non-gel toothpaste), aspirin, mouthwash, deodorant, perfume, baby powder, tiger balm, soap, mud, lavender oil, tea tree oil, aloe vera, fresh basil, lemons, onions, meat tenderizer, or even oatmeal. Mosquitoes have been around for so long that people have developed some pretty interesting remedies for mosquito bites.

All things considered, if a mosquito bite blemish doesn’t go away in 24 hours or if it seems to get bigger over time, see a physician promptly. Like we said, mosquitoes can carry all sort of diseases or parasites, so you should take no chances with a mosquito bite that feels particularly itchy or painful, or if it looks to be developing. Last but not least, mosquitos kill almost 700 million people every year, which is why you would do well to invest into any anti-mosquito technology that you feel can keep you safe during the warm seasons.