Mosquito bites are the itchy bumps that appear on the skin when mosquitoes puncture your skin and feed on your blood. Even though a bite bump typically subsides on its own in a few hours, a mosquito bite sometimes causes puffiness, soreness and redness. Bites from mosquitoes carrying certain viruses or parasites can cause severe ailments which includes yellow fever, malaria, dengue and zika.
“The desire to scratch those big, red bumps essentially stems from an allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva. Only the females feed on your blood so they can produce eggs. But when a mosquito bites, it also injects some of its saliva into the skin, triggering your immune system to respond. While getting bitten by a mosquito is common, one must exercise caution at a time when mosquito-borne diseases are widespread,” says Dr Rinky Kapoor, consultant dermatologist, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim – A Fortis Associate.
Sometimes, if the body overreacts to the bites, or reacts abnormally to them, one can also develop a skin condition called ‘Prurigo’, in which the itch can last for months or years.
To help you beat the itch, Dr Kapoor suggests a few effective ways:
1. Use an ice pack
This will help numb the nerves at the area which has been bitten, while also limiting the swelling and reducing the urge to scratch and itch. You can also loosely bandage the bite which will help you keep the bacteria away and save it from getting worse.
2. Use an antihistamine cream
Over-the-counter products like topical creams can provide relief from the itching. Depending on the size of the bump, it may be necessary to repeat the recommended dose for a few days until the swelling subsides.
3. Try a home remedy
There isn’t enough data to prove its effectiveness, but various home remedies include applying apple cider vinegar, baking soda, basil leaves, honey, lemon, oatmeal, onion and even thyme juice for relief. Farmer’s recommendations include aloe vera gel, tablesalt paste, a cold & wet tea bag, and even regular toothpaste.
Using the right insect repellent and adhering to other preventive measures will help keep mosquitoes away. Here are some tips to tackle this issue:
1. Remove and clear any stagnant water around your house — this is where mosquitoes breed.
2. Ensure that you close all the windows and doors, especially in the evenings.
3. Wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks will help keep mosquitoes away.