Why Do Mosquito Bites Cause Itching?

Are you a fan of outdoor activities? There’s nothing quite like playing soccer in the backyard or going for a nature hike in a local park. However, dealing with pests is inevitable when you’re in nature.

For instance, if you plan on spending a long time outdoors, it might be wise to use bug spray to prevent bites from those bloodsucking flying insects. What are we referring to? Of course, we’re talking about mosquitoes!

Female mosquitoes feed on blood. Although we refer to them as “bites,” a female mosquito doesn’t actually bite you to obtain blood. Instead, she inserts a part of her mouth into your skin. This part, known as the proboscis, is similar to a straw.

With her proboscis beneath your skin, a female mosquito searches for a blood vessel. Once she finds one, she injects saliva into the wound. Mosquito saliva contains an anti-coagulant substance that keeps your blood flowing, allowing her to quickly obtain her blood meal.

While you may not immediately notice when you’ve been “bitten” by a mosquito, your body’s immune system is fully aware of what’s happening. It detects the presence of mosquito saliva and triggers the production of histamine to combat it.

When histamine reaches the area of your skin where the mosquito “bit” you, it causes the blood vessels in that area to swell. This is why you typically see a red bump on your skin after a mosquito bite.

As the blood vessels swell, they also irritate the nerves in the area. Your body interprets this nerve irritation as an itching sensation. The histamine response is similar to other allergic reactions you may have experienced in the past.

Mosquito bites can be a serious matter. In the United States, some mosquitoes carry and transmit a virus called West Nile Virus. In other parts of the world, particularly in Africa, mosquitoes can carry germs that transmit potentially deadly diseases like malaria.

So, even though mosquito bites may not always be dangerous, they should be avoided as much as possible. Mosquitoes are most active during the hours just before and after sunrise and sunset. During these times, it’s important to use bug spray and wear long clothing if appropriate.

Give It a Try

Ouch! Mosquito bites can be painful and itchy. Learn more about these insects and how to deal with their bites by engaging in one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Have you ever observed a mosquito up close? Just go online and browse through the wide range of Mosquito Photos available. Click through to view the detailed shots. What is your opinion? Are they frightening? Do they resemble what you imagined? Why or why not?
  • So you were playing outside and a mosquito bit you. Your leg is now really itchy. What can you do to treat the mosquito bite and alleviate the itchiness? First and foremost, refrain from scratching it! Despite the temptation, avoid scratching mosquito bites. Scratching can further irritate the skin. If your nails break the skin surrounding the bite, it can lead to infection, which can make you ill. Instead, cleanse the area with warm, soapy water. This will often help diminish the itchy sensation. If the itchiness persists, you can try an over-the-counter itch relief cream. Ask an adult to assist you in finding a suitable medication to try. You can also attempt a homemade itch relief remedy made from baking soda and water. Simply mix a small amount of baking soda with water to create a thick paste and apply it to the bite. Some individuals also suggest trying a roll-on antiperspirant. They believe that the aluminum salts in the antiperspirant aid in reducing swelling and, consequently, relieve the itching.
  • As you discovered in today’s Wonder of the Day, mosquitoes can transmit malaria. Were you aware that certain regions around the world are utilizing modern technology to combat malaria? Visit the Internet and read about Fighting Malaria with Technology to learn how text messages are employed in Haiti to provide crucial information to those in need. You can also read about the efforts of a particular company to develop a Paint To Fight Malaria. What methods can you think of to combat malaria? Brainstorm the concept and discuss it with friends and family members. What ideas do they have?

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