Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch So Much

Male Mosquito

Why do mosquito bites itch so much? Mosquitoes are small to medium sized flying insects known for blood-sucking. Interestingly, only female mosquitoes feed on the blood and they pick their victims based on the smell of one’s breath and sweat. Generally speaking, people who are more prone to sweating are going to suffer more from mosquito bites.  Mosquitoes use the acquired blood not as their food but as an ingredient that will help them lay eggs later on. In order to drink any blood, they first need to get around the natural protection found in, in this case, blood of a human.

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?

When mosquitoes bite, they release saliva that is composed of a small amount of protein compound that, among other things, prevents blood from coagulating and enables the mosquito to freely extract a small amount of blood.  They insert saliva through the proboscis, the long and pointy part on their heads. This protein left behind initiates a local inflammation and allergy response that we feel as itching – our body produces antibodies to face the alien compounds, blood vessels swell around the area of the bite and a red bump is formed.

The itching part is actually a very important biological reaction. It is similar to an alarm that alerts the person of the bite. Although the compounds found in the saliva have entered the bloodstream by then, the person can still notify the doctor if there is a high probability that the bite transferred some serious disease, e.g. flu.  Scratching only worsens the condition. It spreads the inflammation and calls for the body to produce more antibodies and thus the itching persists.

After a certain period, however, and after being bitten a great number of times, humans can develop a relative resistance to the chemicals in the mosquito saliva and have only a scarce reaction and feel almost no itching at all. This resistance is only temporary and can gradually fade away, if there were no mosquito bites for a long period of time. On the other hand, people who are sensitive to the protein from the saliva may experience severe reaction that may even lead to the anaphylactic shock. To treat these severe reactions anti-histamine drugs (or less commonly corticosteroids) are used. As a relief for itchiness there are many home remedies (lotions, vinegar, ice, baking soda or toothpaste), that has proved to be effective in reducing skin redness caused by the bite.

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