It is important to note that mosquitos are winged, biting insects that are closely connected to gnats and flies. Not all mosquitos bite though, only the female mosquito obtains nourishment on humans since they require blood to create eggs. During a feeding, the female mosquito pierces the skin and injects saliva. This saliva contains various proteins that prevent the blood from clotting as well as keeping the blood flowing into the mouth of the insect.
Most of the proteins present in the mosquito saliva can trigger immune reactions including an allergic reaction. In most cases, however, many have a number of reactions to mosquito bites. Take note that the symptoms tend to vary over time, contingent on the number of bites received by the individual. Remember that these reactions include both immediate and delayed swelling as well as itchiness around the bite site. These reactions tend to reduce in frequency after being bitten by mosquitoes over the years.
Generally, individuals who experience reactions are not diagnosed as being allergic to mosquitoes. This term is only used for those with severe or unusual reactions such as Skeeter syndrome.
Severe reactions to mosquito bites
Severe reactions are known to occur but less common. These can result to bruises, blistering rashes or large areas of swelling at the bite site. If the individual experiences extremely large areas of swelling after receiving a mosquito bite, the condition is called as Skeeter syndrome.
In rare circumstances, some can experience anaphylaxis after a mosquito bite. Others end up with whole body urticaria and angioedema or worsening of the asthma symptoms after bitten. In most circumstances, these symptoms manifest within minutes after a bite unlike with Skeeter syndrome which takes hours or even days to occur.
Diagnosing mosquito allergy
A diagnosis is usually based on a positive skin test or RAST using the mosquito whole-body extract. This is performed among those who had a history of severe reactions after a mosquito bite.
Treatment of mosquito allergy
Always bear in mind that prevention of mosquito bites is the main objective of those who have mosquito allergy. The measures include the following:
- Avoid areas that are infested with mosquitoes
- Remove or treat areas of standing water
- Use long-sleeved shirts and pants if exposed to areas where mosquitoes might be present.
- Apply a commercially-available mosquito repellant on exposed skin areas especially those that contain DEET. Those that contain DEET in concentrations of 10-30% can be safely used on children older than 2 months old.
- Clothing, camping tents and other fabrics should be treated with permethrin which is an insecticide.
- Try to limit strenuous exercise and sweating while in areas infested by mosquitoes to minimize the number of bites received.
Most of the localized reactions can be managed with topical corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone cream and even with oral antihistamines.
As for anaphylaxis which rarely occurs, it should be managed in the same way as anaphylaxis to other insect bites. Allergy shots can help reduce the severe reactions among those with true allergy to mosquitoes.